Smith's Rustic Social Hall opened last summer in Montgomery. Owner Barry Smith thinks the vast room, attached to Smith's Home Improvement Center, 80 Thomas Ave., serves a local need for more gathering places, especially for live music.
Smith's holds live open mic nights at 8 p.m. each Friday.
"You wouldn't believe how many people love (playing live)," Smith said. "You don't have to be the best to come out and play and have a good time, as long as you're not terrible."
Smith’s Rustic Social Hall opened last summer in Montgomery and is located at 80 Thomas Ave., in the same building as Smith’s Home Improvement Center. Open mic nights are held in the new entertainment spot at 8 p.m. each Friday.
Musicians should bring their instruments to the open mic, but there's not a whole lot of setting up to do: Smith supplies audio equipment, including a PA with four microphones, a drumset, and a tuned piano - though amplifying the piano properly is still a work in progress.
"I got the drumset for Christmas as a present from my kids," Smith said. "I've been playing a few months, so I get up there sometimes, but we get a lot of good ones out to play."
"All the guys playing here have never been in a band, they always just played at home," said George Nash, a local drummer, one Friday night while a four-piece was jamming on a Led Zeppelin tune. "It's not like the fancy places over in Williamsport, but it's got that nice country and western look."
The room's look truly is 'rustic,' an aesthetic that serves its acoustics well. High-raftered ceilings, brick walls between the tall glass windows and wooden floors make for lively sound when the music's going full blast. Signs from the former La Grande Subs and Pizza in Montgomery liven up the decor, and handmade tables and chairs line the walls.
"There was an old farmhouse in Turbotville that was just about firewood," Smith said. "We said 'let's just do something with this, and we got some furniture out of it."
Smith and friends tore out rows of paint booths from the room, formerly the Rochelle Furniture plant. They needed hatchets to chop out two inches of lacquer that covered the hardwood floors. The renovation work took about a month. The current seating arrangement can hold 135 people, and that's with much of the floor open.
"There's another unrenovated section of the same size on the property, so we'll see how it goes," Smith said.
So far, the local response has been good. The Social Hall is booked twice in November and twice in December, and the union from the State Correctional Institute at Muncy, where Smith works the graveyard shift, holds its meetings there.
"We've had 15 different people come in to take a look," Smith said. "Every day we've been getting calls about this place, people who are thinking about booking it."
For the kids, a projector screen is available to hook up videos or game consoles, and an air hockey table sits up near the band pit. For the adults, everything is bring your own donations, for now.
Smith and his family moved to Montgomery from Williamsport 22 years ago. They opened up the hardware store about two years ago.
"When we first moved down here this town had everything within walking distance," Smith said. "There wasn't a hardware town for almost 20 years when we opened up - there's not a lot of businesses in town. Anything we can do to bring people into town, you better do it. It took a lot of hard work to get here - we want to build it a little at a time."