Chris Tilleman props himself up on a stool and begins to strum his acoustic guitar, offering his best rendition of “Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain.”

To the delight of the small crowd of people who recently filed through the door, Tilleman switches gears to a more up-tempo original he calls “High and Wired.”

The Winedale Tavern, 2110 Lower Greenville, is hopping. It’s Monday night and Tilleman, a 1991 graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School, is earning his living as host of the Texas Songwriters Showcase, an open microphone show providing local musicians and songwriters a place to share their tunes with others.

“It’s one of the few happening things going on on Monday night,” Tilleman says.

“We get musicians from far and wide, bands who want to come in and advertise for themselves.”

“This City has quite a bit of talent that is very good.”

After a few songs, Tilleman usually gives way to another musician anxious to try out a new song or perfect an old one.

“I always start off the show to set the tone for the evening,” says Tilleman, who hosts the show every Monday from 9 p.m.-2 a.m.

“I never know how it’s going to turn out, and that’s half the fun.”

Tilleman says the mixed audience adds to the Winedale’s grizzled character and world-worn feel.

On a given night, there’s a group of brow-beaten regulars huddled around the bar cheering (and sometimes jeering) the performers; there’s the occasional troop of SMU fraternity brothers, gimme caps pulled over their eyes, sporting untucked polo shirts and wrinkled khaki pants draped over brown work boots; and there’s the 30-something bankers and lawyers, marveling at the long hairs while puffing on cigars and sipping micro-brews.

“We get the average Lower Greenville passers-by who stop in to grab a beer and get a feel for the strangeness going on inside,” Tilleman says.

“It (the Winedale) is a place where you can go and see what a real dive is.”

“You can tell your friends you were the first on the block to see a genuine Texas hole in the wall, with cigarette smoke to ceiling and sawdust on the floors.”

News & Notes

Science Place: The Science Place IMAX Theater will feature Special Effects, a behind-the-scenes look at the science magic of Hollywood’s blockbuster movies, now through May 15. Upcoming IMAX features also include Super Speedway, a celebration of the excitement of science in Indy Car racing. Super Speedway begins May 16 and concludes November 20. Also, the Science Place Planetarium will feature two new programs, Dinosaur Tales and Cosmic Catastrophes, through May 26. For information on these and other programs, call 214-428-5555.

Skillman Southwestern Branch Library: The Skillman Southwestern Branch Library, 5707 Skillman, welcomes Susan Albert of Whole Foods Market May 31 from 3-4 p.m. Albert will explain how to eliminate fat from your meals by using flavorful foods. She will also treat the audience to snacks and appetizers. For information, call Debbie Rubin at 214-670-6078.

Kitchen Dog Theater Company: The Kitchen Dog Theater Company announces its final show of the ’96-’97 season: “Dog Show,” featuring the works of Samuel Beckett. “Dog Show” opens May 15 at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney, and runs through June 22. Ticket prices range from $8-$14, with “pay-what-you-can” performances May 22 & 29, and June 5, 12 & 19. Performances are Thursday-Saturday beginning at 8 p.m. Sunday matinees start at 2 p.m. For tickets, call 214-871-ARTS.

P.A.W.S. Awards Gala: Lakewood residents Andrea Allen and Dana Nickerson are co-chairing the 10th Annual P.A.W.S. (The Preservation of the World Animal Society) Awards Gala May 17 at the Fairmont Hotel, 1717 N. Akard. Doors open at 7 p.m. P.A.W.S. is a non-profit, non-political organization that raises funds for other non-profit animal-welfare groups. Tickets for the gala are $100 per person. For tickets and other information, call 214-343-8067 or 214-821-4877. Volunteer and sponsorship opportunities are still available.

East Dallas Horticultural Society: The EDHS presents “Springtime in Hollywood,” a May 17 tour of three Hollywood-Santa Monica gardens featuring rockwork and natural stone. The tour begins at 9 a.m. at 7001 Hammond and proceeds to 7005 Hammond at 9:45 a.m., before concluding at 618 Valencia at 10:15 a.m. The group also will visit Michael Parkey’s Texas native garden and bonsal collection, 6254 Goliad, at 11 a.m. For information, call 214-327-9081.

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