From1979 through 1989, the Bar-Barian was the bar to play rock and roll in Rapid City and the Black Hills. While most bars that have been recognized and honored by the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame possess longevity, the Bar-Barian was a shooting star burning hot and bright.
Initially the Bar-Barian was created and designed for the band ASIA to play original music and have a home base. But the club expanded to showcase the talent of all the rock and roll bands in an environment that provided them with state-of-the-art support in lights, sound and staging.
The building chosen for the Bar-Barian on Jackson Boulevard was originally the postal annex for Rapid City. For a brief three-month period, the building had been used as a country and western venue. The building was cavernous with 30 foot ceilings – a real cave with the acoustics to match.
Three weeks after ASIA played the venue and packed the large space, the band’s management bought it and renovated it. With over 10 years of playing venues and bars, ASIA’s management knew what was needed to create the right environment for bands. The renovations focused on supporting live performances and not necessarily on supporting the comfort of the patrons. A 40-foot stage, 20-foot sound wings, easy load in and out, stage-accessible power, ceiling-mounted light bars, heavy curtains from the old Elks Theater and, of course, everything painted black to set the stage for a superior live performance.
ASIA opened the bar on Thanksgiving and the Bar-Barian’s reputation exploded as the best bar for all the local, regional and national acts. Regional acts included Wakefield, Arron Baron, The Talk, The Look, St. Germain, Flat Cat, and many others. National acts included Nazareth, Roger Fisher, Greg Khin Band, George Thorogood and others. When asked on Austin City Limits to name the best date on his tour 50 States in 50 Dates, Thorogood said, “By far Rapid City, South Dakota, at the Bar-Barian.”
The bar’s reputation continued to grow. A concert in Rapid City usually meant that after the show, the bands, including Lover Boy, David Coverdale and Whitesnake, Eddie Money, Heart, or Styx would be heading to the Bar-Barian to sit in and play with the band on stage or just to hang out.
Mike Chambers, the Bar-Barian’s owner and manager, was proud of the space he helped create, but even more, he recognized the bar as a celebrated place where friends met, danced and heard great bands. Even to this day, Mike gets asked when he is going to open another bar. The answer is simple, he’s not. The shooting star that was the Bar-Barian and the home of the band ASIA was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
2020/2021Ballrooms/Dance Halls/Night Clubs