August 13, 2009

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More room for country
When Tequila’s closed, another door opened
By Katie Beth Ryan music@hippopress.com

In a dismal economy that has seen more than a few area bars and clubs shut their doors, starting a new music venue might be seen as an exceedingly ambitious prospect.

But as Hooksett resident Dave McCurdy sees it, closed doors mean new opportunities. That was the case with Tequila’s, a country-western bar in Danvers, Mass., attended by McCurdy and a close-knit group of friends. Tequila’s was shuttered at the end of June, but McCurdy and other faithful Saturday night attendees were eager to see another dance club take its place. His efforts have culminated in the opening of the Midnight Rodeo Bar, a Saturday night dance country bar housed at The Yard in Manchester. McCurdy typically made the hour-long drive to Danvers every Saturday night until last month, when the nightclub announced that it would close.

“What I felt first was my concern about where I was going to go, but then I realized that there was a whole group of people that I danced with on a regular basis on Saturday nights who were going to be displaced themselves and would have no place to go,” he said.

“What this does is that it reaches all the country music fans who are out and about and enjoy country music. If they love to dance, even better.”

McCurdy’s background isn’t in the nightlife industry, and he wasn’t even a fan of country music until a friend turned him on to a Toby Keith CD a few years back. He soon was drawn to ballroom dancing lessons, which led him to the line-dancing night at Circle 9 Ranch Campground in Epsom. Eager to find other avenues for dancing and like-minded people to dance with, McCurdy stumbled upon Tequila’s, where he was a Saturday night regular for two years. Then came word that Tequila’s days were numbered.

But as Tequila’s final night approached, McCurdy began to realize how much he would miss the beloved bar. Together with his girlfriend, he sought out different venues, printed up business cards and passed them out to fellow patrons at Tequila’s. His last-minute marketing strategy paid off: more than 450 people attended Midnight Rodeo Bar’s opening night on Saturday, July 11.

“To me, that just answered the question, ‘Is there a need out there for a country venue?’” McCurdy said. “The answer was yes.”

Midnight Rodeo Bar’s opening night brought out a healthy batch of late-20-somethings to baby boomers, and even McCurdy’s 80-year-old mother, who swore she’d only stay an hour but didn’t leave until 11:30 p.m.

“It was nice listening. And it was good energy,” McCurdy said. “People feed off of one another’s energy. There was a lot of positive, happy energy that was out there, and people are drawn to that.”

The Midnight Rodeo Bar has several advantages in its infancy as a music venue. There are few other country-oriented bars within driving distance of Manchester, and Manchester itself is an ideal location, drawing in both locals and the Massachusetts clientele that once frequented Tequila’s. There are also a good number of country bands in greater New England. Maine’s Wolf Creek played the bar’s opening night, with Gale County following the next weekend. Even for people who swear they’re not into country music, McCurdy sees a broad appeal.

“What we tried to do was have something for everybody. We just wanted to be a nice place to go if you’re interested in listening to music and having a burger with people who enjoy dancing.”


Midnight Rodeo Bar
Where: The Yard, 1211 South Mammoth Road in Manchester
When: every Saturday night, 7 p.m. to midnight
Admission: $10
Info: www.midnightrodeobar.com