By Diane Lilli
The music scene went eerily quiet when the Pandemic hit, but business partners Zach Bair and Jock Weaver decided to double down on their love for live music. Already working together on other ventures, such as the music-tech VNUE, which recently streamed an exclusive Rob Thomas Christmas concert, Bair and Weaver took a gamble on a new way of enjoying entertainment.
RockHouse Live International now has three bustling locations, in Clearwater and Key West Florida, and Oxford Mississippi. As promised, on any given night you’ll find great food, cool drinks, and plenty of live music and Karaoke. By adding music technology to their three entertainment and dining venues, the restaurant has easily become the local spot in every one of its locations.
“I envisioned RockHouse Live as a place where you could go see local, regional, and national bands, and have great food based on recipes I had developed throughout my life,” said Bair. “ RockHouse Live first and foremost is a restaurant with a “fun factor,” an entertainment-themed restaurant and bar with the best local, regional, and national music, karaoke, and technologies that make it a notch higher. For example, we are installing VNUE’s Soundstr, our music recognition technology, in each location, to help identify music and ensure artists are paid; and we are installing streaming technology that we have developed to allow any audio or video input to be streamed to not only TVs and speakers in the restaurant but to other RockHouse Live locations.”
With three new spots launched in 2021, the partners are now working on expanding even more, because they’ve seen firsthand how much the public loves music, needs music, and is seeking a venue with a modern twist of technology. The partners see clearly patrons are seeking live entertainment and especially music, plus the chance to get up and dance with families and friends. Part of the charm here is that it’s not just rock n’ roll that can be heard on any given night, but instead, a mix of rock, country, and local sounds.
The connection with locals in each town has resulted in unique architecture, specific food specials plus fan-loved musical artists that have deep roots in their respective locations. In Key West there are three stages, with one on an upper deck overlooking the main drag. Clearwater, the original model for RockHouse Live International, has more of a beach vibe with an outdoor eating area and stage plus a large indoor stage with tons of seating and a bustling bar. Over in Oxford Mississippi, the home of Ole’ Miss, the vibe is full-on sports on game day but seriously music-centric.
Part of the charm of the RockHouse Live International spots is that they employ cutting-edge VNUE technology that can take any live music, offer it as an insta-recording and also live stream to other locations. This new sharing technology is part of VNUE’s proprietary tech library of assets, with Bair leading as the CEO and guiding RockHouse Live International’s music tech profile. VNUE is the exclusive licensor of “instant live” pioneer DiscLive, offering high end collectible products such as CDs, USB drives and laminates, that feature our fully mixed and mastered live concert content. When you add this technology to RHL, it’s a win-win for the patrons and the owners.
The innovations in these new venues now include taking typical music or bar menus and turning them on its head. Patrons can still get their fill of favorites such as wings or burgers but at RockHouse Live, the menu is curated to be more expansive, creative, and fresh. The menu features eighteen different types of wet and dry sauces for their wings and numerous new takes on favorite dishes such as Blackened Gator nachos.
“When we launched Clearwater, we added a bunch of other menu items that were central to Florida, such as gator bites, grouper, and other stuff,” Bair explained. “That menu has now become our core menu and is being used in Oxford along with some local “flavor” as we say, such as our Oxford Rice Bowl. We try to tailor the menu to a degree to each location.”
With fans attending live concerts plus singing at Karaoke events all week, RockHouse Live’s food and beverage category is growing and is a robust growth driver. Happy music lovers get hungry, and this place is ready to please their fans.
The owners said they are now speaking to investors about their next RockHouse Live International locations, that are sure to keep the music alive everywhere their doors open. Weaver, past president of HardRock Cafe and long-time entertainment businessman, complements his partner and tech-savvy musician Bair. Their formula for success is working, and is music to their patrons’ ears.
Bair said the future is bright for the robust growth of RockHouse Live International.
“Our vision is to build RockHouse Live into a global powerhouse brand, and we are already on our way. We have opened our Flagship in Clearwater (April 2020) and both Oxford and Key West in September,” he noted.