Small music venue, big success

By Colin Patrick Brady

You might not know it, but since 2011 Springfield has been home to a nationally acknowledged, award-winning music venue. Boondocks, located at 2909 N. Dirksen Parkway, was founded by Carole Grigiski-Keating. She runs it in conjunction with her husband Pat Keating, who books all the music, usually in the form of nationally touring performers.

Grigiski-Keating describes Boondocks as “a live music venue that primarily features country music acts – though we do dabble in rock music from time to time.” With a few exceptions, shows here are standing room only. There is a fully-stocked bar but food is not served.

The facility has steadily gained in popularity, to the point where they occasionally have run the risk of exceeding its maximum legal capacity of 900. “We are planning a construction project to expand the volume of the building,” Grigiski-Keating explains. In the meantime, some Boondocks shows have been moved to the Multi-Purpose Arena at the Illinois State Fairgrounds to make room for larger audiences.

Boondocks has an exciting docket of concerts on the horizon, including a date from the Turnpike Troubadors this fall.” We have a reputation for building up musical artists that are not so well known and acting as a springboard for up-and-coming acts,” she says, mentioning a recent show by “American Idol” graduate Scotty McCreery.

The venue recently won the prestigious Nightclub of the Year award from the Academy of Country Music. “It is a nationwide award,” Grigiski-Keating explains. “The club was nominated and voted in by others in the industry. Everyone in Nashville wants to play here or has played here. Acts from Iowa, Ohio, Missouri and Southern Illinois have come here to perform. It is a huge draw and must-see destination,” she says.

The venue, formerly known as Rock n’ Robin, had been a successful nightclub in its day so we decided to continue with that theme and convert it into a country western bar,” says Grigiski-Keating. Staff is largely drawn from friends and family who work as needed, depending on the size of the audience expected on a particular night.

Boondocks has also expanded into cyberspace, with email and text services aimed at keeping interested patrons up to speed on upcoming acts. A partnership with WFMB also helps raise awareness, with the radio station providing coverage of upcoming shows and assisting with ticket giveaways.

Above all, Grigiski-Keating credits the success of Boondocks to the club’s clientele.  “We have a respectful crowd during our shows, lots of familiar faces are present and it is generally a family affair.”

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Colin Patrick Brady is a freelance writer from Decatur.

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