When a trio of Rancho Rio food truck proprietors noticed that some students were unable to get into West Campus parties, they decided to create a place they could kick it to free live music and comedy nights.
Truck owners Eddie Windwillow, William Marsden and Stefan Rice recently pooled their resources together to build a stage, purchase light equipment and scout talent to perform on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays in the park on Rio Grande and 26th streets.
“We see people trying to get into parties with lines and guest lists,” Windwillow said. “If you don’t get into a party, you can come chill here and listen to some nice music or some solid comedy.”
When Marsden began talking to Windwillow about possibly hosting performances at the park in the future, Windwillow and Rice started brainstorming ways to make it happen.
“Stefan and I are the kind of guys who hear these ideas and decide to just go for it,” Windwillow said. “And if it fails, who cares? At least we tried something fun for our customers.”
Marsden said he felt the park had an obligation to provide the community with some outdoor entertainment as one of the few outdoor hangout spots in West Campus.
“We thought, well, we have a park here, we need to start doing music,” Marsden said. “Maybe we can even have a West Campus fest at some point.”
Now, the fellas at Rancho Rio are hosting open mic comedy Tuesday nights and an eclectic variety of live music Friday and Saturday nights.
“We’re keeping it really open in terms of genre, because we don’t know anything,” Marsden said. “I have these certain ideas about what people like, and I don’t think they’re right all the time. Maybe a Jimmy Buffet cover band would actually set things off. You really never know.”
Within the first two weeks of introducing the Rancho Rio music and comedy nights, Windwillow said they’ve shown a lot of promise for the park’s future as a live
“People are coming by to check out what’s going on, and they really seem to be enjoying themselves,” Windwillow said. “There was even a DJ on Saturday that went past schedule, and we had people dancing on the tables and everything. It was cool to see.”
While having people listen to music and comedy in the park is definitely helpful for business, the guys also want these live entertainment nights to be helpful to the actual performers.
“Hopefully, we can help people feel comfortable in performing so that they can move on and get better,” Windwillow said. “Some of our performers may not be great at their craft yet, but maybe we can get to see that person progress into something that’s great.”
Though the Rancho Rio folks want to see these events grow and become a big part of West Campus culture over time, they don’t plan on ever charging patrons to come and have fun.
“We know everyone’s in college,” Windwillow said. “Who wants to pay to go to a place that’s been free the whole time they’ve been going to school? We don’t want to do that. We just want people to come and enjoy themselves.”
In the end, Windwillow, Marsden and Rice hope to give back to the community that has helped keep all of their businesses thriving.
“To me, you guys have made us,” Windwillow said. “The students and my customers have put us on the map. So, this is us giving back and saying thank you.”
Location: 2512 Rio Grande St.
Days: Tuesday, Friday and Saturday