News Article | 2/28/2007

Aykroyd offers a taste of House of Blues

House of Blues Dallas isn’t a-rockin’ quite yet, but a Blues Brother’s perpetual mission from God supplied us with some concrete details – along with a sling of mud – on Tuesday.

Comedian-actor Dan Aykroyd’s Blues Brothers led a hard-hat media tour through the still-raw White Swan Building’s transformation into House of Blues Dallas. An official opening for the 60,000-square-foot Victory Park venue is set for May 12, when Mr. Aykroyd’s Blues Brothers will throw down in the space’s double-balconied, 1,625-seat Music Hall. Local neo-soul diva Erykah Badu will provide the site’s first actual concert – a soft opening on May 8.

Marketing manager Brian Lowe says the site, which is leased from Victory Park’s developer, Hillwood Capital, promises to feature about 12 to 15 touring concerts a month. As the world’s largest concert promotion company, Live Nation, which purchased HOB last summer, will give HOB Dallas almost infinite pull to bring big acts consistently.

“On busy months, we could see an act every night of the week,” he says, “and in our smaller Cambridge Room [capacity is 425, and it’ll be for rent], which is where most of our locally booked shows will happen, we plan to hold 200 shows a year.”

According to Mr. Lowe, tickets for the initial round of major HOB Dallas concerts will go on sale through Ticketmaster on March 9; the specific acts won’t be announced until Friday.

HOB Dallas won’t just be a concert hall, though. Unlike its major live-bookings competitor, the AEG Live-managed Palladium Ballroom across downtown, HOB Dallas will feature a restaurant specializing in gourmet Southern food that will seat more than 300 and include a patio and live local blues gigs.

An all-you-can-eat Gospel Brunch will fill the Music Hall with food and faith each Sunday, and a members-only, second-floor Foundation Room will sport ornate furnishings, fine dining and some of the more impressive selections from HOB’s 5,000-plus collection of folk art.

“House of Blues was the first company in about 30 years to custom-build concert halls for the audience and for the entertainers,” Mr. Aykroyd says. “That’s a hallmark of our philosophy.”

Mr. Aykroyd, dapperly dressed in an impeccably tailored black three-piece suit, per Blues Brothers dictum, wrapped up his tour by participating in the Mississippi River Mud Ceremony, a tradition at each HOB location that infuses rich, gray-black soil from the Mississippi River delta in Louisiana into a foot-square hole in the center of the Music Hall’s stage.

“It’s a tangible link to blues history,” he said of the mud after explaining blues guitarist Robert Johnson’s devilish crossroads legend and a few other anecdotes on blues’ roots in the region. “It’s about time Dallas had a House of Blues location. I understand that Wanda King, the daughter of the great important bluesman Freddie King, still lives here. It’s great to finally be in Freddie King’s hometown.