Hudson Wisconsin Nightlife

Meeting a musician with Death Angel on plane made for anything but a Wisconsin Death Trip for California couple

September 14th, 2017

San Francisco might be a world away from Hudson, but they seem to have to same difficulties with their bridges, and the answer proved to be Wisconsin beer!
A couple from California who were in Elk River, Minn. for a wedding, said that as long as they were this close, they just had to make the trek to the Badger State to get a real Wisconsin beer. So Spotted Cow was their pick of the litter when they crossed the river. And, they were pleasantly surprised that here, you even get a beer chaser with your bloody Mary.
But even more so in the conversation that ensued, the couple said that on the long plane flight here, they ended up sitting next to a hard-core rock star. When finding that I sing metal, they immediately asked if then, was I familiar with the band Death Angel. That was the band of the guy in the next seat over. At first, he was surprised they didn’t recognize him, but then opened up and they found him to be well spoken and intelligent. The guy said he actually is into country and jazz as far as his off-the-job-listening, not metal — kind of like Ozzy, whose fave is of all people Whitney Houston. Death metal is the harder of those genres, and he has been playing with Death Angel since a teen in the ’80s.
But back to the new Stillwater bridge that got them over to the The Next Stop in Houlton. They thought the span was impressive, even beautiful, unlike the crumbling although still famous Golden Gate in their community. That one, turns out, is much more like the fading lift bridge a mile up from the new one.
I also met a guy at The Next Stop who had one cigarette in his hand and another atop his ear, that’s double trouble. (And he actually put the one down to strum on his guitar). But more interesting is he has a friend from Hudson named Jeff, who is in a band that actually opened for Fear Factory, a popular act in the heyday of metal, and as the guitarist, Jeff totally shreds it, it was said. The other band ties to him are a guy who now lives in Boyceville and does a popular annual Neil Young tribute, and someone who has played with a iconic band from the other side of the river, The Replacements.

What happens when you’re standing on the corner, 70 of you, but not watching all the girls go by …

August 28th, 2017

It wasn’t fair summer weather, but people did what they could to watch the big win by Mayweather over McGregor, and avoid zombies (from the annual pub crawl or those newly nuked?) at the same time.

– At first I thought there were enough young adults to be waiting for two party buses. On a recent Saturday night there were about 70 people gathered on the sidewalk next to front glass windows of the Agave Kitchen, and were at one point joined briefly by a police officer, to watch as best they could the latest Ultimate Fight of the Century shown only by a TV pay-per view situation. (That means there was about one such spectator for every weigh-in, fight-before-the-actual-fight word that McGregor uttered). I even saw a couple known years ago from the Beach Bar in Lakeland, and now living as polar opposites from Hudson by residing near Roberts, who said they just don’t get out much anymore but this was a special situation. Around the downtown, there were people gathered in small groups and “fighting” for the best spot to view the bout on individual’s social media equipment, such as on outside patios, even though it drizzled occasionally.
– Upstairs at one of those places, the Smilin’ Moose, dancing the night away were members of a bachlorette party where the theme was old pro sports jerseys. Between all of them, they covered virtually every major pro league, and it had been a while since anyone honored ol’ No. 91, Dennis Rodman, that way. The woman was swaying as much while she strutted as one of the missiles, say at around 2,000 feet, from a launching pad of No. 91′s buddy, the nuke-happy, North Korean dictator.
– They are at once the problem and the answer. I saw three zombie signs on a Minnesota car, one of which said zombie infestation response team. Is that to save us native Wisconsinites after they all come over, say from the annual, Twin Cities zombie pub crawl? And another oddity: A car’s license plate had a “Packer” plastic frame around the edges, but it was a Minnesota plate. Is that legal? Or do you end up paying things such as taxes on both ends of Minnesconsin?
– My neighbor, a former Pepper Fest king, has a figurine of a little girl in a summer dress and hat sitting on the stone wall of his immaculately landscaped front yard. To the point that a biker who happened by gazed at it all the way through his left-hand turn. Just the other day, the figure was replaced by that of a Roman soldier all decked out in gold foil. Just in time for Pepper Fest? Coincidence …?
– The Pizza King and active local crooner, Rich Raley, said that over Pepper Fest he was extremely busy delivering not only pizza there, but his new side dish, cheese curds — to the tune of a case or two every few hours all weekend. That would seem to relate to what was said by a guy a few bar stools down, a transplated Chicago resident, who was experienced for the first time Pepper Fest; and what are these new, cool things called cheese curds?
– The festival is ripe for more humor. As I told as a joke to a North Hudson friend who jokingly declares me as her “fun stalker” — don’t read anything into that ladies — what do us stalkers do in our spare time? They go to Peeper Fest, of course!
– The I’m Trying To Be Trump singer on America’s Got Talent lost this time, to the hoots and chagrins of people at the sports bar. But as Trump being Trump, in typical Trump fashion, he carved out a win anyway by giving the judges tickets to his upcoming show in Vegas. At a Trump owned hotel?
– Two similar odd moments on bar TV: (1) The closed captioning for a commercial on the best brew in Minnesota must not stretch into Wisconsin, as it repeatedly listed Schell’s beer as Shell’s, minus the C, a miscue that has also been seen at some nightclubs on this western end of the Badger State; and (2) the captioning praised the rapping done by a late-night talk show guest, but they had it as “wrapping.” All wrapped up and nowhere to go? And one more related possible gaffe: A pro athlete was in the sports-bar-TV news, by the name of Lucky Whitehead. Guess what he’s feeling good about is that he’s not known for blackhead pimples.

Of Dick’s and British cars, and the Moose and a DJ (with jugs?), and a bit of AC/DC both times

August 17th, 2017

You’ve got to think that Bon Scott would love it … and drive it.

A friend who was visiting from Milwaukee was driving with me downtown, when I mentioned the annual Brit Fest car show sponsored by Dick’s Bar and Grill, at that moment off to our right. He was at the time dressed like an AC/DC singer, complete with English Valley Cap (or is it just a beret?) and muscle shirt for possible use in viewing muscle cars.
He immediately noticed, parked closest to us, a bright yellow Victory car, vintage 1960s from the Continent, and pointed it out. (dejavu, I think this same thing happened last year!) What made this trek different was seeing another ’60s MG roadster parked just one street up on Locust.
That’s less than a block from the Smilin’ Moose, who for a couple of weekends this month has finally featured a woman DJ. I pointed this fact out to her, and she confirmed, “Yup, I’m the only female.” Perhaps making way for the lady is, as pointed out before in these pages, another DJ who is a dead-ringer for the drummer of, yup, AC/DC. I say dead-ringer because that guy was hauled from a concert stage and into an English courtroom for allegedly arranging a murder for hire.
A last double-shot moment on classic, or soon to be classic, cars: Not one but two advertising-based sports cars, with an oversize can of Red Bull hoisted on top of the roof, started the line that formed at a red light on Second Street the other day.

Recently dead rock stars have their look-alikes locally, as Dick’s Bar becomes Bennington’s bar, with Brit car show beckoning, to boot

July 25th, 2017

Of class-act Chris and Chester coincidences and classic cars from the continent, (some of which might cross the new Stillwater bridge, which has been Diver Down):
– Downtown Hudson recently payed tribute, in its own way, to Chester Bennington and his close friend Chris Cornell, two hard-rock lead vocalists who committed suicide in the past few weeks. A man who looked just like Bennington, same age and really complete with the same face and crewcut, was at Dick’s Bar and Grill, when a few minutes later, a dude who could have been a doppelganger for Cornell came in the door, with the long wavy, dark hair done in just the right way. Even more fitting concerning Dick’s, is it will be a gathering place for Brits such as Bennington — who wrote a cryptic, prior-to-death letter to Cornell about a dream that started out with the Beatles’ Rocky Raccoon — when it hosts the annual British vintage car show in early August. And as far as jukebox song requests, Cornell still reins as king, (as wearing the crown, in one of his last song efforts before his death), more so than Bennington, say local club sources.

– Some divers who work for a special company that does underwater welding, and calling themselves “Poisidon’s Rejects,” had a nightcap at the Village Inn in North Hudson while away from their job building the Stillwater Bridge, which will officially open Aug. 3. They were in town about a year ago, when the first parts of the span were being connected to Wisconsin soil, although their job was down near the bottom of the river — with no surface in sight, since other workers had built a small, airtight room around the welders. The men had also been working on a Chicago project of equal difficulty, although the local project is a hard gig to get, they said. So much so that one of them was writing a book on how their job is accomplished. The most talkative of the crew said that he didn’t feel bad about getting from $40 to $80 an hour for such work, when you look at what management in such niche-market companies make. He added, based on his own experience, that while unions have power-hungry people at the top, just like virtually anyone in management, they have their place and are better than the alterative — which certainly would lead to workers getting shafted.

(For more on bridges and bars, see the latest entry in the Notes From the Beat department of this web site).

– Speaking of top-shelf workers who probably make more than they are worth, it was late at Dick’s one night, and hardly anyone was in the place, largely because of the thunderstorms that were forecast to be moving in. The couple of us there were tracking the storms on social media as they rolled through central Minnesota. But if I had been there a couple of hours earlier, I could have gotten it straight from the horse’s mouth, as longtime metro weatherman Dave Dahl — who like everyone in his position gets it wrong about as often as they get it right — had been in for a couple. This brings back memories of the old Dibbo’s, when it was known that he would stop in on occasion, possibly to take in a band. Was he also branching out into entertainment reporting?
– Speaking of the old Dibbo’s, as it again was referenced during an encounter at Dick’s, a woman with long blonde hair approached me and asked if I remembered her from, say, 20 years ago at the rock club. Her question for me was the one that always comes up, are you still writing, or did our back in the Stone Ages economy finally do you in? She added that she is also in journalism, but is doing much better because there are some things people always find money for, beer being one of them, even if they then can’t afford to buy breakfast in the morning. Anyway, she has spanned the country taking photos for hot rod magazines and the like, some of them appearing on the covers. Some people are such OCD collectors, it seems, that they will always find a way to tame their need to accumulate such stuff on street rods, no matter what their means. So it looks like my old friend has a job for life.
– Speaking of such machines, I was walking out of Dick’s and a patron pointed out of me a miminuative motorcycle parked in the next stall. It was a Genesis model by Yamaha, and the guy said that I struck him as someone who would drive such a thing. To me it looked like a small crotch rocket, and since the words “small” and “crotch” were linked, I was wondering what this says about me. Maybe don’t want to know …
– The next block to the north, a stop sign was bent over … barely. We’re talking about six or seven degrees from straight. I’m guessing some drunk didn’t steer well and struck the sign — even though it would appear he was too wasted to build a speed more than 2 mph.
– Where you going wearin’ those shoes? Tennis shoes, that is, which have been all the rage for women in recent months, but in this case were seen on members of a bachlorette party along with the fancy dresses. And, at one of the many bachlorette parties filtering through the Smilin’ Moose, was a plastic doll of a guy noticable for all the fake black hair on his chest. Or is that “fake news.” Regardless, the Moose gives all the young women a reason to dress up to the nines, unlike at some of the pre-existing Hudson clubs, says a former North Hudson man and longtime club-goer now living in New Richmond,
– The sign outside Casanova Historic Liquors said they prefer their “kale” to have a silent K. Similarly, I might invoke that type of editing to the category of “there’s an app for everything,” and add “tap” beer — of course with a “silent” second P and adding the introductory T.

Two bands, boxing, after-parade revelry, bingo and lots of food under the big West Wind tent as part of River Falls Days

July 12th, 2017

Just like a circus under the Big Top, a huge tent will cover several well-attended offerings held by the West Wind Supper Club during River Falls Days, running the entirety of this coming weekend. The activities, which mark the West Winds’ foray into becoming the go-to venue for the annual city festival, begin with a parade and include two bands, a boxing show, bingo and lots and lots of food.
The Friday parade on Main Street starts at The West Wind — located at 709 N. Main — at 6:30 p.m. and immediately following the parade’s conclusion, at 7:30 or 8 p.m., is live music under the tent by The Coxmen.
On Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. is a River Falls Fire Department fundraiser, the chicken and corn feed, with some of the proceeds going for purchase of new safety equipment for the department. From 3-8 p.m. is a bingo marathon with magic ball jackpot and coverall jackpot estimated at $2,500. All bingo proceeds go to the River Falls Youth Hockey Association. After the close of bingo, at 8 p.m., is music by the Stone Daisy Band.
Sunday brings Golden Glove live boxing, with gates opening at 4 p.m. The tournament is provided by Peek-A-Boo Boxing, a popular and well-reviewed local gym ran by resident Boyd Davis that over years has put boxing on the map in River Falls.
West Wind will sponsor an outdoor grill and keep the food going throughout all events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The offerings include pork chops, burgers, brats and hot dogs, as well as a full outdoor bar. Seating for more than 300 people is provided, with more added for Saturday’s chicken and corn feed.
All weekend events are held under a big tent in the West Wind front parking lot that will provide the occasionally needed cover from the partly cloudy to sunny skies that are forecast. The tent goes 40-by-120 feet, complete with a 24-foot stage.
“In the past we have always had quite a few events going on under the same size tent. My hope is to keep that tradition alive and well for many more years to come,” said Tony Leone, owner of the West Wind.
The Coxmen are part of an original Galliform collective, using several instruments to serve up “old-fashioned rural hip hop and rock.” They consist of Dave on fiddle and bass, Brandon on bass and guitar, Andrew on guitar and mandolin, and Drew on drums and harp.
The Stone Daisy band fills all of the stage with tried and true musicians. They include:
– Alicia Brown, an experienced country and rock vocalist with a dynamic voice and stage presence.
– Dave Callies, a familiar face in the metro band scene, having been with many bands, providing screaming guitar licks and pumping rhythms to the likes of So Big and No Promises.
– Fans of country music will know JP Petersen as one of the best country vocalists in local bands. He has worked with several local and regional projects, as well as frequent gigs as a solo singer and songwriter, and has performed all over the Midwest, sharing the stage with country legends Dierks Bentley and Clay Walker. He also provides a powerful rhythm guitar.
– Drummer Chad Molva has been the core of several bands in the Twin Cities market, has shared the stage with regional and national musicians and is a recognized powerhouse of a rhythm player in the metro area, having started on the drums at age eight.
– Larry Ober has played with local bands for years, mastering classic rock, country, jazz, big band and even polka stylings, laying down a low guitar groove.
– Scott Schufman has worked in several Twin Cities-based bands over 25 years, including variety, R&B and blues, and classic rock formats. A true fan of Americana music, his influences include early blues, country, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll. Scott brings piano, organ, and other added sounds to round out the mix.
“The bands were decided on by recommendations from friends, research and a general (desire) to change it up from past years,” Leone said, even though for years they have given a long and strong regional presence.
The boxing show gets underway at 5 p.m. Admission is $12 in advance and $15 at the door. For tickets, call Boyd Davis at (715) 220-0284. The local gym takes its name, Peek-a-Boo, from a popular boxing style where the hands are placed in front of the boxer’s face to offer extra protection.
The club has three of its fighters on the card, Coty Reh at 150 pounds, Mitchell Radcliff at 130 pounds, and Jake Rode at 165 pounds. All have been training for about a year.

Just a song’s worth of time into Wisconsin, Venture Fireworks vital staff shows you all that goes boom in the night

June 27th, 2017

(And for a roundup of how The Fourth played out, see this web site’s Notes From The Beat department).

If you trek three minutes up the freeway after crossing the St. Croix River, you can exit to get stuff that goes boom in the night and be back there in the time it takes to play a few favorite songs on the radio — then have your own Capital Fourth either on the water or in other wide open spaces of western Wisconsin.

So if you plan a fireworks display soon, a prime place to consider is the longtime, locally owned and operated Venture Fireworks in the town of Hudson. Whether your party is big or small, celebrating the loud bang or the subtle pop, their staff that’s studious about the many fireworks they sell is waiting to serve you.
Venture is unlike other Hudson fireworks stores in that they have a full staff and are much easier to find, being just a jaunt off the freeway rather then congested miles off of it, and offering a greater volume of choices as well. It is also a cut above, in a different manner, then those further down Interstate 94, as that requires people to trek all the way deeper into Wisconsin for a big box store. As far as gas and convenience, Venture Fireworks gives you more bang for your buck — a mid-summer night’s dream, because you don’t want to wait when there is a feast for your eyes and ears awaiting.
Until July 4, they are open seven days a week until 9 p.m., so if you want to get some fireworks — even close to the last minute — for shortly before dusk, this place is for you. And if you want to get a jump on things, they open at 9 a.m. (After The Fourth, the hours change to 10 a.m.-8 p.m. until Labor Day, after which they are closed until Dec. 26-31, at which time they reopen for New Year’s Eve sales.) And as they say “we offer all the good stuff.”Venture Fireworks is conveniently located just off of Interstate 94, a jog north on Exit 4, just three miles east of the border with Minnesota. That border, a veritable lake of water, can make flashy reflections in summer not unlike the snow-covered glow that is another specialty produced by Venture Fireworks when they open for sales around another holiday — New Years.
Jeff Osbeck of Venture Fireworks is a longtime Hudson resident, so he knows a thing or two about them. He says how they are different from the big box stores for fireworks is the friendly and knowledgeable staff, who will steer you in the right direction to have a fun, safe and hassle-free experience, throughout the middle of the summer.
Osbeck heard such high praise from a couple who recently got married. The wedding gift of fireworks he gave them created memories beyond the usual household items that are typically received. It was such a hit that a phone call was received from a long distance away on the wedding night, to say that the extra visual effect had made their celebration truly extraordinary.
There are military and cash discounts available. Venture Fireworks can be found at 631 Commerce Drive, Hudson, WI 54016, just north of Interstate 94 off Exit 4 in the town of Hudson. Contact them at (715) 386-8757, or at www.venturefireworks.com, or on Facebook. Please mention this article if you patronize Venture Fireworks.

Just a song’s worth of time into Wisconsin, Venture Fireworks vital staff shows you all that goes boom in the night

June 27th, 2017

If you trek three minutes up the freeway after crossing the St. Croix River, you can exit to get stuff that goes boom in the night and be back there in the time it takes to play a few favorite songs on the radio — then have your own Capital Fourth either on the water or in other wide open spaces of western Wisconsin.

So if you plan a fireworks display soon, a prime place to consider is the longtime, locally owned and operated Venture Fireworks in the town of Hudson. Whether your party is big or small, celebrating the loud bang or the subtle pop, their staff that’s studious about the many fireworks they sell is waiting to serve you.
Venture is unlike other Hudson fireworks stores in that they have a full staff and are much easier to find, being just a jaunt off the freeway rather then congested miles off of it, and offering a greater volume of choices as well. It is also a cut above, in a different manner, then those further down Interstate 94, as that requires people to trek all the way deeper into Wisconsin for a big box store. As far as gas and convenience, Venture Fireworks gives you more bang for your buck — a mid-summer night’s dream, because you don’t want to wait when there is a feast for your eyes and ears awaiting.
Until July 4, they are open seven days a week until 9 p.m., so if you want to get some fireworks — even close to the last minute — for shortly before dusk, this place is for you. And if you want to get a jump on things, they open at 9 a.m. (After The Fourth, the hours change to 10 a.m.-8 p.m. until Labor Day, after which they are closed until Dec. 26-31, at which time they reopen for New Year’s Eve sales.) And as they say “we offer all the good stuff.”Venture Fireworks is conveniently located just off of Interstate 94, a jog north on Exit 4, just three miles east of the border with Minnesota. That border, a veritable lake of water, can make flashy reflections in summer not unlike the snow-covered glow that is another specialty produced by Venture Fireworks when they open for sales around another holiday — New Years.
Jeff Osbeck of Venture Fireworks is a longtime Hudson resident, so he knows a thing or two about them. He says how they are different from the big box stores for fireworks is the friendly and knowledgeable staff, who will steer you in the right direction to have a fun, safe and hassle-free experience, throughout the middle of the summer.
Osbeck heard such high praise from a couple who recently got married. The wedding gift of fireworks he gave them created memories beyond the usual household items that are typically received. It was such a hit that a phone call was received from a long distance away on the wedding night, to say that the extra visual effect had made their celebration truly extraordinary.
There are military and cash discounts available. Venture Fireworks can be found at 631 Commerce Drive, Hudson, WI 54016, just north of Interstate 94 off Exit 4 in the town of Hudson. Contact them at (715) 386-8757, or at www.venturefireworks.com, or on Facebook. Please mention this article if you patronize Venture Fireworks.

Just a song’s worth of time into Wisconsin, Venture Fireworks vital staff shows you all that goes boom in the night

June 27th, 2017

If you trek three minutes up the freeway after crossing the St. Croix River, you can exit to get stuff that goes boom in the night and be back there in the time it takes to play a few favorite songs on the radio — then have your own Capital Fourth either on the water or in other wide open spaces of western Wisconsin.

So if you plan a fireworks display soon, a prime place to consider is the longtime, locally owned and operated Venture Fireworks in the town of Hudson. Whether your party is big or small, celebrating the loud bang or the subtle pop, their staff that’s studious about the many fireworks they sell is waiting to serve you.
Venture is unlike other Hudson fireworks stores in that they have a full staff and are much easier to find, being just a jaunt off the freeway rather then congested miles off of it, and offering a greater volume of choices as well. It is also a cut above, in a different manner, then those further down Interstate 94, as that requires people to trek all the way deeper into Wisconsin for a big box store. As far as gas and convenience, Venture Fireworks gives you more bang for your buck — a mid-summer night’s dream, because you don’t want to wait when there is a feast for your eyes and ears awaiting.
Until July 4, they are open seven days a week until 9 p.m., so if you want to get some fireworks — even close to the last minute — for shortly before dusk, this place is for you. And if you want to get a jump on things, they open at 9 a.m. (After The Fourth, the hours change to 10 a.m.-8 p.m. until Labor Day, after which they are closed until Dec. 26-31, at which time they reopen for New Year’s Eve sales.) And as they say “we offer all the good stuff.”Venture Fireworks is conveniently located just off of Interstate 94, a jog north on Exit 4, just three miles east of the border with Minnesota. That border, a veritable lake of water, can make flashy reflections in summer not unlike the snow-covered glow that is another specialty produced by Venture Fireworks when they open for sales around another holiday — New Years.
Jeff Osbeck of Venture Fireworks is a longtime Hudson resident, so he knows a thing or two about them. He says how they are different from the big box stores for fireworks is the friendly and knowledgeable staff, who will steer you in the right direction to have a fun, safe and hassle-free experience, throughout the middle of the summer.
Osbeck heard such high praise from a couple who recently got married. The wedding gift of fireworks he gave them created memories beyond the usual household items that are typically received. It was such a hit that a phone call was received from a long distance away on the wedding night, to say that the extra visual effect had made their celebration truly extraordinary.
There are military and cash discounts available. Venture Fireworks can be found at 631 Commerce Drive, Hudson, WI 54016, just north of Interstate 94 off Exit 4 in the town of Hudson. Contact them at (715) 386-8757, or at www.venturefireworks.com, or on Facebook. Please mention this article if you patronize Venture Fireworks.

Just a song’s worth of time into Wisconsin, Venture Fireworks vital staff shows you all that goes boom in the night

June 27th, 2017

If you trek three minutes up the freeway after crossing the St. Croix River, you can exit to get stuff that goes boom in the night and be back there in the time it takes to play a few favorite songs on the radio — then have your own Capital Fourth either on the water or in other wide open spaces of western Wisconsin.

So if you plan a fireworks display soon, a prime place to consider is the longtime, locally owned and operated Venture Fireworks in the town of Hudson. Whether your party is big or small, celebrating the loud bang or the subtle pop, their staff that’s studious about the many fireworks they sell is waiting to serve you.
Venture is unlike other Hudson fireworks stores in that they have a full staff and are much easier to find, being just a jaunt off the freeway rather then congested miles off of it, and offering a greater volume of choices as well. It is also a cut above, in a different manner, then those further down Interstate 94, as that requires people to trek all the way deeper into Wisconsin for a big box store. As far as gas and convenience, Venture Fireworks gives you more bang for your buck — a mid-summer night’s dream, because you don’t want to wait when there is a feast for your eyes and ears awaiting.
Until July 4, they are open seven days a week until 9 p.m., so if you want to get some fireworks — even close to the last minute — for shortly before dusk, this place is for you. And if you want to get a jump on things, they open at 9 a.m. (After The Fourth, the hours change to 10 a.m.-8 p.m. until Labor Day, after which they are closed until Dec. 26-31, at which time they reopen for New Year’s Eve-based sales.) And as they say “we offer all the good stuff.”Venture Fireworks is conveniently located just off of Interstate 94, a jog north on Exit 4, just three miles east of the border with Minnesota. That border, a veritable lake of water, can make flashy reflections in summer not unlike the snow-covered glow that is another specialty produced by Venture Fireworks when they open for sales around another holiday — New Years.
Jeff Osbeck of Venture Fireworks is a longtime Hudson resident, so he knows a thing or two about them. He says how they are different from the big box stores for fireworks is the friendly and knowledgeable staff, who will steer you in the right direction to have a fun, safe and hassle-free experience, throughout the middle of the summer.
Osbeck heard such high praise from a couple who recently got married. The wedding gift of fireworks he gave them created memories beyond the usual household items that are typically received. It was such a hit that a phone call was received from a long distance away on the wedding night, to say that the extra visual effect had made their celebration truly extraordinary.
There are military and cash discounts available. Venture Fireworks can be found at 631 Commerce Drive, Hudson, WI 54016, just north of Interstate 94 off Exit 4 in the town of Hudson. Contact them at (715) 386-8757, or at www.venturefireworks.com, or on Facebook. Please mention this article if you patronize Venture Fireworks.

Plane and simple, Meister and Jeff are afield providing Elvis and other musical offerings out in back in Boardman

June 25th, 2017

This has got to be the most interesting thing that’s happened next to a corn field since Mrs. O’Leary’s cow started the famed Chicago fire — even though what’s become a Sunday western Wisconsin tradition of each summer also brings some heat to the mix.

Jeff Loven, who has a virtual lock on being this area’s top one man band, will again perform this Sunday, June 25, starting at 4 p.m. at Meister’s Place in Boardman for the first of several such gigs through August, with a stage set up not in the spacious back room, but near the corn field out back. And he has a little help from his friends.
Adding to Jeff’s renowned show, the proprietor, Dave Meister, usually makes an appearance to change it up a little bit — as if the show needed any more firepower. Dave typically is in an Elvis suit, and he brings even more flair then the usual Elvis impersonator. Dave has been known to make his entrance via an airplane (there’s no word yet if roadies help him exit the plane when it swings over the nearby farm field). In any case, he comes bolting in from the corn field to take his place on the stage and go to it.
“The shows are the same as nightclub gigs except outside in the open air. We have had extremely good luck with weather. Dave calls it, ‘the Boardman Bubble,’ because rain will just go around Boardman sometimes and we’re still dry on the patio even though surrounding areas get wet,” Jeff said.
In what ways does Dave’s presence add to things? “We love Elvis! Everyone gets a kick when Elvis mysteriously appears out of the corn field directly behind the performance area. They can see him approach the stage during my set,” Jeff said. “It’s like the movie Field Of Dreams!”
And, of course, it can get outrageous. “Elvis arrived in a small airplane right behind the stage last year when they grew soybeans instead of corn. It was something to behold,” Jeff said, making this show sound not unlike the spectacle of those old mega-concerts. “The plane buzzed the stage a couple times before landing.”
Dave does three songs on his own, plus one with Jeff. “It’s Neil Diamond,” Dave said — an act that has a loyal following as far as being covered. It’s all part of a full show of music by Jeff, and one where Dave is a star in his own right and doesn’t just need to ride on Jeff’s coattails.
A favorite Meister’s moment was when the drummer from Obsession, the speed metal band in which Jeff cut his teeth in the 80, came out for Jeff’s show. Old pal — and Jeff has a lot of them around the Midwest — Todd McNurlin showed up with his family. “He sat in a bit on cowbell,” Jeff said, referring to the part of the show when an audience member is brought on stage to emulate Will Ferrell on Saturday Night Live. No word on how skilled Todd was with this style of percussion.
And Jeff does all his other audience participation things, which include a bit of comedy, such as when he rolls out his Heavy Metal Polka (see more below), or brings someone up to be “loosy goosy” and helps them refine their tambourine-playing routine. And he regularly revs up the guitar and vocals, sometimes with a partner, for new songs on the set list, such as the recently-added, guitar heavy version of Bus Stop, and the even newer Paradise By The Dashboard Light.
“I knew Meister’s was going to be a great venue for my one-man show (plus Dave) from the very first gig there almost 10 years ago,” Jeff said. “People love the atmosphere and large dancing area in front of the stage, and they are constantly asking me if Elvis will be there!”
“I engage my audience at every performance. Whether there’s 500 or 15 people I put on the same show and I go the extra mile to make sure that every single performance is as good as it can be, whether I’m doing a wedding, corporate event or a nightclub,” Jeff said. Or a farm field. “I am very grateful to be working doing what I love!” That includes an opportunity to do his virtuoso guitar work without having to go through the rigors of touring, as it was back in the ’80s, and without having to be in a different end of the country as his wife and children.
BACK IN THE DAY …
You can see some of the following famed Loven performances when checking out Meister’s this summer, or if they are not part of his set at that moment, by tuning in to them online.
– After viewing Jeff’s Youtube sensation Heavy Metal Polka, which is a staple part of his routine and even includes an accordian, the casting producer for NBC hit series America’s Got Talent has called Jeff several times in hopes of bringing the spectacle to network television and has left an open invitation for upcoming season 10. The video, which featured Jeff and full band wearing of all things elf costumes, (a part of the role that’s not often reprised), was filmed at Uncle Mike’s in the town of Hudson, before a large crowd of regular patrons, some of whom even got into the act as they say, by being in the front row. Jeff was so absorbed by laying down the riffs that he almost stepped on top of a flame pot as it shot up a 10-foot spire of fire. He barely avoided getting burned.
– Thirty years ago Steve Vai, Steve Morse and Mark St. John selected Jeff’s entry from thousands as winner of the Kahler International Bridge to Stardom guitar contest. This solo displays Jeff’s fast and amazing command of multiple textures and techniques and even includes a bit of play acting and guitar generated sound effects during the intro (think a Maiden-esque air raid siren) that definitely prompted the judges to give it a closer listen.
– Jeff even got his published photo taken with fellow guitar great Eddie Van Halen back in the day, when Jeff was with his like-minded group Obsession, and he and Van Halen were both having gigs in New Orleans.
– It was around that time that Jeff drew the jealousy of Motley Crue, as he relayed the story recently when celebrating his 15th anniversary of playing in the Hudson and Boardman area. Obsession was laying it down to School’s Out For The Summer — prior to the Crue’s version that was soon to come out — and members of the famed metal band were in the audience on the Sunset Strip when they heard it and were running scared that Obsession might beat them to the punch and release a single. Motley Crue then put a rush on their release of Schools Out — taking just another three weeks — and the rest, as they say, is history.
The next performance at Meister’s is this Sunday, June 25, from 4-8 p.m. — as these are the usual hours — then at various dates throughout the summer. Get the latest scheduling information by checking out Jeff Loven’s web site. (And you then might consider taking in his Sunday evening show at Dick’s Bar and Grill, as some people have done as a nightcap, just in case you “need more cowbell.”)