By GUY D’ASTOLFO
The nightclub in the corner of Wedgewood Plaza in Austintown has had many names and a few different themes over the years, but it’s about to return to its original incarnation.
Rodeo Music Hall, a country-music club and live-music venue, will open Saturday, and it will be the only nightspot of its type in the Mahoning Valley.
The spacious room is on the site of the former Privilege Night Club, a high-end dance club that closed a few weeks ago. It has changed hands quite a few times over the past two decades but always was somewhere between an LA-style rock bar and a slick dance club. Past names include Stratus, Energy, The Mill, The Wedge, Club 1743 and Gossip.
But before all of those, it was the Silver Dollar Saloon, a Texas-style — and Texas-sized — country-music club. That’s pretty much what it will be once again when it reopens as Rodeo Music Hall.
Workers have been hammering, sawing and painting away to remove all traces of Privilege and transform it into a place where a whiskey-and-beer clientele will feel at home.
The two-level club will include four bars, an extra-large floor for line dancing, a stage for live music, comfortable lounge areas, a “trading post” that will sell T-shirts and other club memorabilia, a kitchen for munchies, a new sound system, and, yes, a mechanical bull.
The bull — which has been dubbed Big Willy — will be a centerpiece of the club. It will be run by a colorful entertainer the club has hired who goes by the name Little Willy.
Rodeo Music hall is owned by Chris McFall, with Scott Austalosh handling marketing.
The 19-and-over club will be open on Fridays and Saturdays and will feature touring country acts most Saturdays. First up will be Buck Naked on Nov. 23.
On weekdays, the club will seek to book all types of touring acts, including pop and rock, said Austalosh, who is also the keyboard player in local blue-eyed soul band Hoss and the Juggernauts.
Because there’s nothing like it in the Valley — the nearest country-music club is the Dusty Armadillo, the venerable roadhouse in Rootstown — Austalosh feels that Rodeo Music Hall can’t miss.
He has been booking acts at Shotz bar and grill in Austintown, which flipped into a live-music club about six months ago. That included an appearance by Nashville act Clayton Anderson on Nov. 3 that drew a large and enthusiastic crowd.
“It was an indicator of things to come [to Rodeo Music Hall],” said Austalosh.