Saloon Studios in West Jefferson Offers a True Music Experience for Artists and Fans

Published Friday, June 15, 2018 at 2:32 pm

Saloon Studios brings you back to the 1800s.

By Nathan Ham

Hidden well off the beaten path lies one of the newest musical sensations in the High Country.

Saloon Studios, located in between Fleetwood and West Jefferson in Ashe County, is an intimate, 100-seat mid-19th century saloon replica music hall that features some of the most high-quality sound and studio recording equipment you’ll see anywhere in the country.

Owners Mike and Laura Jones moved from Florida to Ashe County and have lived here for 18 years. The saloon-style setting came about because of Mike’s enjoyment of watching Westerns and the memories of sharing those moments watching Westerns with his father. The project started in 2016.

Donovan Murray, the Entertainment Director for Saloon Studios, has had several years of experience working with festivals and events in the High Country, including the Christmas in July Festival in West Jefferson as well as the Highland Games at Grandfather Mountain. Murray was blown away by the quality of the equipment and the potential that Saloon Studios can reach.

The “town” has different individual buildings that replicate numerous towns of yesteryear, including a general store, a jail, an undertaker, a bank and a post office in addition to the saloon.

“We have a complete, tricked out Old West town, each of these individual buildings are themed. Three-quarters of the saloon is an 1880s Old West saloon. One quarter of that saloon is one of the most tricked out stages you’ve ever seen in your life,” said Murray.

With the limited seating, those that come to a show get to enjoy a real fan experience, up close and personal with the artists.

“We only seat 100 people so part of this whole thing is the experience. You’re not sharing it with thousands, you’re sharing it with 100 people,” Murray said. “We hope to be a place where legends play and stars are born.”

Murray says the plan is to bring in a lot of well-known acts but also give up-and-coming musicians a chance to show what they can do.

Rick Derringer will be playing this Saturday night. Peter Rivera, the original lead singer and drummer of Rare Earth, will be playing on June 23 and legendary rock band Foghat will be playing on July 28. As part of the “Rising Stars” concept, Kelby Costner, Nashville country music artist, will be playing at the saloon on Aug. 4.

The musical talents for shows will vary as acts continue to be booked.

“What we hope for it to be is an entertainment venue, and the beauty of this is that we have the capabilities of broadcasting,” said Murray.

This Saturday’s Rick Derringer show will be streamed live on saloonstudioslive.com.

Still yet, another major selling point of Saloon Studios is the ability for an artist to not only record a live show here, but also record a music video. According to Murray, one music video has already been shot in the replica Old West town.

The venue will also be able to be reserved by the general public for reunions, work training events, large parties and the like. Right now, however, weddings and receptions are not on the list of events that the space can be reserved for.

For more information on upcoming shows and all of the things that Saloon Studios has to offer, visit their website at www.saloonstudioslive.com.

Saloon Studios is located at 313 Old West Road just off of Mulatto Mountain Road.

Donovan Murray is the Entertainment Director for Saloon Studios.

The Old West town has buildings set up that were true to the era, such as a post office, jail, undertaker, bank and a general store.

Inside each building is also decorated and set up to mirror what things might have looked like centuries ago, including an telegraph in the post office.

Inside the music venue.

Saloon Studios is home to some of the most high-tech sound production equipment you’ll find anywhere.

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