Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Brave New Sloppyworld

The story of Deep Ellum's downfall has become as played out as the neighborhood itself, but the tale of Expo Park's rise is just starting to get interesting. Over the past several years, the small community of bars, cafes and lofts located at the corner of Exposition and Perry has emerged as an on again off again alternative to the dreary Deep Ellum and dude-brah controlled Greenville, providing an intimate and relatively hastle free environment in which several interesting things might (or might not) be happening within mere feet of one another on a given night. Places like the Amsterdam, Art Club, Fallout and Minc have all hosted at least a few solid shows (along with some bad ones as well) over the past three years, and the popular neighborhood spot Meridian Room has continued to be a favorite of many East Dallas and Oak Cliff residents. Expo Park does face it's share of problems- crime, inconsistent venue booking, and that annoying homeless magician in the parking lot, but one newcomer to the neighborhood might help to raise the bar in area that already seems to be on the up and up.

As I walked through the relatively empty space at the corner of Perry and 2nd Ave that will soon be known as Sloppyworld, scene veteran and Sloppyworld proprietor John Freeman began to explain why he decided to risk a great deal of time and money to open a new music venue in a city that hasn't exactly been hospitable to such things lately. "Expo Park is the last cool neighborhood in Dallas," Freeman says, "and we can't let it die too. This might be our last chance." This kind of intensity and concern for the state of local music is a force that seems to guide Freeman in his vision for Sloppyworld, which will be Expo Park's first full time live music venue. He also seems to possess a keen sense of practicality.

"Dallas needs a cool mid sized venue run by people who are musicians themselves," he says, and any objective observer would have to admit that he has a point. With the closing of Gypsy Tea Room and Trees, as well as the emergence of the somewhat cold and corporate Palladium Loft and House of Blues, it is clear that Dallas could use a mid sized venue (200-500 capacity) run by someone who understands the city and the void that currently exists for more eclectic and experimental shows. Sure, places like Art Club and Doublewide will have a good show here and there, but due either to the size and/or booking preferences of Dallas' current venues, there doesn't appear to be a single place that is looking to consistently book the kinds of acts that many readers of this blog might enjoy. Like many in the area, Freeman realized that there was a sizable niche in the Dallas live music market that wasn't be satisfied, and he decided that it was prime time to seize a golden opportunity.

John Freeman's history in the Dallas and Denton music and art scenes is fairly well known, and his experience as both a musician, a venue employee and a promoter has been highly influential on his vision for Sloppyworld. He has seen and done a lot, working at the Argo, organizing as a member of the Good/Bad Art Collective, and most recently booking quality acts like Beach House for The Amsterdam. Learning from both the good and the bad, Freeman seems capable of taking the best aspects from some of those well known ventures and applying them to the concept and reality of Sloppyworld. "I can promise you that (Sloppyworld) will be like nothing you've ever seen," he says, adding that he envisions the place will be "kind of a mixture of the Argo, the old Good/Bad Art Collective, the Orbit Room, and a bizarre x factor that is all my own." He plans to have the venue open anywhere from 5-7 days a week, and hopes that the place will be seen not only as a venue, but as an epicenter for the musical and creative community in the area, hosting various activities and events in addition to the kinds of concerts that often have to venture north to Denton to find a home these days.

When I visited Sloppyworld a few weeks ago, the two things that became apparent from the get-go were it's size and highly desirable location. Located in 80 plus year old building that previously housed an antique store, the space's high ceilings, structural support beams and large, rectangular shape help create a spacious and warm atmosphere that is glaringly absent at places like House of Blues (duh). Furthermore, it's corner location assures that Sloppyworld will be one of the most highly visible venues on Perry street, situated a few dozed feet away from Meridian Room and Bar of Soap.

Of course, with so many upsides to a place that will be located in the economically depressed Fair Park area, it would seem that the city of Dallas would be more than accommodating to a business owner like Freeman. But unfortunately, things have not gone as smoothly in the planning and permit stage as one might hope. After several unsuccessful and unassisted attempts to figure out what kinds of permits were needed for the venue, Freeman's original opening date had to be pushed back several months in order to get all the paper work in place. "I had been to the permit building in Oak Cliff seven times over three months before they just told me that I needed a special use permit," Freeman said, "so then I had to go to City Hall, and it takes two months to process." City officials were largely indifferent throughout the process, but the problematic delays in construction were at least somewhat mitigated by some of Freeman's helpful neighbors and friends. "The girls at Doublewide have been amazingly supportive. Bar of Soap, Meridian Room, Fallout Lounge, and even Club Dada and Rubber Gloves have all sent their support. They're smart enough to realize that a new bar/venue in this area could only help everyone and bring more business to the area, which benefits everyone."

With the official opening date now set some time in mid to late September, Sloppyworld is just a few months away from opening it's doors. Of course, one new venue is not going to change the face of the neighborhood or the Dallas music scene at large, but talking with Freeman convinced me that he has the experience, integrity and musical knowledge to book good shows and run the venue in a way that should be beneficial to patrons and performers alike. Not every show will be something we're all into, but considering some of the highly respectable names he mentioned when discussing possible bands to book (I promised I wouldn't tell who), Sloppyworld's presence on the scene seems like one of the most promising developments in Dallas music in some time. "I plan to book bands that might not get shows here otherwise," Freeman says, "and I like strange and interesting bills where you have a mixture of bands on the same evening that may not seem to fit on paper, but when you put them together, some kind of rock n roll alchemy makes it the best show you've ever seen." How many Dallas venue owners have said something like that recently?

(Thanks to Dudes McRudes for taking the pictures above)



Blogger Alex said...


1:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i can't wait for this venue to open. Hurry up already.

Nice story wsjr!

2:53 AM  
Blogger hansford said...

Great story for sure...
This part stuck out to me:
"kind of a mixture of the Argo, the old Good/Bad Art Collective, the Orbit Room, and a bizarre x factor that is all my own."

The Argo and The Orbit Room are easily two of the best clubs Dallas or Denton ever had, and John was either playing or hanging out in those clubs 90% of the time you would see him in the mid 90s. Its nice to see him look for the aesthetic of those places when opening his new joint.

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sloppyworld will save Dallas.

9:32 AM  
Blogger amandacobra said...

thank you john. i look forward to settling into my (john wilkes) booth at the end of september.

i heart sloppyworld.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

totally looking forward to this enough to get my car fixed up.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay FREEMAN!!!!!!
Don't fuck this up!!!!!!!!

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are they planning to share the tiny dirt parking lot w/Meridian Room? Is there somewhere else to park that I can't think of? B/c if they book a show that draws 200+, it's going to be tough to actually get there w/out cabbing it.

I hope it succeeds...there seem to be some logistical challenges though.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Sam Machkovech said...

This is a really great article, SR.

11:30 AM  
Blogger BaZing! said...

can't wait to see it.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous chris said...

Good news!

11:53 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Re: parking

yea one of the first things i thought of as well was 'where is everyone going to park' because it already gets tough if minc+fallout or any other venue have something going on at the same time. however there is that huge parking lot right across 2nd ave from the venue, which is usually open for fair park events, perhaps they will look into using it for sloppyworld shows as a(affordable) solution.
new venues on expo = good news

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus, this place isn't open yet? Good luck, Uncle Sloppy!

Will midgets be welcome? - t

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Donnie Davies said...

I fear that Sloppyworld will open the door to more unsafe homosexual bands to corrupt the morals and thoughts of young people. I promise that I do everything I can to stop the opening of this abomination by its mentally insane (and possibly homosexual) prorietor.

12:45 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

Thanks Donnie Davies.

12:50 PM  
Blogger edward said...

Good Luck to you John (sloppyworld)as you well know this(expo park) has always been the neighborhood to bring forward new ideas and exciting creative projects.Stay true to your vision and the rest will fall into place.
edward ruiz (ARTCLUB)

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

godspeed, j. freeman...

love, yr friends @ rgrs

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Butthole said...

Hey this place sounds cool but am I the only one who thinks the name is horrendous? Sloppyworld???.....sounds like the latest album from the Insane Clown Possee

1:45 PM  
Blogger john said...

Dear Butthole,
Jealousy is a bitch, aint it?

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i could give you shits about the name. with john behind it, this could be a really great thing...

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sloppyworld is a pretty gross hippy sounding name.. but if the place turns out to be great then the name of the joint wont even matter what ..

2:16 PM  
Blogger amandacobra said...

but how does donnie davies feel about anyone being "behind" sloppyworld? i would just generally like to hear more of donnie davies' thoughts on sloppyworld.


2:18 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

I'd also like to see more letters begin with the phrase "dear butthole."

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

shlong sandwiches all around! viva la sloppy world!

2:57 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

sounds awesome, I can't wait for the place to open.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Lars said...

Fck'n great article...

Very excited to visit and perform at Sloppyworld.

And WTF are you guys talking about?! Sloppyworld is an amazing name. Best venue name in DFW hands down.

3:32 PM  
Anonymous M-. said...

Right on! Good post.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Lars. I agree. Sloppyworld is a bitchin' name.

4:10 PM  
Anonymous butthole said...

Dear John,

Yes jealously is a bitch, I mean my name is butthole so I guess sloppyworld would be a step up.....

4:59 PM  
Blogger john said...

Point taken. I guess we're even.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i like the name sloppyworld. yep.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous mc said...

I had no idea he had Argo blood, this is going to be even better than I thought it was gonna be ... !

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, please tell me that it will look like the Vaudeville stage, circa 1902, complete with heavy curtains, hollow floor, trap doors, and "whimsy".

7:43 PM  
Blogger schmancy said...

hahaaaa, donnie davies. good joke! we should totally get that dd character to show up for grand opening. the perfect mc!!

9:38 PM  
Blogger schmancy said...

9:39 PM  
Blogger FlappersInNylons said...

God hates Fags.

10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

EyeHateGod rules. God hates fags campaign is terrible.

12:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

gonna play the hell out of and support the hell out of sloppy world.

12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God Bless John Freeman

10:16 AM  
Anonymous D.C. said...

If you make it part Good/bad, please don't make it the part that featured Tim Kaminski shitting action figures. I don't think you have the necessary license for that.

11:06 AM  
Blogger john said...

you can only get that license in Belgium these days...

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes please - we need more tim kaminiski shitting out action figures - genius!


12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you seen the picture that Richard Patterson (the guy who runs Road-Agent gallery) did of Tim Kaminski? Its awesome:

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Charissa Terranova said...

Actually, you are a little off base. That painting is a playful allusion to Kaminski's work. Patterson artfully refers to Kaminski's crap-figures by rendering them as figurative crap. My essay on covers it all.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cheers to sloppyworld


7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just in time
fuck the status quo!


7:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

link to depiction of dude shitting action figures?

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

like Good/Bad? Holy shit! Loved that place. Bizrre x factor all your own, yes!! Is this for profit? Will you charge cover and sell t shirts? 200-500 people is a large venue. Being the boss sucks, hiring someone else to suck, sucks too. I believe in you John.

5:48 AM  
Anonymous Lori said...

Dear John:

I've always wanted to write a dear John letter... heh heh heh.

I haven't been this excited since I saw a crucified teddy bear lo, those many years ago.

A toast of slightly warm buttermilk to YOU, sir!

Bacon martinis for all.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous reid said...

I must agree with Donnie that Sloppyworld will open the door to unsafe homosexual bands.
Dallas desperately needs devil worshipping homosexual artists to descend on our city if we are to save it from eternal mediocrity.
However we can contribute to John's insane vision of artistic hedonism, we must!
May the minions of Beelzebub ride proudly, ass-first into our town.

4:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't most of Freeman's projects fail? Hope this one doesn't.

1:41 PM  
Blogger john said...

If keeping a 7-piece band together for ten years is failing, then I guess I'm guilty. Drink that in, Powder!!!

8:15 PM  
Blogger Brad said...


I wanna!

8:47 AM  

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