Legendary Dallas Band Eleven Hundred Springs Calls It Quits

An era is ending for country music in Dallas, TX, as the city’s most beloved local honky tonk band has decided to call it quits after over two decades of scooting boots across floors, opening shows for the big names rolling through town, and playing residencies that have gone on to become legendary.

About the same time in the late 90’s when some of the biggest names in Texas country from Austin and elsewhere were really starting to sizzle, and the Red Dirt acts from Oklahoma were rearing out of Stillwater and starting to make some national noise, a little band called Eleven Hundred Springs was formed in Dallas, TX by two former bandmates of a rockabilly band: singer, guitarist, and primary songwriter Matt Hillyer, and bass player Steven Berg.

At the time, Dallas was not exactly seen as a haven for country music. It was the home of cover bands and The Dallas Cowboys—a halfway stop between Austin and Stillwater that was a bit too metropolitan for honky tonkers or country rockers. But undaunted, Eleven Hundred Springs released a debut record, and launched a now legendary residency at the Dallas club called Adair’s where they recorded their second record live, and started garnering a local following from their throwback style and authentic country songs that carried a little spunk from the songwriting of Matt Hillyer.

On Wednesday evening, June 9th, Matt Hillyer announced that the band would be playing a few final shows, and then would officially be moving on. “After many hours of phone conversations, long emails, zooms, etc. with my homeboy Steve Berg, it is with bittersweet feelings that we’ve decided to bring the band to an end,” Hillyer said in a statement.

The lineup of Eleven Hundred Springs changed quite a few times over the years, and also worked as a proving ground. Chris Claridy who now picks guitar with Cody Jinks once played in the band, as did drummer Arjuna Contreras of The Reverend Horton Heat. But what Matt Hillyer and bassist Steven Berg initially built turned into an institution of Dallas country music.

Over the years, Eleven Hundred Springs would stretch their footprint beyond Dallas and Texas as well, but they found their calling as Dallas’s country music house band, becoming synonymous with the city, and the only right answer when someone asked who one of the coolest country bands in the DFW area were. Focusing on cementing a legacy in Dallas instead of a national perspective has made them legendary in their own way, and brought them fans from around the world.

Matt Hillyer says the pandemic had put a strain on the band, who released their last album Here ‘Tis in January of 2020, planning to tour behind it before the lock downs hit. This also gave founding member and bass player Steve Berg some time to reflect on life.

“Where Steve found himself was needing to live a life where his focus was more on his family. I 100% understand this,” says Hillyer. “We discussed at length the prospect of continuing with a different bass player. While I was never into that idea, I was less into it the more I thought about it. For one thing, I have too much respect for what we’ve done together than to treat it like less than what it is. Secondly, there are a lot of things I want to explore independent from the band.”

Matt Hillyer has always been a personality in Texas music and beyond, and will continue in that role as a solo artist.

“Our plan is to finish our documentary and to play a handful of farewell shows between now and the fall. We really hope to see everyone there. As for my personal direction in the future, I have been writing quite a bit during the last year. I plan to be recording these songs for future release. I’ll still be making music out there and you can still come hear me sing your favorite Eleven Hundred songs as well as new material. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say how grateful I am to have shared the stage with all the musicians who’ve been in the band over the years, particularly our latest line up Steve Berg, Jordan Hendrix, Chad Rueffer, Ray Austin, and Christian Dorn. I love you guys.”

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