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The New Rio Nido Roadhouse: A Flash to the Past

In a sun-lit redwood clearing stand a refurbished double-wide, an outdoor stage, a gazebo, and a pool . . .

Folks lamenting the by-gone days of the glamorous big band era of Rio Nido need look no further than the new-old Rio Nido Roadhouse on Canyon Two. Every weekend different bands roll into this eclectic wayside eatery and swim center, providing audiences with danceable music from the 30’s and 40’s, to the Beatles, Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones, French funk folk, rock ‘n roll, country, reggae, and swing, to hot jazz and cool blues.

photo-4Granted, the ladies don’t wear dresses, hose and hats any more, no one rolls up in limos, and parents aren’t necessarily keeping eagle-eyes on their sweet young teen daughters, but the scene may feel familiar. There’s great music, American roadhouse-style food, full bar with 15 beers on tap, and lots of dancing. Even a few two-to-six year olds who show up with their parents have shown some creative moves out there on the dance floor.

 

Owner Brad Metzger has made some remarkable changes at the roadhouse since taking it over in June 2007. You can still see the freshness of the new paint and trim, the refurbished gazebo and outdoor stage, new patio with heaters, and new commercial kitchen with updated menu. The bar itself is fashioned from an enormous, single fallen redwood, the roots of which lie forever immortalized beneath the vine-covered gazebo.

 

The Rio Nido Roadhouse is a family-friendly place. With the huge pool open from late May until September, you will find two or three generations of families in and around the pool all day, every day. Fun events for the kids include Easter Egg Hunt and other games,  the Catapult & Trebuchet Peeps Flinging contest, marshmallow roasting and s’mores, and the straw maze and burlap bag race at the Annual Western Hoedown.

When the bands show up Friday, Saturday, and Sundays, everyone knows they’re in for a listening and dancing treat. The energy and excitement are palpable.

Some of the popular bands booked for RNR have been the Petty Theft,D’Giin, Unauthorized Rolling Stones, the THUGZ, the Pulsators, Gator Beat, Stompy Jones, the Sun Kings (“Beatles”), Levi Lloyd & the 501 Blues, the Fargo Brothers, Garageland Rodeo,Poyntlyss Sistars, California Cowboys, Tudo Bem, Rusty Evans (“Johnny Cash”), and Jimbo Trout.

Most of the bands perform from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., with the door generally at $5, and several at $10, $12 or $15. There’s no place else around, other than the Rio Nido Roadhouse, where you can go (inexpensively) to a great live concert, eat great food, park for free, and dance til you drop. Perhaps the era of the (smaller) big bands is back!

The Rio Nido Roadhouse is located at 14540 Canyon Two, right off River Road in Rio Nido, four miles east of Guerneville, 20 miles west of Santa Rosa. If you want to book a birthday, farewell, or anniversary party, baby or bridal shower, club or business meeting, or even a kids’ sports team party, for information, call Raena at 707-869-0821.

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