Blurp Tags Words
When Tag Rhodes bought Driscoll's Tavern, the small neighborhood bar just a quarter mile down the road from where he grew up in Big Flats, he possessed no preconceived notions of doing concerts - not even local bands let alone major national artists. In fact, if you ask him, he'll tell you he was just trying to buy a little tavern in a little town in a little county and keep the place as it was with a few fix-ups. At the time of sale, the tavern was a typical rundown business with a small food menu, video games, a pool table, and a summer softball league. It was in extremely poor condition lacking air conditioning and insulation with threadbare carpet, extensive wiring and plumbing problems, rotting wood siding, and a dirt and gravel parking lot filled with potholes. Tag, however, was incredibly familiar with Driscoll's Tavern, as he became a regular at the very young age of five. Having spent many weeks, months, and years in the bar with his father growing up, Tag knew everyone that came into the bar, and they knew him. He was the precocious pool player that in his pre-teen years was beating all the adults in the pool declaring after his victories: "I'm gonna own this place someday and when I do, I'm gonna bar you guys!"
At the age of 27, completely broke having lost everything in a divorce, Tag was able to make a deal to lease and then purchase Driscoll's Tavern without putting up a single dollar. Initially, Tag just hoped he'd make enough to pay the bills and barely drew a paycheck the first five years he owned the place. In fact, in 1995 after making costly but necessary improvements, Tag almost lost the business after being unable to pay New York State sales taxes. He made the mistake of spending too much too soon, and banks were unwilling to provide a loan for such a distressed and risky business. Tag, always an outside-the-box thinker, borrowed money from his amusement game vendor in return for exclusivity to the tavern. This loan, combined with Tag's tenacity in saving money by living upstairs above the restaurant (where the business office is currently located), bartending, cooking, and eating downstairs, was enough to allow the business to continue.
What started as having local bands inside the restaurant evolved into a pavilion being built out back - with the help of family, friends, food, and beer - and ended with some regional bands performing. The idea then struck Tag to try a low-level national band, and he successfully booked Badfinger. Even then, Tag, however, still truly had no idea that someday he'd end up booking some of the biggest names in the history of American music to play. It took time, courage, a new stage, and a willingness to go broke again before Tag was able to build the credibility to convince these big-name acts to come to play at a venue nestled between a golf course and a river in the middle of nowhere. After all, this is Big Flats, NY, and major artists and management never heard of this little venue in this little town in this little county, so why play here when they could play larger markets and venues such as Darien Lake, CMAC, Syracuse, and Saratoga PAC?
Thirty years later Tag is celebrating a successful business that has expanded greatly and attracts top entertainment to the region. Entertainment this year will include country music superstars Cole Swindell and Lee Brice and metal voices Tom Keifer of Cinderella, Stephen Pearcy of Ratt, and Vixen to name a few. Tag continues to make improvements to the facility, some small and some large. He consistently fights the fight in our tiny town to do the best he can to keep bringing national-caliber acts to our small market. The proof of these impressive performances can be witnessed in the restaurant where signed guitars, posters, and other memorabilia bedeck the walls inside the bar. Acts include such artists as Toby Keith, Willie Nelson, B.B King, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Bob Dylan, Rob Zombie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Goo Goo Dolls, and Three Doors Down.
With hard work, ambition, and patience that vision has been able to become a reality. (Tags is also a local-favorite American Restaurant open all year round and the venue grounds serve as Tagsylvania, one of NY's top haunted attractions.) Tags Summer Stage has expanded each year and is now a nationally recognized concert venue with each event having up to 7,500 attendees. It also has an It has hosted artists such as: The Steve Miller Band, The Beach Boys, BB King, Barenaked Ladies, Hootie and the Blowfish, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Willie Nelson, STYX, ZZ Top, Bob Dylan, and many other big names.