Hudson Wisconsin Nightlife

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

July 12th, 2017

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

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

June 27th, 2017

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

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

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

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

June 27th, 2017

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

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

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

June 27th, 2017

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

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

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

June 27th, 2017

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

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

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

June 25th, 2017

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

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

Bringing large value to new-to-the-area small plates (try many), and Spanish, Cuban and Latin design and cuisine, check out Pedro’s del Este

June 2nd, 2017

(Also, in this week’s Notes of the Beat Department, see the late Chris Cornell consecrated on Craig’s List, that reference not consisting of cuisine but of actor Daniel and peers, one kinda local, in the James Bond series).

One of the newest places in town, with lots of well-known faces on staff, Pedro’s del Este, sits literally in the heart of historic downtown Hudson, boasting Latin character with a modern design. The restaurant also differs in that it features many small plate options with Spanish, Cuban and Latin influenced cuisine, desserts and craft cocktails, complimented with by all accounts, cool lounge amenities that include big, cushy chairs in many places, as well as the more standard ones, too — the only available option in most local restaurants. The relaxing, urban ambiance is perfect for a date night, happy hour, or a social get-together with friends. And being open to 1 a.m. on weekends, if gives an option that’s rare in the downtown, getting a late-night bite, and many people are choosing to sample various of the dishes available, not just one.

With their small plates specialty, if you get a craving when out on the town, you can get a quite quick, high-quality meal around midnight or after, and still be able to hit another club or two before everything in town closes down for the night.
The lounge-style restaurant gives Hudson and those who travel here, such as from the Twin Cities, a late-night opportunity in addition to — and to compliment — the existing nightclub scene, filling a longtime void while offering greater variety. Especially considering the small-plate emphasis, there’s no place like this in Hudson or the rest of the St. Croix Valley, says owner Pete Foster, despite the existence of a demand, and Pedro’s del Este hopes that will help give it its own identity.
Thusly, the atmosphere and visual appeal will be different and provide yet another option to one of Foster’s other properties, the next-door San Pedro Cafe, which has Caribbean-style cuisine with full service coursing. Pedro’s del Este, by contrast, is a combination of three other ethnic food styles, comprised of 17 items all designed to be shareable plates.
Fare with flair
Among the most popular dishes at Pedro’s del Este, which have many and varied main ingredients, include grilled ahi ceviche, empanadas, saffron-fried cauliflower and sopes. The place will also feature signature cocktails like Latin Manhattan and Cuba Argentina Libre, a not-often-seen-locally baker’s dozen craft cocktails, 12 wines by the glass, and five often fruit-infused “sweets” desserts.
The cuisine, like the design, is reflecting Spanish, Cuban and Latin influences, boasting colorful features with every bite, and may even feature a band on occasion. Whether meeting up with friends for a late or non-so-late cocktail, or having a special date and teaming it with appetizers and dessert, “you’ll leave craving more,” Foster said.
You’ll also crave what is experienced with the eyes. All of the numerous framed art pieces on the walls are either original works from local artists or photographs — both obtained during the restaurant owner’s trip to Havana, Cuba, in January 2017. You will also see paintings from the family’s many travels to Key West, FL.
The whole atmosphere is colorful, from tapestries hanging from the ceiling — which itself is adorned with bright, artistic designs — to the framework inside the ornate windows. Red brick walls flank the sides of the venue.
Foster was born and raised in Hudson and has done business here with his three well-known restaurants for more than 20 years. Pedro’s del Este completes the trifecta and was developed with the same team, many of whom provided a few weeks of hard work prior to the March opening to bring it all together, with the same standards. It is already known for its quality and attentive service, patrons say. The team that Foster gives credit to reportedly includes its Director of Restaurant Operations Susie Halverson and Del Este Executive Chef Luke Sawtell.
Pedro’s del Este, along with sister restaurants, Barker’s Bar & Grill and The San Pedro Café, want to reward loyal customers, so why not join their Loyalty Club and start earning rewards with every visit to any one of those locations. They are all within a block of one another, so consider putting a visit to more than one in your calendar. You’ll earn a point for every dollar spent at the restaurants, and on Tuesdays at the two long-running initial establishments, earn two points per dollar. For every 150 points collected, you’ll earn a $10 reward, which can be used to cover up to 50 percent of your pre-tax total on your next visit — and unlike other dining opportunities in town can be used at any of the three aformentioned locations. Just ask your server for more details.
The emphasis of the new place is to provide people a chance to come together more than they might otherwise, over cocktails or just the right size plate, and be sociable while dining out, while expanding a sense of community.
Pedro’s del Este is less then a block up Walnut Street from the main drag, kitty-corner from San Pedro. You will know it by — as being colorful is a theme — the bright lighted sign that leads you to the entrance.
The new restaurant is open Wednesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to midnight, Friday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., Saturday from noon to 1 a.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. — or later that night as the size of the crowd dictates. For the first six hours on Sundays, the venue will be serving what Foster calls an incredible brunch. (They are closed Monday and Tuesday). The space also is available to rent for events during the day and may have live music on some summer evenings, as well.

As thirsty holiday travelers roam this way, Demon Rum continues to spread its reach to the east (end of Wisconsin) and west

May 25th, 2017

A local rum product is taking the two-state area by storm and its developers are now making a marketing push into eastern Wisconsin as part of a plan to eventually go national, so travelers heading to the Hudson area for the three-day holiday might want to put it into their itinerary to seek out and sample it.
That shouldn’t be hard, as Demon Rum is well represented in bars, liquor stores and restaurants in this region. This product, which is different because it can also be sipped or enjoyed on the rocks, is easily accessible for people who want to see, and taste, for themselves, then make their voice heard, because as its creators say, its “liquid to lips” that will inevitably determine the scope of its availability — likely in your area if you happen to be a visitor.
All this didn’t occur overnight. “My business partner Jeff Warren had the idea of ‘Demon Rum’ put in his head one night over 15 years ago. His father was offering fatherly advice on a night he was heading out with his buddy,” said brand co-creator Wayne Karls. “‘Don’t let the Demon get you,’ it was said as they left. That night, a less than inspired rum drink inspired the idea of Demon Rum. Wouldn’t it make a great rum brand?”
Years later, after Karls decided to move his family back to Wisconsin from St. Paul, Warren, who was their home builder, asked for a Demon Rum drink from a bartender, knowing full well they didn’t have anything called Demon Rum available. It was a standing item from then on, that Warren would ask the bartender or server if they carried the Demon Rum brand.
“Being in advertising and marketing as owner of a small local ad agency called 2-Creative advertising, I was intrigued. I’ve developed many brands for other businesses, but thought Demon Rum had immediate marketability,” Karls said, and it has spread all over the two-state region, and currently is dropping their name in the hat, in a big way, in eastern Wisconsin. Hopefully, some people who travel here from there, such as over a three-day weekend like the approaching Memorial Day holiday, will seek it out at local venues. “Three years ago on New Years Eve, I toasted and proposed we stop talking about it and do it. That is when Demon Rum started,” Karls said.
What are patrons saying? “Demon Rum is smooth and very flavorful. They like that it is complex,” Karls said. “They are surprised that it is such a drinkable rum, as most people would never consider to drink most rums straight or on the rocks.”
Demon Rum was developed to accentuate any cocktail it is used in. “We built it to be delicious, beautiful, complex. Our tagline is ‘Seductively Spiced. Sinfully Smooth.’ It is truly one of only a few rums that can be sipped and again, enjoyed straight or on the rocks.” Karls said. “If you dig and look hard you can find some expensive, obscure rums that do a nice job of being sippable. But Demon Rum is all of that AND made for the masses.” He described it as very affordable and competitively priced at around $19.99 for a 750 ml bottle, but it delivers flavor like none other. And it’s 80 proof, which is important.
“We started the process of development by exploring craft distilling of our own product. We quickly found that this would price us out of the competitive market AND strap us from a product availability standpoint,” Karls said. “We had a very good idea of what we wanted from a flavor concept, and needed to figure out how we would achieve it affordably. To do so we worked with another craft distiller to help us work through the startup, flavor profile and supply issues.” They quickly learned that not all rums are alike and what they had in their minds did not fit what most craft distillers were producing. “We were after something much tastier, and much much smoother,” Karls said. “We decided to search where ‘real rum’ is from, the Caribbean! We found what we were looking for here … that by combining two rums — our silver and our barrel-aged rum (of three-to-five years) — we had the base from which we could build upon.”
Now they had the supply, and the instant credibility that only the Caribbean can give. “From here, we built our proprietary flavor profile that makes Demon Rum truly unique,” Karls said.
But there was more. “Eventually, as a brand developer, I knew that if we could secure the rights to the name, we had something special. Luckily, Demon Rum was available and is now TM protected by Demon Spirits LLC. (Our company). We are in year three of development, and we hope to start making a profit in or around year five,” Karls said. “Of course it all depends on the audience. So far we are slightly ahead of our expectations from a distribution standpoint. It is being accepted and is very well liked.”
They do have a second Demon Rum product in the works. “But that will not be introduced until we get the needed traction from this initial product,” Karls said, adding that the new one will fill expectations established with Demon Rum “Unleashed,” but provide a different mixology need. “That’s all I care to say for now. The next year will involve establishing the brand across Minnesota and Wisconsin. We will need to work hard to entrench it and make it solidly viable. We are not a flash-in-the-pan, nor a micro-brand. We aim to go big, but first we need to build a strong brand following close to home.”
He added a base in Hudson allows them to work to the east and west fairly efficiently. “We are currently distributed in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. But that only means the distributor can supply us. The hard work comes in getting it placed. To do so, we need people to ask for it, and ask often. This is how brands are built. The consumer needs to want it,” Karls said.
Today Demon Rum is found in liquor stores, restaurants and bars in northwest Wisconsin — including strongly but not limited to the Hudson area — as well as the Twin Cities and Rochester. But patrons won’t find it everywhere yet, and Karls and his crew are continuing to do the hard work that means they are in it for the long haul, and are keeping their eyes on the goal. They would like their brand to be well-known nationally in five to ten years.
That’s where regional rum lovers come in — they will need to ask for it, and keep their eyes on the shelves and menus. “We need the public to want it — and from experience, once they taste it, they want it,” Wayne said.
Karls has worked in agencies and design firms since the mid-80s and said he has a firm grasp on brand development and advertising. Business partner Warren started at Piper Jaffray and has been a high-end home builder for 15 years. “Together, we have experience to take us fairly far in this. We do however learn something new every day and look forward to further learning the nuances in the spirits industry. We’ve made some very valuable contacts and feel we stand a better-than-average chance for success,” Karls said. “But liquid to lips is the key. People need to taste Demon Rum to appreciate it. After that, we’ve got a customer.”

It’s time for round two, and it’s been pinned down: Enter Pack and other Badger State connections to NFL draft viewing

May 4th, 2017

We’re back, in part drafting on others’ wake in the crazy boating and gridiron worlds:
– Since Green Bay had the first pick of the second round in the NFL draft, it offered a rare opportunity for pinning down the time you could be viewing at sports bars. So Kozy Korner in North Hudson advised on its sign, “Packers draft 7.” Meanwhile across the street in the first round, bar patrons were all abuzz about a draftee getting carried away in his acceptance speech and actually using the F word in invoking his grandmother’s influence. Another patron noted the green clumps of grass (or turf?) that were spread around at tables, after all it’s this kind of surface the newbies will be playing on. Lastly, it was mentioned that in the last pick of the first round, New Orleans drafted an offensive tackle, presumably to open holes for the newly signed Adrian Peterson (and keep him from getting injured?) The tackle was from the University of Wisconsin, so there’s another state connection, which could have been doubled up if Peterson would have gone to the Packers, as initially speculated. And of course, it was the Packers that held the next pick after the Saints.
– Just like when Prince died, the Sunday night music gang at Dick’s Bar and Grill was all over the circumstances behind the crash of a yacht on the St. Croix River, even when the TV news struggled to come up with virtually anything until after the weekend. It was known that the guy had been out on the water almost all day, and even was shown off in the distance in photos that just happened to be taken near the Interstate 94 bridge and its pylons and were shown around in the bar. The story goes that the guy then, at around 3 a.m., took off for shore and crashed his big boat near Bayport, taking down trees high up on their trunks in the process and getting hung up on rocks when re-entering the water. A passenger swam to shore — a life preserver was found there by investigators — but the guy tried to salvage the 52-foot yatch and being unable to do so headed for the hills, it was said. That caused authorities to conduct an extensive search for him on land and water and as of the 10 p.m. Sunday newscasts no one knew of his whereabouts. They did report that the yacht must have cost around a cool million, but as was discussed around the horseshoe at Dick’s between songs, its value as a used craft was guesstimated at not quite $600,000. And the driver may be in some “hot water.”
– Kirk Nelson was one of those winning election as North Hudson trustee, so it was really time, maybe more than usual, to party on! Love to see what the inauguration ball is going to be like. Certainly not as hoidy toidy as those often seen. Meanwhile, the sign at his own Kozy Korner in North Hudson took this voting take: “This is the most important election of your life.” Bet that egomaniac Donald Trump would not like to be pre-empted by those thusly seeking the title of “North Hudson Man of the Year,” which also has boasted signs around area yards that look like those erected for an election occurring nationwide. Shortly after the election was won, Kirk was seen at Dick’s wearing a green shirt with leprechaun on the shirt, asking people to say hello to “my little friend,” who fittingly enough was positioned at a point about three feet above the ground.
– The following was pointed out by a bartender at the Willow River Saloon, about their venue on Good Friday, and being talked about was much more than the fish fry. An aptly named band played that night in Burkhardt. As is fitting for this traditionally religious day, the group was named Church of Cash. Pointed out as well, was that Christ wasn’t big into materialism, but we can let it slide when it comes to this tribute band for the Man in Black. And if you want to see yet another tribute band of that type, check out Johnny No-Cash on Saturday night, May 13 at the Willow.
– There was perhaps record attendance at the semi-annual Unfrost Your Nuts motorcycle run on Saturday, April 8, because of very warm temperatures. One fan of the event even suggested a number of riders that reached five digits. In that vein, the Smilin’ Moose had open both levels of its outdoor patio for the first time that night — to an appreciative crowd — although down below there were some heaters goin’ on. On the following, even warmer weekends later in April, the tables and chairs were all out, the downstairs bar was open and the patios were full.
– On one of the Saturdays, April 22, Dick’s was offering a free rail or domestic drink to anyone celebrating Earth Day by wearing a green shirt and pants. It was like St. Patrick’s Day all over again, with the wearin’ of the green in the middle of a second straight month.
– There and elsewhere, there were a lot of packed houses to be found, much like in March when a (well-to-do?) limo showed up downtown with the name suffix Royal Valet. The next weekend a Lamborghini that observers estimated at a value of $150,000 showed up and parked on one side of Walnut Street and then the other — but guess what was desired at a pair of nightclub stops — cheap eats! At least the guy by all reports was humble about it. After all, some versions of that car cost a lot more.
– A friend Dan, a fan of Dick’s, late-night and otherwise, said in mid-April that he was getting his boat ready for the St. Croix, but has been in the process of painting and buffing most of the thing, and getting the low battery and some of the hoses in ship-shape. All in all, its still better than what you have to do to get such a craft ready for winter, he said.

There’s again something to be learned and heard, from both old school and newer musical courses, at several-band RF bluegrass festival

April 6th, 2017

The 2017 version of the bluegrass and roots music festival in River Falls is continuing its tradition of pushing ‘grass tunes to their limit, while keeping in tune with their origins.
This weekend, there will be several such bands who are prominent, and some that are more known regionally to enable the listener to explore the musical substance in and around customary bluegrass, while not straying too far from that course. The action begins early Friday evening, with a tasting event that remains true to what’s made bluegrass what it is today.
Getting even moreso into the verve this year, is the West Wind, on the north end of town and by a matter of miles the first festival venue you’ll encounter if coming from the interstate. The supper club and bar is on the right side of the main drag and features a comfortable, relaxed and friendly setting. This weekend, in two shows, it will feature traditional and not-so-traditional bluegrass.
West Wind has the Fishheads from 3-6 p.m. on Saturday and Blue Groove from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday. Blue Groove is relatively new to the scene and is the only band in the festival that you can choose to take in on Sunday.
With a mix of island music, vintage rock, funk, folk, blues, Texas swing and reggae — in addition to bluegrass — all wrapped up in a crazy spontaneous atmosphere and 22 years of experience, the Fishheads have played all around the region and shared the stage with top acts like .38 Special, The Legendary Wailers and even traveled halfway around the world to play for troops in the Persian Gulf.
You will find old rock standards from the Bee Gees, Aerosmith, Steve Miller, AC/DC and Johnny Cash, as well as pop unusuals like Elle King and Jessie J. The Fishheads hail from Duluth and are fronted by a married couple, bringing to the stage instruments as varied as their sound — dombro, pedal steel guitar, banjo and mandolin.
Add upright bass and fiddle and you have Blue Groove, a multiple award-winning bluegrass band that leans more toward a contemporary vibe (Alison Krauss and Rhonda Vincent), while maintaining ties to traditional bluegrass (Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs), with improvisation and harmony singing, and even some originals.
Is it already four years? That’s how long Juniors Bar and Restaurant has hosted the Friday evening, signature beer and wine tasting event at the bluegrass festival. It runs 5-8 p.m. and tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. You also can again enjoy bluegrass music by the Good Intentions, led by the local-and-longtime veritable musician Chris Silver. The premier sponsor is Fulton Brewing, and also having host brews are Barley Johns, Rush River, Summit, Surly, Swinging Bridge, Pitchfork, Oliphant, State Fair and Madison Avenue. Offering beverages as well, are 65 Vines, Crispin Hard Cider, Belle Vinez, Maiden Rock and Chateau St. Croix.
Juniors also will host the Kind Country band, which using its own lingo is jamgrass playing cosmic American music, with a little Allman Brothers and Bob Marley thrown in, and featuring a lineup of between six and eight players. They perform from 8-11 p.m. Saturday. Next-day at Juniors, in addition, is the annual singer and songwriter competition from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, and the festival-themed band contest from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Pushing Chain, a folky-tonk duo, features Boyd Blomberg on guitar and Adam Moe on fiddle, and both on vocals, and they will be at Riverwalk Square from noon-3 p.m. Saturday. Their act has an impressive list of bands with which the stage has been shared, including John Hiatt, other prime fests for which they have been even more prominently featured, and also additional ones where their play has won them awards, such as at the Minnesota State Fair and exactly three years ago at the band contest right here in River Falls. Its Americana-roots sound has been brought forward by Boyd, the former frontman and songwriter for the national touring band, the Gooneybirds. Pushing Chain is signed with Kingswood Records. The people at Riverwalk Square were very happy with Pushing Chain last year, and were buoyed by the fact they could be so popular away from the bar setting. Available at their show is a deli counter with sandwiches, salads and the like, and wine from Belle Vinez.
Family Fresh has an open jam with Ari, a Minneapolis-based musician who has been popular on the college scene in large part because of his instrumental, so he should fit well if you’re a student at UW-RF — or are a bit beyond that age. Ari is on, with guest singers and players, on Saturday from 1-3 p.m.
Other notable gigs at this year’s fest include: Olive Sings from 6-9 p.m. at Johnnie’s Bar, Sawdust Symphony from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. at Maverick’s Corner Saloon, La Terza Classe from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. at Shooter’s Pub, all on Friday night; Lou Shields from 1-3 p.m. and sponsored by Swinging Bridge Brewing Company, the Gentlemen’s Anti-Temperence League from 2-5 p.m. at Bo’s ‘N Mine, Scrapegoat Skin and Bones from 4-7 p.m. at Lazy River, Bernie King and the Guilty Pleasures from 5-8 p.m. at Johnnies, Roe Family Singers from 6-9 p.m. at Bo’s ‘N Mine, New Riverside Ramblers from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. at Maverick’s, and Black River Revue from 10 p.m.-2 a.m., all Saturday.