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A fire and a pandemic later, Kegs in Jordan reopens for concerts


Kegs Canal Side Event Center in Jordan after repairs to damage from a fire in February 2020.

The owners of Kegs Canal Side Event Center in Jordan didn't know what to do.

All of a sudden, they couldn't host the concerts that made their small town venue a regional destination for music fans. And they didn't know when they would be able to host those concerts again.

It was "a really scary time," said Toni Babbitt, who manages Kegs and whose father, Tony Tardibone, owns it.

That time was February 2020 — a month before the COVID-19 pandemic. A fire had caused heavy fire and smoke damage to the east side of the building, all but requiring that it be rebuilt.

As February turned to March, Babbitt and her father weren't sure they'd have Kegs ready to host a concert by country stars Parmalee and Bianco Brown toward the end of the month. Then the pandemic reached America, and the question became moot. Due to social distancing guidance, most live music venues in the country wouldn't be ready to host a concert for a long while.

So Babbitt, her father and other family members who help them run Kegs took their time rebuilding the event center. Thursday, it will host its first concert since the fire, headlined by rock veterans Jackyl. They'll be followed by country artists Lee Brice on July 23 and Chase Rice on Aug. 13, as well as a Veterans Day show by Neal McCoy and country rap duo The Lacs on Nov. 12.

But the Tardibone family rebuilt Kegs with more than concerts in mind. They also want to begin to market it as a wedding venue, Babbitt said, so the country décor was given a new coat of glam.

"It's shabby chic. It still has a rustic feel, but just a little more glamorous," she said. "It's something different that the area doesn't really have."

Additions to Kegs include marble tops on the bars, new railings and Chiavari chairs. Meanwhile, the indoor stage was rebuilt and garage doors were installed to enclose the pavilion in the event of bad weather during concerts on the outdoor stage. The indoor kitchen was hit the hardest by the fire, Babbitt said, so it's still under construction. But the outdoor grill will be cooking on Thursday.

Along with weddings, the venue is available for banquets, graduation parties, benefits and other events. It has a capacity of 850 inside and 1,950 outside, Babbitt said.

Since opening in 2011, Kegs has reached that capacity many times over due to the caliber of music it hosts.

The venue is particularly known for country, having booked names like Travis Tritt, Montgomery Gentry and Cole Swindell. In 2018, its musical resume earned Kegs a nod for the Academy of Country Music Award for Nightclub of the Year. Fellow nominees were located in Knoxville, San Diego and Las Vegas, putting the village of Jordan on the map of country music fans, if it wasn't already.

Thursday's concert by Jackyl continues the venue's expansion into rock, which also included a 2019 concert by Puddle of Mudd and Saliva. Kegs has even hosted some stand-up comedy. But the event center mostly sticks to country music because it's a favorite of the Tardibone family, Babbitt said. Likewise, the family enjoys bringing the best of the genre to the village of Jordan.

"That's the best part of being a small venue. You know your customers and they know you," she said. "We go out in town and people are excited for us to be back, and we're excited to be back."

Kegs opens strictly for concerts and events, so it doesn't have a regular staff. Instead, cousins, aunts and more family do the bartending and other jobs that aren't contracted, like security. That's partly why the venue didn't receive any COVID-19 relief money, Babbitt said. And that's why its reopening means more to the family than the return of country music stars to Jordan.

"It's a family atmosphere there," she said. "And we're excited to have a great lineup this summer."

Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.


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I edit The Citizen's features section, Lake Life, and weekly entertainment guide, Go. I've also been writing for The Citizen and since 2006, covering arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.

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