Aug 4, 2021–Like Neil Sedaka, Cher, and Lady Gaga, the Rockbox Theater keeps reinventing itself to keep the music playing and new fans entertained. KK and Kelly Welch are the latest empresarios to take a turn at the wheel of this iconic “Fredericksburg jewel.”
The sisters bring a boxful of experience from behind the curtain. They currently own and manage Western Edge, a restaurant and music venue; Majesty Tours, a wine tour company; Majesty on Main, a women’s apparel shop; and Townlot 164, a home and gift store.
But all those projects did not keep them from being interested when the opportunity unexpectedly came up to take on a new challenge last summer.
“I drive by it all the time, and when I saw the For Lease sign go up I was afraid somebody would come in and do something crazy with it,” Kelly recalled. “We’ve always taken our tour groups there and attended various shows. It’s just a pivotal part of the community and we didn’t want to see it change.”
They met with the owner, Ray Rodgers, and discussed their shared vision. That was enough to move forward.
The Welch’s goal is to keep the best of Rockbox tradition while tweaking the experience using what the sisters have learned about running an entertainment business in this Hill Country tourist destination.
That means continuing to offer high-quality tributes, such as recent shows The Long Run Eagles Tribute, Still Surfin’ Beach Boys Tribute, and Barracuda Heart Tribute. It also means bringing in national acts such as Gary Morris, who appeared recently, and Texas artists like Cody Canada, Walt Wilkins, Darden Smith, Jack Ingram, and William Clark Green. They are looking into presenting the occasional classical music concert or dance production.
The first change the sisters made was to enhance the customer experience by serving alcohol. Both wanted it known that the Rockbox now offers a full bar, with mixed drinks, wine, beer that can be enjoyed inside the theater during the show. Comfort is a big factor.
“As much as I love outdoor festivals, I also want a nice bathroom and air conditioning,” KK explained “That’s kind of the niche we are looking for, bringing in original Texas artists to Fredericksburg in a comfortable indoor environment with good drinks.”
That’s fine with the artists, who are showing love for performing inside the 390-seat theater.
“Usually you see them perform on a big stage, and you might be standing far back,” Kelly said. “Here you’re in a one-on-one intimate setting, listening to stories about their songs and laughing with the audience. I don’t think you can get that just anywhere. It’s a different setting and the artists love it.”
They are proud to be part of the community. While the city came back from COVID restrictions, they opened it for city council meetings and for taping hospital history videos. And both wanted to emphasize how much they appreciated the 14-year history of the theater, located just a few steps off Main Street.
“I want to say we are really appreciative for all these years of what a wonderful job that Ray and others have done and how it has been supported so much,” KK said. “It’s like a jewel that many people still don’t know about. It’s just great that we’re now able to be the custodians for awhile and try to do a few new things with it, but still maintain its uniqueness and its history of great music.”
They also want it to be a place where everybody finds something they want to see.
“It’s the coolest place,” KK said. “I just hope we can bring in audiences to be able to experience that and make sure that we get the right music and talent so that folks want to come in so this place can continue.”
Information on the Rockbox Theater is found at www.rockboxtheater.com.