Locals know where to go for live country music from national recording artists, southern rock from a local band or line dancing lessons on a weekday night.
, 5520 14th St. W., is a Bradenton nightclub with a southern twist. With 15,000 square feet of open space and a high ceiling, at second glance from the inside it resembles a decked-out warehouse with an ample dance floor, stage, bar and pool tables.
All that open space. Sounds like an evening in a cavernous hall with enough room to perform cartwheels, right?
Because when Joyland brings in a national recording artist, every square inch is filled. The dozens of tables and chairs found in the dance hall are occupied, and the bar is three deep with customers. Joyland’s capacity is 1,085 people – and they’ll fill it on a given night. Like last Friday.
On Friday, the Justin Moore concert sold out before he took the stage. No surprise here, said Rick Lambert, whose family has owned Joyland in Bradenton since 1994. Another country star, Rodney Atkins, who skyrocketed to the top of the country charts in 2006 with his second album, “If You’re Going Through Hell,” kicks off a seven-city tour at 10 p.m. Friday at Joyland, and Lambert predicted another sellout.
If tickets are still available – they were at press time, at least, but no guarantees at this point! – they are $15 in advance and $20 at the door at Joyland, , 5515 14th St. W., or www.joylandcountry.com.
Atkins has several singles that have topped the Billboard country charts and “Through Hell” was a platinum-selling album. The Academy of Country Music named him the Top New Male Vocalist in 2006. His 2009 album “It’s America” reached No. 3 on the Billboard country charts.
Country music stars Randy Houser and Jerrod Niemann will perform at Joyland within the next couple months, Lambert said. Stay tuned to Joyland’s website for ticket info.
Local country and southern rock bands perform regularly at Joyland. For those not adept in line dancing, consider stopping by for a class at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Bring a date Friday; it’s for couples.
Aside from its music and dancing, Joyland has all the other fixings one would expect on a weekend night. The bar serves mostly domestic beers (Budweiser, Coors, Yuengling, Michelob, Miller) along with a couple imports, Smirnoff Ice and wine coolers. Everything comes in a bottle – no drafts. Joyland also serves wine and liquor.
The kitchen serves burgers, hot dogs, pulled pork, ribs, wings – “Bar food,” Lambert said. It’s open until around 1:30 a.m. on the weekends.
The official name of the establishment is Joyland IV, but it’s the only Joyland left. The Lambert family owned three more in the Tampa Bay area but sold the properties.
Joyland in Bradenton has been at its current site since 2007. It originally was near the 6400 block of 14th Street West, then near Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, both times moving because the property owners wanted to do something else with the land. Lambert said when the family bought the current site it was a bar with 10-foot ceilings. They spent a year renovating it to its current size.
IF YOU GO
, 5520 14th St. W., is open from 6:30 p.m. until 2 a.m. Wednesday through Friday and 7-2 a.m. Saturday. Joyland is smoker-friendly and is open to anyone 18 or older. The cover charge varies depending on the music. Check their website, www.joylandcountry.com, for more information.
AROUND BRADENTON THIS WEEKEND
- Blues artist John Németh live at , 4343 Palma Sola Blvd., starting at 8 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $10 and this is a non-smoking show. Here is a description of John from the Ace’s website: "John Németh is a natural-born bluesman, and he proves it with every note he sings, shaping each one with emotion, taste and inspiration. John's expressive blues harp playing answers his voice and fulfills his songs when he solos. John Németh makes it sound easy."
- Live music from local singer/songwriter Matt Brown from 6-10 p.m. Friday at 6218 Cortez Rd. No cover!
- Celebrate Valentine’s Day early at with romantically-inspired drinks all day Saturday at , 427 Old Main St. The bar opens at 2 p.m.
- , 420 301 Blvd. E., hosts a monthly party with free food around the first of every month. February’s party was pushed back a week to Saturday because of Hi-Way’s Super Bowl party. Party starts at 4 p.m., food is served at 5 p.m. Bring a side dish. Owner Roger Dorics is providing the pulled pork – for free!
- Free beer! , 108 44th Ave. E., is a major sponsor of the Bradentucky Bombers roller derby league, and The Distillery is providing free draft beers during the Bombers bout against Ft. Myers on Sunday at , 3611 3rd St. W. Tailgating starts at 5:30 p.m. until the bout at 6:30 p.m. and resumes during halftime. Ticket info here. Join the skaters and their friends for a post-bout party at The Distillery. A portion of proceeds benefit the , 1926 Manatee Ave.