Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Charlie’s BackYard Bar
Even the name of the business is family oriented – Charlie is their dog!
MARSHALL On almost any given night, one can find live music somewhere in Marshall. Though there are many places to go with each having something to offer, there is one place that is not only catching the attention of local artists and music lovers but several big name artists as well. Some of those who make their living traveling from city to city and state to state in order to perform live for their fans have found a place where they love to perform in Marshall! That place is Charlie’s BackYard Bar. Once you’ve been there, you will simply have to go back!
I have been to Charlie’s several times, and I can safely say it is one of the best venues of its kind in the area. Charlie’s is housed in a historic home, and its recent renovations combined with the landscaping make the curb appeal of Charlie’s quite impressive. With the property taking up approximately a fourth of a Marshall city block, the property really jumps out at you as you arrive. Once you are inside the doors, regardless if you are there as a music lover or someone who loves to just hang at the local bar & grill, you immediately feel comfortable and right at home.
Rudy Zachry is the owner of Charlie’s BackYard Bar. During his lifetime, his career choices have taken him to many places. When he retired, Rudy and his wife Sarah were ready to get away from big city life. Rudy’s parents and grandparents had all been born and raised in Marshall, so they were familiar with the town. It seemed like a great place for a family to retire, so they moved there. However, Rudy wasn’t really ready to retire. So, that’s how Charlie’s BackYard Bar was born.
Their daughter Rachel was home recuperating from a shoulder injury. She already had experience working and managing bars and restaurants. Since Marshall didn’t need another bed & breakfast, the idea of a beer garden was born. Rudy liked the idea, but he wanted more than that. He loves music – all kinds of music, and though Marshall was already building its reputation as a place for live music, it didn’t really have a downtown venue that could hold big crowds.
Dating back to the mid 1800’s, the original structure was a two-story, 3200 square foot home. During the renovation and remodel, Rudy added another 3400 square feet to the existing building to complete what is now a 6600 square feet, two-story structure containing a full commercial kitchen downstairs, a bar, and an indoor area for acoustic shows. Upstairs, there is another bar located in the VIP lounge open only for large events and concerts. There are also three architecturally beautiful areas currently being redecorated and restored that will be known as “Magnolia Hall” and used for meetings, events and weddings. Since Charlie’s is licensed, people renting the facility for an event have the advantage of an in-house beverage service.
To see it now, one would surely step back in amazement as to how it looks compared to when Rudy first purchased the property. Trying to balance the old with the new in terms of construction, Rudy wanted to be able to maintain the historical recognition of the original structure, and he was adamant that the new additions must blend and be complimentary of that already existing. “I really love New Orleans. I grew up there, so there is a lot of New Orleans flair to this place,” says Rudy. “The bric-a-brac and gingerbread stuff you see were modeled after the original porch railings on the front porch.” During the cleanup of the area, an old discarded piece of railing from the porch was found in some overgrown shrubbery. With the help of old photographs, they were able to restore and rebuild the existing structure back to its original look. The new addition, though different in materials, was built to complement the existing structure. The siding was cut to exactly the same size as the original but made out of cypress and accented with cedar. More costly during the initial installation, the material was used because of its long endurance and low maintenance, and as Rudy quickly points out, “It was expensive, but I built it to last.”
The real magic of Charlie’s happens when you step outside the back door, for there Rudy has had constructed one of the premier sound stages in the Ark-La-Tex. With a covered roof standing thirty feet tall and supported with 8x8 cedar posts, this beautiful and very functional stage is an approximate 1/20th scale replica of the Wolf Trap Amphitheatre built by the National Parks Service in Virginia. The stage is 32 feet wide and sixteen feet deep with an attached green room for the musicians’ relaxation. As many as fourteen musicians have appeared simultaneously on this spacious stage equipped with powered monitors and a 150 foot, 32-channel snake which leads to an Allen & Heath 32-channel sound board nestled away in an enclosed sound room (with only four feet of cable to spare). Charlie’s boasts an experienced, full time sound man. Jim Stoufflet has 35 years of experience working for various groups and organizations setting up lights and sound for some of the greatest bands and talents that ever took to the stage. Those who perform now at Charlie’s are quite complimentary of the sound management and acoustics of the place.
Rudy is convinced there is a certain wow factor to the place. He believes it’s because people who come there for the first time are seeing things and materials they simply aren’t accustomed to seeing in this type of business. The yard is evenly covered in crushed granite – it is low maintenance and easy for staff and patrons to move around in regardless of the footwear. There is a hard-surfaced outdoor dance floor with tables and chairs that are easily moved around so customers can mingle with their friends while enjoying an outdoor beer garden with five tapped beers.
Charlie’s BackYard Bar has only been open about five months, and it is already bringing great live music and entertainment to Marshall. With a club membership now close to 5000 members, there is something for everyone with great bands and performers and something going on almost every night.
Great talent and Charlie’s just seem to go together. The bar and venue has already seen some great talent, and more are scheduled to appear. Recently appearing were Stoney LaRue, Wes Jeans, Jason Helms and Robin & the Bluebirds. On May 10, the Grammy Award winning group Rebirth will be performing. Teazur will be there May 19 for Charlie’s big crawfish boil, and on May 24, Little Texas will appear. There will be many more great shows in the coming months. Rudy will proudly tell you, “We like as much variety as we can get,” but Rudy is quick to tell potential performers, “You can play covers, but show me you can play something of your own.”
Charlie’s is a family-owned and operated business. Daughter Rachel is the General Manager. With many years experience, this young lady is well-suited for the job. Rudy’s son Joshua doubles as both a bartender and a night manager. Even the name of the business is family oriented – Charlie is their dog! While it would appear that Rudy and his family are living a dream, it has not been without pain. The recent passing of Rudy’s wife Sarah has left a void in many hearts and lives as he describes, “It was a great loss to all of us. My wife was a big part of this and a big part of this community. Children loved her; their families loved her. She was a mentor to younger teachers and all that stuff. It took a lot of the wind out of our sails, because she was our great encourager.” I had stopped in to see Rudy before I wrote this story. They were getting ready for a big show that night with Billy J. Morris and La Razzmatazz from Louisiana. A smile came across his face as Rudy commented on how his wife Sarah had always loved listening to Billy perform. “I feel like she’s still watching out for us, and that’s comforting.”
Come to Marshall and spend an evening with some great food, friendly staff and first class entertainment. It’s easy to find, and you will be glad you did. It truly is like relaxing at home in your own back yard. Charlie’s BackYard Bar is located at 303 N. Columbus in Marshall. You can give them a call at 903-263-8958, and if you are a Facebook fan, CLICK HERE to go to their page.
EDITED FOR SPACE