Hudson Wisconsin Nightlife

Band of blues brothers from the St. Croix Valley make The Avenue electric first — twice in a month

January 18th, 2017

A youthful Stillwater-based trio is attracting lots of regional attention, to the point where they are playing the prestigious First Avenue venue in Minneapolis not once but twice in a month-long period.
They come roaring into the avenue on the heels of high praise from a Grammy Award-winning guitarist who also has played the St. Croix Valley area, that being Scott Holt who has performed in concert at Big Guys BBQ Roadhouse between Hudson and Houlton.
Colin Campbell and the Shackletons held an EP release concert for The Horizon Lines on Dec. 27 at the venue’s 7th Street Entry, and they will go back on Jan. 18 for a concert in its mainroom, of the best new bands of 2016, which is sponsored by The Current and Radio K. And they hope to be back in Stillwater in a week or two.
The band of brothers — who often fit the blues style by playing in like-minded, colorful suit jackets — consists of Colin Campbell, age 20, on guitar and vocals, Cameron Campbell, 21, on bass, and Evan Campbell, 16, on drums and “screaming” background vocals, Colin said.
But getting back to guitarist Holt, who performed in the band of the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, he said this about Colin and his kin: “Colin is one of those young guys that just has that fire in his eye.”
That fire did not come about in a flurry. “I can’t say we have ever had an official start. We have always lived together and always had instruments, but it wasn’t until just a few years ago that we put an official name on it and started gigging under it,” Colin said.
The band is writing and playing songs rooted in the rich influence of the iconic “Minnesota Sound,” influences of which are readily apparent in their music, Colin said.
He added the group is also “living a double life” as both a knee-buckling, indie rock band as well as a stomp-your-foot-through-the-floor blues band, adding they have been generating buzz throughout the Twin Cities area and beyond.
Despite their young ages, the band has shared the stage with Jimmie Vaughan, Melissa Etheridge and the Wallflowers. Early in 2017 the band will travel to Beale Street in Memphis to again represent Minnesota at the International Blues Challenge. Known for his hot blues guitar licks, Colin opened on the main stage at the 2013 Chicago Blues Festival as part of a national all-star band of emerging talent.
“The 7th Street Entry to us feels like a home field advantage at this point, so we always look forward to playing there. We are so dumbfounded in the most joyous way about them asking us to play as part of the best bands of 2016 in the mainroom,” Colin said. Their band is listed first among the six that will play as part of the best-band show. “If I’m not mistaken the poster has it in alphabetical order. So we (currently) have no clue what the (order of the) lineup is,” Colin said.
“I know Nick Elstad from Sleeping Jesus, who is also playing. He’s a great dude,” Colin said. “And I’ve never met the members of Tony Peachka but they are a super rad all-girl punk band and I’m excited to finally see them. The band ‘tabah’ is playing as well and they were included in First Avenue’s ‘Replacement’ tribute, as were we, and we loved them from what we saw.” Colin is referring to his group’s recent invitation to play the annual tribute show for the stalwart Minnesota-based band The Replacements.
“I adore Stillwater, but sometimes it’s very hard to bust into their scene,” Colin said, adding that there are so many longtime bands that play the clubs there almost weekly. “We have played a handful of shows and fests downtown though, and the outreach has always been very supportive. But we find more places to play and places to play louder in the Cities.” The group does have another downtown Stillwater gig tentatively being arranged for late January.
Tickets for the 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18 concert in First Avenue’s mainroom are $7 in advance and $10 at the door. To order, visit

Chill of wind and cold hits even bar doormen and sarcastic radio deejays

January 15th, 2017

The long spell of severe cold is on the way out the door — although sometimes it seems it hasn’t ever actually left — and as Metallica so famously sung, “the memory remains.”
– The doorman at Dick’s Bar and Grill said that because of the cold he needed another sweatshirt to stave off drafts from the other side of the door three feet away, and had to scour the store racks to find one to match his bright-red Dick’s “staff” T-shirt. I suggested that, like that old McDonald’s commercial where you’d only fork over for your Big Mac the rate of the current temperature, perhaps he should charge me the equivalent of the wind chill. But wait a minute, then he’d be giving me money! We both laughed, even though our jaws were nearly frozen in place.
– The radio was playing — ugh, although they’ve gotten better — Kool 108, to which the deejay recently read the call letters “kkoo-oo-l” to mock the frosty conditions outside his cubicle. OK, that was cool (conventional spelling). Earlier, however, another deejay (if you can call her that) gave her rockin’ out apologies to one-upting the much more-up-tempo companion stations in the same building. Then she played of all songs, one by Toni Basil. Huh?
– Minnesota recently was announced over the airwaves as being ranked the worst state in the country, as far as its difficult winters. Wisconsin was a few states behind. So wear exactly does that leave those of us here in the Hudson area of Minnesconin? Hey, we’re No. 2?
– Another applicable number is 60, as in degrees below zero. Some emailed a Twin Cities TV news station, which was reporting on the coldest weather ever seen in Minnesota, and said he had lived through that record cold up in the hinterlands of the state. The response from the weatherman: “If you have experienced 60 below, you’d hold it over everyone else at the bar.” As a sign at Dick’s about their beer has said, “No great story every started with a salad.”
– That number 60 is almost the difference in degrees between what we have here and what is typically felt in Vegas, which caused a recent transplant a couple of months ago at the Village Inn to say that she was having trouble adjusting, even though it was nowhere near the freezing mark. Just wait, she was told. Now, she probably knows it does get worse.
– With the much mourned passing of Randy St. Ores, there was the Agave Kitchen sign: RIP RSO HPD. There were other such references, all using versions of those three letters grouped together, at The Village Inn, Kozy Korner and Seasons Tavern, all in North Hudson.
– When I was in Dick’s very late one recent week-night, which has become more unusual for me since I “got old” and was pointed out by the bartender, that same staffer jokingly complemented one of the patrons for hanging around the entire night. He said to do this was his new year’s resolution. Maybe that should be mine as well. Or not. When I had walked in close to bar time, a women slipped on the ice and would have fallen except for giving a stiff-arm to the concrete, like might have been seen earlier on Thursday night football. Maybe, if a bit tipsy, she should forego any such resolution.
– What would Coach K say about the lack of a given letter? There was a sports bar sign recently revealed that said to favor the “Vicings” and the “Pacers.” — Things are mostly Green Bay based right now, although only a couple of weeks ago sports bar signs referenced Skol! as much as Go Pack.
– A sports TV broadcast right before the new year cited a scoring stat, then added the effective period of time was “this calendar year.” Might he just have said “2016?” For another calendar-related bit, the new Next Stop bar in Houlton promised to serve Happy Hour prices all day from Sunday through Thursday to wrap up the old year. But wait a minute, that would only take you through the 29th!
– With Trump now firmly in place as president, word has it that there will be a constitutional amendment, in conjunction with a certain Redneck Woman, that all Americans be required to “leave the Christmas lights on, on our front porch all year long.” Just kidding.

Even though new year’s is gone, this is the first weekend of 2017, so get out there!

January 6th, 2017

See a tried and true band for some dancing, or some football for quarterly prize-winning, as is (briefly) outlined in this web site’s Picks of the Week department.

Despite some venues scaling back, the pairing of food and music still goes on for NYE, if you know where to look

December 30th, 2016

Even with a change in attitude, you can still find tunes.
Club owners may be taking a wait-and-see posture on their current offerings, based on political situations, and some are going for high-end clients and are top-heavy on dishes you can’t even pronounce. But there still is music to be found, as well as the other New Year’s Eve trappings, and here is a listing, (for one more idea I will also put forth, lighting up some snowy fireworks, see this web site’s Pick’s of the Week department, or below):
– Maybe the best of both sensory worlds is to be found at the Bungalow Inn in Lakeland, where there even is a sax playing on New Year’s Eve, something the people at the Bungalow say is big and different. You can have varied choices for dinner and then the rockin’ part of the party starts at 9 p.m. — a full three hours before the new year — featuring Ken Wanovich with his full band, who invite you to move-and-groove with all your favorites. Ken himself says he uses acoustic classic rock styles, accomplished acoustic fingerstyles, smooth and engaging vocals, plus a little magic harmony and some driving percussion to forge an experience where you can dance, sing along, or just enjoy the journey.
– Hunting for a new favorite on New Year’s, as many have already found? How about the Buck Tucker Band at the Willow River Saloon in Burkhardt? Among their fans are another group with local players, Boondoggle, who on the flip side of this year that’s soon to be in the record books, shared a summer festival stage with them and couldn’t stop raving about their ability. So take it from them, the Buck Tucker Band and their variety of styles that include country and classic rock, is not one you’ll want to miss as they are at the Willow for the second straight New Year’s Eve. And especially before formal ringing in, pizza at the adjoining Carbone’s isn’t to be missed either.

– Other options include a couple of venues who are relying on a couple of things that recur. Dick’s Bar and Grill has two different musical offerings, both of which are old standbys, starting at 6 p.m., and the Smilin’ Moose has not one but two ball drops, at midnight and at 3 a.m.

– Again, with the theme of twos, Season’s Tavern in North Hudson for the second straight year has dinner for two. This establishment, which has now been in existence for several years, has offerings that start with a choice of a filet with either lobster or their signature walleye (of course), with baked potato, and house vegetable and salad. For the appetizer, as the theme recurs, share two walleye cakes with bernaise or two teriyaki chicken skewers. And again, that’s only for starters, not mentioning the offering of other goodies such as decedent desserts. While the ever-present house band Thirsty Camel will be taking a break this Eve, like in many venues this year, there is the jukebox to fill the void.

Add to the festivities of your New Year’s with some Hudson fireworks, if I can ‘Venture’ that suggestion

December 26th, 2016

The up-coming holidays are a celebration of flashy colors, so why not add to your festivities with an activity that by all accounts takes the events of the season to another level.
Making these memories even more meaningful can be introducing fireworks to the mix, especially when you consider the bright way they reflect over the new-fallen snow.
If you plan to enjoy a fireworks display before year’s end, a prime place to consider is the locally owned and operated Venture Fireworks. While summer is the main time most people associate with such displays — and you might want to consider checking them out then as well — winter has its own special advantages, and this Hudson store is making the most of this opportunity for their customers by re-opening for the last week of the year.
Venture Fireworks will be open to serve you on Dec. 26-31 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. That means that even on New Year’s Eve, if you have been too busy with the holidays — just like Christmas shopping — you can still get your fireworks at the last minute. They are conveniently located just off of Interstate 94 near Exit 4, just a few miles east of the border with Minnesota.
Jeff Osbeck of Venture Fireworks is a longtime Hudson resident, so he knows a thing or two about them. He says how they are different from the big box stores for fireworks is the friendly and knowledgable staff, who will steer you in the right direction to have a fun, safe and hassle-free experience, whether it is December or July.
And it is that summer vs. winter consideration that can be especially illuminating. The presence of frosty snow, with colors of fireworks flashing around it, creates a whole different visual effect to enjoy that’s over and above what you would normally experience. This is a way to make the holiday truly memorable.
Osbeck heard such high praise from a couple who recently got married. The wedding gift of fireworks he gave them created memories beyond the usual household items that are typically received. It was such a hit that a phone call was received from a long distance away on the wedding night, to say that the extra visual effect had made their celebration truly extraordinary.
There are military and cash discounts available. Venture Fireworks can be found at 631 Commerce Drive, Hudson, WI 54016, just north of Interstate 94 off Exit 4 in the town of Hudson. Contact them at (715) 386-8767, or at, or on Facebook. Please mention this article if you patronize Venture Fireworks.

Go down south to battle those from up north — but not as far as Santa — because with U.S. dart tourney win, the rush in on

December 15th, 2016

Those Canadians got pointed about the use of darts, other than by their Mounties:

– How would you use $50,000 during the holidays? Maybe to buy more darts. Or an extra fancy board on which to practice, so you can defend your title against those pesky new rivals from Further Up North. Rick Anderson, a patron at the dart shooting mecca that is Guv’s Place in North Hudson, won that big portion of the overall $740,000 jackpot in a national fall tournament in Kansas City, besting a team from Canada that also had a large and boisterous entourage. While Rick became the winner, the Canadians even got a little bit in your face as their fans watched the action play out both live and on an adjacent huge TV screen. These events have become big business and the crowds can be huge, and shown the toss-by-toss play-by-play on stunning high-tech visuals. It was only a year or two ago that Guv himself had quite similar success at a national tourney. But especially in this recent case, the action was shown at his establishment in a recurring fashion, as the locals relived their latest success in a pointed way. And if they want to be like Rick, they can always buy some of the top-of-the-line shooting equipment that’s typically available for purchase at Guv’s in a display case the size of that circular part of the dartboard.
– Turns out that Whitney, bartender at Pudge’s, has many talents that include being artistic, as shown by the Frosty the Snowman draw on their inside specials-display sign. It’s simply dead-on for that holiday children’s television character who sometimes appears almost dead himself, at the hands of that evil magician. But I never have understood why Frosty needs to carry a broom, both inside Pudge’s and on the screen …
– Speaking of Pudge’s, their winter drink specials are over-the-top as far as tons of quality ingredients, and of the eight at least two are Hudson themed. Just be prepared to pay more than, say, a small tap of Pudge’s own slim beer.
– And on your way home, be prepared to have a feast for your eyes if you’re going between Hudson and North Hudson, as the holiday lights are on even near bar time at houses in a two-block area. (Or make that a four block area if you’ve had a few and are seeing double).
– Longtime local patron Alice celebrated her birthday at Dick’s on a recent Sunday night, and this person who is perhaps best known as an unofficial video-maker for bands during the former Dibbo’s days, on this day made a name for herself by winning two of the three name-a-tune trivia contests. One of the song titles was Hard Luck Woman by Kiss. Now that song couldn’t possibly be about the birthday girl herself could it?
– Not to pick on The Donald again, but while channel surfing to find one of the last debates, I came across The Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin. Was the new First Lady one of the background singers?
– And since the holidays are all about food, I just had to suggest this to my bartender buddy, who thought I might just get slapped, for all the wrong reasons. I told him that its a family tradition to have so many kinds of simply spectacular food that you simply can’t sample them all, as well having including multiple kinds of poultry. Just maybe, I suggested, I could say to the young lady next to me that her breasts are almost as savory as my grandmothers! My buddy vetoed that suggestion.

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 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).