Mesquite, Texas, named by the state legislature as the Rodeo Capital of Texas, may not be the Music Capital of Texas just yet. But it may well be right on its way. For years, the city has had a thriving music scene propelled by a world-class symphony in addition to many charming options at various burger bars and restaurants in the area. Today, thanks to some major renovations of Mesquite’s most famous venue, the city is now poised to bring in some award-winning acts and become one of the bigger music destinations in the region. Happy concert-going!
Mesquite Championship Rodeo Arena
At the heart of Mesquite’s live music scene—or at least what will be at the heart of Mesquite’s live music scene for many years to come—is one of Mesquite’s most revered, raved about, and long-standing venues: The Mesquite Arena. The present arena, built in 1986, has been a fun-filled stalwart in the Mesquite area for more than three decades, and the Mesquite Championship Rodeo as a whole has been going on for more than 50 years. Over the years, the venue has turned countless Mesquite visitors into lifelong lovers of the rodeo and the city.
These days, the arena’s ownership is in new hands—the able, willing, wildly welcoming, and dedicated hands of Alfredo Hisponja. Alfredo has called the Mesquite area home for more than 30 years, and he lives and breathes the rodeo, music, and Texas culture. He has owned nightclubs and venues throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and there probably isn’t anyone better equipped to transition the arena into the modern, mixed-use site that it’s aiming to be. Alfredo has experience booking exciting talents, both well-known and on the brink of stardom. He knows the venue, knows the community, and knows how much potential it has to be one of the best live music concert destinations in the region.
In terms of the space itself, the arena has undergone some pretty significant renovations since Alfredo took over—and it continues to do so.
“Right now, Mesquite Arena is remodeling the look of the place,” he says. “We’re upgrading the bars inside, building a brand new roof, and improving parking. The arena has needed these changes for a long, long time. We want it to look newer, but still have that rodeo feel to it. And we want you to feel comfortable going to a concert.”
Part of the renovation meant redoing the ground floor itself. Out with the dirt, in with a concrete floor 18-inches below the dirt. For concerts, they simply take out the layer of dirt above to expose the concrete below—which increases seating, adding an extra 2,000 ground floor seats next to the stage and taking the total capacity from 5,500 to 7,500 people. For the rodeo, they add the dirt back in. And now that the Mesquite Arena is also the new home of the Mesquite Outlaws Futbol Club, organizers can remove the dirt again and add turf for indoor soccer games. This simple addition of concrete has turned the arena into a super dynamic and flexible multi-purpose space. So, there’s something for everyone—from soccer players to music aficionados to Mutton Bustin’ maestros
The food on tap at the Mesquite Arena is as diverse as it is delicious. “From barbecue to chicken wings to hamburgers to hot dogs to popcorn, we have a full kitchen of typical venue fare, but with a Texas Rodeo flare,” Alfredo says. “We also have a mixed beverage bar with wine, beer, and liquor. It’s a full-service facility.”
But let’s get back to what we’re really here to talk about: the music! So far, the Mesquite Arena is in the early days of becoming a music venue, but already it has welcomed a wide array of award-winning musical acts with an equally broad mix of genres. Notable past performers include country music all-stars Mark Chesnutt, Travis Tritt, and Clay Walker, as well as legends Keith Sweat, The Commodores, and The Temptations. In terms of genres, there’s been everything under the Texas sun, including country, funk, Latin music, classic rock, and even R&B and hip-hop at the Hip-Hop Rodeo (a real Texas treat).
Maybe the reason the music lineup is so diverse is because Alfredo’s tastes are all-encompassing. “My favorite kind of music is all things,” he says. “I was raised with classic rock music, Hispanic music, country music. I love all kinds of music. Music is good.” He laughs before adding a heartfelt and inclusive, “Music is good in all languages.”
Alfredo thinks the Mesquite area is perfectly poised to become the next best thing for music in the Dallas metro area. He admits that in recent years, Dallas and other nearby suburbs have taken most of the limelight and that Mesquite locals and visitors have had to drive a little ways for big-time concerts. But that’s one of his major motivations with repurposing the Arena. He wants to “bring music closer to the people.”
For locals, the demand is already there, as is evidenced by the large Latino market and rolling Sunday concert series. For visitors who are coming to the Mesquite area for the authentic experiences, well-kept secrets, and abundant green spaces, they’ll now be able to cap their daytime adventures with award-winning musical acts. By 2020, Alfredo is hoping to have one big concert per month, ranging in styles from R&B to country to classic rock to everything in between.
Other Music Options in Mesquite
While the arena is dominating most of the Mesquite live music scene in terms of big acts, there are plenty of establishments and groups that are keeping the beat below the radar. If you’re looking for something a little more classical, the Mesquite Symphony Orchestra is just the ticket, offering a beautiful venue and live performances throughout the year.
The JC Burger Bar has live music every last Thursday of the month.
Elvis on Friday at Burger Style Cafe features great food and free Elvis-inspired entertainment on the third Friday of every month.
With a mantra to “participate in whatever is good and true and beautiful in the neighborhood,” the Corner Theatre is a welcoming spot that’s uniquely Mesquite, and a must-do for music lovers and creative types during a visit. Live music is especially memorable in the cozy, intimate space, and recent performers have included country singer/songwriter and American Idol Season 17 contestant Jade Flores.
Just like its name implies, Porch Swing is all about kicking back while you enjoy some live music on Friday and Saturday over great food and drinks.
Finally, a fixture in the local community and the music scene, the all-volunteer Mesquite Community Band makes appearances all over town throughout the year.
As you can see, you have plenty of options for live music in Mesquite—and those options are only getting better.
Written by Ry Glover for Matcha in partnership with Mesquite CVB.