The Go-to Rock Venue
Shiley Acres offers up pure rock and roll and a one-of-a-kind experience in Berkeley County.
Photographed by Tammy Hess Photography
The year is 1976. Rock and roll music is experiencing its own sort of Golden Age, as more and more bands release vast amounts of music for new fans across the country. In West Virginia, it is night, and a group of men are sitting around swapping stories. One man brings up the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland, and talks about all of the national bands that have been performing there recently. The conversation was more than 30 years ago, and it was unknown then to Greg Shiley, who was listening in, that he would soon create a rock venue of his own to host national acts.
What began as a casual conversation soon turned into a very serious work in progress, as Greg began getting everything together to make his ideal music venue come alive. A $100 bet was made between Greg and his friends over whether he’d be able to pull it off—and he did. That year he founded Shiley Acres on the fields of his farm. The first show in the pastures of Inwood was quickly thrown together. “When we started Shiley Acres it was just two trucks backed together, and we put the sound system on the ground,” says Greg, who admitted he didn’t have any prior experience in running a venue, but he’d been in a couple of bands. Tickets went up for sale just the same, and more than 30 were bought in advance. “We didn’t have any clue who was going to be here,” Greg says. When approximately 1,500 showed up to Shiley Acres, you can bet he was pleased.
Greg wanted to highlight the region around the Eastern Panhandle, so he only invited local acts to play in the beginning. “We’ve always had great local talent and great potential with local artists in our area for music,” he says. Today local bands that play at Shiley Acres continue to love the chance to perform in front of a large home crowd. Terry Miller, West Virginia native and lead singer for Dirty Deal, calls playing at Shiley Acres “such a great homecoming.” Terry likens the experience to playing in your backyard with friends. Shannon Larkin, a native of Martinsburg and drummer for nationally recognized rock group Godsmack, even cut his teeth on this West Virginia stage.
Around 1981 Greg started to bring national acts to the area. Acts like Molly Hatchet, The Outlaws, Blue Oyster Cult, and Joan Jett all performed their hits on the stage at Shiley Acres. “They’ve all been eager to come back,” Greg says. Joan Jett even played there twice. Greg’s disposition toward band members who play at his venue encourage their eagerness to come back. “Greg treats you with such respect no matter your status. You feel a sense of worth,” Terry says. The relationship Greg holds with his bands is unique. From chatting and joking backstage to announcing them for the next act, Greg is always right in the thick of things, and he makes sure fans get their money’s worth. And the interaction between bands and fans is something truly unique that Greg takes pride in. “The bands want to meet the fans. They want to hear what the people want. And that was a dying art in this industry. We want everybody to experience it together and have a good time.”shileyacres.net