Hudson Wisconsin Nightlife

All gather ’round and hail All Hallows one more time, via Star Wars and Storm Troopers — not to mention Yoda (busted!)

November 13th, 2017

A last Halloween round-up, if you will indulge me, and it involves rounding up some timely satire on the local scene.
One of my bartender friends was wearing a Star Wars shirt midweek, after earlier being out — and I’m pretty sure I’ve got the right person, although for obvious reasons I could not see his face — dressed head-to-toe as a Storm Trooper. Also word has it that Yoda — doing yoga on a bar stool — tried fakingly taking cover charges at the door, like so many tipsy women who think they’re being original, but was too short to reach up for the money; just kidding. All this goes hand-in-hand with the idea floated to turn the old Dog Track into a Star Wars theme park; again just pulling your chain. It will actually now be the home of the fittingly named River Hounds — might that more pertinently be called Rover? (See the back story on this a little further down) — a name that was taken since the Flying Fish already exist out of River Falls. That’s noteworthy since the brother of my bartender who also shows frequently, Rich Metzger, who actually had an NBA tryout with the Portland Trailblazers, recently was named at halftime to the UW-River Falls Hall of Fame for athletics, a school where he rewrote the record book. Both brothers could dunk at an early age, it’s also worth noting. And as far as that Rover reference: Back in my days with the Hudson Star-Observer, I accidentally had a typo in a story that called a business Rovertown, not Rivertown, (what, me a typo?) The business owner was none too happy and wrote my boss to say, “The only dog around here is Joe Winter!” Rim-shot!
Again, right after Halloween the costuming went on, in this case invoking another movie that’s old enough to have been around more than most bar patrons who are newly legal. This one was Mrs. Doubtfire. Maybe pouring down a Fireball after a (doubtful) day trying to win back those kids? They might soon be able to join him/her, as The Badger State politicians, led by a Tavern League ex, has floated a bill to drop the legal drinking age to 19.
That might answer a problem. Playing the part of bar and grill managers (or wait, they actually are), were the Four Horsemen of the A-Crop-A-List, so dubbed because one of them has been sent to the north suburbs to right the ship of an outlet there by making it a more friendly place to imbibe. Fittingly, they found their way to Dick’s, and like “Grayson,” battling the Joker or the Riddler, were planning strategy in a hands-on way. Hats off to them and their quest.
Lastly involving All Hallows, a guy walked into Dick’s who literally could have been Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, dreadlocks and bandana and all. This was not his costume, rather his 24/7 appearance. In the same block, however, was a costumed Pirate figure that also was deadeye. I asked a friend with a drop-dead crush on the lead pillager in the “Caribbean” movie what she would’ve done if seeing him. Not to be redundant, but she explained: “I would have gasped and gone up to him and said ‘you’re Johnny Depp!’ Just awesome …”
Going deep, the Packers did it against the Bears, who turned out to be cubbies, but not the Lions, who weren’t really kittens after all, despite the preview sign at Kozy Korner that said: The Lions haven’t returned to roaring again.
But beating their chests in the NFC are the Minnesota linemen, who have given much better protection to QBs these days. Unlike the quip made to my bartender friend Matt, when I accidentally got in his way just as he rushed to get behind the bar rail and pour a bar rail drink, as I told him, “I’m running interference better than the Viking offensive line.” He corrected my commentary.

Halloween in November? Early? And country being queen toward the middle of the month? You betcha boots

November 3rd, 2017

(Actually, scary is now old news, and country is in, as that form of music takes precedence in the second weekend of November and moving forward. For what to see in the area, check out this web site’s Picks of the Week department).

You would have to be a (post)-Halloween novice, not to notice that its a novelty for nasty hauntings to continue, well into November.
So don’t put those Halloween costumes away just yet, as there are more scary deeds to be done, such as attending the “after party” with prizes for the haunted holiday at the Village Inn in North Hudson on Saturday, Nov. 4. This proves that Halloween is an observance that does not end with the end of October, much like having the extended birthday 30-day month that many people celebrate.
There will be a deejay/karaoke from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Village, by the name of Ryan (he’s been there before) and word has it, although we’re not sure, that he doesn’t go by the last name of Secrest. To help you get your courage up, and (costume/song) game on, groups of people can get 96-ounce hoppers of sponsor Michelob Golden Light, which is billed on many coasters as The Gold Standard, for only $20. And of course, there are costume prizes, to see if you have what it takes to take home $75, or other cash awards. That judging will go on at about 11 or 11:30 p.m., depending on the number of people who strut their stuff vocally during the karaoke.

From The Land of 10,000 Lakes, to several times that more spectators, but only two pheasants (on last check)

November 2nd, 2017

Across the pond go a group from the Land of 10,000 Lakes. With the Most Important NFC North Division Game Of The Week taking place in London — and some local people making the trip over the sea — I recall the time when a patron at Guv’s Place was telling about the time when the then prime minister across the pond, Tony Blair, who was a business associate of a business associate, sent him two special-species pheasants that had been shot in a hunt as a gift, to be used for cooking. Word was that he was initially going to be in another such pheasant hunt prior to the Vikings game, but it’s hard to shoot at them in the dark. (Wait, that 8:30 a.m. start was our time, not theirs).

That didn’t keep the Hudson Buffalo Wild Wings — to name one mostly-night venue, and an unlikely one at that — from opening their doors right before game time on Sunday, although not in time for very much pregame coverage. And we have to keep in mind that London is not far away from the area where the original Vikings — the ocean-going kind, not the sports team — had initially set sail hundreds of years before football was invented.
Speaking of the Vikings, their horned logo and colors are present on a special issue of cans of a name-brand cola, but the rub is that you can’t get the special price in Wisconsin. It says so right at the bottom of the ad, although in fine print. At press time, neither Coke or Pepsi had claimed responsibility for this brutal attack on Cheesehead wallets (just kidding).

The Village hosts its Halloween after-party on Saturday, as haunting is by no means dead, just un-dead

October 31st, 2017

Don’t put those Halloween costumes away just yet, as there are more scary deeds to be done, such as attending the “after party” with prizes for the haunted holiday at the Village Inn in North Hudson on Saturday, Nov. 4. This proves that Halloween is an observance that does not end with the end of October, much like having the extended birthday 30-day month that many people celebrate.
There will be a deejay/karaoke from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Village, and to help you get your courage up, and (costume/song) game on, groups of people can get 96-ounce hoppers of sponsor Michelob Golden Light, which is billed on many coasters as The Gold Standard, for only $20. And of course, there are costume prizes, to see if you have what it takes to take home $75, or other cash awards.

(For a complete wrap up on the party costumes that were precursors to The Big Finale At The Village on Saturday, several days after the lightweights shut down their efforts, see this web site’s Notes From The Beat department).

Dance like the devil to mayhem music, or to a DJ, to get your game on — and your costume seen

October 25th, 2017

On the Friday and Saturday — and even Thursday — before Halloween itself, you can get the whole experience in and around Hudson (these are recommended events such as costume parties that answered an all-call of sorts for the scariest of the scary):

– The costume party at the Bungalow Inn in Lakeland, set for Friday and starting early, is the perfect way to kick off your Halloween celebration, as they say this can be a preview for how well your costume will go over in the rest of the weekend, if you are one of those go-getter, costume-contest hoppers. And there is karaoke and deejay Cory as well at the Bungalow, so you can strut your stuff and show off your voice to further impress the judges, and can be in part emboldened by drink specials. Things get started at 9 p.m., with registration at 10 and judging at 11, to win cash prizes. You must be present to win, so stick around.
If the start-of-Halloween-things on Friday does not fit into your busy costume-contest schedule, you can always go to a Plan B at the Bungalow and take in the act of Nici Peper, a longtime local music stalwart, on the very Tuesday of the haunting day itself. She plays at the Bungalow about once a month on Tuesdays — one of the few local places outside of the metro you will find her on a regular basis — again starting early during part of the dinner hour. Nici won the title of Minneapolis’ most authentic artist at the Wholly Guacamole contest, and was one of six finalists nationally. Whether performing solo, as part of Firefly, with The Big Smooch, or in other configurations, Nici radiates by performing indie, Americana, folk and mixing in other rootsy styles. She is influenced by classic storytellers and her voice has been described as vintage and soulful. Nici has opened for Brett Michaels, Elvis Monroe, GB Leighton, Dan Navarro and others. She has recorded in Nashville, toured extensively, has been on Twin Cities Live and Fox 9. Nici hosts an open mic Tuesday evenings and a songwriter showcase with the Soiled Doves, while working on her first solo album which is due out this fall.
– Join Seasons Tavern for a night of tricks and treats, including mood-making drinks, on Saturday night (not live but dead). There is as always live music by Thirsty Camel, which has become a tradition, starting at 8 p.m., and this camel is showing the same hump patterns as formed by the line of tombstones in the lead photo on the Season’s Facebook site. The costume contest has prizes for first, second and third place. Winners announced at 11 p.m. Stop in early, when the ghoulies are just getting going, for prime rib dinner starting at 3 p.m. And Seasons is more than walleye and fish fry, as the prime rib is also attracting raves from online commentators. And you can get it a little rare, if you wish, in honor of the upcoming Halloween holiday, or conversely, with quite a crisp. Either way, its fits with the Halloween motif.
– In this case, sexy is really, really in, as there will be the first annual Cajun (Club) Halloween on Friday, offering free cover with costume, spooky drink specials — don’t let the ladies scare you — and culmination of a costume contest at midnight. First place is a $100 bar tab, second a $50 bar tab and third a mystery prize (lord only knows what that might be!) Free giveaways will be offered throughout the night. A sponsor is Bud Light, and who knows, you might make a best bud during the evening.
– The Halloween observance is not the only gig at The Willow River Saloon in Burkhardt on the holiday weekend. On Friday night, the venue celebrates its 20 years in business, which is longer than a lot of establishments last. And it’s fitting that the musical host of the party is a band that’s been around for much the same length of time, and plays The Willow frequently, that being the Zebra Mussels. The same could be said of Saturday night’s band, The Strangers. They serve as the informal hosts of the costume party at the Willow, where during a break from the main music on Saturday night, people can get out on the floor and dance it up, and at the same time serve as each others judges for winning of prizes. The Willow has been known to on some years extend its costume party to both nights of music, and this time around you will likely see costumed creatures on Friday, as well, although there won’t be formal voting. That’s not necessarily to say that members of the Zebra Mussels won’t dress up, or have something else up their sleeves as far as donning costumes.
– But it is Bill’s Gun Shop and Range on The Hill in Hudson that really offers a chance to shoot-it-up, that being a chance to blow away pumpkins at $5 apiece. This will help you get your sights on the Halloween to come, as it is offered from 3-8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26.

Nothing like Friday the Thirteenth to foretell the Halloween season, with, well, a 14-hour binge of Friday the Thirteenth movies (local Leatherface loved it)

October 23rd, 2017

There’s no one quite like Otis, a parttime bouncer at Dick’s, to do Halloween right, via the big screen — or maybe its a smaller one at home. As Halloween neared and Friday The Thirteenth came and passed, he had some rare off time from his day job, and come nightfall went on his annual 14-hour-straight horror flick binge. The focus was, you guessed it, the Friday the Thirteenth movies, of which he guessed there must be, bye gosh, at least 14. But the one thing that truly scares him? Anything with the Catholic Church and exorcisms. Otis said he grew up Catholic, attending the very conservative St. Agnes parish in the Twin Cities, and there has just something creepy about that place. That is not the only time I’ve heard this.
I bought a chain saw, very cheap, not as a Halloween prop but to cut some wood out in the Back Forty. OK, I barely own an acre much less 40, and maybe I was being penalized for being such a cheapskate, but I blew out not one but two tires and had to walk the last half-mile home, past Season’s Tavern, which is said to be haunted, and all the while carrying the chain saw. At least one of my neighbors, who are familiar with my Halloween night displays that include moving props, told me that all I needed was, well, a leather face to go as Leatherface.
Likewise, later that day as the sun was setting, I saw a guy walking through same area carrying shovels (plural). Could he dig a grave for me with them? After hours in the yard, I mowed lawn and the result of the too-long grass spraying was what resembled a crop circle; I think I gotta lay off the sauce.
That evening at Pudge’s, I spotted a Gothic girl, who looks like a musician for Bad Kitty, which played that venue on Friday night. She had, you guessed it again, deep purple nails.
Even later that night, at Wal-Mart buying Halloween candy, I noticed a police line draped across the booth that was part of the cashier’s station and warned “beware,” do not enter. So how do I pay for my goods? I feared that if I didn’t, I might get caught up in the webs between the checkout aisles and the door.
One more late night bite, at a convenience store. It was the “beware” sign on the bathroom door (was it a bit too smelly if you go inside?) Also, they made note that ladies using their store are BOOtiful; and the guys are BOOtilicious. And at Shiners in Lakeland, they had earlier in the month held a self-described volleyBOO tournament of terror.

Eat (Skittles and cake), Pray (for a win), Love (those edible audibles)

October 19th, 2017

And then there was Double Trouble with the colors that put the fun in football and its food:
– If you can believe the gridiron-based ad, Skittles candy would have you call an eatible — as audibles are far too dated — and sprinkle them not on your face, but on a foam finger cake. Other football grub we had for the big inter-division game was a yellow and dark blue cake with a pigskin in the middle. Dark blue? It seems they couldn’t make up their minds about going purple or green as the secondary color. Turns out the Vikings big win put that issue to rest. Then there was the dog decked out with not only a pro football sweater but also skirt, that had of all things a Bears theme, (just who is No. 13?), and loved the treats that were given (were they Skittles?). And a Houlton bar, the one with the classic two-sided sign that shows, alternatively, either a downtrodden Packer or Viking, that for the Big Game was offering $1 beers for scores made by the Vikings, not the Packers. And when you consider how the game played out, they must have given out a lot of brews, that being a Wisconsin thing. Lastly, at Dick’s, management did not know until it was pointed out to them by a staffer, that they scheduled their big soup cookoff for the exact same time as the big Sunday game, from noon to 3 p.m. So since they had doubled up on their promotions, they really had an issue to tackle. At least they didn’t triple up, by doing something even further like the annual Drive Your Tractor To The Bar Day at Meister’s. That would be much more feasible, with them being in rural Boardman, not downtown Hudson.

‘Nightfall will be coming soon,’ for Tom, major rock star, and 58 country music fans — plus a local concert-goer who framed the connection between the two

October 16th, 2017

“Looking down from a motel room” takes on a new meaning with the death of Tom Petty, and dozens of others in Vegas, with the link being Jason Aldean, as noted after-the-fact by a music fan at a local nightclub.

– Some tragedies go in twos. Aldean, who was performing on the night of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, has been known to do a lot of covers by the iconic artist who died on a heart attack at around the same time, Tom Petty. That word from a fan I saw at the Smilin’ Moose, who was fresh off experiencing such a show by Aldean. On the night when the cardiac arrest occurred, Last Dance With Mary Jane sang out its signature line, “Looking down from a motel room/Nightfall will be coming soon … I walked to the road,” as I walked in the door of Dick’s Bar and Grill.
Petty also was listed as an influence by the Nato Coles and Blue Diamond Band, which played in Roberts recently. But back to the shooting, the Facebook page of a friend and lover of music that includes that of Petty, had a respondent who said he was working the desk at that motel across from the concert scene — and unwanted host of the shooting several stories up — that night. He noted that he was impressed beyond words by the flooding of volunteer help to those who needed it, by people from all walks of life.
Lastly, the next time I heard a song after that inadvertent Dick’s tribute, it was one of those “pithy” tunes — I have heard that word bantied about in the national music press as associated with Petty — by John Mellencamp. I had also thought that the same two artists were alike in that way, and were interchangeable in my mind, with their style of hometown-based lyrics and instrumental tone. Being from north-central Wisconsin, you would think that would have endeared him more — despite Petty’s totally straight long hair and John Lennon-like glasses — to one of my relatives, who in Petty’s heyday said dismissively to his wife, “what would you say if I looked like that?”
On a lighter tone:
– A 30-something man at the Smilin’ Moose said he’d seen Eric Church in concert 14 times, starting with a ticket he bought for $8 when he was quite young, at a northern Wisconsin festival. Rural Wisconsin and beer drinking and a country act … hmm. Add to that, a local bartender looks just like Church when he dons his sunglasses after being out and about away from his drink-pouring job.
– Bill Murray, a native of Chicago but more pertinently a former fixture in Hudson, was on a late night talk show where he gabbed at length about the Cubbies postseason chances, rather than his own St. Paul Saints, of which he has been an owner. He borrowed a shtick from the antics that are seen at Saints games, namely firing T-shirts from an air gun into the crowd. Murray was a friend of the late owner of Dick’s Bar and Grill, Fred Kremer, and would stop in for a dinner — or drink — whenever he was in St. Paul on business.
Next up on the show were repeated toasts with rum, (not the Jag that is the favorite in St. Croix County, but if you think about the taste, not too much different). And then spoken of was, also at length, from he of many talents, his collaboration with a German man to record a best-selling classical music CD. (Sure, not the Blues Brothers, by any means, but it will pass). Murray met the man on a plane trip. This is much like the immediate bond struck up by a California couple who flew to Wisconsin simply to have a beer, and ended up talking to the guy in the next seat, a musician — but definitely not a cellist — with the group Death Angel. (See that story a few items down on this page).

Want something out of the ordinary and cheap (in a good way), for Halloween costumes? Or just the part of the costume you don’t have? Check out Goodwill

October 15th, 2017

Halloween costume shopping at the Hudson Goodwill store is not only very inexpensive, but offers a diverse set of attire. They have odd-ball but fantastic costumes the Big Box Stores don’t carry, and the choice to buy the pieces you need, but necessarily the whole kit, just the accessories you require, not pay for the rest, their managers say. An example is a Darth Vader mask; you can pay for just that and utilize that black robe you already have in your closet, if you desire, and save because of shopping Goodwill and getting an already reduced cost. And they have many different styles of wigs, for example, not just one or two. On top of this, you can get a 25-percent-off offer on Halloween fare if you bring in a bag of donated materials.

(Also, check out this web site for periodic updates on “pre-haunt” happenings and decore around town in the local clubs, as well as where the best costume contests are — on three, you read it right, different nights — as this big night of Halloween revelry nears).

Postseason baseball and Hef death, and new places and new protests, make for pair of doubleheaders on this site

October 2nd, 2017

It’s this kind of commentary on current events that just might get this web site a Pulitzer, since hey, it can’t be used as a fish wrapper since its not on paper. And for more on Husker Du than what’s in the paper, including local tie-ins, see this site’s Notes From The Beat department:
– On the night that the Twins officially made the playoffs, as a wild card, for what seems the first time since prohibition, a friend of mine was bartending and at the same time teasing a fan of another team: See, I told you (the berth) would happen. That night he was making it a point to check out the Twins game, even though still in regular season, in as full a way as possible. And he made it abundantly clear he didn’t give a damn what happened with the Packers on the same night. All this reminds me what transpired the last time the Twins won the World Series, when I was essentially a Hudson bureau writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and western Wisconsin really got behind — finally — the dreaded Minnesota team late in the process. A women accidentally rammed into me with her cart while grocery shopping, and said “Oh sorry, I was thinking about the Twins game!” But this was the days before blogging, and you were not supposed to interject yourself into the story. So my editor said to simply tell this anecdote in the third person. These days, it’s what I specialize in.
– So Hugh Hefner has died at age 91, and he still was not considered creepy. Being a middle-aged man who hangs out way too much, I’m wondering how he pulled that of. Let me explain. Over time, since I say brief hellos to people I enjoy, but don’t make an overt attempt at all to pick up women, or hang out with a particular wingman (at least on most nights) or a certain crowd, I am thought by some people to be, take your pick, gay, a cop, a drug informant, or — and yes I’ll invoke the C word — creepy. I do get that thrown in my face occasionally by some insecure young punks. To which I will offer two things: (1) A bouncer I respect at Dick’s said that if every guy that was ever accused of being creepy, and it was asked of him to throw out that guy, was not allowed in the bar, there would be no guys ever left in the bar; and (2) as far as the allegedly gay thing, a couple of my gorgeous friends have said that if it was OK with me, they would put on a show of affection and dispell any doubt. But Hef managed to pull off not being creepy. So I look at it this way, hmm, do the math. He got to be 91 and I am currently 56, so that gives me 35 years to work toward living up to his standard. (What was I saying about not introducing myself into the story?)
– The place that is to be the new Ellie’s has been gaining traction with its remodel, as is judged by the numb er of construction workers I saw worked on the front facade, three and counting. That is only rivaled by the pace of the redo being done just down the block on what was the Negret urban winery building, now to be called Hop ‘n Barrel. In both cases, continue to hop to it.
– When The Pres called out The NFL about its protests related to Blacks Lives Matter, it seemed that — go figure — the only sports figures who weren’t backing the pro football players were those in NASCAR. As Richard Petty began to say, and I quote, somewhat accurately: “The NFL don’t …” Hey, if he can’t be grammatical … But go figure.