Hudson Wisconsin Nightlife

Tony Blair pheasants, shot then shipped, and zombie deer that just keep coming mark this holiday’s entertainment focus

November 25th, 2016

While we are weaning ourselves off of Halloween and elections, we still have hunting to be the target of our focus:

– Thanksgiving is here, and it still isn’t exactly a lame duck of a holiday season, as what better way to
celebrate than hitting the woods. Two Tony Blair pheasants, a specialty type shot by the politician while on a
hunting outing in his home England, were express shipped to a North Hudson man and bar patron. He put them in
his freezer at length while debating how to prepare them in an over-the-top way, because this was an over-the-
top situation. The commonality between the two men came about because a relative of the local guy was doing
business with Blair, going back a ways.
– And on the hunting theme this season, I think of the shoot ‘em up game at an area bar that’s Wild-themed,
with zombie does to shoot, (harkening to Halloween), and like a bad hunting day, the does rather then bucks just keep
on coming.
– A better bet has been the special featured at the new Next Stop bar in Houlton, which had opened early at 8
a.m. with Mexican tortilla offerings to cater to deer hunters. Has it now been replaced with a venison feed?
– The similar odd bedfellows as far as featured food continued with the hot pizza and cold snow cones at a
late summer party in Lakeland. Right now might be an apt time for such themed appetizers, as we are between
both temperature-based seasons.
– It was all over the regional networks at local sports bars. The Minnesota Wild coaxed out a win while
watching were hundreds if not thousands of hunters wearing blaze orange headgear, even if the rest of the
outfit was usually a standard color. What gives for the idea of only topping it off?
– It was busy everywhere on that Thanksgiving Eve, including at times people with shirtsleeves and even
shorts, (does that cause a wrinkled up turkey-leg-like look when out in the newly fallen snow?) At The Smilin’
Moose, however, security people in the doorway made up the difference with multi-layered sweatshirts. On the
side street was a lime green bus with an X from front to back (could they be from my favorite radio station?)
And out front across the street, a pickup truck from outside Minnesconsin made his own parking space in back of
all the ones that were taken. Leave it to an-out-of-stater times two.
– A restaurant manager I know planned to get off his late-night shift and make a beeline for Pudge’s Bar to
watch with interest the last election results come in. Knowing his politics, I think he might have had to drown
his sorrows, (this was the same guy who exactly eight years ago at the same bar chastised someone who’d had a
2few too many and made the idiotic proclamation: Bush is the environmental president.) Or, the local guy could
just focus on all the Minnesota races that you could find on network TV out of the Twin Cities, (after all, as
far as all things presidential, they basically fired Trump). Meanwhile, at a bar across town, a local musician
was saying this about the ultimate write-in: All things considered, I voted for Jesus.
– Across the street from the Downtown Hudson Party District, the Democratic Party offices are now up for rent
to a new tenant. Maybe The Real Estate Mogul in Chief could help with the arrangements. Or his newly appointed

“king of bankruptcy” to head the Commerce Department. Not that a political party would need such help.

– Oddly, there were virtually no Trump or Clinton masks to be found on Halloween, a matter that was still
being discussed days and days after. Gaining more attention, based on the buildup various people gave, were the
guy-in-the-shower costume, as word spread he’d now done this for 20 straight years and that enabled him to take
home major prizes in contests at both the Village Inn and Pier 500, and possibly others. Also mentioned, as a
model, was a friend of mine who went as a harem girl/genie adorned in not much more than most people wear in
the shower.
– And what do you wear to Paisley Park? All things Prince remain in the news, as do the tales that come from
people who’d had a brush with him. A friend said she partied at the Park going back 20 years. Did she ever get
a chance to actually talk with Prince? “No” came the answer, as people always had to be hush around him.
– Ellie’s on Main officially shut down operations and held a sale of all sorts of assorted merchandise on the
patio back by the alley, not far from their friendly rivals at Dick’s. This was no “short sale,” as a sign out
front listed as examples about a dozen types of stuff they were trying to unload, starting the list with
something called ravioli forms (a specialty) and going down the list to crock pots and the like. Not unlike
when the old Sandbar that was two blocks up lost its lease, and the regulars were invited to a drink-until-its
gone party to get rid of numerous bottles of liquor that no longer served a purpose. The Ellie’s building has
reportedly been purchased by the people behind the Smilin’ Moose, located between the former Ellie’s and former
Sandbar. Maybe that’s why for several days running, the Ellie’s sign remained lit, for as they say at Motel 6,
“we’ll leave the light on for you.”
– People were out in force to root for their favorite World Series team, ‘cuz they don’t get that chance very
often. The numbers were smaller at the Green Mill and Buffalo Wild Wings, but more boisterous. At The Mill,
there were four guys watching with interest, one of whom kept saying in the ninth inning,” we need just one
more. Just one more.” Meanwhile at The Wings, there were seven people at the bar, and more at back tables, who
were watching with keen interest. The three closest to me were soon on their social media devices. Maybe that
had something to do with the rain delay, which occurred right before the Cubbies were crowned the kings of
clout in extra innings.
– And as that goes, overheard about the recent WNBA slight that cost the Twin Cities team another title: “They
screwed the Lynx.” That goes along with a comment from some journalism colleagues back in college days, who
were dating: “She screws like a Lynx.”
– The sign at Kozy Korner said, “Let’s go Big Red,” in reference to Badger football game it would air the next
day. It then added, “we deliver.” Maybe delivering more than some football teams in the region. Then add to
that the Kozy sign that thanked the “Zias” for opening their house to the public for the Tour of Homes. Is that
Zais singular of plural? After all, hubby Tim said it was a ton of work.

This web site is maid to order for election coverage with an entertainment twist, as I’m all about Midwestern values??? Ask the help, they’re my Trump card.

November 8th, 2016

The Trump campaign, and its previous history with the hired help, may or not be maid to order for this country. (At least he hired a farm girl and not an illegal immigrant to help “clean up”). These and many other election observations are being offered as entertaining, from HudsonWiNightlife.com as a tie-in with its content, like anyone asked me.
– The dealings with women that have become part of the Trump legacy didn’t start just recently. A friend of mine worked as a housekeeper for the Trumps back when he was in his first marriage, and unlike The Donald to most people, Wife No. 1 was actually very nice, and even had her do personal errands, she said. There apparently was a lot to do. Both of the Trumps were workaholics, and especially Donald could be basically absentee parents except for occasionally engaging the kids at the office, between jet setting. Believe it or not, the Trumps apparently liked the idea of Midwestern values when hiring such a person. Appropriate to that job might be her advice in US Weekly to her daughter: Don’t let anyone photograph your closet. It’s inelegant. (Like letting them on your tour bus with a hidden microphone).
– A Minnesotan putting in gas after hours had the bumper stick “Law Enforcement for Trump.” Hopefully his daytime ride was in better shape than this car, which could have been the topic for an Adam Sandler song (you know the one). The man himself looked and dressed more like another singer, Ted Nugent, (do we see a trend here?) Then days later, a young man who literally was dressed as a dead ringer for Uncle Sam, (minus the top-hat), was ordering drinks downtown.
– As far as the Hillary semi-scandalous email debacle, I just have to add this: Shouldn’t it be a positive, not a negative, that a politician was ambitious enough to take her work home with her? The whole, well it’s midnight but I just have to answer this email from an important politico? I’ll freely suggest that had she driven back to the office late at night to take care of it, her opponents would complain that she was running up gas mileage on the taxpayer tab. She can’t win that battle, no matter what she does. However, there is breaking news that Big Oil has crossed party lines and come to the rescue, by taking dollar-off gas cards from their respectively companies, totalling $5K, and forwarding them to Hillary in the name of patriotism. Hey, bet you won’t see that type of consideration from Wall Street!
– Turns out that I do something like those powers that be. I sometimes take my late-night work to a place where I’ll hang out with a beer while writing notes. However, I will use a notepad, rather than a laptop, and one of my server friends said she is old school in a similar way. One of her co-workers chimed in that all this was a lot like Hemingway’s writing habits. That’s high praise, but I don’t think he wrote a lot about Hudson music. Maybe the Old Man and the Sea, not the St. Croix River.
– All these things considered, if you take the short drive to the new Next Stop nightspot in Houlton, you will see this campaign sign in the neighborhood of the new Stillwater bridge. It aptly predicted a Trump “landslide.” Until recently, concerning the Trump campaign, it would have seemed more likely that The Donald be involved in a voter slide of a different sort.
– A wide-ranging rant at The Smilin’ Moose by a young guy, was used to compare the alleged sexual prowess of certain politicians. He wasn’t too up on Hillary, except for suggesting she does it often looking like a lion fish. But he rather was cocksure about the guy whom I guessing was his presidential fave. (Was this guy saying that Hillary was quite into getting back at Bill? Or trumping the sheer number of conquests of Trump, which apparently would take a lot?) Anyway, the local guy remarked that instead, Hillary’s female features had a certain likeness to a combo of that crazy leader of North Korea, and also to… (fill in the blank about any number of other creepy foreign figureheads). Ouch. And, to be fair to all candidates, a reference to Bernie Sanders’ ability also was thrown in. I must note that I was reluctant to report these comments because of their graphic and potentially derogatory nature, but hey, it can’t be any more harmful than the hate hawked by he of (formerly habitual) hideous hair.
– A bartender friend is going to kill me for posting this, but each time I see him as the election nears, I get to thinking about both alleged rigged elections and sexual prowess and want to make a joke about “dangling Chads.” Considering the latest differential between the popular vote and the Electoral College …
– Speaking of chads, Jeff Loven, the man of the one man band, fell back on old humor at a gig right before Halloween. When voting was held for “choose that decade” in a regular guess-the-song-title contest determined by applause, he accused some of the spectators of voting twice. “You guys must be from Florida,” he said with a laugh.
– The other day I ran into Forrest, who now is in the “real” work force. After decades working as a bartender at the legendary Dibbo’s and then to repair motorcycles in his shop, he now has needed to become a telephone-based repair technician. The difference? He held up has hand and showed there was absolutely no dirt under the five fingernails. Add one more to that number and you have the number of quasi-desparate bikers he might help solve their problems in an hour. The connection to the presidential race? Forrest claims it was the financial restrictions of Obama-Care that made it necessary for him to make the work-force leap.

If you got out of the shower in time, you could have seen the town awash in costumes, like, well… A guy in the shower, behind his own curtain

October 31st, 2016

The crowds were out at a balmy but scary pre-Halloween costume night, where a noted trend found middle ground, as sexy wasn’t really in, but when it was put on display, it was really in. (Note the friend of mine dressed like a I Dream Of Jeanie, but showing much more skin).
In case you missed it, here’s a primer on what was worn at local parties:
– It was good to see that an old local costume from years of yore had been resurrected, that being a guy in a shower cap surrounded up to his neck by, you guessed it, an actual shower curtain and faucet. Later at the Village Inn, after the midnight judging, he took off that potentially cumbersome costume in the parking lot.
– A head-to-toe T-Rex had a huge head at least a foot higher than normal height, but it was his tail that was in danger of being stepped upon as he climbed the stairs at the Smilin’ Moose. Just prior to that, a woman told a friend while on her cell phone and giving directions, “I’m right by the dinosaur.”
– Outside, a Twin Citian got off a party bus and noticing a police presence, stuffed his half-full beer can into his left pants pocket. He just might have been given a citation by a civilian in a cop costume who was showing his ID to get in, while there were real cops just across the street giving watch for people such as those impersonating officers.
– While I pulled up to the stop sign to go home, a disco guy did the thing with a pair of fingers where he pointed to his eyes and then to mine. I guess it was obvious I didn’t have a tinted windshield.
– A papparazzi wannabe at Dick’s Bar sported a big placard that said “I’m photo bombing you,” with an also big camera drawn on the front of the sign.
– A woman wore butterfly wings on the back of her neck, each of the four segments hawking a different beer. Meanwhile, as the pre-Halloween weekend wore on into Sunday, friend Andrea looked stunning by showed off her own butterfly wings, behind the upper part of her short dress.
– There was a Mr. Monopoly with a great big mustache at Season’s Tavern, and likewise a truly creepy Mr. Adams that had a great big “Thing” hand on his shoulder.
– A ghoul with a deformed face required the bartender, dressed as Zoolander, to use all his moxie to figure out what was being said to order a drink. He leaned way over to take the request, so close his ear could have been bitten off. One wonders how that masked ghoul drank it anyway.
– A combo of Papa Smurf and Packer clothing dismissed my mere Green Bay sweatshirt, lingered then walked away, like a pair of other recent happenings when some Twin Citians in Viking gear got on my case about one of those sweatshirts, and seemed like they really wanted to mess with me. One of those duos later backed down and high- fived me. Good thing, since I was too outnumbered to fight.
– The beehive look lived, as a couple of women had funnel-shaped hair a full foot higher than their scalps.
– One particular skeleton had every inch of her body decked out, complete with skepter and a beer bottle that had another smaller skeleton positioned where the cap should have been.
– At the same venue, there was a couple going as a Goldilocks followed by a big bad wolf, and also another wolf that had the jaws ready to bite sticking out of his forehead.
– At Woody’s in Bayport, there was another Woody, he of huge head from Toy Story.
– A young guy was dressed as a superhero who fired arrows and had a great big “Q” on his chest. I guess that as far as costumes, this would “have him in the queue.”

Lastly, the best dressed musician might have been Kyle at Guv’s Place, boasting a big bow on the side of his head that remarkably stayed put while he thumped the guitar strings. He was only a few feet away from a late addition to all the decorations, that being in the corner and looking partially like a haunted forest.

A whole host of Halloween happenings await, at parties a couple of days before, but still wholly holiday unholy

October 27th, 2016

(Refer to this web site for a same weekend report on the best of what people wore during Halloween costume parties).

With Halloween itself only two days following, this land is laden with Saturday costume parties — although some venues notably have decided not to partake because of their sheer pervasiveness — while others add things such as karaoke and even a prohibition theme or online contest.
The following is a primer on where to go in costume in the area on Saturday night, and possibly pick up a chunk of change. You can also listen to live music, with some of the acts very new and some old standbys.
– At Emma’s in River Falls will be a party themed after The Stranger television show, as the bartenders will dress up as strangely as characters from that program. This involves what the show calls The Up Side Down, and likewise, their bar is to be decorated earlier that day as such. They will tap a keg, but not just any keg, this being to provide $1 mystery beer pints. It’s no mystery, this special is a great deal, as they may take your soul, but not your gold. Things will start up in primetime, at 7 or 8 p.m.
– At the Village Inn in North Hudson, Solving 27 will be your solution. The band is influenced by the many musicians who only lived to age 27, such as Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimmie Hendrix, Curt Kobain and Amy Winehouse. Its members, all of whom are about that age, say they like to think outside the box as far as set list and feel there are no such rules in rock ‘n roll. They are lead vocalist Billee Jo Hall, lead guitarist Greg ‘OTR’ Boesel, drummer Chris Mikel and bassist Scott Cocchirella. Their set list of current and classic rock bears out that philosophy. It includes Adele, Led Zeppelin, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Fleetwood Mac, The Doors, Coldplay, Sugarland, Brandi Carlisle, Alice In Chains, Bryan Adams, Black Keys, Kings of Leon, Bruno Mars, Pink, The Police, Weezer and Nirvana. A local bartender, Matt, went to high school with Billie Jo and notes that she like many in the band have worked in the backup lineup for national acts, and that her voice has a tremendous range. As for the costume contest, there will be prizes, this one isn’t just for the pros who work for weeks on their get-up, as the winners will be determined by a drawing, not judging or clapping. And, you’ve just got to check out the literally smokin’ coffin on the table by the door.
– Over at Bobtown Brewhouse in Roberts, the prizes in addition to the costume contest, the value of which may be racheted up if there are a lot of people entered and the just-over-year-old place can often be packed on nights like this, is the Danger Rangers. From the twang of surf guitar to the seduction of the blues, from the power chords of rock ‘n roll to the fun of a Tex-Mex ballad, the Rangers bill themselves as western Wisconsin’s premier roadhouse band, and are out for a good time and bring everyone along with them. To that end, the place is all decked out in hundreds of orange-light decorations and similarly colored thick ribbons, as well as lots of white spider webs and even a sexy gray zombie “pretty tied up, hanging upside down,” to borrow a phrase from Guns ‘N Roses.
– At the Willow River Saloon in Burkhardt, the Halloween decore is more reserved and relies on the potentially eerie woodhewn designs of what’s already there rather than elaborate decorations. The band is Country Outlaws, a country rock group whose name speaks for itself although they put a different twist on some of the genre’s songs, a bartender said. They also took the stage last year at The Willow on Halloween weekend, that date being on a Friday. That’s important because the servers there have a tradition of dressing in costume on the night before their big costume party if the contest falls on a Saturday, like this year. There allegedly is a ghost at The Willow that shows up now and again, and you never know what beastie might appear from behind the massive old wooden beams, wagon wheels and statue carvings that decorate the place, especially in the middle area adjacent to the dance floor.
– At Seasons on North Hudson, they will again put the classic into classic rock as far as ambiance goes, with the decades-long band Thirsty Camel rocking the house like always, and the food special for the earlier part of the evening is the potentially Halloween appropriate prime rib (depending how you like it, it doesn’t have to be rare). When the band takes a break around 10:30 p.m. there will be costume judging for oft required first, second and third places. And of course, Seasons allegedly has its own ghost that at times starts in back and works his way toward the bar. Like the one at The Willow, he’s a well-mannered and not-terribly-scary lumberjack, although a bit of a prankster.
– Shiner’s in Lakeland will again offer what’s becoming a tradition that they say will likely continue, a big long-running bonfire out back that day and night, just past their big heated patio that also offers a chance to warm up, especially if your costume is too skimpy. To that end, the group playing has as many words in its name as individual members, Revolver and the Secret Agents. Playing retro dance music from the ’60s and early ’70s, Revolver and The Secret Agents is a British Invasion-style dance band with an American twist, they say. It was formed by Minneapolis-based artists with a common theme of dance party music. In another twist, and seemingly perfect for Halloween, Revolver is the only band in the Twin Cities that uses vintage gear with guitars, drums and amps from that era, capturing the most authentic ’60s look and sound to be found. Their press guy is even goes by the name JLennon! Additionally, their is Rocko on bass guitar/vocals, Mick Shagger on drums/vocals, Agent Shagwell on keyboards/vocals/dance, Michael Fabian on lead guitar/lead vocals/back-up vocals, Kaity Heart as lead singer/percussion, as well as Agent 99, Agent Twiggy and Agent Go-Go/lead dancers. (That’s a lot of slashes).
– You’ve got to love a band that is vocal-driven, rather than that same old guitar, and offers “more cowbell” to boot. The Wax Tunes will perform these early and often when they play The Bungalow Inn in Lakeland. starting at 9 p.m. and going until 1 a.m. As far as the costume party with cash and prizes, you must get to the Bungalow as early as the band, and at the same time start taking in their performance, in order to register your costume by 9 p.m. You can then listen to a full three hours of music before judging at midnight. The Wax Tones say they offer a fast-paced set that will put people on the dance floor and have them singing along before they know it. From the Animals to the Zombies, they are faithful to the spirit and sound of that great old ’60s rock ‘n’ roll even though the band bridges all generations, using a professional approach and high-quality light and sound systems.
– You can get an idea of what’s offered at Guv’s Place in North Hudson by the table in the middle of things that’s completely decked out in Minnesota Wild colors and logos. Proprietor Jess is a big hockey fan, and top prizes include Wild tickets, something that’s a bit different than the gift cards commonly seen. Jess’ second love is Halloween, and the whole place is decked out in monsters, and on the four windows in the front of the place, three have big beasties (the unholy trinity) sitting on the right edge, looking both out at the parking lot and you and what you’re doing inside. With the costume contest, first and second place prizes will be given out at 11 p.m., with Guv’s being different than most venues in that judging continues on between 9 and 10:30., to accommodate as many people as possible and getting them all signed up for the contest — a long haul of hours, but hey, its wholly Halloween. Music is from an old war horse on Halloweens, the longtime acoustic favorite Kyle Kohila, and he starts at 9 p.m.
– There is a new bar, just open a week, where Guv’s Place used to be in Houlton, called The Next Stop, and in addition to their slickly designed new decore inside, they will celebrate their first Halloween with happy hour drink prizes not for just an hour or two, but all night for people who come in costume. The new place is run by a couple that have been fixtures in both the local community, and out and about, for years — experience they plan to draw on in their new endeavor.
– The relatively new Not Justa Bar location just north of Somerset — in addition to the outlet in Bayport — will kick of the pre-holiday even earlier, on Friday night, with the long popular group Brat Pack Radio packing their spacious venue. For 11 years, the Minnesota-based band has performed across the globe. Mixing quality musical performances with spoof and carnival theatrics, this is anything but typical cover band fare, they say. Co-frontman Ryan Lance is a four-time Emmy Award-winning songwriter, and a founding member of a cappella darlings The Blenders, who’ve produced 14 albums over the last 20 years, and scored a No. 1 European hit with “I’m in Love with the McDonald’s Girl.” Rather than focus on the arena metal and new wave that can characterize the ’80s, Brat Pack Radio slants toward dance-pop favorites and R&B hits. Adding to the visual spectacle, everything from knife-juggling and spinning keyboards, to stylish choreography and an LED light show, and you’ve got a Halloween hit.
The original Bayport version of the bar and cafe will be more lowkey and traditionally hometown oriented over the pre-holiday weekend, and being positioned right between Woody’s and the American Legion hall that have big and bold costume contests on back-to-back nights, may “serve” the role of providing eats for the partiers who have built up a quick appetite while not staying too long, (as they may show up in costume earlier at those places, and get tired of the ghoulies, then still get over to Not Justa Bar for their eating end of things before its kitchen closes at around 10 p.m.)
– Other noteworthy costume contests will be held on Saturday in Hudson at The Smilin’ Moose (with their whopping $1,000 first prize) and Dick’s Bar and Grill (which features two different judgings in more prize categories than you normally see).

It’s fall and the ax has fallen, as pre-Halloween hauntings hasten arrival of holiday in Hudson

October 17th, 2016

Halloween is coming, so drink up, unless you’re a zombie and your mouth is too mangled to allow you to taste. Here is a grab bag prior to the candy — or as the door at Green Mill says, “proceed with candy” — and also about all things fall:
– Guv’s Place in North Hudson, with its bar manager who just loves the coming fest, was already well decorated for Halloween on the first week in October. It seems there were a few additional things such as even more creepy clowns added a bit later, although none were yet hanging from the balcony, but by contrast people in costume have already been out and about taking in bands. Also seen in various places around town is a new Miller Beer spokesperson on a dawn-of-the-dead type poster hawking the brew, but also showing a side of him (with his face missing) where he probably didn’t have enough of a mouth left to drink it.
– Pudge’s new “digs” also are getting very scary. The whole south side has a five-yard-wide swath that’s been added, even though its mostly plywood right now, for the code-required elevator to the being-constructed upper level, and a patio, etc. A bartender said that holes being dug under the plywood, especially, and under the street have revealed a cave leading to what appears to be an old speakeasy, complete with the finding of some old bones — hence the scary Halloween reference — even though they are believed to be animal not human.
– Across the way at Dick’s Bar and Grill, bartender Terry chimed in on his favorite costume(s) from last year, a crew of guys who came in dressed darkly like South Park characters. “Now children …”
– A Sunday night patron wearing the jersey of the recently successful quarterback named Wertz from the Philadelphia Eagles stayed out late after the football games. Why Wertz? “I’m from North Dakota,” she said. Maybe I don’t have game, but to me, that didn’t explain a lot. (Just like the Bison I saw on top of a mailbox while walking to view a party for the Badger-Buckeye game.) Speaking of which, a Village Inn bartender sported a Wisconsin jersey while on her Saturday shift, but when going out for a drink after the overtime loss was in the books, had ceremoniously removed it in favor of a tank top.
– One of those many transplants from Down South noted outside of Dick’s door that I was still wearing shorts, as I told her I will likely do until near the end of November. And yes it is cold, but since she had gotten here only a year ago from California and even then worked from home during a relatively balmy winter, she still hasn’t experienced the full 90-below-chill-factor freeze. Then I made the obligatory joke about my last name being Winter, and maybe I should go south to where she hails from, to which she replied, get this, my name is Summer!
– On the subject of fashionable women, (more in tune with the weather), the often-seen Stephanie was sporting an autumn-themed hairdo recently, with shades of red and orange and a similarly toned scarf through her locks to match. Shortly afterward, into Season’s Tavern, walked a long cool woman with a plaid dress, boasting like colors, such as those on the maple on Season’s big sign (minus the green leaves).
– A guy at the Cajun Club exited the place into the newly cold climes minus his shirt late one night. I thought that was what the dancers were supposed to do!

NR distillery on parallel course with its mates to create a new wheat whiskey, to be put on display at all-day Saturday product release party

September 29th, 2016

When 45 Parallel Distillery teams with its partners for a new-product release party, its such a big party that it also requires an after party, meaning the fun goes virtually all day on Saturday, Oct. 1.
The focus is on the “W” wheat whiskey release. The New Richmond-based company is offering its seventh annual open house on the theme “barrels and bluegrass” from noon to 6 p.m., which as you might guess from the name is music that’s heavy on the string band format.
This is a free event held rain or shine, which is important because at this time of year, weather can be a factor to be reckoned with.
A Barley John’s after party (next door) starts at 6 p.m. with the release of the Wheat Wine aged in 45 Parallel whiskey barrels.
In addition to the tasting room and tours, featured during the afternoon will be local food and art vendors and three bands: No Man’s String Band, The May North and High Strung String Band.
The latest CD from the No Man’s String Band hits on an old theme. “All is Fair in Love and Bluegrass,” is the result of three years of growth, lineup changes and a band that celebrates tradition but isn’t constrained by it. “We wanted to record music that was undoubtedly bluegrass, entirely us, and completely approachable for lovers of traditional and original music,” said mandolinist Nic Hentges in their online bio. Formed in 2011, the No Man’s String Band has been hitting the road hard to bring on the bluegrass tradition and its future, breaking new ground. At the time of their debut album, “Let The Truth Be Told,” they began a hosting role on the bluegrass series “Cuttin’ Grass,” as well as being featured on a compilation by Old Hand Record Company. In 2015, they were awarded champions of the Race For a Place contest of the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old Time Music Association.
Members of the No Man’s String Band include Justin Rosckes on guitar, Melissa Hentges on accordion, Nic Hentges on mandolin, Lindsey Bordner on fiddle and Pat Loftus on bass.
The May North is an original band from Minneapolis-St. Paul, with a style steeped in Americana, folk, bluegrass and the blues. Like the group from which they take the stage, The May North has a couple of CD releases on its resume, but unlike the other, has one female singer, not two.
Likewise, the High Strung String Band breathes new life into an old tradition. In some ways, the band pays homage to straight-ahead, traditional bluegrass, as they flat-pick the guitar and also play three-finger-style. But in delivering the foot-stomping, high-and-lonesome, storytelling songs you’d expect from a bluegrass band, they add a spirit and style all their own.
But, as I’m sure the band members will concur, back to the distilling. “When people visit, they are just blown away by the operation,” one of the 45th Parallel marketing people said, as what they offer is not just a keg or two in what often is basically a glorified bar. At 45th Parallel there is a 25-foot ceiling, and the distilling equipment needs to reach right up to the top of it. A real hit with visitors, as far as showing the overall scope of the facility, has been their own brand of whiskey being aged in 600 50-gallon barrels.
Speaking of that whiskey, it is one of the relatively new products that 45th Parallel keeps rolling out, after starting off with its multiple-award winning, signature vodka. That was released well before the current craft beer craze hit the streets.
Growth has been so strong that there are plans to construct another building near New Richmond in the next year or two, which might be the cause for another grand opening and tasting. The people at 45th Parallel have been making the rounds to build the usage of their brands to much more than just the Midwest, and they just got back from a festival in Milwaukee where the goods were touted.
45 Parallel is located at 1570 Madison Avenue in New Richmond. For more information, visit 45thparalleldistillery.com.

Many more custom brews, music and added food items mark the spot as L&M’s becomes Bobtown Brewhouse and celebrates a year in business on Saturday

September 24th, 2016

Now that L&M’s in Roberts has become Bobtown Brewhouse, you might not notice a lot of changes, but ones that stand out are the offerings of a variety of new house beers, a lot more live music and a revamped food menu.
All this and more will be the focus of a grand reopening on Saturday, Sept. 24, as the new version known as Bobtown as a brewery and grill, and regular and new patrons, will celebrate a year in business.
There are nine specialty brews made especially by Bobtown that come into play, about half of them ones that have been enjoyed by patrons for months in a small batch release, and another half that are getting fully introduced on Saturday as “limited release seasonal house beers.” So this is your first shot at these locally-based drinks, which cover all bases of beer and boast multiple and creative ingredients.
Music at Bobtown will be offered, on average, on a couple of Saturdays a month, and this Saturday featured acts are The Hun Yuks from 1-3 p.m. and after a gap in time for socializing, Nick Hensley and Love Songs For Angry Men from 8-11 p.m. The Hun Yuks are a veteran duo from River Falls who are strongly country in a folksy way, and Nick Hensley and crew throw in alt-country, Americana and even Celtic music, with a lineup that can feature a varied number of players. The event in its entirety runs noon to close.
This first anniversary party also includes horseshoe and beanbag toss competitions, as to fit the theme, old again meets new as far as games. There will be a pulled pork dinner, with proceeds to benefit the Boy Scout Troop 161 Philmont Crew, for the community minded.
A lot of the same patrons from prior years still come back to the newer version of their old haunt, with its trademark being a big “B” logo inside a circle with curved edges, the place’s bartenders say. They add there are not a lot of big changes from the years it was known as L&M’s, just a few tweaks and some of the aforementioned additional offerings to round out its appeal.
Last Sunday in preparation for the big evening Packer and Viking game, a prelude found a packed house watching other NFL games and listening to music by a fully female acoustic duo, which you don’t often see. One patron stood out in his way to Back the Pack, wearing a Green and Gold hat that was infused with beer cans, tied together by yarn. As far as the new as-of-one-year-owner, Mike, he was mingling with customers between the bar and large dance area/gathering space complete with lots of tables, sporting a throwback Packer jersey with the number of 52, depicting star lineback Clay Matthews. Mike is a hands-on guy and unlike many proprietors can often be found at his place of business to answer any questions or say hello, staffers said.
Bobtown is near the west end of the main drag, a perfect positioning for people who might visit from Hudson or the Twin Cities, with its official address being 220 W. Main St. You can find out more by visiting bobtownbrewhouse.com.

Local fest-goers have the chops to bring home the bacon in a big, fun way at their bash

September 14th, 2016

Its time again for that two-day festival that celebrates all things bacon like only River Falls can, with pig-themed activities for the entire family, live music, merchandise from local artists, vendors that find all kinds of ways to use this favorite meat, micro-brews that wash down that meat, and more to put you in hog heaven. (For more on the Bacon Bash festival’s music, see the Notes From the Beat department of this web site).

Come to this year’s Bash and sample bacon-inspired dishes that are dished out by local restaurants and food vendors. Then cast your vote for the People’s Choice Winner, and possibly help send a local entry to a world bacon-inspired food championship.
The third annual Bacon Bash was held last year in September and was called a “porktacular” success with more than 16,000 attendees, much bigger than the entire town. The sponsors invite you to join them again this weekend, Sept. 17-18, 2016, for the fourth year, as they continue to celebrate America’s fried meat of choice.
A new highlight is courtesy of the Belle Vinez Winery, called Comedy & Corks, with music by the Chris Silver Band and comedy by Todd Andrews. Advance tickets for $25 are available at Belle Vinez Winery, Riverwalk Square and the Chamber of Commerce office. The fee includes wine and entertainment, and a complimentary wine glass, too. The event is held at 5 p.m. Friday.
Andrews began his comedy career by establishing roots in the Boston comedy arena. Eventually moving to his wife’s hometown in Wisconsin, Todd took the Midwest comedy scene by storm. With his East Coast attitude and sharp wit, he says, the crowds are overwhelmed.
Come see Todd’s observations of a “Boston Boy Lost in Wisconsin.” The stories focus on his “fish out of water” experiences, his married life, and his odd life experiences. “Let Todd’s witty charm and likeable personality wrap you into his funny adventures of living in the Midwest,” says his online bio.
Todd holds an MBA from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Plastics Engineering from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Todd’s education and professional career experiences is coupled with his high energy and solid, clean material, giving him plenty of fodder for his act.
As far as the music to accompany the comedy, after delving into various styles of music and types of lineups over the years, which were strong on things such as Americana and its percussion, Silver says he now prizes going back to the traditional roots of musical forms such as the bluegrass of the late ’70s and early ’80s, which strive to be polished and true to the craft, rather than just long jams. Like many artists playing events such as this one, he plans to tone down the volume so people can converse as they partake in the many food and drink samples provided.
OTHER PIG “STUFF”
This year the Bacon Bash will get a kick-off by conducting a drop off rooftops — dubbed “When Pigs Fly” and featuring stuffed plush pigs flung from a couple of stories up to the street below. That activity will reoccur throughout the weekend, but has its first episode at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Ongoing throughout the event can be found local craft beer and wine offerings and a Kids Activity Area. For all of the weekend activities at Bacon Bash, there is free admission to the public.
Also, young and old are invited to partake in pig-themed activities — many of them new this year — such as pig races, pig wing eating contests, pig pardoning, pig calling and impersonations, Gimme Some Bacon Dance-off, Hot Squeals Veggie Racing, Bacon Bod Aerobics, and bacon trivia and Haiku, not to mention going hog wild (but in moderation) over local micro-brewed beer. On Sunday only there is a fest-related Car and “Hog” Cruze-In.
The festival, with activities held in most cases near City Hall, is back by popular demand and is billed as the biggest free bacon fest in the country. There are numerous new vendors, events and food options, according to Judy Berg, the head director of Bacon Bash from the River Falls Chamber of Commerce.
This year’s Bacon Bash will again feature eats that include many bacon-wrapped delights. Some 40 merchandise vendors will be showcasing their products including specialty sauces, arts, crafts and novelty items that put a “twist” on marketplace shopping, Berg said.
Lots of new food items will be featured this year, an important part of Bacon Bash, since the aformentioned bacon is an ingredient in each. The array of options smacks of another Minnesota State Fair, Berg said, and includes cheese curds, brownies, feta cheese french fries, mini donuts, funnel cake, cheesecake, apple pie, pork chop on a stick and even ice cream. There are also more standard usages of bacon in recipes for the less adventuresome. Plenty of vendors are on a backup list, as the current slate is full.
“This year we will be giving away free bacon samples,” Berg said, “and we also will have the Great American Cookout here.”
The 2016 version of the Bacon Bash also will offer more activities for children, such as educational exhibits, prize giveaways and competitions, and a vegetable racing event where kids make veggies into cars. (See, the appeal of the eats at this extravaganza doesn’t end with simply bacon). The latter event is held three times early Saturday afternoon.
The Bacon Bash has gotten bigger in scale since the concept to start the festival was first hatched in a whirlwind of activity, between a group of friends. Their mission: An affordable “foodie” event centered around bacon that lets people pig-out on a Wisconsin experience and invites visitors to come here, time and again, Berg said.
Mission accomplished. The event since has been featured on places such as Twin Cities Live, and even the London BBC. And the culinary competitions can indeed go worldwide.
GOING FOR THE GLOBE
Bacon Bash very notably serves as an initial step in getting recipe-makers recognized around the world for their creations. The World Food Championship first reached out to Bacon Bash to host a trial contest in 2013, and since then its status has been elevated to super qualifier elite competition, making Bacon Bash an automatic competition place. That local-and-becoming-worldwide contest is another big bonus of Bacon Bash, taking place on Saturday evening.
Twelve Winners of the four cooking categories, steak, sandwich, chili and dessert, will head to Orange Beach, Ala., for the final competition, and fight for a $100,000 prize. And again, it all could start in River Falls.
The cook-off will pit culinary enthusiasts against each other in a unique format that could send them to the world’s largest food stage, as they will gather in front of thousands of fans to face off in a nine-category showdown to find the best. Contestants will be forced to compete against nature, a clock and a field of talented cooks from all walks of life. Do you have the chops to bring home the bacon?
These are the times of selected Bacon Bash activities: Saturday at 11 a.m., pig pardon, at 2 p.m., pig calling and impersonation contest, at 3 p.m., bacon trivia and Haiku contest, at 4 p.m., bacon bod aerobics, at 5 p.m., bacon and pig themed costume contest, and at 6 p.m., when pigs float activity; Sunday, at noon, pig wing eating contest, at 1 p.m., pet costume contest and Great American Cookoff demonstration, at 2 p.m., pig calling and impersonation contest, and at 3 p.m., gimme some bacon dance-off. There also are several cooking contests throughout the weekend. Main sponsors, in the first two tiers, include Security Finance Bank, Belle Vinez Winery, Twin Cities Pioneer Press, Thunder Country 95.7, River Falls Journal, Patrick Cudahy, and Dick’s Fresh Market.
Details for all these activities can be found at www.riverfallsbaconbash.com.

From Marino to Montana to Mile High, as far as NFL mentions, this web site goes beyond the two-state area as season starts

September 11th, 2016

With the NFL football season finally here, you might have a man crush on a quarterback, not just on your man cave, (although you’re not likely to watch from there as its a blackout Sunday, with the Packers big favorites to win and the Vikings a bit less so). But when it comes to sports, HudsonWiNightlife does not get blacked out, so here are some NFL tidbits:
– What, a man crush on Marino? Now that he’s dropped some weight? A guy at the Smilin’ Moose said that he got invited to a party that also had a lower rung on the food chain, “an NFL possession receiver,” who noted, “I hear you’ve got a man crush.” The local guy then was shown around, and ended up in a whirlpool with the curly haired QB, who hung out and was cool, to the point of even shooting some hoops. So who would the bartender pick to share such a social outing? Steve Young, but a patron added the guy being a Mormon might make such a night less exciting.
– Lots of people from River Falls have noted that when the Kansas City Chiefs had training camp there, star quarterback Joe Montana would make the most of curfew and hob-nob at local watering holes, as long as the recipients would let him also be a regular guy and not talk about football. Friends Paul and Joe ran into Montana, after all those earlier years, during a recent excursion to Minneapolis and found him to be not as forthright these days.
– A patron up at one of The Hill haunts, who is a Denver Broncos fan, said he was tired of hearing how great the francise is, based on its record in recent years. In a related matter, 97 percent of those surveyed in Colorado said they weren’t even aware that they had a pro football team, most likely because many were too high to realize that there is a Mile High Stadium (OK just kidding). In another related matter, a moose was seen aimlessly wandering the streets of Golden, just outside of Denver, most likely also because it had smoked too much of the wrong thing. For a blogger, such stuff is just Golden. You’d never find a Minnesota moose doing the same thing, and if it did would apologize all over the place.
– An NFL-themed sign at The Village Inn in North Hudson needed some explanation, or did it? It read: “Finally a beer that won’t leave rings on your table.” Why that last phrase? It was explained to me, in this Packer bar, that the arch-rival Vikings hadn’t won the titles to get such rings. Even though they have had the opportunity for a whole handful, such is already possessed by certain Packers.
– No preview can be written without looking back to the past year. A chief blunder — along the famously bad lines of when a Viking kicker missed that key postseason field goal to wreck a chance of going 17-0, one of several train wrecks involving kickers for the purple — came last year when one of the main sports networks revealed that the Packers were NFC North champions. It actually, of course, was Minnesota (as the Vikes got that opportunity right). Notice that I had a brain blip and couldn’t remember the kicker’s name or the exact network? Sometimes its best to say just a little and not risk being wrong …
– Here’s another time that the entertainment-related pundits did get it wrong. A headline about Garrison Keillor stepping back from his Prairie Home Companion show, “for greener pastures” read, “There once was a man from Wisconsin …” Granted, Keillor did have a house on the St. Croix River bluffs, but his show and all it entailed were more a Minnesota thing. So I would suggest this replacement headline: “There once was a man from Minnesconsin …”
– Now shifting gears to another sport where the guys are big. A very tall basketball player had to duck his head to get into the bathroom at Dick’s, then danced with a women who was much shorter, and tried to jump to High Five him but didn’t come very close. His shirt said UW-Oshkosh, like the university that back in my day was jokingly called “UW-Zero.” Would that be like Seven-Foot-Zero? And, the next night, there were two more people almost as big who were a full head taller than anyone else on the dance floor. Why, over time, do all these super-stature guys show up only at Dick’s?

Now must go deeper to get Deep Blues, metal trio has new reason to sing darkly

September 6th, 2016

Its summertime and the weather (and music) was hot, bringing changes, lots and lots.
– After years of hosting big-time blues, Bayport BBQ has announced it will no longer feature bands to go along with its signature food. Instead the format has shifted from a deep blues juke joint, to a record store for that kind of music, (any vinyl, like the recent KQRS promotion, one might wonder?) It turns out that’s exactly the case, as by the front window there are boxes and boxes of albums that had accumulated over the years from the bands that played there. A sign posted on the window announcing the change also referenced a deep blues fest down south in October and implied a connection between venues. In what has been a theme lately as far as local music, there was skull imagery. While I doubt that the music style is much the same, the pose and body language given to a crowned figure in the flyer, evoked the voodoo imagery of another southerner, King Diamond on one of his album covers.
– The Hudson-based death and black metal trio named Exmordium now has another reason to write their self-described dark lyrics. Their touring schedule all around a two-state area has been cut short by months for various reasons, including that one of its members broke his back in spring on a construction accident during his day job. The group already had scaled back live shows because of time constraints involving the college studies of its members, Carl Knutson, Evan French and the Led Zep-sounding Evan Page. And on a personal note, they list one of their influences as the slightly-less-darth Black Sabbath, which is my favorite band.
– The changing of the guard for Pepper Fest royalty means unwrapping the exterior of the Great Pepper that gives their names. The big Green Monster of a pepper, the size of a refrigerator, has stayed within two blocks of our house for the last couple of years, so on a driveby the other day I saw the plastic wrap being uncurled as part of the replacement of the old names with the new.
Speaking of the benefits of carefully placed plastic, one become readily apparent during a recent midnight storm of monsoon proportions. The Green Mill bartender placed two of their takeout bags on her head, one on each side, so she could run to her car after closing without getting drenched.