News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Study Up For ‘Think’: The Dallas Music Scene From The 1920’s to the 1960’s

Flickr CC
Robert Johnson, prolific blues guitarist, recorded some of his music at 508 Park Avenue in Dallas.

Dallas has a rich history of musical innovation that goes back to the roots of modern music. But little is known about the city’s musical heritage throughout much of the 20th century. Today at 1 p.m. on Think, guest host Jeff Whittington will be speaking with Alan Govenar, co-author of Dallas Music Scene: 1920’s to 1960’s.

During the 1920’s, the legendary Deep Ellum neighborhood was a vibrant community of clubs, dance halls and vaudeville houses that rang with the sounds of blues and jazz. Blind Lemon Jefferson was even found there on the streets singing the blues. If you want to learn more, check out the Deep Ellum foundation's history page.

Robert Johnson, the influential blues guitarist who – legend has it – sold his soul to the devil, recorded the last 13 of his 29 songs at a building at 508 Park Avenue downtown. The building is now part of a project to preserve the music history of Dallas.

There was also the Sportatorium, once located at Cadiz Street and Industrial Boulevard, where between the late 1940’s to 60’s, the likes of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Elvis Presley performed at the venue’s weekly Big D Jamboree. Step back into the past and check out this page with neat facts and photos.

Today we'll also be listening to songs recorded in Dallas and Govenar will discuss the city's place in popular music history.

Govenar is a local historian, folklorist, photographer and filmmaker who’s written over twenty books and founded the non-profit Documentary Arts Inc.

Listen to 'Think' at noon and 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday on KERA 90.1 or stream live.