Bobby Mackey’s Sign outside – by Jessica Blankenship
Friday night I gathered up some buddies and we went to the Justin Moore, Randy Houser, and Josh Thompson concert held at the Bank of Kentucky Arena at NKU campus. Afterwards we headed down to Bobby Mackey’s Honky Tonk in Wilder, Kentucky. I have been meaning to get up there for a visit after the great invitation from Mr. Mackey himself, as well as RJ. As soon as we walked in, I have never felt so much like home. The two girls working the door welcomed us and then we were greeted by RJ. RJ would introduce us to Bobby Mackey prior to him taking the stage. We then sat down at a table and tried to take it all in. You have a gift shop area room, then there is a large mechanical bull in a corner alongside pool tables, live music from Bobby Mackey and his band, and tables throughout the place. There is also karaoke and the ghost tours.
Bobby Mackey up on stage – by Jessica Blankenship
One thing you are guaranteed to hear is country music. Bobby digs through the catalog of some of the greatest country music singers and puts his own stamp to them. If you like Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, George Jones, and many more stone cold country hit song makers, this is the place to be. After his set, he came and sat by us. We talked quite a bit about the history of the place. He started the place 35 years ago after wanting to be able to do what he loves to do – play music. His wife runs the business while he gets to play music. Talk about a great team and they are both very personable and have great stories. I told him that it feels good to hear good honest to goodness country music. In between the live music, the dj will play different songs for the “youngsters” to dance to. There are folks of all ages that come out to Bobby Mackey’s.
RJ lead us around on a very neat historical tour of the place. He told us where it use to be a nightclub, kinda like on I Love Lucy tv show, complete with showgirls, waitresses holding cigarette trays to sell, mobsters wheeling and dealing in the gambling room. There are several things still there from back in the day. We then walked over to where the mechanical bull was. (Don’t worry, I didn’t get on it!) When Gilley’s down in Texas was completed with the filming for the popular “Urban Cowboy” movie, they were allowed to license and sell the mechanical bulls that you see in the movie. Bobby Mackey would end up purchasing the first one and it landed there in his club. It was a hit and everyone was coming out in full Urban Cowboy gear with their plaid shirts, cowboy boots, and cowboy hats. That bull has since retired and they modernized it.
After RJ gave us the grand tour, we sat and watched Bobby’s next set. Then it dawned on me – I want to go on the Ghost Tour! So we signed up for the 1:15 tour…even had to sign the waiver saying they are not liable for any ghosts or goblins doing anything to us. Several others of us are on the tour that leads us outside and down into the basement. It is indeed a great experience and history lesson into the area. I’m not going to spoil the fun for ya’ll, but here are a few photos from that adventure.
One of the dressing rooms downstairs. Click on photo for full size unedited photo. – by Jessica Blankenship
Click on photo for full size unedited photo. – by Jessica Blankenship
Smiley Face getting ready for our adventure!
Notice the skullface on the door jam to your left? I had noticed it when I walked by and took a photo. By Jessica Blankenship
Room of Faces – do you see the lady sleeping on a pillow with her arm laying down? By Jessica Blankenship
Another photo of the walls in the room of faces. By Jessica Blankenship
Another photo of the room of faces. By Jessica Blankenship.
Tad bit creepy being in this room. It was actually completely dark, only to be lit up by my camera flash!
The stairway to nowhere.
After the ghost tour, it was pretty much closing time. We took the time to say our goodbyes and shoveled on out the door. Hands down if you want down home hospitality, good music, and a good time, be sure to check out Bobby Mackey’s famous haunted honky tonk in Wilder, Kentucky. Be sure to tell him that I sent ya!
Me with Bobby Mackey and his wife Denise (in pink)
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website. The Berea College graduate has been a music journalist and historian for over 20 years. She enjoys providing concert photography, reviews, historical articles, red carpet event coverage, and exclusive interviews of your favorite musicians. Jessica is proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the FFA and 4-H Clubs. In 2018, she was named one of Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award Recipients. In 2019, she was a member of the Inaugural class of BRIGHT Kentucky as part of Leadership Kentucky. She has been featured on the Kentucky Music Preview podcast, Hollercast podcast, Overtones radio show, WFKY Nashville News Roundup, KET, and more. Beyond music, she enjoys traveling, helping her community, collecting gnomes, and Volkswagens.