Pekinites hoping for an evening of great live music may believe they have to travel to Chicago or St. Louis, or at least to Springfield or Peoria.
Actually, they need not leave Pekin. Last month, Buzzfeed blogger Bryan Scott named the Twisted Spoke Saloon, located at 251 Derby St., Pekin, one of the online magazine’s Top 10 Favorite Live Music Venues Across the United States.
“One of our favorite ‘hidden gem’ venues, opened in 2009. The Twisted Spoke is a no-frills 21+ venue in Pekin, IL hosting local and touring rock, metal, and punk acts,” Scott wrote. “A great spot to fill out your routine, in a great tertiary market in central Illinois.”
The Twisted Spoke Saloon hosts a mix of performers offering genres ranging from classical to heavy metal to country-and-western. Musicians who have played at the venue include Hailstorm, Hank Williams Jr., and members of Poison, Motley Crue and Tesla.
“We never wanted to pigeonhole ourselves to one type of music,” said Twisted Spoke promotional manager Dan Steinbach. “We enjoy all genres.”
Twisted Spoke owner Sammie Jones recommends the tavern for local live music enthusiasts largely because the small venue brings patrons nearer to the performance and encourages social interaction.
“I feel like it’s a better experience,” she said. “You’re not in a big auditorium, and it’s more intimate.”
Besides offering a variety of music to patrons, Steinbach believes the Twisted Spoke earned recognition from Buzzfeed by the way the establishment’s management and staff treat the musicians who perform there.
“When we first got (the Buzzfeed recognition), I was confused,” he said. “I thought it was a joke and then, when I started doing some digging, I realized it was for real. I called around to a couple of the (talent) agencies that we deal with. They weren’t 100 percent positive but said it had to have come from an agent who had gotten feedback from bands. We’ve always treated everybody that comes through here just like family, so I think that had a lot to do with it.”
The Twisted Spoke offers live music every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Fridays and Saturdays typically feature regional or local bands and Sundays are open mic nights. There is generally no cover charge to hear regional and local performers, but the Twisted Spoke may sell tickets for nationally recognized artists.
“The big national events cost thousands of dollars to bring in,” said Steinbach. “Obviously, we can’t not charge for them.”
Despite the recent recognition as a top live music venue, Steinbach pointed out that there is more to the Twisted Spoke than a stage, a superior sound and lighting system, and musical variety. The tavern also provides a full menu and a selection of games to keep patrons occupied.
“The music is a hinge portion of it, but it’s not the only thing we do,” Steinbach said. “We want to make sure that when people come here, they don’t have to leave. They can eat, play pool and darts, see some live music, sit back, have a good time and have good service.”
The Twisted Spoke Saloon’s hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays.