What’s Local: Boonies Roadhouse a true country venue

Boonies Roadhouse, 7940 S. Main St., Rockford.
Boonies Roadhouse, 7940 S. Main St., Rockford.

By Jim Hagerty

Staff Writer

Since November, Rockford is now the home of an authentic country music venue. Boonies Roadhouse, 7940 S. Main St., in Rockford, features an array of live music and line-dancing.

From the Nov. 16 grand opening to the current full slate of entertainment, the Boonies dance floor has been packed, and patrons are enjoying themselves.

“Boonies is one of the few places where you can hear real country music in an authentic country music setting,” co-owner Tom Vaultonburg said. “It’s not a kids’ bar that has a country music night once a week and hip hop the next. It’s country all day, every day.”

Brothers Tom and Dan Vaultonburg share the day-to-day operations. Tom runs the bar and books the bands, while Dan does the cooking. Both have invested their expertise in reopening the club, a former drive-in eatery and truck stop as well as bar (Oasis) halfway between Rockford and Byron.

Tom, a poet and sometimes actor, is actively involved in the Rockford-area arts scene and uses keen eyes and ears in bringing in only the best in area entertainment. Live music is featured every Saturday night.

Although Dan serves up typical regular bar fare of burgers, nachos and wings, his personal touch keeps the club going beyond its exciting music schedule. At Boonies, a typical beer and shot order can easily be complemented by a cosmopolitan or a New York strip steak.

In their quest to open a popular bar, the Vaultonburgs have found a treasure. Typically, when a bar changes hands, especially after being vacant, a new owner with a new vision often changes its scope. Tom and Dan embraced the history of the club, and knew the building—as is—would help them realize their vision and that area country music lovers have had for many years. Surprisingly, nothing has been changed.

“Boonies Roadhouse could be set in a movie,” Tom said, noting the nostalgic setting. “Why change perfection?”

After a successful run as a drive-in restaurant, a bar and huge dance floor was added in the 1970s, making it ideal for an array of patrons, especially the blue-collar sector, to stop by and unwind.

“Boonies is the neighborhood bar for the farmers, ranchers and cowboys [who] most people seem to have forgotten actually produce the food our nation survives on,” Tom said. “It’s also close enough to the city and friendly enough that anyone will feel welcome here.”

Upcoming shows include Saturday performances by Juelane & Gid-E-Up, Steve Stapler, Hillbilly Rockstarz and the Cal Stage Band. Line-dancing (Line Dancing with Kelly) starts at 7 p.m. every Friday. Live music starts at 9 p.m. The club is also in the process of planning other special events such as open-stage nights, comedy shows and karaoke.

More information about Boonies Roadhouse, including a complete entertainment schedule, is at www.booniesroadhouse.com. The club can be contacted by calling (815) 962-1567.

To recommend a local business to be featured in this column, e-mail Jim Hagerty at jim.hagerty@rockrivertimes.com with “What’s Local” in the subject line. Or, contact The Rock River Times’ office at (815) 964-9767.

From the Dec. 16-22, 2009 issue

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