“The Final Curtain” An Interview With Doug Simmons
Written by Gary Wakefield on March 20, 2019
Sunday, June 30th, 2019 will be the end of an era. The Curtain Club located at 2800 Main St. Dallas, Texas will close. Doug Simmons opened The Curtain Club on NYE 1997. The Dallas Music scene was booming and while venues like Trees and the Bomb Factory were booking big national touring bands; The Curtain Club concentrated its main focus on local talent, making it “home” for local musicians. Only three months after its opening day the club was recognized as “Dallas’ Best Live Music Venue” by Dallas Observer. Over the years it has become famous the world over as a premiere live music venue. The Curtain Club is currently Deep Ellum’s longest continuously running live music venue. And now, the time is near, and so we face the final curtain.
We briefly sat down with Doug to discuss the closing of his iconic staple of the Dallas music scene.
So The Curtain Club opened in ’98. What was Deep Ellum like back then?
“Actually, it was New Year’s Eve 1997, live music was on fire with every big local you can think of. Booking a venue was simple, every club was doing very well.”
What was your initial goal for The Curtain Club?
“To be the home of local music.”
How did you get started in the business?
“My best friend (which is now the manager of Blue October) offered me a job to be their manager. He was the singer of 4 Reasons Unknown back then who had just won the first ever MTV Basement Tapes back in 1985. That lasted about five years. I also booked for Trees for the 6 years prior to Curtain.”
How hard is it to be a successful club owner in Dallas?
“For us and the outstanding group of owners we have it all seemed to come easy; but overall I think not too easy or more clubs would last for almost 22 years. We brought a lot of experience to the table from the get go.”
Over the years what have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
“Staying open… and trying to keep everyone happy through out the years.”
The mid 2000’s were pretty rough for Deep Ellum, how were you able to “weather the storm”?
“By the grace of God and us being the home base for locals. Plus, there was no competition.”
What are you thankful for most?
“That everyone still remembers us as home with a special story to tell about some special show. Like, “I remember when” stories or “I met my wife there” but the most popular one is people remembering their first trip to CC and seeing the paintings and thinking “mine will be up there someday”, and it was… Even before they had a band.”
Speaking of the paintings, where did the idea come from?
“At Trees we used to do the drum heads so when CC opened we decided to start up the paintings for all the headliners that did well. I’m not sure if I thought of it or someone else did.”
How has the music community reacted to the closing?
“Overwhelming mourning from almost everyone. MUCH LOVE! No one can really believe it.”
Have other club owners reached out since the announcement?
“Yes, I play poker with a bunch of them every other Tuesday but yes, several have asked why?”
And the answer is?
“I tell them all that the offer to buy us out, combined with the time of the season, it’s just time to change the course. And life rocks on “
After all these years, what was the most difficult part of the decision to close the doors?
“What will I do next? Plus this has been my little corner of the universe for almost 22 years. I will miss everything about it. Well, almost everything.”
What will you do next?
“I have just been offered a pretty good situation but mum’s the word right now. I might open a very small pub or I just might travel for awhile unless I go with this new offer. But I still have 4 more months of fun but still hard work ahead. Big show, big show, big show, and get the hell out!”
And there are some really big shows coming up, is there one you look forward to most?
“ALL OF THEM!!!”
Obviously there’s much history in Deep Ellum and it has changed many times over the past 146 years. What do you think of the most recent changes of the area?
“To each his own. Business is better but things have changed. Negatives and positives.”
It definitely has taken on a new personality. Do you know or can you speak on what will become of the building/location?
“I hear it will be converted into three retail shops. Such a shame, such a great club. I would much rather see it stay a live music venue.”
Seems like a waste. What would you like to say to all the bands and patrons?
“It’s been a great 22 year run with tons of great memories that could not happen without you. THANK YOU ALL!”
And thank you Doug! We will miss The Curtain Club. We respect and appreciate your contribution to the Dallas music scene.
Be sure to check out The Curtain Club‘s calendar for upcoming shows as Doug promised to go out rockin’. Stop by their Facebook page and share your memories. The final show is Sunday June 30, 2019. “Progress” will soon swallow one of the best live music venues in Texas.