Hudson Wisconsin Nightlife

Sports bar TV headlines take a header when it comes to unintended humor

June 23rd, 2016

For Dad’s Day, he was given a whole bunch of things to be a curmudgeon about, including some absurdities about bad sports headlines as done by those great big networks. (You know dad is always right).
– In honor of the just celebrated Father’s Day, comes this ironic tidbit from the world of sports bar TV: Shown were the faces (mug shots?) of three young male athletes with also famous fathers who were sport stars, with survey results of who was the most prominent given by percentage, although that was buried deep on the wording on the screen. More prominent was the headline that blared “Who’s Your Daddy?” Ouch … is this Maury?

– Heading a short list of other sports bar TV snafus, is a reference to the Madison stadium that hosts Badger games. It was called the Cohl Center. Might want to change that C to a K. The prominent Wisconsin family that funded it might be annoyed.
– More humorous than annoying was the announcement on the Big Ten Network that Rutgers had named its new sports video coordinator. Must have been a slow news day. Except for the fact that the item was headed with the tag line “Big News.”
– This could be bigger news. A whole raft of NHL awards were announced the other day, and one even was for sportsmanship. Pro hockey and being a good sport? They must have looked the other way (like the refs) during that one-time punching flurry.
– Also, a Minnesota rock radio station had a commercial for Big Guys BBQ Roadhouse that said it was located in “North Hudson.” Might want to move that geographical reference even a bit farther north, closer to Houlton-Stillwater.
– The rock station also had a promo for its July 1 very popular Booze Cruise on the St. Croix River, saying that might even be topless women. Some guys I know say they recall the also popular good old days when boaters were allowed into Dick’s Bar and Grill not topless per se, but wearing only bikini tops.
– With the Fourth of July that’s coming being all about hot fun, it was interesting to see the goings-on a week or so ago when the weather finally got sultry and summer-like. It was super busy at some venues, and dead at others, about half and half. There were, get this, a whole bunch of guys in tuxes for a bachelor party, one of many such limo-lounging groups that night. Really … Not dressed in anything more radical?
Also, at the Village Inn in North Hudson: “Fresh fruit drink specials.” Now that’s more like it for the summer trove of party buses. One of those buses was noteworthy for doing a U-turn … In of all places, not the north sector, but the parking lot by the boat landing at the far south end of Lakefront Park. Also, electric car was seen doing a U-turn on Locust Street, with cars parked on both sides. It only could pull that off because it is so tiny.
– For the Fourth especially, a street-corner near Dick’s, in a private business along First Street, again has its huge, trademark Old Glory flying. It is positioned pointing down and that means the stripes of this Stars and Stripes take in a full Baker’s Dozen of 13 feet from top to bottom.
– Is The House in the house? Minnesota yet again considered, then failed to enact, a law to allow liquor store sales on Sundays, after the House of Representatives took up the debate. Maybe they should all go out for a beer and kick the idea around somemore in what might end up being a more productive legislative session.
– The Dweebs also are in the house, that venue being the WESTconsin Credit Union, where the iconic band stumped for their account monitoring program to prevent fraud. The ad ran on a regional TV channel. As far as other prominent local engagements, they had played the Smilin’ Moose earlier in May and in what could be seen as a coup for a smaller venue, also had done a gig at Not Justa Bar in Bayport, one of two such places in the Minnesota village that are expanding their operations outward to a second area location.

They knew causes about Prince pronto: medical examiner’s findings predicted

June 10th, 2016

(For other local brushes with fame, the death of squared circle stalwarts Ali and Dusty Rhodes — and a Hudson man at a Cemetery Walk where actors went back well over 100 years — are revived for posterity in this web site’s Notes From The Beat department).

How did Prince die? An overview of that cause was well-known by certain musicians with local ties only days after his death — well before the local Medical Examiner recently made his reports.
Between sets at a concert within a week after Prince was found dead at his Paisley Park home, a musician source who plays locally and who requested to remain anonymous, said that Prince had been taking large amounts of painkillers to deal with the toll that years of spinning stage moves had taken on his 57-year-old body. The one that was mentioned as being the crux was Percocet — far more benign then the accidental overdose by self-injection of Fentanyl that was later listed as the cause of death.
The same source said he’d been in touch with a third musician, who knew Prince, by phone about two weeks before the death, and who said that he and the superstar musician had recently experienced a falling out. The reason for the disagreement was not broached.
It also was said at that time that Prince had been checking out several metro area chain-store pharmacies shortly before his death. His reason for doing so was not certain.
It should not be surprising that Prince was found in an elevator after he died, as sources said that his home was sprawling and consisted of more than one studio used for recording, making it a chore to get around, especially for someone who is ailing. One source who is a contractor said similarly, that almost 20 different shower heads were specially installed in its bathrooms to meet specifications of the sometimes quirky musician. The contractor said that Prince, true to his reputation, didn’t speak as much as he sings, and upon meeting someone would only be addressed by name if he was the one introducing the greeting. You didn’t call him by name (Symbol?) or talk directly to him.
All this is not to throw Prince under the bus after his untimely and unfortunate death. Indeed, this view is based on my own medical history, specifically Tourette Syndrome and its accompanying symptomology. I understand both the need to take medication for chronic pain — to the point where you occasionally say to yourself that you need to DO SOMETHING within a few seconds to get relief or you will have no choice but to kill yourself, as many with my medical circumstances eventually do — and the way it feels to be a bit different, misunderstood and thusly analyzed by people where if they knew the back story would not be nearly so suspicious.

However, Prince’s demise underscores the wisdom of holding off as long as feasible before resorting to taking pain medication, gutting it out for a while first.

I suspect that the reason Prince overdosed was that he’d been in too much pain, with too little medication, for too long and when he finally found a way to remedy it, erred on the side of relief and took too much. So it may be our society and government’s partial paranoia concerning drug usage — and inability to distinguish between use and abuse — that eventually killed Prince, or at least contributed to his death.
– First there were the round of tribute shows and memorials to Prince, and then came the special magazine editions. One of them, from an Indie publication in Minneapolis, talked and memorialized about one of Prince’s first bands, interestingly enough called 94 East. How far east on the freeway one might add? Hudson, perhaps? It was during that era, as was mentioned earlier on this site, that a friend Jean saw Prince play at a rally at her high school. “He looked like any other teenager,” she said. However, the aformentioned publication, Insight News, said that especially at that point early in his career, he stood out because of his flamboyant style of dress and hair.
– This is a new take on “Raspberry” Beret. Indeed, it involves a horse of a different color. A longtime local bartender — you’ll know her from various venues — is in the latter stages of beating breast cancer through undergoing chemo. She looks just great in her new beret. You go girl!

Variety from various decades, along with killer music resumes, make Good Neighbors

June 1st, 2016

For a relatively small town, Roberts has some big-time bands with extensive resumes that feature a lot of variety and draw from various decades, when it puts on Good Neighbor Days from June 2-5.
The main thrust behind the annual festival in the middle of St. Croix County is the Roberts Lions Club, which has celebrated its 50th anniversary of service.
The bands in order of their performance are: The marching band from St. Croix Central High School starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Maiden Dixie at 7 p.m. Friday, The Drop at 7 p.m. Saturday, Rock Godz at 9 p.m. Saturday, and Thorns and Roses at 3 p.m. Sunday.
– Minneapolis-based Maiden Dixie has toured for a year in support of UNSAFE & SOUND, their critically acclaimed sophomore studio project that spent two weeks on the featured release list for iTunes New and Noteworthy Contemporary Country. Notable tracks Honest Man’s Wage, Bullets In The Gun and The Road became programmers’ favorites on radio outlets across the U.S. and Europe.
In addition to a full slate of YouTube videos, the band released two music videos. The Road, Maiden Dixie’s first full-length concept video, was directed by Zack Dyer, programmed on multiple music video channels and outlets across the country and viewed more than 100,000 times on the Maiden Dixie YouTube channel.
Maiden Dixie performed over 100 live concerts on their UNSAFE & SOUND Tour, and even got praise for the regular guy appeal of having a man on a garden tractor happen into their video shoot and shoot the breeze.
The band’s first Christmas single, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, got extensive country radio airplay and accolades, including a DisCovery Award from Robert K. Oermann in his Music Row Magazine DISClaimer column.
Maiden Dixie still found the time to return to the studio for their latest release, Wrecked (NAV10026). Working with producer Makoa Johnson and engineer Eric Blomquist, the EP again highlights the songwriting of Channing Himes and Jonathan Krentz, the vocals of Jesse Becker and the musicianship of Zachary Scanlan, Tyler Kloewer and Andrew “Tank” Sherman. Wrecked takes the “signature kinetic blend” of country, pop and rock that Maiden Dixie unveiled on UNSAFE & SOUND and packs it with new songs.
It begins with Freedom Feels Like, then ventures into the first notes of the haunting The Whiskey’ll Miss Me, then moves into the lighthearted commentary on surrendering to the addiction of love in Today Ain’t It, and at last slides into the searing guitar and soaring vocals of Wildcard. Wrecked takes the fans of real music on a ride through the human condition. And they ask, what other country band gives you songs with bongos and a theremin?
– As co-headliners, the group Rock Godz are dressed like ’80s glam rockers, and their all ages show is billed as taking the audience “on an over-the-top, wildly fun trip through the best eras of rock and pop music.” The ’80s-focused production, which is combined with classic and current rock and pop, lets listeners sing along to Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Journey, Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, Poison, Prince, Bryan Adams, Led Zeppelin, Theory of a Deadman, Quiet Riot, Buck Cherry, Steel Panther and more.
Rock Godz is made up of veteran musicians who have toured regionally and nationally with acts such as Jonah and the Wales, Wild Side, Mortal Chaos, Shameless Desire, Hollywood Blvd, 13th Step, Si6ks, A:POD, 80-D and Driven By Design. Their extensive experience as rockers has let them share the stage with national acts including Dokken, Great White, Ratt, Slaughter, Firehouse, Jackyl, Saliva, Joey Belladona, Sevendust, Candle Box, Seether, Skid Row, Alice In Chains, Shinedown, Vince Neil, Brett Michaels, Krokus, American Head Charge out of Minneapolis and others. Members have rocked some of the biggest stages around including Target Center, The Myth, First Avenue and Whiskey a Go-Go in L.A.
– As essentially their warm-up band, all the young dudes in The Drop look a little grungier and steer more toward modern rock.
– Rose ‘N Thorns also is a sextet and also is known for Eagles songs, just like Maiden Dixie. What started as a laid back trio of acoustic pop has grown into a six-piece high energy band that mixes up genre styling from rock and blues, to country and folk. Rose n’ Thorns covers the music of their generation (Baby Boomers) with a blend of humor and enthusiasm that even excites those who can’t name the four Beatles, they say.
The members come from backgrounds so diverse, and cover so many genres, that it’s impossible to fit Rose n’ Thorns into a single style. Whether it’s the soul needed for a Lucinda Williams ballad or the throaty wailings to pull off Neil Young, someone in RNT rises to the challenge, they say. In addition to over 100 cover songs, the group has produced many originals that are now as readily requested as the old standards. But names you might recognize are Jimmy Buffett, Van Morrison, The Band, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Grateful Dead.
Among the other events you can check out at the fest include the Friday evening tractor pull, the Saturday 5K and fun run, as well as the car show, truck pull and coronation pageant, and the Sunday demo derby and parade through the middle of town, which has a new starting time of 11 a.m.
But its not all music and fun. The Lions invite listeners to stop by the park building and drop off used eye glasses and hearing aids so they can be refurbished and donated to those in need.
For more information, visit the Good Neighbor Days and Lions online sites and their Facebook page.

After Northern Invasion, thrash band Beowulf invades local haunts. Did they howl?

May 27th, 2016

Did Beowulf ‘pick up their guitar and play, just like yesterday,’ not at First Avenue, but on Second Street? Is NHMOY ‘steppin’ right on time?’ A wrap-up on what happens after Ozzfest:

– In homage to the Ozzfest days where bands such as Twisted Sister would be out on the prowl at Hudson clubs after their Somerset shows were done, and they’d be filtering back to the Twin Cities through Hudson, Beowulf was seen at the Agave Kitchen, then a block up at Stone Tap, on a recent Friday night after the opener of the Northern Invasion heavy metal tour. The band has been around since long before their was an Ozzfest. No word if once here, they picked up their guitar and played, like Dee Snyder and the boys did with a cover band a few years back at the current location of Stone Tap (then Dibbo’s). Beowulf’s crossover thrash metal, which has gotten more into blues rock over time, would have been a new sound to Hudson concert-life. The source close to Beowulf, (kidding), a cook downtown, added he got the (morbidly spine-tingling?) thrill of seeing Rob Zombie’s tour bus driving away from the village grounds.
– Along the route, in what is billed as the most important election of the year, Sunday is the last day to vote for the North Hudson Man of the Year, as they are steppin’ right on time with their typical end-of-May timing for crowning a winner. As a campaign twist, signs last weekend were posted in the middle of the ditch in front of Kozy Korner for both Brian and Joe, but alas they were only temporary signs, up for a couple of days. Wonder if there were right of way restrictions …
– Similarly placed were signs outside of Shiner’s in Lakeland, which advertised signup for their Tuesday and Thursday beanbag leagues. You’d see at least a couple of these big, bright yellow placards before getting anywhere near the front door.
– Concerning Beyonce’s show, a bartender at the Green Mill said she used to live in that area of Minneapolis near the stadium, so could relate to people having a tough time not only with the rain, but getting around in it while looking for a parking spot. And the Queen Bey was expected to pay tribute to her Prince, pouring out her rendition of Purple Rain, as the tributes continue both locally and in the Twin Cities.
– One of the five summer drink specials at Dick’s Bar and Grill is, fittingly, a Raspberry Kiss. While not specifically meant as a tribute to Prince, it’s hard not to notice the comparisons that could be made: (1) The name reads much like one of his Iconic songs, Raspberry Beret, and (2) Prince was well-known for the references to sexuality in his songs, kisses or otherwise.
– They didn’t wait very long. While the highlights of a Twins game played shortly before midnight on sports TVs at Dick’s, a woman was sporting her St. Paul Saints sweatshirt, presumingly after attending their opener that day. At least it wasn’t like dress for the fishing opener, with guys and their dorky hats.

In studio with guitar, with Prince in the wings, is all part of Symbol of our affection

May 19th, 2016

The Love is shared by recording done at Paisley Park, with Prince in the house, and a Prince tribute locally.
– One-man bander Jeff Loven had a guitar student who got to know Prince, and early in his career also became part of perhaps the first band to record at Paisley Park. It was a cold winter night, and it was suggested that Jeff could even park his vehicle inside the garage there so it would start after the session, which was at one of the multiple studios at Prince’s place. Loven entered, guitar in hand and full of bravado, and was told when hearing the screamed licks of someone else on that instrument to knock at the door to be let into the recording room. He eventually did so and didn’t find a full band playing, just Prince off in the distance wailing on his instrument of choice.
– There was a North Hudson memorial to Prince on the same weekend as one in the Twin Cities, and this one was not by invitation only. Word has it that the Prince remembrance that started at 3 p.m. and featured all his classic songs was well attended and a highlight was seeing the movie Purple Rain all the way through. That also was the song that wrapped up the evening in a stellar vocal performance there by Mystic Funk back in their pre-Thanksgiving Day party, (so maybe there is something to his lyrics, at least as done by some cover bands, foretelling events of his death).
– Prince isn’t the only short in stature, but not vocals, deceased singer you can meet in the Twin Cities. A former Dibbo’s bartender said she met the late Ronnie James Dio at the Mall of America and also in a separate encounter had her photo taken with the Marshall Tucker Band.
– Now that it’s growing season, a couple I know who have run karaoke and also run a farm near Roberts say they have an unusual crop being raised — hops, you know the kind they use to make beer. (Maybe being Wisconsin this is not so unusual). They also add that they might do some bottling of it in the future.
– In a recent revisiting at the Village Inn, there was a tribute this time around not to Prince, but to chain saw art. Out where the driveway meets Hwy. 35, a man from Cape Cod who travels the country had his stump-size, wood-carved pieces, of things such as bears, eagles and owls, on display and available for purchase.

Memories of ‘chasing’ Prince while with blues band are triggered by mom

April 28th, 2016


Mothers Day is coming soon, but when I talked to her recently, we talked not of that, but she reminded me of a near-Prince-encounter I had near New Ulm.
Mom doesn’t get all the celebrity worshiping thing, and noted that even as far away as Milwaukee, Prince’s death was all over the TV news.
She said the banner headlines made her recall when I joined members of a blues band and made a road trip to the other end of Minnesota, where they were going to play a big gig associated with the Minnesota Music Awards. Rumor had it that The Purple One himself, who was getting an honor in conjunction with the awards, was going to make one of his impromptu appearances and maybe even perform.
When we got there from Hudson in mid-afternoon, word had it that Prince had already been cited, and that’s where mom comes in. She remembered us joking at that time about it being hard not to notice a 5-foot-2, flamboyantly dressed black man in that part of Minnesota. Be that as it may, the group of us soon were part-taking in a whirlwind limo trip through the city to check on an alleged Prince citing — without really knowing exactly where we were going or why.
It would be awhile before my traveling mates in the Brandon Scott Sellner Band would take the fittingly big, theater-style stage, as they’d been asked to be a featured act in this annual festival. But during that time, there were phone calls made back and forth to various locations and assurances made that yes, Prince was in the area and would be stopping in.
It wasn’t until close to midnight that all involved fully realized that Prince would indeed not be in the house.

Local people rein in on the tall and short of meeting Prince and his band

April 23rd, 2016

With doves crying since Prince was nice enough to sing about them prior to his recent death, some locals who had their 15 noteworthy minutes with him or his bandmates are reining in on the experience.
– I met a member of Prince’s back-up band in the 1990s, when he was at the height of his popularity and both men had toured together. I was returning home late to Hudson (was it from a concert?) when I needed to gas up at the station at White Bear and Interstate 94. I encountered a man who was almost a head taller than Prince and immaculately but not flamboyantly dressed, but added his car had stalled. He asked for a ride and seemed like a safe risk, so he jumped in my passenger side for a trip across town. Turns out the man had done gigs playing guitar for Prince, but now worked in the corporate world. We agreed to take each others’ numbers and get together for lunch some time, but I never followed through on it, (this being in a day when the economy didn’t suck and we were both up to our eyeballs in job duties). I always regretted that, as who knows, maybe amongst other things I could have done an interview and gotten a piece in Rolling Stone?
– A friend Jean saw Prince, who was 57, perform with his band back when both were in high school, in the early 1970s. She took in his performance while he was a student at Central, and she was at Regina, just a few miles away and a Catholic school none-the-less. It was about three years later that Prince signed his first record deal.
His lack of stature was hard to determine, since Prince was up on the stage and the audience was seated on the gym floor. But she liked the music. “It was a little bit louder than what I was used to hearing.”
– Friend Dan once found out that Prince was staying in the next motel room over, and orchestrated a brief meeting, although in characteristic Prince form, what he said was short in duration.
– A sidebar in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, by music writer Ross Raihala, was far less personal and heavy on his simply-rewrite-the-press-release format than what’s in this blog. He was asked to share his favorite recollections about Prince, and just rehashed what he considered great about a few particular albums. Apparently Ross has never met the guy, or anyone else who has ever met the guy, although he did admit right off the bat he was in grade school when Prince hit the scene.
– A full day after the death was pronounced, a couple at Pudge’s Bar was discussing the Purple One, and his request that a symbol be used in place of his name, (a suggestion the mainstream media immediately fell on board with). Said the man at Pudge’s: “That’s his symbol. It’s a guitar.”
– So what is the last word, at least locally? The sign at Agave has said on multiple days: Purple Rain #crankit.

Watch out for flopped shoe at the show, and don’t fill the Ordway with odor

April 20th, 2016

If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it. Instead
toss it into the nearest flower pot!
On a cold night a while back, I was given the task
to park the car when going out for a show, in this
case not rock but the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
They even had a valet or two in top hats and tails!
Job done, I had to walk back a few blocks, and was
weaving around the crosswalks to find my way to
return to the Ordway in St. Paul.
Damned if the sole of my shoe didn’t become completely
dislodged. And I was in a hurry, running late, so
the quick pace made the shoe flop entirely. So, ala
Jimmy Buffett, in “blew out my flip flop,” I tossed
the sole into a big sidewalk flower pot the size of a
speaker. I just wondered if this upper crust crowd
would look on in distain of a man with one shoe, or
at least just a shoe-and-a-half.
We did get seated without anyone complaining about
foot odor, and the orchestra soon was performing an
instrumental selection that often spun dangerously
out of control, than finally pulled it together
again. Much like Ozzy Osbourne’s old band taking on
a guitar solo that careens wildly on Over the
Mountain. And I did notice a power chord remarkably
like that plucked by Nirvana.

And, as the show progressed it amounted to a tutorial by

the conductor, and included similarities to old TV show themes

like Perry Mason, (could Ozzy pull off those things coherently?

Maybe one more than the other).

Take wine and beer samples, add cider, mix in bluegrass, you have a fest with pizzazz

April 7th, 2016

The sixth annual River Falls Roots and Bluegrass Music Festival returns with even more beers, wines and even ciders to sample at its yearly tasting event, and some new contests, that include one for complete bands that are new to forming, and other music-related activities. The fest runs April 8-10, although you can enjoy the bluegrass, Cajun and roots music that’s featured in its various forms — via the bands’ other lives performances and their CDs —  as well as the local wines, craft beers, ciders, meats and cheeses, at any time during the spring or rest of year. (See the full lineup in this web site’s Picks of the Week department).
Attendees at the beer and wine tasting, which is a third annual component of the fest, and kicks it off on Friday, will have the opportunity to sample local craft beer and wine, and to listen to live music by the Good Intentions. Participating vendors who you can continue to patronize are:
– Beers from Barley John’s Brewing Company, Fair State Brewing Cooperative, Fulton Brewing, Summit Brewing Company, Surly Brewing Co., Rush River Brewing Co. and Pitchfork Brewing.
– Wines from 65 Vines, Bella Vinez Winery, Dancing Dragonfly Winery, Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery, Wollersheim Winery and River Bend Vineyard and Winery
– Ciders from Crispin Hard Cider and Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery.
The tasting event is April 8 from 5-8 p.m. at Junior’s Bar and Restaurant. Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 at the door. Tickets are available at the Chamber office, Dick’s Hometown Liquor and Junior’s. The premier sponsor is Fulton Brewing.
That company is from the Twin Cities, and is a key component to the tasting, as are some others from the metro. Also, cider has been added as a third category of drink, for those who don’t care for wine or beer, so try it going into spring
But it’s the local brands that have a starring role. “We are a Mecca for that,” said Judy Berg, tourism sales marketing manager with the River Falls Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. Patrons from the Twin Cities can not only come here for the fest, but being just a short ride away can relive its experience created by new-favorite brews and wines, by just getting in the car.
When doing so, people can buy a bottle of their most-liked wine, for themselves or as a gift, if conducting such a re-creation. But not to get ahead of ourselves, they can purchase such items at local liquor stores, as well, on this weekend at the fest.
“It’s a heck of a deal,” Berg said, when it comes to the sheer amount of food and drink available for the money, and the variety of those options.
The headliners in this free music weekend are Art Stevenson and High Water, Kind Country and Dead Horses. Scheduled are fifty-plus hours of foot-stompin’ bluegrass, Cajun and roots music, and it all can be done indoors, Berg said.
Whether it be the band contest, groups that are actually on the bill at the fest, or even event veteran Chris Silver’s own band, the Good Intentions, what’s prized is going back to the traditional roots of bluegrass, he said. There’s no secret to what the people who plan the fest are looking for in their acts. “We’re after polished musicians who are true to the craft,” Silver said, more-so than musicians who go off in their own direction, or just jam.
An example is where Silver’s band currently is at. (There have been different lineups of varying sizes). After delving into several styles, which in recent years leaned toward Americana with a lot of percussion included, the band is going back to what Silver valued in his younger days, the traditional bluegrass versions of the late ’70s and early ’80s.
Also of worth is originality and a strong, energetic stage presence, and thus the planners for both concerts and contests have looked at videos perhaps more-so than just regular recordings to gauge who they will invite to play the fest.
The new band contest, which is added to the annual singer/songwriter competition, is largely for groups that have not played much before an audience, but have the talent to be close to breaking into the forefront, Silver said. They can feature originals, but also cover versions of songs where the musicians have made it their own, not just redoing something that already exists.
The contest winner gets $300 and a recording session at Brickhouse Music in River Falls; second place gets $200 and third $100.
Silver also was behind an Emmy nominated video, demonstrating how-to-do-it-best from the past flatpicking contests. Some people come from all across the country, including a man from Maryland who has been here more then once, and even has placed in the music contests.
What else is looked for in bands? Look no further than Kind Country, which is Oshkosh based, making it actually regionally recognized. Berg said that, or being a local band and thus familiar, gets your foot in the door at the bluegrass fest. All of the acts involve the genre that promotes “footstomping,” somewhat broadly, as far as both musical style and audience participation, Berg said. Of course the groups can incorporate roots and Cajun music, as well, to please a patron if those are their favorites.
She notes these are free music offerings, unlike so many concerts in the Twin Cities, and all the parking is also at no cost. And, you can listen to an entire day of music on Saturday, going strong until 2 a.m., with lots of added events on the days on either side.
The Chamber bills this as a stay and play weekend, with lots of lodging options within a short distance of the downtown. A regularly attending Stillwater couple is pointed to by Berg as an example of making this a three-day extravaganza.
The fest is arranged so if you’re not sure if you like bluegrass, you can experience it firsthand, for a day or even more, in all its various forms before making a judgment. Younger fans have been drawn in, too, and the fest is family oriented.
“You can be doing something like going grocery shopping, and if you have a guitar in the car, join in a jam,” Berg said about the broad opportunities for participation.
“I was talking with a reporter from Chicago, and she kept asking, what is the price for this and what is it for that,” she said, underscoring that all events but the beer and wine tasting are free.
For more information, go to To view a promotional video, visit To see more from Riverwalk, visit “Attic Treasures Appraisals” at

Mix best local grapes with those grown globe over, and Negret leaps into spring event

March 28th, 2016

A new urban winery in downtown Hudson draws on a decades-old family tradition that started in Bogota, Colombia, then moved to the Midwest, and now is here along the St. Croix River, incorporating local grape varieties with the best of what’s available both worldwide and especially in Europe and the United States.

Even more exciting, the Negret Wine Company and owner Vincent Negret, a veteran of the winery business is inviting you to sample what they have to offer on April 7 with their 2016 Spring Fling, 5-course meal paired with 5 Negret wines, guided by winemaker Vincent and catered by top-notch River Valley Catering of River Falls (you can call email them at to make your reservations). All Negret wines are made on site and there will be tours available to tour the production facility!

The store’s 8,500-square-foot Hudson headquarters, which opened last fall, features a state-of-the-art 3,000-square-foot production area, a semi-commercial kitchen and a 50-seat tasting room with several very large windows. Vintage photos from the old country adorn a hallway that takes guests in back, where they can watch Negret’s wines being made and ask questions.

Included is a warehouse that seats up to 140 people for special events, gourmet snacks to enhance the sensory experience and a patio that’s in sight of the St. Croix River and Lakefront Park, shared by next-door-neighbor Pudge’s Bar on Second Street.

Next year’s wines will be made with grapes raised this season at local vineyards owned by two of Negret’s 17 business partners. Those wines entered the picture through harvesting done too late last year to be brought into Negret’s mix immediately. The Negret Wine Company opened in late October 2015 and the grapes currently are being fermented and processed in the Hudson facility according to Negret’s specifications. The wine blends also are incorporating grapes from California and Washington State.

One of the new wines — a soft, aromatic, semi-sweet red — pays local homage, being called “The Hudsonite.”

Negret began with a couple of soft openings, held by invitation only. “We didn’t need to open with a bang,” he said. It’s now open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays, and other days by reservation.

There is a lot to offer. “We’re also in the entertainment business,” Negret explains, adding the hope is that wine-loving patrons will fall in love with his varieties and all the accompaniments, which include food to amplify the experience and a diverse range of live music. In particular, bands are scheduled for Thursday and Saturday evenings.

Special events include classes on wine tasting, private wine tastings for small to large groups, a Hudson Sips Happy Hour, deals on Sundays, birthdays and “best friends” Wednesdays.

The family tradition that started this all has gone on since 1937, and the style of winemaking done by the Negret family will continue to evolve, Negret said. Much of this evolution involves combining blends using grapes the world-over with those from the coastal USA, and also Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Local grapes are different, as they must grow in a seasonally colder and different climate than most wine-producing regions. “There are only about 30 varieties that are this hardy,” Negret said. The climate and soils, along with genetics, help determine a grape’s character. So, the best way to incorporate grapes from various areas is to develop hybrids, in many cases crossing ones from America with those from Europe and other places. (An area man, Elmer Swenson, was a leader in this area, and did his work through the University of Minnesota, Negret adds). Because the differences in genetics are so marked and important, there are differing families of scientific names given to various grape varieties.


The first notable wine-making-grapes were imported to this country in the 1930s, as varieties from all over, which had existed for thousands of years, made their way around the world. Europe was the best fit for the initial expansion, taking place over the last couple of hundred years, and then North America, South America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and China. This is important to Negret, since he is trying to literally, incorporate the best of all areas in making his wine blends.

Does he have a favorite self-produced wine? That would be too limiting, he said. “All of them are like my kids, so you can’t choose just one,” he noted, adding it’s all about how to make a patron happy.

Possible plans for a somewhat longer term include a dandelion wine, with ingredients picked locally, a sparkling wine particularly for special events, and a “Marina” series that would appeal to the St. Croix River’s boating community.

A goal is to pair their wines to individual customer’s palates, and simply wow them “by having a story behind the wines” and being in tune with the local culture — like offering a special gift to a friend, he said.

Negret says he fashions blends that no one else does, speaking with politeness, grace and humility and showing a love of people. “Every time I make a wine to drink, I want the experience to be different,” he said, a little like music played in-concert. And loving wines of all sorts is an acquired taste, much like learning to appreciate something like bleu cheese, he said.

“Like painting a picture, there is always something to add,” Negret said, with the key being to know when to stop tinkering. Still, he added, he will not rest until it’s right.


Since 2000, Negret has worked at the Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria and as the chief winemaker at the Cannon River Winery, both in Minnesota, with a stint at an Ohio vineyard between those, growing his experience in the industry. His two children – daughter Camila and son Mateo – are actively involved in the development and operation of the winery, despite holding fill-time jobs outside of the winery. The winery is very much a family and community affair. Meanwhile, Cannon River is now Minnesota’s largest winery. But it all started decades ago in Colombia.

“Our wine was the best in the country,” Negret says of his tenure there, which was cut short because of political unrest. His family launched the first sparkling wine ever in Colombia, and also was the first in the region to be served on the country’s flagship airline, AVIANCA. Negret used his study of enology at California State University, Fresno, to introduce innovations to their production facilities, bringing the family’s winemaking process into the modern age.

Now based in Hudson, he and his family can again get about the wine-making magic they know best, by having a somewhat urban shop in a smaller, neighboring city to Minneapolis-St. Paul. That was done when the Negret Wine Company opened Oct. 29 at 310 Second St. Negret developed a fondness for Hudson by driving through, and has compared it to the beauties of many European cities. “It is also much like the Riviera,” he added, noting Hudson has a gorgeous riverfront and active downtown.

Via the Hudson Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau, he became acquainted with county Economic Development Director Bill Rubin, who helped him gain a $3,000 small-business grant used for writing a business plan and assisted in the three-year zoning process.

Meanwhile, after a micro-distillery planner bowed out, Pudge’s Bar owner Michael Murphy offered to lease the versatile building next-door to Negret’s team. There have been bureaucratic snafus. A few months ago, the state of Wisconsin denied their permit based on a Prohibition-era restriction on a bar owner leasing another alcohol-related business. But Negret worked through it, being a perfectionist and persistent, driven and passionate about what he does. The building was purchased outright, solving the difficulty.

For more information, stop in, go to the company website You can also:

Email or to make reservations, including for the April 7th event, write to

You can also follow NWCo on Facebook and Instagram: @NegretWineCo


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