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XL’N on Fifth: Excellin’ “Classic Rock ‘n’ Blues-a-billy” Music and More

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By Amanda Main

Some patrons have dubbed XL’N On Fifth the “Cheers” of Tyler. The club started out of a love for billiards, but out of necessity grew to include a members-only bar and live music venue.

Owners Donald Griffith and his wife, Robin, opened the club and pool hall in January 2006. The Griffiths have two grown children, Kelly, 26 (EGuide’s own “Family” writer), and Marshall, 20, who is a bartender. The Griffiths also have two grandchildren.

“Neither of us have backgrounds in running a bar. This was our first rodeo,” Robin says. “He’s big into pool — he plays in a pool league, but the pool hall is not the main business, it’s the club.”

xln postDonald chose the name XL’N, which stands for ‘Excellin’. “We didn’t want a cute little name like ‘Corner Pockets’ or ‘Side Pockets’ or ‘Rack ’Em,’ or anything like that,” Donald says. “I told her that it doesn’t matter what the name is, if you have a good place, then the name won’t matter.”

Robin chimes in with sarcasm: “I think it proved it, didn’t it? ‘XL’N.’ Yeah, I think you proved that theory.”

Robin says the business was a huge undertaking for the couple (now married 28 years) to open. In the beginning, the only thing she liked about the building when Donald first showed it to her was the painted wall, where musicians now play. That’s because the wall is the original, outside wall of an old lumber yard from, she estimates, the 1950’s. When they purchased the building she says, “there was a pile of lumber with nails in it and there were no lights. There was an extension cord with light bulbs on it, but somebody had come in and taken all the copper out to sell. They just stripped all the wiring out of the place. It was just a gutted mess of a place, and we spent three months working on it before we opened.”

But that was more than eight years ago and the business has come together nicely. What makes the establishment truly special, the Griffiths say, is the people — the people who work there and the people who frequent there.

“It’s a family of friends,” Robin says. The business’ motto is “Where Good Friends and Good Times Come Together.”

By design, her staff, all considered family but some by blood, are a tight-knit group. She says the club rarely has staff turnover. Usually if someone doesn’t work out, it happens within their 90-day probationary period, which is a time spent seeing how well a person will fit in with the rest of the staff.

As a showing of love and appreciation for their employees, Robin and Donald take all of them, about 10 people, on an annual vacation to a private piece of land her mother bought years ago in Texas Hill Country. For about a week, the doors to XL’N On Fifth are shut so the staff can bond and have a good time in the outdoors together.

Robin says they consider their regular customers like family, as well. “We’re a comfortable, laid-back place. Anybody can come here. A woman can come in by herself and not feel weird.”

XL’N has music every Saturday and sometimes on Fridays. Robin has created her own genre to describe the types of bands XL’N attracts. “I like to call it a new thing called ‘Classic Rock ‘n’ Blues-a-billy.’ But really, nothing hard metal. It’s just good classic rock, Southern classic rock and even some modern to spice things up. It’s a little bit of country. Bluesy. It’s ‘Classic Rock ‘n’ Blues-a-billy.’”

“I pick out the bands myself. We have great local talent in East Texas, well, all over Texas. But I’ve had many of East Texas Music’s Award-winning bands play here. And I like to support them. I like local bands. We also bring some in from Shreveport, or Texarkana, (and sometimes Dallas and Austin, Donald adds), but the bands are always good and it’s always free to see them.”

“Always free” meaning there is never a cover charge, except on one night of the year: New Year’s Eve, when Robin will fix up a big feast including shrimp, black-eyed peas and cabbage, among other foods. But even that night, the cover is only $10, and she says it’s well worth it since it includes her home cooked delicious (and legendary) food.

One of Robin’s favorite parts of her job is designing the flyers for shows. “It’s a lot of fun to create the ‘look’ for the shows, it gives me a real chance to express my creativity and have fun,” she states.

On other note, she also adds, “I don’t like to be called a mom and pop joint, but I guess we really are. We are about the people, our customers, our friends. As with any business or club, if you don’t like the people that hang out there, you’re not going go there but that’s not the case for us. We have lots of great regulars. And we don’t allow any craziness. Our regulars know that if you cause any problems you will be banned from here. I’m like the mama hen when it comes to keeping XL’N fun for everyone.”

For those who get hungry, XL’N offers food. “We have chicken strips, cheese sticks, jalapeño poppers, French fries and French bread pizza. We have the best corn dogs in town,” Robin says. “What’s unique about us is what we cook them in. It’s a small oven, greaseless, ventless, 110-volt, like a convection oven. So everything comes out crispy. It’s not fried (except when it was manufactured, Donald says). And it’s good. And the French fries, oh my! They come out like they’re supposed to – crispy and not greasy.”

XL’N is home to six custom, 8-foot Olhausen pool tables. The playing rates are a super deal from 12 noon to 5pm. Two people can play unlimited games for a total of $5 between those hours. After 5pm the pool rate is $6 per hour for two players.

Happy hour starts early at XL’N from 12 noon to 5pm. On Mondays through Thursdays, XL’N offers $1.75 domestic beers; Rolling Rock beer and PBR Longnecks for $2.75 all the time; and Jell-O shots are always $1.

Robin and Donald are proud to host amateur American Poolplayers Association (APA) Leagues at their bar. They meet to play at 2pm on Sundays and about 7:30pm on Monday and Tuesday evenings. XL’N has been featured in the APA Magazine as the best place to play pool in East Texas.

The league players play “8-ball and 9-ball,” Robin says. “There are always teams that are looking for someone to play. They need all skill levels, from beginners to put-your-kid-through-college kinds. They rank them because a team can not have too many high-rankers.”

For those wanting to show off their vocal abilities, XL’N offers karaoke from 8pm to 12 midnight on Sundays.

XL’N is open seven days a week, all year long with the opening time pushed back to 4pm on major holidays.

Donald’s and Robin’s love for the community show by their giving back in ways such as an annual Toys for Tots benefit, fundraisers for friends that are cancer patients, and giving to many other charities.

XL’N is located at 2109 E. Fifth St., Tyler, (903)535-7956. You can
follow them on Facebook at
facebook.com/XLN.Pool.Hall. They post their bands and special weekly.

XL’N is open 12 noon to 12 midnight Sundays – Fridays and 12 noon to 1am on Saturdays. All ages are allowed before 7pm; 21 and older only after 7pm.

This months upcoming concerts are HERE.

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Bands

EGuide Magazine’s Gig Guide

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Check out who is playing live in Tyler, Ben Wheeler, Gladewater, and more!

To include your gigs, send to eguidemagazine@gmail.com

Advertise your gig in the header for $150. E-mail us to reserve your spot!

Sunday, February 18th

  • Click’s Live – Acoustic Chaos, 9-12
  • The Forge, Ben Wheeler – Tommy & The Acoustics, 7-10
  • The Grove – Chris Oliver, 11-3
  • Lago Del Pino – Dustin Becker, 12-2pm
  • Love and War – Songwriters Competition, 4
  • Stradda Caffe – Heather Nikole Harper, 11am

Monday, February 19th

  • Love & War, Lindale – Karaoke, 8-12
  • Stanley’s BBQ – Ramoth Gilead & His Affiliad, 6:30-9:30

Tuesday, February 20th

  • 11th Frame Club – Lynn Groom, 8:30-11
  • The Back Porch, Kilgore – Brandon Nichols, 7-10
  • Coach’s & Cowboy’s – Karaoke, 8-12
  • F D’s Grillhouse – Eric Mosley, 6-9
  • Garage Bar – Karaoke, 8-12
  • Love & War, Lindale – Songwriters Anonymous, 8-12
  • Summerfield’s Bar & Grille – Karaoke, 7-11
  • Stanley’s BBQ – Dustin Becker & Chris Oliver, 6:30-9:30
  • UTTyler Cowan Center – Jazz Ensemble Concert, 7:30
  • Where’s Rufus – DJ, 8-12

Wednesday, February 21st

  • The Back Porch, Kilgore – 2nd Childhood, 7-10
  • Click’s Live – Karaoke, 8-12
  • Dakota’s – Darrin Morris, 7-10
  • The Forge, Ben Wheeler – Craig Wallace & T.D. Wilt, 6-10
  • Leon’s, Longview – Blues Jam with Johnny & The Nightcrawlers, 8-11
  • Stanley’s BBQ – Big Funky Cloud, 6:30-9:30
  • Yamato – Open Mic, 8-12

Thursday, February 22nd

  • 11th Frame Club – Lynn Groom, 8:30-11
  • The Back Porch, Kilgore – David Allen, 8-12
  • Breakers – Tne Last Marc, Ian, and Douglas Serenade, 9-12
  • Clicks Live – DJ Cicero, 8-12
  • The Forge, Ben Wheeler – Cody Noman, 7-10
  • Garage Bar – DJ Juice, 8-12
  • Liberty Hall – From Hollywood with Love, 7-9
  • Republic Icehouse – Karaoke, 8-12
  • Stanley’s BBQ – TJ Hammersley & Friends, 6:30-9:30

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Friday, February 23rd

  • 11th Frame Club – Karaoke, 8-12
  • The Back Porch, Kilgore – Cody Wayne, 8-12
  • Breakers -Lucas Kelm, 7-10
  • Circle M Crawfish – Karaoke, 7-11
  • Coach’s & Cowboy’s – Flatland Cavalry, 8-12
  • Dakotas Chop House – Jason Misenheimer, 7-10
  • ETX Brewery – Shay Bailiff, 7-10
  • The Forge, Ben Wheeler – Finding Shade, 7-10
  • The Foundry – Josh White at Mockingbird Conference, 7:30
  • Fusion – DJ Polo, 9-12
  • Garage Bar – DJ Panda, 8-12
  • Kawa’s – Quentin Moore, 7-10
  • Liberty Hall – Johnny Lee “The Original Cowboy,” 8pm
  • Love & War, Lindale – Lee Mathis, 8-12
  • Mario’s – Live Jazz, 6-10
  • Moore’s Store, Ben Wheeler – Mariah Keltner, 9-12
  • Paradise Harbor, Hawkins – Karaoke, 8-12
  • Republic Ice House – Johnny & The Njghtcrawlers and King Richard, 8-12
  • Rick’s – MoJiles, 8-12
  • Shoguns – DJ, 8-12
  • Stanley’s BBQ – New Breed Brass Band, 9-12
  • Stone Country, Lindale – Karaoke, 8-12
  • Taste of Italy On the Lake, Hawkins – Marcus Casburn, 6-9
  • Where’s Rufus – Karaoke, 8-12
  • Yamato – DJ Cash, 9-12

Saturday, February 24th

  • The Back Porch, Kilgore – Ryan Matthews, 9-1
  • Caldwell Auditorium – Edwin Holt & The Texas College Choir, 8-12
  • The Central Station, Gladewater – Heather Harper, 7-10
  • Club 155 – David Allen, 9-1
  • Dakotas Chop House – Larry Hooper Duo, 7-10
  • ETX Brewery – The Jazz Connection, 8-10
  • The Forge, Ben Wheeler – Craig Wallace, 3-5, Trey Rosenthal, 7-10
  • Fuzion – Latin DJ Night, 8
  • Garage Bar – Chase McClannahan, 9-1
  • Kawa’s – Dan Rocha, 7-10
  • Lago del Pino -Blind Pursuit, 8-12
  • Liberty Hall – Monte Montgomery, 8pm
  • M6 Winery, Bullard – Withrow Cooley, 3:30-6:30
  • Mario’s – Live Jazz, 6-9
  • Moore’s Store, Ben Wheeler – Tyler & The Tribe, 9-12
  • Republic Ice House – Bluez Boys, 8-11
  • Rick’s – Live Music, 9-1
  • Stanley’s BBQ – Open Mic, 6:30-9:30
  • Strada Caffe – Jordyn Lackey, 8-10pm
  • Taste of Italy On the Lake, Hawkins – Marcus Casburn, 6-9
  • Where’s Rufus – DJ, 9-1
  • XLN – Grant Cook & Friends, 9-1
  • Yamato – Karaoke, 8-12

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Sunday, February 25th

  • Click’s Live – Acoustic Chaos, 9-12
  • The Forge, Ben Wheeler – Tommy & The Acoustics, 7-10
  • The Grove – Chris Oliver, 11-2
  • Lago Del Pino – Dustin Becker, 12-2pm

    Ad Eguide

Monday, February 26th

  • CBS19 Music Monday’s – The Kirby’s, 10pm 
  • Love & War, Lindale – Karaoke, 8-12
  • Stanley’s BBQ – Ramoth Gilead & His Affiliad, 6:30-9:30

Tuesday, February 27th

  • 11th Frame Club – Lynn Groom, 8:30-11
  • Back Porch – ReULion Charity Jam, 6:30
  • Coach’s & Cowboy’s – Karaoke, 8-12
  • Dakotas Chop House – Gary Patrick, 7-10
  • F D’s Grillhouse – Eric Mosley, 6-9
  • Garage Bar – Karaoke, 8-12
  • Love & War, Lindale – Songwriters Anonymous, 8-12
  • Republic I’ve House – Todd Rinlee, 8
  • Summerfield’s Bar & Grille – Karaoke, 7-11
  • Stanley’s BBQ – Dustin Becker & Chris Oliver, 6:30-9:30
  • Where’s Rufus – DJ, 8-12

Wednesday, February 28th

  • The Back Porch, Kilgore – Adam Brown, 7-10
  • Click’s Live – Karaoke, 8-12
  • Dakotas Chop House – Gary Patrick, 7-10
  • The Forge, Ben Wheeler – Craig Wallace & T.D. Wilt, 6-10
  • Leon’s, Longview – Blues Jam with Johnny & The Nightcrawlers, 8-11
  • Stanley’s BBQ – Big Funky Cloud, 6:30-9:30
  • Yamato – Open Mic, 8-12

 

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Around East Texas

Koe Wetzel, Flatland Cavalry, Parker McCollum in Concert

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Upcoming Concerts

February 2nd (8pm) – Zane Williams with Push Water will be at Love & War in Lindale. Tickets are available at outhousetickets.com. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $32 VIP.

February 3rd (7:30pm) – Take 6 and Manhattan Transfer will be in concert. Combining forces for the first time, the two groups boast a remarkable 20 Grammy Awards and a range of styles that covers nearly every genre of popular music; from jazz to swing, from gospel to R&B. Belcher Performance Center at LeTourneau University is located at 2100 S. Mobberly, Longview,  (903)233-3080 or go to belchercenter.com.

February 9th (8pm) – Max Stallings will be at Coach’s & Cowboys. Tickets are available at wildtexastickets.com.

February 16th (8pm) – Koe Wetzel will be at Coach’s & Cowboys. Tickets are availableatwildtexastickets.com.

February 17th (8:30pm) – Curtis Grimes will be at Moore’s Store in Ben Wheeler. Tickets are available at the door.

February 23rd (8pm) – Flatland Cavalry will be at Coach’s & Cowboys. Tickets are available at wildtexastickets.com.

February 24th (8pm) – Monte Montgomery in Concert – One of East Texas favorite artists, Liberty is thrilled to have back Monte Montgomery in concert. He has recently released his new album “Dragonfly” and is currently touring. Tickets start at $15. Liberty Hall is located at 103 E. Erwin St., Tyler. Tickets are available at libertytyler.com.

March 3rd (8pm) – Broken Valor w/ Panik Device, Victims Of Sanity will be in concert at Click’s Live. Tickets are available at the door with proper ID.

March 10th (8pm) – Shooter Jennings – Shooter Jennings is an American singer-songwriter active mainly in the outlaw country music and Southern rock genres. He is the son of country music legend Waylon Jennings. Tickets range from $35 -$45. Liberty Hall is located at 103 E. Erwin St., Tyler. Tickets are available at libertytyler.com.

March 16th (8pm) – Parker McCollum will be at Coach’s & Cowboys. Tickets are available at wildtexastickets.com.

March 24th (8pm) – Bibeau Record Release Party & Concert – will be held at Click’s Live. Tickets are available at the door with proper ID.

April 21st – Bowling For Soup at Clicks Live (8pm) – American pop-punk band Bowling For Soup emerged in Wichita Falls, Texas in 1994, but have since relocated to Denton Texas. Tickets are on sale at the door for $19, and may be purchased in advanced online for $15 at etix.com.

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Concerts

Liberty Hall’s Spring Fun: Johnny Lee, Monte Montgomery & Shooter Jennings

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We are ready for spring! Here are whats coming to Liberty Hall.

Next week we have two Texan musical geniuses! First, on Friday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m., we welcome “The Original Cowboy,” Johnny Lee. Johnny is one of the many Country Music sensations JMT Entertainment will be bringing to Liberty Hall this year. Johnny is a member of the “Texas Country Music Hall of Fame” and is most known for his participation in “Urban Cowboy” with the song “Looking for Love.”

The next day, Saturday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m., one of East Texas favorite artists, Monte Montgomery, visits our stage once again! After a 4 year break, Monte came back strong in 2016 with his new album “Dragonfly.” If you want to hear one of the “Top 50 All-Time Greatest Guitar Players,” you better not miss this show! For interviews with Monte Montgomery, contact Jay Reynolds (512) 944-6888

On Saturday,  March 10 at 8 p.m. we welcome Shooter Jennings, the son of country music legend Waylon Jennings! He “Put the “O” Back in Country” and now is bringing true outlaw country music to Liberty Hall. Opening for Shooter is the striking figure with an old soul and a voice like a force of nature, Jaime Wyatt. For interviews with Shooter Jennings and Jaime Wyatt, contact Adam Barnes adam@colonelmgmt.com.

Then, on Friday, March 16 at 7 p.m., you can sing, quote and chant along with your favorite scenes of Monty Python and the Holy Grail! This cult classic is a comedic parody of the grim circumstances of the Middle Ages as told through the story of King Arthur and framed by a modern-day murder investigation.

Next, on Friday, March 30 at 8 p.m., we grab our bottle of strawberry wine and welcome the multi-platinum international artists, Deana Carter. She took the industry and fans by storm with her wildly successful debut “Did I Shave My Legs for This?” She then showed her own blend of country and retro-rock with the hit “Strawberry Wine.” For interviews with Deana Carter, contact Jules Wortman (615) 260-9985.

The month of April is full of Country and Rock ‘n’ Roll! We kick off on Thursday, April 12 at 7 p.m. with the legendary Johnny Rodriguez. Another Texas Country Music Hall of Famer, Johnny Rodriguez, has had fifteen top-ten singles and 6 number-one hits since 1973. Some of his classic hits include: “Pass Me By”, “You Always Come Back (To Hurting Me)”, and “Riding My Thumb to Mexico.”

Then, on Saturday, April 14 at 7 p.m., we welcome one of the top Elvis tribute artists in the business! Al Joslin has won first place at the 2016 Ultimate Orlando, finished in the top 5 in the world at the 2017 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest in Memphis and recently won first place at the Elvis Fantasy Festival in Portage, IN. Come see the Ultimate Elvis Country, Gospel, and #1 Hits! For interviews, contact Sheryl Jackson (214) 336-1104.

Next, on Friday, April 20 at 7 p.mBill Anderson, pays Liberty Hall a special visit. A member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1961, visits us Bill is one of the most popular, most enduring entertainers of our time. He is known, in fact as “Whispering Bill,” a nickname hung on him years ago as a result of his breathy voice and his warm, soft approach to singing a country song.

The very next day, Saturday, April 21 at 8 p.m., after more than 50 years together, we welcome Mouse & the Traps come back to the Liberty Hall stage! They continue to be one of the best examples of “Texas Rock & Roll”! This acclaimed group was formed right here in Tyler, Texas and they serve up a good helpin’ of original material and Classic Rock favorites. For interviews, contact Ken Nardo (903) 714-2284.

Finally, on Thursday, May 10 at 7 p.m., we have the honor to hear the music of the grandchildren of Twitty Conway & Loretta Lynn in concert. Tayla Lynn and Tre Twitty are remarkable young talents that would make their famous grandparents proud!

To top it all off, we will host student movie nights every first Thursday of each month. Students get a $2 discount off their ticket price with a valid student I.D. Be sure to visit LibertyTyler.com for more information and tickets and “Like” Liberty Hall on Facebook for daily updates.

Liberty Hall is a department of the City of Tyler and is located on the historic Downtown Tyler Square. The mission of Liberty Hall is to create exciting art and entertainment experience that will integrate the arts into the downtown’s social, economic and community fabric by providing diverse opportunities for entertainment, through film, theater, comedy, and music.

 

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