When a man swaps his ranch for a traditional-style dance hall, what do you call it?

In Salado, the man is Larry McClaren. The dance hall is The Legend Club, and the reason is “I love legendary country music.”

So you might call it a labor of love, but emphasize the word “labor.” It’s obvious in the obsessive attention to detail, from the squeaky-clean kitchen to the immaculate grounds surrounding parking areas. A spectacular bar, huge wooden dance floor and raised proscenium stage with state-of-the-art sound equipment exceed expectations.

Then there’s the vision and financial resources to book a bona fide country music legend. How about, say, Ray Price? That’s who performed at The Legend Club on May 4, busting the bubble of those who lament a lack of top acts appearing at a first-class local venue.

“We opened in September of 2012,” said Peggy Sutherland, manager, “and we’ve consistently booked name acts while trying to continually add value to the club.” The demand from brides prompted McClaren to add wedding-type accommodations: expanded rooms for bride, groom and wedding party as well as a caterer-friendly full kitchen.

“With two hotels just across the interstate, it’s a perfect fit for weddings,” McClaren said. The Legend staff has even served as private limo drivers, ferrying wedding parties and their guests to and from hotels. “It’s an important part of serving our customers,” Sutherland said.

But legendary country music is McClaren’s first, true love. When Gary P. Nunn performed on New Year’s Eve, the house was full and McClaren was happy. “I grew up in Cameron, graduated from high school in ’70,” he said, “and I was ready for a change.”

While acknowledging the numerous challenges and occasional setbacks, the gleam in his eye when McClaren discusses country singers reveals his passion. “For example, I think Bobby Flores is a great singer,” he said. The singer, composer and fiddler will perform Saturday. The fact that Flores was mentored by Ray Price is important to McClaren — a living link to a legend.

And as long as former rancher McClaren has his way, those country music legends will return to his dance hall, The Legend Club.

Herald/Steve Pettit

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