Hudson Wisconsin Nightlife

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

April 28th, 2016

 

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

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

April 23rd, 2016

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

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

April 20th, 2016

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

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

the conductor, and included similarities to old TV show themes

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

Maybe one more than the other).

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

April 7th, 2016

The sixth annual River Falls Roots and Bluegrass Music Festival returns with even more beers, wines and even ciders to sample at its yearly tasting event, and some new contests, that include one for complete bands that are new to forming, and other music-related activities. The fest runs April 8-10, although you can enjoy the bluegrass, Cajun and roots music that’s featured in its various forms — via the bands’ other lives performances and their CDs —  as well as the local wines, craft beers, ciders, meats and cheeses, at any time during the spring or rest of year. (See the full lineup in this web site’s Picks of the Week department).
Attendees at the beer and wine tasting, which is a third annual component of the fest, and kicks it off on Friday, will have the opportunity to sample local craft beer and wine, and to listen to live music by the Good Intentions. Participating vendors who you can continue to patronize are:
– Beers from Barley John’s Brewing Company, Fair State Brewing Cooperative, Fulton Brewing, Summit Brewing Company, Surly Brewing Co., Rush River Brewing Co. and Pitchfork Brewing.
– Wines from 65 Vines, Bella Vinez Winery, Dancing Dragonfly Winery, Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery, Wollersheim Winery and River Bend Vineyard and Winery
– Ciders from Crispin Hard Cider and Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery.
The tasting event is April 8 from 5-8 p.m. at Junior’s Bar and Restaurant. Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 at the door. Tickets are available at the Chamber office, Dick’s Hometown Liquor and Junior’s. The premier sponsor is Fulton Brewing.
That company is from the Twin Cities, and is a key component to the tasting, as are some others from the metro. Also, cider has been added as a third category of drink, for those who don’t care for wine or beer, so try it going into spring
But it’s the local brands that have a starring role. “We are a Mecca for that,” said Judy Berg, tourism sales marketing manager with the River Falls Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. Patrons from the Twin Cities can not only come here for the fest, but being just a short ride away can relive its experience created by new-favorite brews and wines, by just getting in the car.
When doing so, people can buy a bottle of their most-liked wine, for themselves or as a gift, if conducting such a re-creation. But not to get ahead of ourselves, they can purchase such items at local liquor stores, as well, on this weekend at the fest.
“It’s a heck of a deal,” Berg said, when it comes to the sheer amount of food and drink available for the money, and the variety of those options.
THE MUSIC MAKERS
The headliners in this free music weekend are Art Stevenson and High Water, Kind Country and Dead Horses. Scheduled are fifty-plus hours of foot-stompin’ bluegrass, Cajun and roots music, and it all can be done indoors, Berg said.
Whether it be the band contest, groups that are actually on the bill at the fest, or even event veteran Chris Silver’s own band, the Good Intentions, what’s prized is going back to the traditional roots of bluegrass, he said. There’s no secret to what the people who plan the fest are looking for in their acts. “We’re after polished musicians who are true to the craft,” Silver said, more-so than musicians who go off in their own direction, or just jam.
An example is where Silver’s band currently is at. (There have been different lineups of varying sizes). After delving into several styles, which in recent years leaned toward Americana with a lot of percussion included, the band is going back to what Silver valued in his younger days, the traditional bluegrass versions of the late ’70s and early ’80s.
Also of worth is originality and a strong, energetic stage presence, and thus the planners for both concerts and contests have looked at videos perhaps more-so than just regular recordings to gauge who they will invite to play the fest.
The new band contest, which is added to the annual singer/songwriter competition, is largely for groups that have not played much before an audience, but have the talent to be close to breaking into the forefront, Silver said. They can feature originals, but also cover versions of songs where the musicians have made it their own, not just redoing something that already exists.
The contest winner gets $300 and a recording session at Brickhouse Music in River Falls; second place gets $200 and third $100.
Silver also was behind an Emmy nominated video, demonstrating how-to-do-it-best from the past flatpicking contests. Some people come from all across the country, including a man from Maryland who has been here more then once, and even has placed in the music contests.
What else is looked for in bands? Look no further than Kind Country, which is Oshkosh based, making it actually regionally recognized. Berg said that, or being a local band and thus familiar, gets your foot in the door at the bluegrass fest. All of the acts involve the genre that promotes “footstomping,” somewhat broadly, as far as both musical style and audience participation, Berg said. Of course the groups can incorporate roots and Cajun music, as well, to please a patron if those are their favorites.
She notes these are free music offerings, unlike so many concerts in the Twin Cities, and all the parking is also at no cost. And, you can listen to an entire day of music on Saturday, going strong until 2 a.m., with lots of added events on the days on either side.
The Chamber bills this as a stay and play weekend, with lots of lodging options within a short distance of the downtown. A regularly attending Stillwater couple is pointed to by Berg as an example of making this a three-day extravaganza.
The fest is arranged so if you’re not sure if you like bluegrass, you can experience it firsthand, for a day or even more, in all its various forms before making a judgment. Younger fans have been drawn in, too, and the fest is family oriented.
“You can be doing something like going grocery shopping, and if you have a guitar in the car, join in a jam,” Berg said about the broad opportunities for participation.
“I was talking with a reporter from Chicago, and she kept asking, what is the price for this and what is it for that,” she said, underscoring that all events but the beer and wine tasting are free.
For more information, go to www.riverfallsbluegrass.com. To view a promotional video, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCp5JGIAMsA&feature=em-subs_digest. To see more from Riverwalk, visit “Attic Treasures Appraisals” at http://www.riverwalkartandantiques.com.

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

March 28th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHERE THEY CAME FROM

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEGRET’S VAST EXPERIENCE

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, stop in, go to the company website www.NegretWineCompany.com. You can also:

Email info@negretwinecompany.com or to make reservations, including for the April 7th event, write to reservations@negretwinecompany.com.

You can also follow NWCo on Facebook www.facebook.com/NegretWineCompany and Instagram: @NegretWineCo

NEGRET WINE COMPANY BLENDS

RED BLENDS BV-1937_bottle.jpghudsonite_bottle.jpgcerrar33_bottle.jpg

WHITE BLENDSunity_bottle.jpgcastle_bottle.jpgBV-2000_bottle.jpg

ROSE BLENDamor_bottle.jpg

Wee bit of ‘green’ couldn’t buy any green beer, so just tip your wee Irish hat to karaoke

March 19th, 2016

On Irish funny money (can they buy green beer?) and other St. Patrick’s Day abnormalities, which become normal except for 364 days a year, (OK I know that Leap Year skewers it).
– A woman who won a local costume contest, in part because of her wee little bit of a green Irish top hat, smaller than an Irish clenched fist, was asked what she would do with her pot of gold, now that she’d won first prize? Even when combined with her funds leftover at the end of the night, that wee little bit would not get you far, she replied. The few bills she had remaining were Irish funny money that was white with no green tint whatsoever, clipped with a scissors and given to patrons.
– Another friend brought out to Green Mill karaoke on St. Patrick’s Day, after playing it heavily at home, a couple of CDs that included “28 Irish Pub Songs,” which if you can count that high for one drink per song, is fitting for singing — after all, this is a pub-like grill and bar. On this CD is a plinky instrumental of “Whiskey in a Jar-O,” (which was mentioned previously on this web page), not the rock-out version by Metallica. Those were the stylings sang by friend and former karaoke-meister Dave later at The Mill. The more traditional version was brought to mind later in the evening by someone I know who I swear has to be at least 120 percent Irish! He called late, better than never, about getting together for Irish song fests both here and down yonder in Milwaukee.
– A young guy (still wearing green) who was starting early — or continuing — early on the Friday after St. Patrick’s Day, said that on these holidays amongst his friends, this style of surrendering for a few days a sane schedule is so persistent it’s “straight through.” One of them (just green shoes) lended credence to that, he said, when buying another beer while the one she already had was only half empty. (Or half full?)
– Down the street at Emma’s in River Falls on St. Patrick’s Day, some off-sale liquor bottles still contained the cardboard tag of a “Christmas” special, with the price printed inside a picture of a circular wreath. I think that kind of “green” is the wrong holiday.

– A North Hudson bartender who has been on that job for a few months said that a prior stint was at an Irish Pub in the St. Paul area, adding that a longtime regular customer there had reached out and tried to renew acquaintances, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. When Irish Eyes are Smiling …
– Bartender Emma just got back from Daytona, and on the wall at her place of work is a tongue-in-cheek flyer that says Hurricane Evacuation plan, an exit that consists of two steps: Buy beer, then get the hell out of town. I’m assuming these things are related. And the Irish would be proud.
– Peyton Manning may or may not be Irish — his hair has become too thin to tell — but has retired, and likewise, I have not seen his lookalike who used to hangout at Guv’s Place since the days it was in Houlton. OK, the local guy looked a little older and thinner then the five-time MVP quarterback, but there still was a resemblance, especially earlier on, when it was Manning’s heyday.

If you want the dirt on Grammy’s, local PI can help, or see colleague Jimmy Jam

February 17th, 2016

(For even more local “flavor,” including pizza, on awards shows — but you’ll need the same attention span scrolling down as was required to get to the end of the Oscars — see reports on other events such as St. Patrick’s Day, Super Tuesday and Leap Year, in the Notes From The Beat and Picks Of The Week departments).

Grammy’s have changed, but they’re not granny’s, more like precocious kids on the red carpet, as these items head a list of what’s happened locally in recent days:
– An area private investigator has another interesting gig going, she’s with the Grammy’s, with a “membership” being the term that’s used, out of the Chicago district. That means, most importantly, that she gets to do some of the voting on who gets what award. I first met her a few years ago at Dick’s Bar and Grill, when she gave me a few details, and coincidentally enough, I came across her business card again just hours before the Big Music Show was slated to start. She declined to comment at length when I called, saying that some of the ways the Grammy’s does their procedures has changed and she is not as much in the loop as formerly, and although still a member, they hesitate to publicize that status too much. Better to call a colleague of hers in L.A. or more locally, attend one of the seminars offered by Jimmy Jam. Would she be watching the show anyway? “Well of course.”
– Speaking of such shows, a local tavern patron said recently that a family he knows, with a Disney patriarch, had two daughters who were prominently featured strutting down the Oscar red carpet. Ah how fast they grow up.
– The PI is not the only one with another gig; one of which you’d want to be more involved with than the other. One of the workers at Dick’s serves in two very different ways: He pours drinks and as a side job, also serves court papers on people.
– The attendees were shoulder to shoulder when GB Leighton played the anniversary celebration at Pier 500 that found a huge tent completely packed. A friend, Jackie, said they arrived at about 9 p.m. Saturday and it just got busier through the 10 O’clock hour, and they later left and could only imagine how full the tent would have been by midnight. There were heaters everywhere on this very cold night, making it somewhat balmy inside, but some still said their feet got cold. Was Jackie surprised that such a big name was pulled in for such as event? “Hey, this is Pier’s tenth anniversary,” she countered. A lighted sign with letters about three feet high that swirled on the roof of the tent reinforced that stance.
– Attendance also was very good at the ’50s themed, Valentine’s Day party at the Village Inn in North Hudson, although it trickled off as the hour got later and the temps got colder. However, once karaoke was done, the nostalgic music continued on via the jukebox and was played well into the night.
– And once more on attendance, the servers at Buffalo Wild Wings say that combined with the Hot Air Affair traffic, and youth hockey tournaments in both Hudson and River Falls, they had a very busy Saturday recently, virtually from open to close, as people staying at surrounding motels became patrons.
– A brown metal statue downtown that shows a hunting dog wielding a shotgun reminds me of a similar looking animal in a North Hudson yard near Kozy Korner that seems to be waiting for someone to, with apologies to Aerosmith, get Back in the Saddle Again, even though that saddle is sagging low. The creature is not actually part of a tree stump, as said earlier, but part of a swing hanging from a tree limb with horse head, tether and bowed limbs. Wanna Go For a Ride after a night out?
– A nearby sign at Village Liquor in North Hudson continues, after several weeks, to say that Christmas gifts from there are never regifted. I don’t doubt that a bit, because if that bit of boughten holiday cheer has been hanging around that long, it in one way or another is sure to have been — to use a shopping term — consumed. Meanwhile, a flower shop in downtown River Falls still reminded men on Wednesday what’s best to get for Valentine’s Day , and although this belated gift suggestion might be better late then never … well not so much.
– With weather warming, a downtown patron in River Falls was seen walking on the main drag wearing only a muscle shirt, which showed off his tattoos. But like so many young people, he did have a hat on.

Season’s is new torchbearer for storied history of NH fish fry that started in ’50s

February 11th, 2016

You can guess that a restaurant that specializes in all different kinds of walleye would be a go-to place for the soon-to-be celebrated Friday fish fry, carrying on a North Hudson tradition at the same venue that dates back to the 1950s.

The fish fry at Seasons Tavern is perhaps the highest rated in this area online — indeed, under that heading one woman raved about the walleye and scrambled eggs with tavern fries, and lamented not ordering a Bloody Mary to go with it, (yes, Seasons does even have walleye options for breakfast). All for what was listed as a midrange price.
Only North Hudson as a whole was given a slightly higher, five-star rating for fish fry, and Seasons no doubt contributed to that score with their two varieties of all-you-can-eat cod.
“As for the reviewers… YES! We are proud to be viewed as the top fish fry in the area,” owner Brad said. “We are motivated by the support that we have received and are challenged to continue to live up to expectations that people have for Seasons Tavern.”
The restaurants at the site at Monroe and Sixth Streets North, under several different names and owners, go back several decades. With the Italian/Catholic roots, both in the North Hudson community and the restaurant, they were among the first in the area, or even the Cities, to offer fish on Fridays. All this clamor started with the first predecessor to Seasons, (Sam’s for several years), at the same venue from decades back, which had a renowned fish fry for only $3.95.
“It wasn’t talked about much like let’s go to a Friday fish fry,” said Dorothy, a longtime North Hudsonite who was working in the Cities at that time, but did go to Sam’s because at that time the village was smaller in population, everybody know everybody, and they were well acquainted with the staff. “It was great food and it was friendly and comfortable, and we knew the servers.”
So that is a tough act to follow, or replicate, but Seasons might be the ones to pull it off. Brad has been in the business of providing fish fries for 25 years, first at other restaurants and now at Seasons for the past several years, so he has the expertise that comes with experience, and has honed those skills.
“I am proud to be the new ‘torchbearer’ of the location…. Although I have a long way to to receive that honor (in my book anyway),” Brad said. “I look forward to being able to occupy this location for a long time to come.”
And continue to help put North Hudson on the culinary map, even as far as the Twin Cities are concerned.
“My personal experience of serving a Lenten Friday fish dinner, whether it be walleye or a fish fry, has shown me how much people like fish! I will always strive to put a better piece of fish on the plate, and share that passion with my employees,” Brad said.
Seasons serves cod for the fish fry. “The choices are broiled or deep fried in a beer batter,” Brad said. “As for the walleye…. We serve it in many different ways (breakfast and dinner) and will continue to be creative with the dishes it is prepared with.”
He says another requirement for being successful with fish fries is being adaptable, and changing things up in short order when it will help meet customer needs.
The best fry is an all-you-can-eat event, including battered and deep-fried cod or pollock with fries and/or cole slaw, a Twin Cities food columnist suggested. Memory brings her back to the restaurant in North Hudson, Wisconsin, years ago, she wrote online. (It is interesting she felt it necessary to put Wisconsin at the end of her statement, since the Twin Cities media not only seems to include the Hudson area as a part of the metro, they seem preoccupied with it in a Border Battle sense).
And so, the presence of the best food is included in that tug of war. “I couldn’t wait to go with my Mom and Dad to the Friday Night Fish Fry,” the columnist said.

What Goes Up, Must Come Down, and then take in tunes at Hot Air Affair

February 2nd, 2016

You can paint a picture of, or while, ballooning, or as Carole King would sing, you can have the tapestry woven through music.
There is plenty of both in the 27th annual Hudson Hot Air Affair, which has as its theme Paint the Sky — to the point where that is even one of the prize categories in its annual torchlight parade.
There is much more to this affair than balloon launching, as music is offered early and often each night.
The longtime ballooning extravaganza running from Feb. 5-7 also is sponsoring the Taste of Hot Air Affair as a fundraiser. It features sampling of spirits, wine and beer, along with appetizers, decadent chocolates and artisan cheeses from providers from all over the St. Croix and Missisippi River valleys. The charitable event will feature the music of Boondoggle, members of which come from the Roberts area.
The five-member country, rock and blues band covers songs from more than 50 years, going beyond the usual ’70s, ’80′s and ’90s that are the staples for many groups. Members are Brent Ackley, Dawn Budrow, Jim Ehlers, John Wolf and Nate Dahl. “We play music by Elvis, the Beatles, the Stones, Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Dwight Yoakam, and anything and everything around and in-between,” according to their online bio.
The tasting event is set for Saturday from 7:30-10 p.m. in the Chateau Room of the Hudson House Grand Hotel, 1616 Crestview Drive. Proceeds from the Taste, in its fourth year, will go to the Hudson High School Mental Health Program.
Pre-sale tickets for The Taste can be purchased for $20 (or $25 at the door) at event sponsors Hudson WESTconsin Credit Union, the Hudson House, or Linda White Family Hair Care. All other festival activities are free for spectators.
Urban Olive and Vine will again feature a pair of very different bands. Jazz Savvy takes the stage on Friday and the duo of Kiersty and Nathan Santos on Saturday. Both start at 7 p.m.
– You’ll want to tap your toes and snap your fingers to start the weekend, but it’s still savvy, not your usual jazz band. With what’s called a fresh and innovative sound, Jazz Savvy is a unique trio with songs you might not expect to hear locally, even though they have built a following at a number of Twin Cities area venues. There’s no pabulum radio sound, no smooth jazz, or “canned” standard tunes, and every time Jazz Savvy gives a performance, they give the audience a new jazz experience, they say.
Drums, percussion, and other erstwhile rhythmic offerings are provided by Joe Steinger. From Kansas City, Joe migrated to the Twin Cites, and soon hooked up with a number of groups including his current mainstay, Café Accordion Orchestra, but others too. Joe provides a solid and liquid rhythmic addition that his peers say you will want to hear again.
Rounding out the trio is bassist Terry Bailey, probably best described as a serous journeyman. Terry has played the Twin City area with a number of groups and at numerous venues.
– Nathan and Kiersty Santos are an acoustic duet who have been heard and seen a lot around the Twin Cities, doing a variety of original and cover tunes, in what Urban Olive and Vine call a perfect pairing with the dinner and wine hours.
Nathan Santos is the lead singer, writer and producer from the American rock band, “The Hard Luck.” Nathan’s intimate acoustic performances blend his form of rhythmic guitar with swooning vocals. The group’s most noted accomplishments include winning the Cities 97 Battle of the Bands competition and making live feature television appearances.
As far as Kiersty, she has a powerful voice with a style all her own, as shown in her online rendition of Journey.
– The Negret Wine company’s downtown south store, renovation for which allowed it to begin business a few months ago just to the north of Pudge’s Bar as a part of that building complex, are new to the music scene for the Hot Air Affair, having a duo of brothers, Matt and Max, playing on Friday and Saturday nights.
In sessions at Negret, Matt plays a toned down style that allows people to converse or even read a book, and not be hampered by a loud guitar. When pinned down after a recent performance there, he cited as influences the Beatles and thus the music of two Johns, that being Lennon and Denver, the latter of whom you don’t often hear referenced.
Both Matt and his brother go to college in the Twin Cities, studying music, and also have day jobs, but plan to squeeze in as many gigs as possible, including Thursdays at Negret and over the summer. They start earlier than is typical, around 7 p.m., as they will during the Friday and Saturday of the Hot Air Affair.
“I play a lot of acoustic indie singer-songwriter music and mix in some 60′s oldies,” Matt said, adding that his style incorporates soft rock and folk, and a mix of the old and new. Some of the tunes are just offbeat enough to blaze a trail away from the overplayed classics.
“That’s a decently broad category to pull from: Stu Larsen, Passenger, Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Jack Johnson, Nick Mulvey, Neil Diamond, John Denver, Bob Dylan, the Oh Hellos, Good Old War, George Ezra, Joshua Radin, Cage The Elephant, Coldplay, Harry Connick Jr. and Johnny Cash are all prominent influences,” Matt said.
These days, he has short and carefully coffed hair, while in photos from his not-too-long-ago playing days, he looks just a bit edgier, so you know you’ll be getting a variety when listening to him.
Matt’s format stays the same when he plays with his brother, who he says does accompaniment much in the style of the Lumineers or the Oh Hellos.
– Rounding out the music options connected with the Hot Air Affair are these acts at two of the other participating sponsors, both featuring relatively new band leaders. There is deejay dance music downtown at Dick’s Bar and Grill on Friday and Saturday starting at about 10 p.m., which gives a chance to mingle with the pilots, especially after the adjacent Torchlight Parade and following fireworks starting at 7 p.m. Friday. Also, there is karaoke in an intimate setting at the bar at the Plaza Lounge/Hudson Bowling Center on both nights, a venue not far from the Moonglow or Field of Fire that is set for Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
Other noteworthy Hot Air Affair events are balloon launches at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and at 3 p.m. on Saturday, all weather permitting, and smoosh boarding at 1 p.m. Saturday. All are at the Rock Elementary School grounds.
The Hot Air Affair has as its corporate sponsor the WESTconsin Credit Union.
Visit www.hudsonhotairaffair.com for more information.

Busy actress and model now a director; as awarded military drama makes its mark

January 19th, 2016

Like the differences in population, what Jahnna Randall has accomplished in Los Angeles has been magnified many times, and taken many different forms, from what her already stellar fetes were when living back in northwest St. Croix County.
The model and actress had gotten started here several years ago when working mostly in the Twin Cities and gaining a prime role in a MTV reality series, where she traded places with a model from New York for a week — all in front of the cameras.
Since then she has gotten behind the camera as well to be a prolific filmmaker, all in a few short years.
“We are now doing the festival run for my military short film Lost in Time. We have been accepted into three film festivals so far,” she said recently, adding that she won the best acting award at Hollywood & Vine film festival and was ready to go to the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema, for which Lost in Time is nominated for six awards: Best Actress, Indie Spirit Award, Mary Austin Excellence in Directing, Mary Austin Excellence in Producing, Mary Austin Excellence in Screenwriting and The Marshall Hawkins Awards for Best Musical Score.
“Fingers crossed we win a couple of those. The Mary Austin awards are only for women, which is really cool!” said the energetic Jahnna, who frequently punctuates her email messages with exclamation points. The film can be viewed at https://youtube/G4as8sWSuUE.
Her role on the military drama was workmanlike, as she wrote and directed it, and did the filming and editing last fall. “My inspiration for the film came from my two older brothers who served in the Iraq war. I wanted to create a story that showcased the other side when soldiers went off to war,” Jahnna said.
She also has released a new YouTube web series called Girl Problems. See https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrkxB2ZBXOtyo_B7a7WSVgSIkSc8ZKlTF. There are five episodes already online and more are being filmed.
Of all her varied work, which includes filming puppies in tiaras, her favorite likely is an award-winning web series created two years ago called 2Fur1. But Lost in Time brought her into new territory. “I am actually working on writing the feature script right now,” she said of this added dimension to the series, adding the first draft should be finished right about now. “I’m hoping to be able to pitch that later this year.”
Among adorable animals, demystified soldiers and people with dating difficulties on a reality show of her making, what topics motivate her to the greatest degree?
“Ooh that’s a tough question, which have I enjoyed the most. I love acting and that was the reason I moved to LA, but then I fell in love with writing,” Jahnna said. “Then directing came shortly after when I got to bring the story from paper to screen. I have always been writing, since I was a kid, but never realized I could actually do it as a career. I did it more for fun when I was younger, not really thinking about it.”
But after living two years in LA, she was getting bored with auditioning for films where the scripts were really bad. “So I decided to write my own characters and then realized I actually wanted to write scripts, so I created my film company Why Wait Productions.”
And wait, she did not, as soon to follow were three short films, two music videos, four web series, four commercials and multiple comedy sketches, all within four years. “The project I enjoyed the most doing would be Lost in Time, because the story is so close to my heart, and the fact of how much I have learned from all the previous projects,” Jahnna said. “That’s the thing I love about filmmaking: Each project you will evolve over time, because with practice you just keep getting better and better.”

(For the initial story on Jahnna’s work, written at the midway part of her time in LA, see this web site’s Blast From the Past department).