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{Off The Cuff} Memories of Adairs

by:  Mo Robson


On December 31st, 2000, we took the stage at Adair’s Saloon in Dallas for the first time as a band in front of a crowd that consisted of more than just our buddies. It was our friend J.D. Whittenburg who gave us this opportunity to play and open the show for his band Trainwreck. We played a one hour set from 10 to 11, were nervous as hell, broke a handful of strings but felt as we had just absolutely blown the doors off the joint. Not sure that we really did blow the doors off of the joint, but we definitely gave everybody their money’s worth, since the cover charge was free.
On that very night there was a huge power surge right in the middle of Trainwreck’s set and perhaps two strokes after midnight. The surge not only killed all of Adair’s power, but the entire Deep Ellum area as well. In a matter of minutes, amidst mass hysteria and confusion, Adair’s was a glow with the help of at least 100 large candles. So, we went from not having any power to the fact that we had now created a huge fire hazard that was graciously overlooked and the show went on.

After wrangling a few fellas out from behind the bar that were attempting to score some free beers during the darkness, J.D. and I grabbed our acoustics and took center stage smack dab on top of the bar. We sang for an hour or so, before power was restored, managed to kick over a few pitchers worth of beer and started only one small fire. I’m still shocked they had that many candles, to be honest.

I believe it was only a day or so later that Lois Adair gave me a call. During our conversation she told me that she had liked our set and wanted to give us the opportunity to play Tuesday nights. After no negotiating whatsoever, and just the pure fact alone that we would get free burgers and beer when we played, Lois Adair was my favorite person that day and still remains my good friend today. As I hung up the phone, I realized I had just booked us to begin playing on a Tuesday night that was only two weeks away! I didn’t want to tell Lois during our conversation that we really didn’t know that many songs yet because, frankly… I wanted the gig! I told the band at rehearsal later that day about the new gig, got a few high fives, and even got cussed at! Don’t get me wrong, the band was just as excited about the opportunity as I was, they just wanted more time to get ready.

As long as we weren’t at “work” or wasting time on something stupid like “sleep”, we were rehearsing like crazy. We had to work hard, because none of us had a clue as to what songs we would play, if I could actually remember that many lyrics so quick and…oh… we were about two hours short of being able to play a three hour show. So, we learned about thirty or so songs, threw in a few of our own tunes, threw tarps over our gear in the back of our trucks and headed for Adair’s.

We wound up playing every Tuesday night for a year straight and also wound up playing every New Year’s Eve for the next eight years, except 2004, because I was stuck in a hospital bed. During the first song of our first ever set on a Tuesday at Adair’s, we were told that we were “Way Too Damn Loud!” At that point, we would turn the volume down, and then kinda inch the volume back up a little each song, until we were yelled at again. After a few nights of doing that, we finally realized that we did actually sound better at a lower volume and we would just have to get used to “Rockin’” a little quieter.

I am not sure the exact number of burgers we have eaten at Adair’s, and no Harvard mathematician could ever possibly compile the total number of beers and shots of Jim Beam we have knocked back there at the Saloon. I do know that it doesn’t come close to the number of friends I have made, and the amazing times I have had there over the years; (I’m pretty sure the friends out-number the burgers anyway).

To end on a high, one of the best nights I have ever been a part of at Adair’s was the night we recorded our new record, “Live at Adair’s”. It was a great night, and a lot of folks I don’t get to see as much these days, due to life getting in the way, were able to make it out. Given that my friends, both old and new came to see me where we got our start made it even more special. With a black marker in our hands, we always look forward to stepping onto the Adair’s stage and hope we get to for many more years to come.

Mo Robson‘s Live at Adair’s album is currently pre-sold in advance of the official release on April 7th.

Feel free to take to the comments section and leave your favorite memories of the place that gave Jack Ingram his start and has hosted so many good times over ice cold canned beers and amazing burgers.

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