Backroads Saloon Branches Out

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"A lot of what we have, we put it in with the idea of, 'this will get us open,'" owner Logan Beckwith said. "If we by any means are open years and years from now, we’ll upgrade our sound system, we’ll have better lights, we’ll have more on tap at both ends of the bar."

Owner Sonia Thorndyke said the plan all along had been for a mix of country and rock music, but it didn't happen until now. Not only that, she said, but various acts coming in will make good use of the ample Backroads space.

Comedian Heywood Banks is scheduled to perform there Feb. 19, Zumba dance fitness classes are being taught and events known as Rockin' Fridays and DJ Nights will mix up the music.

Some of the rock bands on the schedule include The Silver Tongued Devils on Friday, Double Down on Feb. 5 and The Electric Red on Feb. 12.

The musical diversification hasn't come with some uncertainty, though. Questions about the direction of the venue have popped up on social media, and the owners said they've heard some of that unease even as they hear support from others.

"Those that are worried, they don’t need to be worried because we’re still going to have dance," Thorndyke said. "We’re still going to have country line dancing."

Thorndyke said while rock fans can usually get down with some country music, it doesn't work very well the other way. On Friday nights, she said, line dancers can still do their thing until 10 or 11 p.m., leaving lots of night left for other music.

One of those dancers is Calhoun County resident Avar Wright. She said she's a country music fan who's been going to Backroads Saloon for dancing since it opened in 2014.

Wright said she wasn't sure about having more rock music at Backroads at first, but she's since made a discovery.

"Here’s the thing about dancing," Wright said. "It’s universal. And a lot of the dances that we do and have been doing go right with the rock music."

Wright said she's had fears that have "gone by the wayside," over the last few weeks, although she would like to see more of the large space at the venue used. That's also something the owners said they're working on, hoping to be able to hold events such as weddings there.

They're also aware of what hasn't worked.

"The teen dance wasn’t well-attended, but the ones that did come here had a blast, so we have to do it again," Thorndyke said. "We have to keep getting the word out, keep advertising through social media for the young, under-20-year-olds, more of a high school age."

That's actually a strength of Backroads, according to the owners; Thorndyke said she's seen nights where people in their 20s through senior citizens are on the same dance floor having a good time. They're hoping the changes will allow that to continue.

"I feel like it’s going to be all around good for everybody," Beckwith said.

Contact Andy Fitzpatrick at 269-966-0697 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow him on Twitter: @am_fitzpatrick.

If you go

WHAT: Backroads Saloon.

WHERE: 15325 W. Michigan Ave., Marshall.

WHEN: Backroads Saloon is open 6:45-11 p.m. Wednesdays, 6-11 p.m. Thursdays and 6:45 p.m.-2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

INFO: Call 781-7091 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Check out www.backroadssaloon.com.

Billy Mack and the Juke Joint Johnnies perform at Backroads

Billy Mack and the Juke Joint Johnnies perform at Backroads Saloon in Marshall Friday evening. (Photo: Stephanie Parshall/For The Enquirer)

 
Billy Mack and the Juke Joint Johnnies perform at Backroads

Billy Mack and the Juke Joint Johnnies perform at Backroads Saloon in Marshall Friday evening. (Photo: Stephanie Parshall/For The Enquirer)

 
Billy Mack and the Juke Joint Johnnies performs at

Billy Mack and the Juke Joint Johnnies performs at Backroads Saloon in Marshall Friday evening (Photo: Stephanie Parshall/For The Enquirer)

 
Drummer Tony Handley plays with Billy Mack and the

Drummer Tony Handley plays with Billy Mack and the Juke Joint Johnnies at Backroads Saloon in Marshall Friday evening. (Photo: Stephanie Parshall/For The Enquirer)

 
Bass player Greg Lintemuth plays and sings with Billy

Bass player Greg Lintemuth plays and sings with Billy Mack and Claybourne Stewart of Billy Mack and The Jute Joint Johnnies at Backroads Saloon in Marshall Friday evening. (Photo: Stephanie Parshall/For The Enquirer)

 
Bass player Greg Lintemuth plays as a part of Billy

Bass player Greg Lintemuth plays as a part of Billy Mack and The Juke Joint Johnnies at Backroads Saloon in Marshall Friday evening. (Photo: Stephanie Parshall/For The Enquirer)

Barbara and Dave McKee enjoy a slow dance together

Barbara and Dave McKee enjoy a slow dance together as Billy Mack and the Juke Joint Johnnies perform at Backroads Saloon in Marshall Friday evening. (Photo: Stephanie Parshall/For The Enquirer)