Of all the areas in Dallas that the fun-loving crowds often visit, Uptown certainly has its own vibe. Whereas Deep Ellum’s vibe is more hipster, artsy-oriented with walls draped in the most intricate murals and dive bars, Uptown’s vibe is more upscale, preppy, formal and as you guessed it, expensive. More often, you’ll see a student of Southern Methodist University, jokingly known as Southern Money University, in a car more expensive than a 21 year old could ever need and donning clothes more exquisite than a college student should ever need.


Although, it’s not just black and white with the differences between Deep Ellum and Uptown. Personally, my friends prefer Deep Ellum but one could have just as good of a night in Uptown to either remember or not remember, as well as talking to some of the most beautiful women in Dallas in both locations. Along with that, there is a decent amount of live music in both locations. While the bands in Deep Ellum are more indie and underground-based, the bands in Uptown are more jazz-like cocktail music. However, there’s also another unique genre of bands that play in Uptown.


That genre, unbelievably, is Top 40 covers. All the hits of today, everything from “Despacito,” to “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars, and even “This is What You Came For” by Rihanna, played by surprisingly pretty awesome cover bands. A good number of venues, British Beverage Company  (BBC) being the most well-known, host live bands to play the hottest hits of the day. One of the regulars at BBC, this band is known for their cover of the greatest song in the history of humanity, “Ignition (Remix)” by R Kelly.


They are Empire 6.


(Photo: Matt Larks)

Empire 6’s bassist Matt Larks, an old friend from my younger days in Denton, came over for dinner and to jam with a roommate on bass. While they jammed away to the many tunes of today and yesteryear, Larks spoke about the origins of Empire 6 and how he became involved in the band and bass guitar as a whole.


During our time in Denton, Larks, who began playing at 13, played an exceptional jazz guitar. However, he wasn’t too fond of rhythm guitar the many accompanying solos and instead, found his calling with bass.


“I enjoyed playing anything with bass more. Any type of song and any part of the song. It became an outlet for music school” he told.


Empire 6 was founded by 1564 Entertainment, the company’s name being a reference to “a chord progression in many pop songs.” Along with Identity Theft, another cover band playing at many Dallas bars and bar-mitzvahs, these two bands have become incredibly in demand in the growing metroplex of Dallas.


When asked why Empire 6 plays Top 40 of all genres, Larks responded with an answer that one doesn’t have to have a PhD in Music to understand the reasoning behind.


“Everyone knows it. Everyone can dance to a song, sing along to a song, that’s why.” Larks said.


Along with BBC in Uptown, Empire 6 also plays at the Sherlocks locations in Addison and Arlington, The Glass Cactus in Grapevine, as well as a couple venues in Houston, such as Local Pour in River Oaks.


According to Larks, what makes Uptown special is, as stated above, “it’s really nice. It’s hip and you’ll see people looking their best in Uptown. It’s more preppy, classy and maybe, that’s what people like about it. Certainly the most expensive part when it comes to drinks, though.”


As a final piece of advice for aspiring musicians, Larks recommended “networking” so much, he said that word three times.


“You gotta be a cool and be fun to be around. We get an hour of breaks and we hang out with each other. If you’re cool to hang, that’s important. You can start bonding as a band. The people on the coolest gigs are usually the coolest people.”


Do you enjoy live music and cover bands? If so, follow Empire 6 on Facebook at www.facebook.com/empire6band/ and find me on Twitter at @CaptainKasoff.