Ever since he bought the Moline bar from his father 12 years ago, Ken Bailey has wanted to expand the Rascals footprint.
About a year-and-a-half ago, he finally got his wish.
The building next door, a furniture refinishing shop (which was another bar in a previous incarnation) was for sale after sitting empty for seven years.
Bailey and his wife Julie got their chance and opened Rascals Live last month.
"We wanted to create something where we could have a bar plus a live venue," he said. "With most places in town that you walk into, it's a bar and a live music venue."
Rascals regulars still can go into the bar on the north side to enjoy drinks, a pool table and video games.
But next door at Rascals Live, they can enter a music performance space that Bailey says is built for musicians and fans alike.
The 1,200-square-foot space, with seating for 200 when the tables are removed, includes a 20-by-12-foot stage. The sound system was created by Billy Peiffer of the veteran Quad-City band Lynn Allen and Frank Holst from River Cities Sound.
"Our sound is truly second to none in town right now," Bailey said. "The sound in here comparatively is overwhelming. You can get loud with any system, but it's all about clarity and efficiency."
The first act to play the new venue was British blueswoman Joanne Shaw Taylor, who declared it a "dream show," thanks to the sound quality.
"That was really cool to hear from an artist who has not only played across seas, but everywhere in the country," Bailey said.
A drummer for the area bands Halo of Flies, Ochos Locos, The Hooks and Steady Rollin' Blues Band, Bailey said the room was designed for the musician's ear.
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He wants to balance a schedule of national and regional acts with local bands. The New Duncan Imperials, a Chicago band, and the metal band Psychostick have already played the venue, with Canadian blues guitarist Shawn Kellerman and Chicago hard rockers SOiL up this month.
Eventually, Bailey said, he'd like to schedule four to five performances a week, with a planned blues night and an open mic night hosted by Peiffer.
A buffer between the music space and the bar, which maintains its separate entrance, is an overflow room where merchandise tables can be set up. A bar features Jagermeister and Red Bull on tap, and a pass-through beer stand allows for quick access.
The expanded space puts Rascals in the same realm as two other Quad-City clubs that coincidentally have names beginning with the letter R: Rock Island Brewing Company in The District of Rock Island and the Redstone Room inside the River Music Experience in downtown Davenport.
Bailey said he doesn't intend to book the same acts as those clubs.
"It wasn't a matter of competing with them, it was a matter of offering another place," he said. "RIBCO has their niche and it's truly one of my favorite bars in town because Terry (Tilka, the owner) has kept the live music scene going for so long. ... Same thing with the Redstone Room. But they all have niches."