Hudson Wisconsin Nightlife

Warm-up to Valentine’s Day brought only a few people in from the cold — the ones who don’t really need it. (Also, wondering about Fat Tuesday? Here’s the skinny)

February 14th, 2018

(Yes Virginia, there is life after Fat Tuesday. Only it may not be New Orleans themed. Now to the movies, as the dark subject inside in Notes From The Beat strays from music, as it is about Black Panther, (and not the past revolutionary group), and not Steel Panther).

Fat Tuesday may have tanked as far as attendance, as is typical in recent years, but don’t use that F word when it comes to treating someone on the day that follows, that being Valentine’s Day.
Or maybe you don’t have a worry about it at all.
A bartender I know, although quite popular with the ladies, said on Tuesday night that even though he’s not that terribly young, he has never been in the midst of a serious relationship when V-Day rolls around. So, again, no worries. Even though there was a tin of chocolates setting on the bar counter (small in size), that ended up being shared with the only two patrons sitting on the other side (both men). Limited attendance was the norm all around town.

Which brings me to the sign outside Season’s Tavern that said optimistically, Love Is In The Air. That replaces the message that was posted for a few days prior, Six More Weeks Of Fun, referring to the groundhog that was challenged to see his shadow a couple of days beforehand. He may have been as challenged with that as all those guys trying to figure out the perfect gift.
Fail at that and you could be left out in the cold. With the way the temps had been — fittingly warming up for Valentine’s Day, and not being so “frigid” — there was a sign posted on the second door to Stone Tap that said because of often sub-zero temperatures, patrons should only use the main door, exactly 25 feet to the south. The place was indeed trying to warm things up by offering a smokin’ hot V-Day menu. For other last-minute of the last-minute gift ideas, see this web site’s Picks of the Week department.
For someone in need of no such help, my friend Mackenzie, there was this to offer near bar time at Pudge’s once V-Day was only a few minutes old. We both wear hugging on our sleeves, and we talked for several minutes about the different kids of hugs and what they mean. The manner in which hands are used in conjunction with someone’s back is everything.

And then there was that Root For The Vikings poster that was still up at Buffalo Wild Wings, referring to their special offer on shared appetizers when Minnesota gets three or more quarterback sacks. Uhm the football season is over, and would be even if the Vikes had made it to the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl happenings, to quote a fan favorite song or two, ‘go on and on and on’

February 10th, 2018

The Super Bowl weekend promised much and — depending who you talked to — delivered, although the process continues on, locally and nationally.
Sports bar TV junkies can continue their fix in coming days with the also-much-televised Winter Olympic Games, but what’s listed in the next paragraphs is how the local Big Game experience, and overflow, was fulfilled:
– In the end, the victor was not the usual-finish Pats, or the Pates as a friend Out East, with that accent, seemed to have said after the game.
– It was very late on a Thursday, days after the Big Game, and there still were Super Bowl workers hanging around. A group of them in construction were at Pudge’s ordering Wisconsin-ish drinks.

– Did any of the servers I know see a $100 tip? I asked this after the fact. “Now that would be news,” one said, although with a wink of an eye, indicated he’d gotten near that mark.
– The chef du jour for the Super Bowl has a lookalike, although a bit younger, in North Hudson. So Andrew Zimmern had his face continued to be splashed all over the place well after the game itself ended. That was even more so than my neighbor, who is well known himself for being a former Pepper Fest king and having a man cave to die for. Chances are that one watched the other. And Zimmern would fit in well as a Minnesota name if you’d just add two more letters near the end.
– This was the best trash talk cut against the Patriots, overheard in Minneapolis and repeated at Dick’s Bar later: “You had Benjamin Franklin and have been back sliding since!”
– While local servers said the visiting patrons were well behaved, there were exceptions, emulating the testosterone-fueled rant of the Eagles’ center in Thursday’s victory parade in Philly. While at the microphone, he was definitely at the center of things. As were a group of three downtown newcomers on Saturday night, dressed like they were attempting to be preppy, but not quite able to pull it off. They like many others appeared to think that simply sporting a North Face sweatshirt would make them fit in. However, their look was more like Duke University meets St. Elmo’s Fire. After bugging me to find out my political views, and I knew well enough to keep quiet, the shortest of them called me a socialist, then picked up a bar stool as if he was going to hit me with it. That was my ticket to exit, stage left. When I dropped back in to the venue later in the week, the incident was well talked about, and I found out the guy had been kicked out just a few seconds later.
– Some venues were actually closed for the day, and Kozy Korner in North Hudson gave it a new twist, shutting down at 4 p.m. to have their company Christmas party. At least that kept them busy watching the pregame shows. Other places just stood pat with their offerings, or just served their regular snacks. It was the day before the Super Bowl and staffers at the Agave Kitchen still weren’t certain if they would be serving their standard complimentary hot dogs that have been a game day staple. It did look, however, like that dog decision would eventually be a do. The afternoon of the Super Bowl, the downtown was hopping, with lots of people in small groups entering and exiting the venues I write about.
– Near the end of the whole situation, I needed to go, late, to a bank from the nearer portions of the Enemy State to cash a check. I noticed that there was a mock $1 million bill sitting behind their counter. The clerk entered longer than usual information on my records and seemed to be referring to what was writtem on that $1 million bill! As this ended up taking longer and longer, lapsing into several minutes, I was wondering about both whether the check was good and also, if there was some karma between the fact that the bill was for one million, and that the number of people from out-of-town was one million. After all, everything was resolved, unlike the crazy celebrations in Philly.
– I signed up to rent out a room with one of those Super Bowl hosting companies, but they appeared to have bitten off more than they could chew as far as volume of potential clients, as except for initial conversations in mid-January, they for days on end they would not answer their phones, pick up on the other end, or return voice mail messages. I never did get a person on the line or my room actually listed. So in the long run this poor ink-stained wretch was out a few thousand dollars in potential revenue.
– Along with those hosting lines, we needed plenty of boxes to throw things into, then shift them around into the basement, so I enlisted the help of some bartenders I know and asked if they could throw several of these containers my way after stocking boxes of liquor. I simply said, “hey buddy, can I get a few boxes,” without elaborating. A few days later, at The Village Inn, the bartender asked me as an aside, “hey, how did your Super Bowl hosting go?” Was it that obvious that’s what they were for?
– Out-of-towners especially might not know the full implications of negotiating the monuments-to-themselves that occur when you get the Department of Transportation involved in road construction, and this enormity has been shown in particular with the massive Wisconsin side infastructure that went along with the Stillwater bridge project. Some from other states didn’t know quite what to do with the current love of the DOT, that being roundabouts. In particular, a guy who looked the part of the average farmer, with the farmer T-shirt, drove his truck, with Nebraska plates, to the front of the first roundabout you get when traveling north on Hwy. 35 toward Houlton. There were no other cars in sight, but rather than simply merging, he pulled to an almost complete stop when coming to the turn lane at the entry of the concrete circle. Then on this day of sub-zero temperatures, a bit further down the road, there were drivers coming out of the car wash with plates from Texas to North Carolina. Don’t they know that the water from the wash will quickly move to ice on their vehicle?
– At Buffalo Wild Wings locations, including that in Hudson, local control of publicity efforts was taken over by their sponsored brands for food and soda, meaning they would do no such thing themselves, a manager said. So no ad for them other than this at HudsonWiNightlife.
– Late last year I ran into someone while waiting in a lobby in Hudson who said she had a friend who was in charge of an effort to build a few more motels in The Cities just for the Super Bowl. And as far as the international airport, it had traffic totals that were easily the largest on record on Sunday night/Monday.

Pink and other star musicians might see red if not for local man’s Super Bowl production venue work, just wear the right boots for the job

February 4th, 2018

(For more on these topics, see the Notes of the Beat department, and for a last-minute primer on things to do locally with your Super Bowl experience, see Picks of the Week).

The old, and now refurbished to the hilt and turned into an ongoing night spot, Armory in The Cities has a local man at the forefront of getting the place ship-shape for pre-Super Bowl concerts, which have been held in the highest esteem among those shows available when written up by Twin Cities newspapers.
This local mainstay in the hip hop producing business, who in this latest case is working on the production end such as sound and lighting at the venue a few blocks away from the Super Bowl stadium, says its not as easy as it looks.
The venue in the days before the Super Bowl hosted concerts by Pink, Imagine Dragons and Kelly Clarkston, (who has chimed in about the pressures of performing on this type of weekend), and also showing at the venue, to be seen, are Kanye West, The Arnold and Mike Tyson.
The very young man from Hudson tells story about how some stickler venues have micro-managed the situation that some workers showed up without the obligatory steel-toed boots and were not allowed to go on the job, one where time is money and the lag can cost upwards of thousands on dollars. There are different approaches to such questions by various event venues, and among the many companies they have worked for in arranging large-scale gatherings, Blue Cross Blue Shield proved to be stellar as far as just going with the flow and being practical.
Perhaps the most difficult venue to deal with in such a way, as far as exactingly meeting the letter of the law, is Mystic Lake Casino, he said. The casino got embroiled in some legal troubles over such things in the couple of weeks before the Super Bowl, but the show(s) there did end up going on.
Guitarist Carlos Santana, performing a bit earlier at his venue, already has his $70,000 in pocket, the local man said about 10 days ago, so he doesn’t care, but the show must go on even if others aren’t so lucky. His company is in the loop to get $40,000 for their services, but at that time we talked their money was not in pocket yet, so as far as being corporate …
And my first question for him was the prevalence in their work of ensuring that there isn’t another warerobe malfunction. He said that at there production meetings, it is a constant topic of discussion.
– There have been some folk who wanted to visit Hudson during the past week, but get far out of town before it got nearer to the game and the craziness spilled over. One such couple from the West Coast was at Dick’s Bar and Grill late-night just before bolting ship, as they had been in Hudson for a few days doing construction work, but said on Thursday that they were making it an aim to get out of town pronto after that. They had been at Buffalo Wild Wings earlier, and as one person to another wearing hunting caps, he said as leaving that he was apologizing for some offense that had been taken about a comment that was made: “I’m sorry, but I am from Washington,” since as I was to find out in detail in a later conversation, things are a lot different there.
– Finally, this wrap-up on how the Super Bowl scene has played out in Hudson. After a couple of slow nights midweek locally, largely because of the cold, bartenders said there were a lot of Super Bowl visitors out early on Friday night, although things slowed later. Such things were back to being mostly dead on Saturday night, even slow at a standard-bearer, The Smilin’ Moose, as out-of-towners were mostly out in Minneapolis. This was the top night for partying there outside of the Super Bowl itself, a bit more so than Friday night. Bartenders late Saturday were holding out hope that there would be the not unusual bar time rush from The Cities, even the Minneapolis end.

Seriously, with it being Super Bowl season, situations are slowly but surely getting Surly, or simply silly

February 2nd, 2018

Fans take their football seriously, which when combined with other local attractions setting the stage, has meant there’s plenty of acrid activity of all types locally. (For a running listing of these things, visit this web site over the next few days, and also see its Picks of The Week Department for things to do outside of Minneapolis):

– And we all thought Philly fans could be Surly, even before they took in some of those brews over in the metro, but in a former time also, before the NFC Championship Game aftermath brought it to light, the wrath was targeted at an (also mildly misplaced?) Purple Person. A time-out was required at the old Guv’s Place in Houlton, right across the river from Viking territory, when an early-season punch was thrown by a Packer Backer during their game against the Vikes, as told by the recipient of the smackdown. I guess that’s why to this day, the two-sided sign shows players from both teams shaking hands, but one on crutches (from a punch?), with the gridder shown as being injured flip-flopped, depending on which part of the sign you were looking at.
– The Hudson Buffalo Wild Wings was hit from three different places, including the Hudson Hot Air Affair and a big annual youth hockey tournament, not to mention the Big Game, like so many local venues last Saturday — as for the first time in years, both morning balloon launches went up, a seeming-to-be good omen. A server said that that when things picked up at her place of work, she had been waiting to go on break for 90 minutes but couldn’t, since a family was lingering at their table. Such long visits were typical in local establishments, which makes one think they were from the ballooning event — timed between its many activities — and not Super Bowl visitors. Yet.
Midday on Saturday, parking spaces for grill and bars were full everywhere around Hudson, with the occasional stall empty because again, people would stay for much longer than usual and occupy a prime location with their car, before bolting to the next activity and leaving the space empty.
– On Sunday night, there were so many strange hangers-on that they just had to be from out-of-town, said a downtown chef. Not viewed as so inhospitable a few weeks earlier was a tip left at Pudge’s, and missed out on from the source of my information because she ended up serving rather than bartending that day, to the tune of $550 on a $30 tab. Such workers are hoping for repeat performances when the biggest and most monied Super Bowl clients arrive in the Hudson area later in the week.
– Also looking to take advantage of the increased customer inflow is local pop and country star Chaunte Shayne, who has landed a gig at the Twin Cities International Airport on Feb. 5. A footnote, as talked about over coffee at the Village Inn early Tuesday morning, is that flights were so booked full there that people were taking their private planes to airports in Duluth and La Crosse — noteworthy again by being one place in each state — then getting however they could to the Twin Cities.
– A Mallalieu Inn placard over the door references the 14th Super Bowl with a theme that has Packers written all over it. Elsewhere in North Hudson, The Village Inn was known for an oversize photo of Coach Mike Holmgren being hoisted on the shoulders of various Packers after the team won their Super Bowl.
– The Hudson Green Mill was already Super Bowl full almost a week in advance, to the point where the manager was too busy to talk, even for a moment, and said this overflow likely would not change throughout the week. And no one I talked to disputed the idea that even at that point, when getting on I-94 and heading on down the highway to Eau Claire, there were no motel rooms left to be found there either. (What there was already had been going for $500 a room in Hudson, I was told by someone who got left out in the cold).
– I know from my time as essentially a bureau person for the Pioneer Press way back when, that on occasions where there was a late evening event or meeting, time was crucial to getting stories (or more likely photos, as a space could be held open for a bit longer) to the copy desk right after 9 p.m. This appeared to be the quandary editors faced when there was the media day (night?) and Prince musical tribute late on Monday. There were photos galore slapped on those pages, and I found myself combing them for any inclusion of an acquaintance to whom I once gave a lift home, again back in the day, a former guitarist for Prince’s backup band. No luck spotting him.
– The Super Bowl has brought an extra presence security all over, and also prompted the local police to step up patrols on certain nights, as the revelry has brought with it a certain amount of stupidity. The height of stupid criminal activity was seen on Tuesday night in downtown Hudson, as a car was pulled over and found to have dozens of “bricks” that local cops laid out on the sidewalk, but there might not have been quite enough light to see them because the car only had one working headlight! These guys might not see the light of day for awhile.
– With the onset, finally, of some warm weather, a woman at The Moose was sporting two of the lowest-cut bare shoulders I’ve ever seen. But not low enough to allow a wardrobe malfunction.

So area partiers got socked with snow, local ‘psychics’ will still give predictions on the size of grid victories, if not total inches

January 26th, 2018

Sixteen inches of snow? Not a problem for partiers across the valley, although you can’t necessarily say that about all their venues:
– When The Blizzard Of The Last Five Years hit, some local haunts closed as early as 5 p.m. because of the bad conditions. There were a couple, though, that generally close prior to actual bar time, but stayed open later than usual, possibly to take a bigger share of what customer traffic there was, (after all it was a Monday night). A couple of guys who I used to hob-nob with at the former Guv’s Place in Houlton, said they ended up at Dick’s Bar because everything in New Richmond and Stillwater was shut down early. Word had it that MnDOT decided not to get its plows out on the interstate until 2 a.m., which of course is bar time, since it wouldn’t be prudent. So much for the last-callers from Minnesota.
– A local guy who considers himself to be somewhat psychic predicted that the Vikings would beat the Eagles 14-10. That falls closely in line with the prediction of sportscaster Mark Rosen. Rosen and 10 make Zen? Guess not. Although I did talk to my quasi-psychic buddy in the middle of the Jacksonville and New England game and he noted the score was, indeed, 14-10 for the southern team in that contest. However, he added there was a whole half to go. Or in the Vikes case, a whole 50 minutes before the end of their huge downfall.
– A couple from Boston called back about our invitation to have them come for Super Bowl week. They noted that they are not big sports fans, and that it probably showed, even though their surname is the Holsteins, so you would think they’d fit right in over here in Minnesconsin, where football is god and cows aren’t far behind. Apparently that situation isn’t automatic or big news, as Alice said, “so what is happening? Are the Vikings playing the Patriots?” At least she won’t have a cow if there is another Deflategate.
As far as such travel situations, people who are dealing with putting people up say their guests have already arrived almost two weeks in advance of the Big Game, just to watch the teams practice. As far as making these arrangements, such companies were very busy with just less than a week before the Super Bowl, as their was a dump of 20,000 more tickets now that the final two teams have been determined, (plus the blizzard to keep their reps from getting around the metro). And people from Philly are standing in line, figuratively, to get such tickets and get over here. If you see someone partying downtown with an Eagles jersey, don’t admit you are a Packer or Viking fan, or you might get slugged!
– Kozy Korner in North Hudson changed its tune and got kozy with the Vikings, in the absence of a Packer Backer playoff possibility. Their sign said simply: “Go Vikings! We believe in you.” Even the following Monday.
– He became a legend, locally, if only in the late night: Around closing at The Village Inn, the bartender across the way from Guv’s Place in the village came over for last call, and part of the conversation revealed that she has a friend who knows Kerry Collins, a retired quarterback who had success in his career, even in the postseason, but not consistently so.
– Its been a long time since I saw a street musician in Hudson, but there was an old graybeard plucking his guitar and singing on a recent weekend night, when the temperatures had warmed. I parked on Locust Street where the old newspaper office was and he was doing his own take on an old pop-ish love song. I got my prescription at Micklesen’s, talked to the pharmacist to the point where I had almost overstayed my welcome, and when walking back the guy was still at it. By this point he had drawn a couple of followers who were listening intently.
– In response to the overwhelming demand for all sorts of craft brews from this region and beyond, Surley Beer out of St. Paul laid off 10 about percent of its workers in late 2017 and cut its production significantly. So, some of the local beers of that type are having an impact beyond just the pallets of their fans.
– The other night I was walking up to the corner of Second and Walnut, when I noticed something odd sitting on the frozen tundra that is currently the curb area. It was an orange, rock solid! This is where the cabbies usually sit, so perhaps the flavorfully frozen fruit of favor would more fittingly be a lemon? (OK, we know that these local drivers have much better equipment than that). More poignant this holiday season might be the beer kegs filled with greenery just up the street, in front of Stone Tap.

Listings of local lore on last-minute Viking luck, hashtags Skol and Bandwagon have been seen on sports bar signs, (and also possibly Whatreally?)

January 19th, 2018

On the Vikings recent playoff last-play luck, most everyone is on the bandwagon, although it still might be considered a crap shoot, as to invoke a popular song back from one of the last days Minnesota was in a Super Bowl, “traveling twice the speed of sound, it’s easy to get burned”:
– The sign a few days ago at Kozy Korner in North Hudson said it all: “We are Saints fans today.” And into tomorrow, as the sign stayed up the day after the close loss. Across the street at the Village Inn, the lot was basically full, even though this was not a Packer game, and the only number of parking stalls available was about equal to the number of losses the Vikings have had this season (not many).
– A new sign inside at The Village, right next to the one listing their specials, and showing a rather dorky guy in a suit who looks like he’s stepped out of the 1950s. “Meet Dick. Dick is a Vikings fan. Don’t be a Dick.” Also don’t be a Dick and give your support to Leigh, the owner, who is on the mend after getting in a snowmobile accident where he broke several ribs and sustained other serious injuries. He is not expected to get out of the hospital until after the Super Bowl is played.
– There was also a full house at Woody’s in Bayport, despite the blowing snow. The crowd was much like a Packer game in that for even the most mundane successes, such as the Vikings getting a first down — whether on a gain of five yards or 15 — the reaction of the crowd was huge. One can only imagine the way they went nuts on that final game-winning play, which was — and I have to say it — what had been an Aaron Rodgers specialty.
– Despite the reversal of fortune for the Vikings in the late-going of playoff games, such as the missed field goals that gave them losses in recent years, not everyone is on the trend that a Super Bowl appearance is a sure thing. My friend Matt fully expects that the Diggs divine display at the end of the Saints game will be followed a meltdown in the game against Philly, which would mean yet another postseason disappointment.
– A company whose specialty is making arrangements for renting out houses for Super Bowl visitors told me we could get up between $1,000 and $1,500 a night for our run-of-the-mill place. And those numbers could go even higher, if the “home team” somehow advances. A rep said that they’re thinking it will the Patriots and Philly, and as far as that goes, Jacksonville has a good team, too. What about the Vikes? After all, they are favored by a point or two in Sunday’s game. Can we get a little love here?!? With all that said, there is a local B and B that is asking a whopping $7,000 a night in order to stay there, as incoming football fanatics get more and more desperate.
– Do you believe in miracles? Officials at Annunciation Catholic School in Minneapolis apparently do, while both looking heavenward and seeing the football head that way. These beliefs were bolstered after the Aaron-Rodgers-like (sorry about that reference) touchdown pass that covered most of the field and allowed the Vikings to advance against all odds to the NFC championship game. Only hours after the play in question, our family that has a member who graduated from that school got an email that specified such a miracle and said it would occur again, as the school announced holding a contest to give away a pair of Super Bowl tickets. Holy smokes!
– It’s still a couple of weeks before the Super Bowl in Minneapolis, but there already are signs of it hitting late night shopping in the area. A clerk reached for one of my night-time munchies to scan it in, and the bottom of her blouse caught on a metal edge and stretched out. She needed to quickly fix that. I quipped, at the risk of being slapped, “we already have a wardrobe malfunction.” She laughed, which these days is not a slam dunk. Copy this to Justin Timberlake, for reference involving his Feb. 4 appearance here.
– Favre jerseys that are now being worn to sports bars during the end of the Packer and Viking seasons have invariably shown him in purple and gold, not green and gold. At least there is that commonality of a Gold Standard, and it started before Green Bay was mathematically eliminated from the postseason.
– The Big Guys BBQ patron bus may have been frozen out in the (recent) cold big time, as it lately has often been parked at one of its new homes, the lot at the Dairy Queen — and its frigid treats inside and out — but way out in back, not by the stop light as in the past.
– Also, from the Fox New Year’s Eve broadcast where noteworthy deaths from 2017 were recognized, these names can be added to the list of celebrities with local ties being reported by HudsonWiNightlife: David Cassidy, who once sung karaoke with my friend and former duet partner Kara, (our choices were from the body of work of Motley Crue), and Gregg Allman, who had been known to party down at Pudge’s, (one wonders what he would think of the new digs, much better than most dugouts. See further). On this topic, also concerning Pudge’s, is the reference to all-star pitcher Jack Morris of the Twins and other teams, who had a favorite spot at the bar there. He was at long last named to the pro baseball Hall of Fame in 2017.
– Switching gears to politics, recently seen late night was a rusty truck that flew a tattered-at-the-bottom American flag from its back payload, which I thought that veteran’s groups say is a patriotic no-no. However, all things considered, this display seemed to be quite fitting …
– So Trump is in trouble, yet again, for using not the F word, but the two-syllable — can I get away with describing it that way? — S and H word when referring to certain countries rife with immigrants. This spurred a debate on the FCC worthy of George Carlin about whether certain some words can be said on the air, and what exactly the word is and type of air (read media) it is on. The odd thing is the censors requiring bleeps have for decades missed certain usages of the F word in popular songs, while being hyper-zealous on others. With that said, HudsonWiNightlife gets bold and notes that there are literally millions of times The Who has gotten away with screaming, “You the fuck are you?” in one of their signature songs. One artist who hasn’t had as much success is Alanis Morrissette, when after a brief period of true First Amendment rights she got censored from posing a different question, “Are you thinking of me when you fuck her?” In my book, that’s the strongest part of an already strong song, You Oughta Know.

Several sets of smokin’ tunes heat up the Hudson Hot Air Affair, or offer the way to be way cool

January 11th, 2018

(If you can’t wait until closer to the end  of the month to have the music in you, check out this web site’s Picks of the Week department for a primer on how to make like a rock star and win Bungalow Idol).

While the Hudson Hot Air Affair has a big blow up with the requisite ballooning activities, it also features a wide range of music downtown, in differing styles, and it all follows the Super Bowl theme. (The local event has been moved up a week, to Jan. 26-28, because of the big game in Minneapolis.
The following is a primer for Hot Air Affair music:
– A signature activity is the Taste of the Hot Air Affair, Touchdown Hudson XXIX Edition, with local rockers Boondoggle providing the music. (They will tone it down for this gig so people can converse). The times for this opportunity to sample all kinds of good stuff is 7:30-10:30 p.m. on Saturday. The Boondoggle genre is “variety country/rock. We play music by Elvis, the Beatles, the Stones, Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Dwight Yoakam, and anything and everything around and in-between.” Moreso than almost any band, they cover the gamut of five decades — the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and even the 2000s.
Band members — some local people you may know — are Brent Ackley, Dawn Budrow, Jim Ehlers, John Wolf and Nate Dahl. Their hometown and continuing onward, current location is western Wisconsin, namely St. Croix County. “We like music with good harmonies, dancing beats, lots of telecaster “twang” and hot guitar solos,” they say.
“Boondoggle has been terrorizing the region with loud rock ‘n’ roll and badass country music since 2002,” members say, “playing our version of hundreds of popular songs over more than 200 gigs.” For this gig, they have turned done the volume, so to speak.
They list their band interests as rowdy bars, bachelorette parties, dancin’ fools, wedding dances, barn dances, guitars, cadillacs and cold brewskies. To further the humor they say that they are “just one hit shy of being a one hit wonder.”
– On Friday night, starting at around 9:30 p.m., is the group Junk FM at the Smilin’ Moose. They fire off partygoers’ favorite songs with unexpected twists and surprising changes of pace, sporting a song list as diverse as you will find. They say that on more than one occasion fans have confessed: “Junk FM RUINED some of my favorite songs – when I hear the originals all I can think is ‘I like Junk FM’s version better.’“
With genre-bending mashups and juxtaposing styles, Junk FM just wants to see how ridiculous the dancefloor can get over the course of the night. From Garth Brooks to Lady Gaga in one slamming step, simultaneous Eminem and Green Day, Cee Lo Green meets Rod Stewart, all while stealing your drink!
– But rock music is not all there is at the Hot Air Affair. Anne Deming takes the stage at Urban Olive and Vine from 6-8:30 p.m. Friday. “I write songs and tell stories with my guitar,” Deming says, adding that this is a common genre, with solo guitar plucking being typical, but critics say she also has a voice that carries her to the top of this style.
Seductive and confessional are the adjectives that come to mind when describing these songs. Dealing with life, love, and accompanying emotions, Deming is said to have a voice that comes close to, and stacks up favorably, to a more angelic Natalie Merchant. Standout tracks include the blues oriented “Not The One” and “Talk Me Down,” as well as “Bring Me Happiness,” a gospel-flavored number sung a cappella.
– Also at that Urban Olive and Vine venue, at the same time frame on Saturday evening, is the duo calling themselves Quinn and Meter. Pat Quinn and Peg/M.Etta Meyer perform a wide range of music, including folk rock, traditional and contemporary Irish songs, a few standards and pop favorites, and original material.
– There also is DJ music to dance to on both Friday and Saturday nights at Dick’s Bar and Grill, featuring Ben Michaels, who has been known to throw in some multiple-song mixes, and at The Moose on Saturday, with one of their revolving group of DJs, who always draw a packed house. Both venues have a series of TV screens with videos running in tandem with the songs, adding to the experience.
– Lastly, you can find karaoke at the Hudson Bowling Center on both Friday and Saturdays nights, a two-fer trend that has been rolling out the tunes in that manner for years.
For more information on non-music activities at the Hudson Hot Air Affair, check out the latest edition of Hudson Neighbors magazine, which just hit the bookshelves and mailboxes.

A fabulously frigid NYE, found the return to the 1990s meant few had the mettle to bare their midriffs, but opted for warmer metallic styles

January 2nd, 2018

The frigid temperatures on New Year’s Eve had a definite chilling effect on fashion, bucking the trend in recent months of women dressing down — meaning some had been showing a little more skin, to the point of sporting bare midriffs again.
On this night, however, it wasn’t until about 1:30 a.m. that I saw my first little black dress, on a woman coming out of the Agave Kitchen, as there were very few skirts to be seen anywhere, unless they had thick leggings underneath. More popular, and perhaps a bit warmer, were blouses and legwear that were gold-foil and metallic-glitter dominated. A different twist was the head-to-toe seamless garment of a woman at Dick’s that had a similar gold glow, but was much more sleek and thin-fabriced.
My vote for the best use of what is mentioned above, is a woman who did indeed wear a short skirt, along with black boots, but one leg had black tights and the other gray, along with a plaid sweater. As they ducked out of Pudge’s and headed north, she complained that she was so cold her legs and face were frozen. The answer: They hopped to it and headed for entry into the Hop & Barrel brewery just up the street. They perhaps should have been joined by some of the Twin Citians, who were much more abundant than local regulars on this night, and were out on the street without coats.
But when it comes to outrageousness in style, you can’t beat the Smilin’ Moose. In the back end of the dance floor, there was a woman showing off her belly, with the word “chaos” written twice on her upper shirt, one time for each breast. A short distance away, another patron was attracting attention for the look on the other side of her dress, a backless style that ran all the way down to near her tailbone. More traditional there was a guy decked out in a three-piece suit that made him look like he might be just coming from church, except that his stylish buttondown shirt was black. The place was packed to the point that one section where there normally are almost a dozen tables, had them all removed to create more space. Across the way, someone was trying to negotiate her way through the packed dance floor while carrying a tray of shots. Good luck with that. That also was needed by the person crossing the street to get to The Moose while using a walker. Better luck with that outside than in.
But back to Pudge’s. A crew of almost a dozen people there lined up for the biggest selfie ever — OK, they did get someone else to take the shot for them. Just ask the guy on the end who for some reason was pointing at the back wall when the flash went off.
On the topic of photo opps, a woman at Agave had a tight belt around her waist that accenting her celebrity look-alike status. Namely, it made her booty appear to have the same shape and size of Kim Kardashian.
Lastly, I encountered a Minnesotan at around 2 a.m. who was concerned about her having time for last call. Uhm, no problem, since this is Wisconsin, where bars can stay open on New Year’s Eve until its so far into New Year’s Day that none of the drinkers can remember New Year’s Eve.

These kings and queens at Paddy Ryan’s on NYE are in their prime, and the seafood stuffed ravioli is fit for a prince

December 30th, 2017

– Paddy Ryan’s in the town of Hudson is celebrating their one-year anniversary of being under new ownership on New Year’s Eve with often unique food choices. They are prime rib dinner (queen or king cut) served with hash browns and grilled asparagus (you can add sauteed shrimp for one dollar each) and the refreshingly different seafood stuffed ravioli (five jumbo ravioli stuffed with shrimp and lobster) served with a white alfredo sauce, and a side salad. “We are a scratch kitchen where everything is made fresh. Comfort food at its finest; large portions,” they note.

– Also comforting is the plan on Fox to have as part of its rockin’ eve a Sweet Caroline singalong with numerous artists, which reminds me of a few year’s back at the one-man-band show at Dick’s Bar and Grill, when a regular feature was to bring up a local trumpeteer and have such a rendition of the Neil Diamond song made famous for being given this kind of treatment. Both the old Jeff Loven version and the Fox broadcast have this in common — being done on Sunday nights right around midnight.

– Also giving various choices is the West Wind Supper Club in River Falls. There is a prime rib and seafood buffet — you get both — so you can determine your portions, as well as a special dinner menu with all sorts of meaty options. And for those who intend to make a long night of it, the West Wind offers choices as far as time also. The food is available from 4:30, all the way up to 9:30 p.m.

(For a late take on the last of the holiday happenings, see a roundup in this web site’s Notes From The Beat department).

It’s not only the party, and the music, but the smorgasbord of meat that’ll bring ‘em out this New Year’s Eve

December 27th, 2017

Since New Year’s Eve falls on a Sunday, many venues are not doing something special, but the ones that are will go whole hog with meats, up to a pound’s worth, not to mention the party atmosphere that goes along with this late night. The dinners are each about the same price, the only difference being which meaty dishes (plural) are your faves.
So, we at are recommending one venue in each locality, which is not premeditated, or pre-planned, again just based on the meat.
– At Seasons Tavern in North Hudson, featured is their signature walleye, but much more. A party of two can select from two entrees each, steak filet and lobster, or steak filet and of course that walleye — either blackened, grilled or fried. And there’s more meat to start things off, two walleye cakes with bearnaise or shrimp cocktail. Add to that a baked potato, house vegetable, and a house salad with choice of dressing, and the dessert to share — chocolate lava cake or hot chocolate cheesecake, and you have the start of a party! This dinner for two is $70. Reservations are encouraged.
– The Willow River Saloon in Burkhardt is where the ribs rule, whether being the choice of a 14 ounce prime rib or ribeye steak, and also jumbo shrimp, (substitute lobster for $10). There’s also potato, salad, bread sticks and champagne, not to mention the obligatory toast with complimentary champagne at midnight. Featured band is The Strangers, a downright local group that’s a holiday tradition at The Willow, playing their classic country music — they are also on for Saturday night — and the creative featured drink(s) is the champagne margarita, as a special. Cost for the dinner is $37.95.
– Also in the category of “we’ve got the meat,” is the Bungalow Inn in Lakeland. Offered is a grilled, 12-ounce ribeye steak with port wine demi glaze, two poached shrimp prawns, buttered asparagus (great vegetable pick) and choice of potato, all for $36. There is a champagne toast at midnight, and starting three hours before that is the music of Gary LaRue. He is the master of the Rat Pack tribute, and really looks the part, covering not only the best of Frank Sinatra but other artists of his ilk and day, and he’s been here before at The Bungalow, for the holidays or otherwise. Can you think of a better way to ring in the New Year?

– If you can’t wait until New Year’s to party, consider checking out the CD release party for Sweet Trouble, by local pop and country songstress Chaunte Shayne, at Johnnie’s Bar in River Falls on Friday evening