By Paul T. Choate
April 25, 2012. The building may be gone but the memory lives on. The annual P.B. Scott’s Reunion Party, now in its seventh year, is a celebration of all that once was at the famous (and infamous) P.B. Scott’s Music Hall in Blowing Rock.
The event takes place at Canyons in Blowing Rock on Saturday, May 5, at 9:30 p.m. Live music will be provided by the alternative 80’s band Orange Crush. There will be a $5 dollar cover charge at the door.
So why hold a reunion for P.B. Scott’s?
“For the old people,” said Bart Conway, owner of Canyons and former silent partner of P.B. Scott’s. “It was an institution. People are entertained by coming out and remembering what they did back in those days and seeing a good band play music from that era.”
Randy Kelly, former manager and co-owner of P.B. Scott’s, had the idea of a reunion party for the venue in 2005. He, along with Conway and High Country Press publisher Ken Ketchie, are the hosts of the annual party. During the first band break, the hosts will give people who bring P.B. Scott’s memorabilia the opportunity to speak about their items and retell stories from their experiences at the club.
“I spent many nights at P.B. Scott’s myself, so I was a big supporter of seeing this reunion work,” said Ketchie. “For anyone who used to go to P.B. Scott’s it’s still something that, when you talk about it, you get goose bumps. It was so much fun and such a unique place. The shows that we saw, the acts that we saw, the entertainment was unbelievable.”
During its short lifespan, from the late 1970’s to the early 1980’s, the club became one of the top music venues in the region.
“The club was the top club in the southeast,” said Kelly. “Nobody thought that would happen in a little town like Blowing Rock, but it did and it just went on and on. People said the best club they had ever been to was this geodesic dome up in the mountains.”
“It was just a very good place to go to see a better band – a national act, if you will,” said Conway, describing the venue as a “musical showcase.”
The building that was home to P.B. Scott’s is legendary as well. The 58-foot geodesic dome was one of a kind in the High Country. After the club closed down, the owner of a construction company moved the building to Lake Norman and converted it into a house for himself.
“He’d been to music there and said he just hoped that some of that great karma from all the great music that had been in that building would transcend into his life down there in his house,” said Kelly.
P.B. Scott’s was closed in 1983. For an establishment that was so successful, why was it only around for such a short period of time? That’s a good question.
“P.B. Scott’s was always in trouble with the Town of Blowing Rock because, for many, it was a nuisance,” said Ketchie. “It was bringing college kids to their town. You know, live music and everything that was associated with that. The Town of Blowing Rock was always trying to close it down and P.B. Scott’s was always trying to find a way to stay open. The town finally won.”
“If you want to measure the importance [of P.B. Scott’s], after Blowing Rock did their best and got us and the other bars out of town, the tax base went down,” said Kelly. “They had problems that needed tax dollars, so they voted in liquor by the drink. Isn’t that ironic? After kicking all the bars out and realizing what a tremendous loss of revenue the town had in their tax base they immediately voted in liquor.”
The experiences and memories from years long passed, however, have allowed P.B. Scott’s to live on. Canyons has dedicated two walls in the restaurant as a shrine to the club. Approximately 30 feet of space along the walls display a vast collection of P.B. Scott’s pictures, fliers and other memorabilia. This makes Canyons the ideal host of the party.
“Canyons, which back in those days was Holley’s [Tavern], was one of the places where, when you went to Blowing Rock, you hung out at,” said Ketchie. “It was a venue that was right up there with P.B. Scott’s.”
Facebook has helped the event reach many outside of the High Country. A Facebook group called Remembering P.B. Scott’s Music Hall in Blowing Rock has 1,476 members.
“That’s phenomenal for a club closed over 25 years,” said Kelly of the Facebook page.
The reunion is expected to have a substantial turnout. Every year the attendance has grown. Last year, according to Kelly, over 200 people attended. It’s not just locals either. People from all over the state come for this celebration that promises to be a blast.
“For a lot of people, it’s the one night of the year they stay up late,” Ketchie said. “It’s really funny to see all these old people dancing their butts off to the very end.”