by Clint Burgess
When I rolled into the pickup-packed parking lot of Kelly's in my Jetta, I knew I might be in over my head. However outgunned I may have been, I dragged my polyester pants and Nikes into the crown jewel of local country nightspots.
The cavernous club featured a gargantuan dance floor, a barn-like atmosphere and enough cowboys to take down the entire Iraqi army. Obviously cowboy hats were abundant and the party was in full swing, literally. Swinging and line dancing were the steps of choice. The majority of the night found the dance floor packed, and when I was able to find an empty seat, I chatted a bit with a group of younger folks. Stephanie Alderwoode and Heather Lopez were out kickin' up their heels with a couple of fellas for the evening. "We're still walking after two Kelly's kickers," Alderwoode flaunted. The ladies whooped it up while their dates, Seth Alderwoode and Brad Jamison, kept the rowdiness to a minimum. This group simply added to the diverse crowd that frequents Kelly's. "Every Friday and Saturday night this place is jumping," Jamison said. Cowboys and college kids helped make that statement true. Even a random sampling of license plates turned up folks from Texas, California and Oregon. Talk about mass appeal.
All of the diversity provided a friendly atmosphere along with a mechanical bull. That's right, a mechanical bull. And it wasn't just the macho faction going for their eight seconds of glory -- there were ladies up there getting their bull on. It was brilliant. I've heard that Kelly's can foster a rough and tumble crowd -- it is a cowboy bar after all. However, as out of place as I was, the whole club was welcoming. Let's face it, everyone feels at home with Tone Loc blaring over the PA. Another Kelly's plus was the exemplary service. The hostesses facilitated the beverage-ordering with flawless precision. More often than not, I was asked if I needed anything. These ladies were on top of things -- by far the best service I've experienced lately. The majority of the manly guys in the club were throwing back drinks not by the glass but by the pitcher. Now that's country.
Almost as country as the Kelly Hughes Band. These guys tore up the stage. They rolled through Wrangler-shaking sets of country standards and exhibited an impressive amount of skill and showmanship. The lead guitarist was only 18, yet he blew the doors off the joint. Kelly Hughes was a pillar of professionalism and a perfect fit for charismatic front man. He's certainly got a good thing going and can keep things fresh as the original cowboy MC. I mean, this guy had 150 people doing the funky chicken -- that's just plain impressive. By the time I left Kelly's, I was ready to go buy a 10-gallon Stetson and a hubcap-sized belt buckle. Unfortunately, my cowboy fairy tale had to end -- but Kelly's is always just a short gallop down I-90.
Publication date: 10/16/03