It has been 20 years since Paul Weber bought The Commercial Tavern, and next weekend, he is inviting the community to come celebrate with him.
Starting on Oct. 13 with their regular open stage night, Weber and plenty of his family members will be taking the stage to celebrate 20 more years of authentic country music in Maryhill.
The celebrations don’t end there, however. It is a full weekend of bluegrass, Hank Williams and more.
“It is going to be a busy weekend,” said Weber. “Friday and Saturday night, my family, my brother Mike on the steel, three of my sisters Susan, Lynn and Judy will all be here playing with my brother Wayne, and a lot of guests dropping in.
On Saturday afternoon, we have a bluegrass band from 3-6 p.m. – The New Cumberland Bluegrass Band. On Sunday, we are going to have Joe Matheson, who is an actor who does a tribute to Hank Williams. We’re doing the Sunday show from 3-6 p.m.”
Matheson’s performance, entitled Hank Williams Live – 1952, emerged while he was recording a CD of Williams’ tunes – Long Gone Lonesome – in 2006 in Nashville. There, he met with Don Helms, the steel guitar player in Williams’ band, the Drifting Cowboys. From Helms, the last surviving member of that lineup, Matheson got some firsthand accounts of Williams, stories that formed the basis of a production that is not a tribute show, but rather his own take on Hank’s life.
While the 1952 performance he recreates never happens, events unfold as they might have in that fateful time leading up to Williams’ Jan. 1, 1953 death.
Dead for more than 60 years, Hank Williams is still synonymous with country music. The legacy he created before passing at the age of 29 remains compelling today.
It’s that kind of classic country that Weber’s Commercial Tavern is famous for.
The music may have stayed the same since Weber finished his touring days and bought the tavern, but the times have changed outside of the doors. He has had to make some scheduling changes to keep the momentum going.
“The days of putting a band on stage, turning the lights on and opening the doors are gone,” he said, adding that afternoon shows and theme nights seem to be the way to go. “The afternoon shows seem to work better than anything, actually. In the new year, we will be doing a lot more Saturday afternoon shows. With the “baby blue” spruce giveaway last weekend, we were full. People like that. They like the parties that have a theme.”
Weber has also opened up the possibility of scheduling private parties like weddings, reunions, stag and doe parties and more at The Commercial Tavern, appealing to new guests and community members
Even though the clientele is changing at the Maryhill venue, he says he has some great memories from the last 20 years.
“I have enjoyed so many shows. We have been fortunate enough to have our good friends Gordie Tapp a number of times, George Hamilton IV, a Grand Ol’ Opry member who passed not too long ago, and all the great stars that I got to know while I was on the road,” he said. “They never really owed me a favour, but they always came in and played for us. We have been pretty lucky.”
After 20 years in business, Weber has plenty of people he wants to thank, especially the regular customers that keep coming back for more classic country tunes.
“Twenty years is a big milestone, especially in these changing times,” he said. “We have had some very loyal people and it takes everyone to keep it going. Thanks to all the people who have worked for me over the years, and all the entertainers that have been friends of mine and appreciate a good venue.”
The celebration starts on Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. and runs for the rest of the weekend.
To see the schedule of events, visit www.commercialtavern.ca or call Weber at 519-648-3644.