Hudson Wisconsin Nightlife

New band members and pool players, new food and drink, mark the new and different on St. Patrick’s Day

March 21st, 2017

Even on a holiday steeped in tradition, there are new ways to be Irish:
– St. Patrick’s evening marked the inaugural appearance of Garret with the Jawsy band at the Village Inn, where
he teamed with longtime songstress Amanda, who also is a manager at the North Hudson venue. Also, catch Garret
in a solo performance at Dick’s Bar and Grill on Friday evening, March 24.
– A server at Green Mill, who was off duty on St. Patrick’s Day, said that she and friends celebrated in their
own way at one of their houses, with chicken dinner, no less. (But not that mega-chicken video just going viral).

By the way, that crew did top it off in a more Irish way, having Shamrock cookies for dessert.

– There were a lot of, largely new, people shooting pool at the new Pudge’s who just looked Irish. One, sporting
reddish beard and hair and a Flogging Molly T-shirt, was giving tips to another green-clad player on how to put
backspin on a cue ball. The informal tutorial went on for the length of a typical Irish drinking song. The
result was less than spectacular, the cue ball bounced over the end of the bumper.
– This is different than just Jameson and Guiness. Pudge’s had on special during the applicable day their
Teeling Irish Whiskey Manhatten. Not for tee-tollers.
– At least three different venues I visited on the holiday were showing on at least one of their TV screens a
syfy-type Tom Cruise movie that night, aired by the TBS network. He is Irish, isn’t he?
– Irish indeed they are. During the St. Patrick’s day-after party at Bobtown Brewhouse in Roberts, the play
list of the duo The Hunyuks was heavy on music of the American Irish, remembering what things were left behind
in the old country once coming here.
– It all depends on what twist you put on the ties that spring from your head. Late-night cashiers at the
Freedom store in North Hudson were sporting the holiday green antenni, but couldn’t agree what to call them.
Antlers were suggested, since this is Wisconsin, then a long phrase of a description ending in “sparkly
things.” We settled on just calling them “hairpieces.”
– The Irish were even taking it to the streets, as evidenced by a car with dozens of decals all along the side
of bigger-than-usual Shamrocks.
– Lastly, a bartender friend tried to emulate the multiple moves made by a point guard during the well-aired
NCAA tournament initial round. His point was that the guy with the ball faked sideways in each direction so
quickly and so many times that the defender, not keeping up, was still positioned were he’d been the previous
pair of fakes. The result might have been stealing the ball. Love to see the bartenders that set you up, and
display their hoops set-ups, hump it in that way.

Whether a retooled parade/Bobtown party, or a slew of offerings at The Mill, St. Pat’s Day has a series of selections

March 16th, 2017


Not to be a green horn, St. Patrick’s Day festivities are a mixture of the tried and true blue, and a different twist on the holiday.
You can carry forward that holiday fun from Friday, by coming for the 3 p.m. Saturday St. Patrick’s parade in downtown Roberts, then staying for the free corn beef and cabbage (and free hot dogs for kids), and a pair of bands at the venue of the parade sponsor, Bobtown Brewhouse. There also are specials on six of their unique craft beers that are provided in-house.

Mike, the proprietor at Bobtown, who given his own special twist to St. Patrick’s Day, such as offering some stuff for free that usually would cost you at least several bucks, has taken over the reins of the longtime parade for the second year. It had been run for years by Roberts resident Marilyn Delander. Now, Bobtown has decided to throw an after-parade party as well.
After the floats flow through the main drag, the acoustic guitars — and accompanying on-stage banter — take over with the musical offerings at the nearby sponsor, having the Hunyuks playing at 3:30 p.m. and the Chimney Fish at 8.
Chimney Fish, a local favorite, consists of the duo guitar playing of Jeb Sears and Jim Hanvelt, who have developed a unique style of playing that Jim prefers to call “Slap Acoustic,” combining slap bass technique on an acoustic guitar.
Jim’s bands have acoustically rocked the music scene playing shows in western Wisconsin, Minnesota and even Nashville. After meeting up with Jeb at a series of open jam sessions, they several years ago decided it was time for Chimney Fish. They present a humorous twist to their shows, which is demonstrated by their original song Ode An Jagermeister and also the slogan “Smoke like a chimney, drink like a fish.” This is carried forward by a comedic online cartoon accompanying their bio of a big, puffy fish taking a great big puff.
The Hunyuks was formed more than a decade ago and the members say their name can be playfully translated as “northern rednecks.” Teaming up with Bill Gnatzig is fellow guitarist Denny Thorsen of Roberts. They play a mix of “county classic hits and humor suited to all ages,” and together they add that their guitar styles, vocal qualities and wit on stage seem to be a perfect blend.
Staples are Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, some old fun Roger Miller, Waylon Jennings and occasionally ‘50s and ‘60s rock.
Having a year of parade experience under Mike’s belt, those creatively-named, Bobtown craft beers will be on special, too. They are the Lead off Runner Cream Ale, Screamin’ Laurie Blonde Ale, Rally Ale Kentucky Common, North Shore Nut Brown Ale, Without a Doubt Oatmeal Stout, and Missed Red IPA.
For more information, contact Bobtown at (715) 338-1046.
– Green Mill is again wishing Luck ‘O The Green, and Get Your St. Pat-O-Pazoola Green On — with Shamrock figures interjected — from March 13-19. There is traditional mulligan stew with special seasonings and beef and four kinds of vegies, Rueben sandwich and also their cream-based Rueben soup, and of course, corned beef and cabbage (of the likes of Dublin, they claim), and that’s just the eats. There also are leprechaun jello shots, Jameson shooters, and three specialty drinks, Irish Flag, Irish Gold and Shamrock-Tini, which are heavy on ingredients that include Grand Mariner, the aforementioned Jameson and obviously the very Irish Baileys. The Shamrock-Tini even features a chocolate-rimmed martini glass over Bailey’s/Absolute vanilla.
– This just might be Seventh Heaven!
If you think its standard Irish fare, you’re full of blarney, as the blarney burger has an established track record during the recently celebrated seven years of business at Seasons Tavern, starting with a seven-ounce hamburger patty (not paddy), plus corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and 1000 Island dressing, on an egg-washed bun. That means lots of two kinds of meat, despite the lingering presence, especially this year, of Lenten Fridays, and with all those other ingredients, it’s great tasting, Season’s owner Brad says. (Actually, the blarney burger will be available through the end of March, and not for a pot ‘o gold). Not to mention that they offer corned beef and cabbage on both this Friday and Saturday.
– The Strangers, being longtime largely local folk, are no stranger to The Willow River Saloon or to St. Patrick’s Day performances. Join them on St. Patrick’s Eve, and also munch on some corned beef and cabbage, as you likely are no stranger to that either. Then come back on Saturday for Rock Brigade, a tribute group that also features the music of some bands from The United Kingdom.
– And don’t forget the North Hudson pub crawl on Friday starting at 6 p.m. from the northern part of the village. Done much like Northern Ireland?

Whether it be First Tuesday, Fat Tuesday every month at the Bungalow, or other endeavors, put the Figs first on your list

March 14th, 2017

Jim Field started the Mouldy Fig Jazz Band in 1959 when he was a junior at Main Township High School in Parkridge, IL, and they also go beyond that genre. These days, The Bungalow Inn in Lakeland is often the first venue named as a favorite by the award winning group, and is a staple there on many Tuesday evenings.
A “mouldy fig” is a person who studies and plays old New Orleans style jazz. This term came out of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.
Jim and friends had put together a band to play for a Young Life meeting. Then, noted author Studs Turkel entered the practice room and said, “You are a bunch of Mouldy Figs,” Jim recalls about this name that just keeps popping up. Since then they have been a family favorite band in the Twin Cities, playing steady gigs, usually on Sunday afternoons in the area. Rounding out their mix are now a group of venues — including back at the Bungalow for the First Tuesday, Fat Tuesday celebration of each month from 5-8 p.m.
or the last five years, the Figs have played at the Vikings and Twins games and in June of 2007 performed as guest artists with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Figs have played in more than 30 grade schools with “The History of River Boat Music” educational show created by the St. Paul Rotary Club for the Grand Excursion in 2003. The Figs want to continue to add happy thoughts through this wonderful form of “Old Jazz.”
Jim’s exposure to Chicago style jazz in the late ’50s connected him with Mike McKendrick, a banjo player with Louie Armstrong. Mike taught Jim how to play the washboard. Jim still plays that same washboard that he bought for $1.50 in 1959.
Jim relocated to the Twin Cities in 1970 as the director of the YMCA Street Work Program, and continued his musical hobby. He originally formed the Minnesota Mouldy Figs to perform at Fiorito’s on 6th and Sibley in St. Paul in 1973. The Figs played there and the Lower Levy Lounge for eight years, and have performed of course at the Bungalow for another eight years and currently play at the Mainstreet Bar & Grill in Hopkins and Shamrocks in St. Paul.
The band has three professional recordings, including, of course, “Figs Live at the Bungalow.”
“We’re easy! We have played on stages, buses, trains, boats, truck beds, ice rinks and swimming pools,” their bio says. “If you want us – we’ll play! Look at our photos, add a few musicians and a singer or take a few musicians away to match your occasion or budget needs.”

If seeing new ‘Pudge’s’ from street level, there’s much more food (twice over) and drink than meets the eye, as redesign is massive, vintage and attractive

March 3rd, 2017

The newly and massively renovated Pudge’s Saloon and Eatery and a second, adjoining supper-club-style offering — there are separate food options to be had in the two areas — have so much to offer patrons that they need to incorporate a pair of different street addresses, 302 and 304 Second St.
The renovation that draws vintage materials from multiple sources is featuring things such as a complete upstairs with two huge rooms and also a pair of large tucked-in patios, one way in back that digs into the bluffline, that you would not guess they are there from simply viewing the newly retooled venue from the street. There is a third patio just off the lower level at the venue in downtown Hudson’s south end, where you meet up with an over-the-top, decorative stairway, a centerpiece of the lengthy renovation.
The four upstairs pool tables — and who else has that many in this town? — have been rocking the house on weekends and even some weeknights since the new Pudge’s was unveiled a couple of weeks ago. There are subtle nuances of the redesign and attention to detail, such as pairs of carefully folded napkins forming an X on the tables of their new bistro, called Club 304, which is now open at 7 a.m. and provides breakfast and lunch, with dinner options coming soon. Others changes are easier to notice, such as the limestone rock walls used throughout the multi-story refurb that were uncovered during the initial phases of the months-long renovation, then added on other walls both big and small to give a continuity throughout the establishment.
You might not even know some of these features exist, when simply walking in the front door, as you have to go around to the off-sale area to catch the steps going up there, which are wide and marble. All around the upper floor is stone on walls that matches the kind that originally existed downstairs. Everything owners Michael and Candy Murphy encountered was used in some way.
Other decore also makes it different
Much of the redesign is lengths of ornate iron and other such vintage crafting, especially near the elevator in front of the southside stairwell, and some is shown through the old-style golden foil decor throughout, especially on the lower level toward the high ceilings and other places far up on the walls, or not so far up. Examples are a wine-making maiden displayed on a back door and another such bar scene played out artistically in a similar-style, circular and decorative mast-like centerpiece, much bigger than a refrigerator. This incorporates both the foil and vintage wood in the middle of the downstairs bar area, also using a round table of similar color and separating the north and south rooms downstairs. There are also antique columns leading to what is now the patio, and related Old Car Shop decore from North Hudson, as well as a bronze gate reclaimed from an old hotel in St. Paul, and an artifacts display case with bottles that came originally from the 1880s — a facet that when the whole process started, was something everyone figured was there, somewhere.
So, if you are a local and think you know Pudge’s, think again, doubly so since it now constitutes two levels and various off-shoots from them.
Built in 1866, at the 302 Second St. location, Pudge’s has been a saloon for most of the time since, according its 25-year owners the Murphys — and there have been some colorful characters as owners prior to them, like a successful old-time baseball player who kept a bat behind the bar in the off-chance someone would get rowdy. The Murphys say they used to make wine in the basement and roll fine cigars right next door at 304 Second St., which was not always an open part of the bar. But rest assured, that old-style pay phone has been kept.
The Murphys, with the help of Hudson native and nationally known designer and collector Ed Hawksford, have taken a long tradition and enlarged it, with interesting offshoot rooms, to be a one-of-a-kind destination, as people from the Twin Cities who come to Hudson as the first bar venue across the river will appreciate. The Murphys had been thinking about the renovation for years and the timing was finally right to get the old from behind the walls and make it new again, along with some other attributes both antique and modern.
“I’d had it in my head for years. And oh they love it,” Michael said about this project, especially noting the response from customers.
The prominent iron columns are part of the history, as are the horse tiles outfront. Hawksford helped the Murphys find other hidden treasures to reuse or repurpose — not just pieces of the old Pudge’s, but finds from Tibet to a walnut tree in the Murphy’s backyard. The upstairs back bar, more than century old, originally stood in Tibet, along with some columns that adorn the upstairs fireplace in a big, northernly situated room several strides away through a door that connects to the veritable pool hall. The bar on the main floor — which unlike how some of how the new Pudge’s has unfolded, will greet you right when you walk in — was built from wood Michael ran across in a targeted antique search.
On the south side are two porches, one up and one below, with that decorative ironwork and a colorful paint job. Some people say it looks like something you might find in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
And then there are the newly prominent drinks, such as signature Brandy Manhattans, ice cream drinks and a stellar line of fine scotches.
You can access the new restaurant, Club 304, with its state-of-the-art kitchen, either by cruising through Pudge’s Bar or through the eatery’s own entrance, formerly in most part a home to patrons who came in for off-sale liquor. Club 304 is serving breakfast and lunch from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and also opening for dinner soon, most likely about a week.
The restaurant is well-lighted from window openings uncovered during the renovation. One of those upstairs gives a colorful view of the neon “Pudges” sign that has letters stacked vertically on an outside wall that’s set at a right-angle to the street. The new booths toward the east side are backed with wood salvaged from the floors upstairs, and paneling that was uncovered there.
There will be separate menus for the pub’s eatery and Club 304. Where there were several apartments upstairs at 304, the space has been transformed into a room with spacious semi-circular bar rail to allow service of drinks, four pool tables that have been attracting a line of people standing along the east-west wall in the center waiting to play, various electronic games and a deck on the southwest corner, from which you can see the lights of Lakefront Park and the St. Croix River.
An informal tour offered by some longtime Pudge’s patrons made note of the nice, newly constructed smell, and that the ceiling was so much higher and beautiful than from days past. They said they are especially impressed by the patios, one looking out toward the St. Croix River and sure to be a hit, especially in summer, and a particularly spacious one tucked out in back, which required some of the east-side bluff to be dug out and even revealed a cave during construction. Also, they described the choice that exists for conversion-friendly softer music downstairs, and rockier tunes up. In that vein, bartender Whitney said that things have been “crazy busy” up there. Another patron invoked the triple-R reference, that the new place is “really, really, really nice,” and a second said he was holding back to formal completion so he could obtain a personal tour from husband-and-wife owners, after having added he has known them for years and maybe decades as a regular in the old downstairs.
Framing Furman and ‘Club 304′
Executive chef Josh Furman, obviously a key part of the refurbishing, said this supper club and American Bistro theme, among other possible descriptions, is unlike anything else in Hudson and the result of staying passionate and sticking to a concept of being “approachable.” He noted there are the higher-end places in Stillwater, but that his is a different mix of the best of several such things. Furman wants familiar food where people can pronounce what they are ordering, not have it be, say, an obscure French word. Think of going beyond the gourmet, he adds.
Which is not to say that his menu won’t have French sauces, which like so many things at Club 304, he makes from scratch and using locally sourced ingredients, such as the oatmeal, which is beyond the usual standard, having among other things, only coconut milk and steel-cut ingredients and like everything on their menu, no processed white sugar. That’s not even to mention the hoops they jump through to make their own hollandaise sauce, to go with their lobster eggs Benedict. The idea is affordable comfort food, although variety of food options and being treated special while ordering them is indeed their spice of life, and there are even “small plates” if you just want a somewhat-filling snack. And Furman says he will be a consistent presence at Club 304, especially if people have questions, and thus come out and talk to customers.
They might want to ask about the various steaks, made from Hereford beef only, other beef as in great burgers, and ala carte breakfast choices and hot dish, many of which patrons can build it their own way. Signature dishes include crispy pork belly with celery root, an inside-out Scotch egg, beer battered fried, cheese-stuffed onion rings and several dishes using their own made-in-house bacon.
All of this is creating a buzz, even across the border into St. Paul, Furman says, as people have become curious about the intentional, whole experience they are offering. Add to that the ambiance and experienced staff and you have a destination, he said. And as an add-on, so many people have already spoken glowingly to him about that pervasive limestone wall in all parts of the building, even though he spends the majority of his time in the kitchen.
Furman is a veteran of such popular Twin Cities eateries as W.A. Frost, Masu, Shanghai Bistro, the Rivertowns bed and breakfast in Stillwater, and some venues in California.
For more information about the Pudge’s Saloon and Eatery, or the accompanying Club 304, call (715) 386-9975.

If your V-Day is being a bust, hear to cheer you are close encounters with rock stars who are Romeos, hey at least for the most part

February 14th, 2017

Now with the Valentine’s Day holiday fading, it’s time to reference some encounters with rock star heartthrobs heard while on the beat.
The friend of one of the stalwarts from Guv’s Place in North Hudson got serenaded at a Pearl Jam concert in the region awhile back. Star lead singer Eddie Vedder sang him a happy birthday on-screen, then invited him up on stage for a few moments. That was certainly a few seconds “of what was everything …”
With the following celebs, it’s the return of No More Mr. Nice Guy. Local people who have worked with them as arena support members say that Van Morrison is actually kind of a jerk, and that the entourage will give you grief if you get in the way of Elton John’s nap in the next room, as happened backstage at the Xcel Energy Center. On the plus side, frontmen David Grohl and Billy Jo Armstrong were very nice when seated next to a man who is now a local bar manager, as was Donald Fagen, who can really warm up to people and even joked about wanting to take a local bartender, Michele, who was working with a touring catering firm to the stars, on tour via packing her in his suitcase. She also said The Boss would always come by and say hello when he was backstage, even though the catering job kept her working virtually around the clock — in many cases running down the precise list of snacking items that some rock stars say they literally could not get on stage without. Among the noteworthy of these picky acts having played in Hudson, is the occasional swing made through the region to play at Dibbo’s by Foghat. The staff had to jump through hoops to meet the fickle needs of bands such as these — did they become a Fool For This City? — and their efforts included running down the street a few blocks last-minute to get some special kinds of snacks.
Another local patron works mainly for such a company that helps book bands for festivals and orchestrate their shows all over the country, but if that isn’t enough, she was looking for another parttime gig. This job has largely stayed under the radar, but has notoriety in its own genre. And also, it is work with fits and spurts — like my freelance writing, I told her.

What for Valentine’s Day, as part of our party-ish roundup? Maybe ‘Wild game’ or ‘Raley good’ pizza and now curds, with rockin’ tunes to boot

February 12th, 2017

Lets get Wild over V-Day, and riled over the Super Bowl, before all good parties must come to an end:
– It’s Valentine’s Day coming up and the ads that we see all over celebrate all things pink in color. That as a counterpoint, could mean referencing the Pink Moose boutique in Stillwater, which needless to say has girly specials that are very much unlike those at the Smilin’ Moose in Hudson. But some of the frilly stuff brought here from across the river could be what puts the smile on that moose’s face.
– Take in two types of transportation while traipsing when out on the town. You can see the Fat Tire-style bike in a step-up doorway along Second Street near the Agave Kitchen, as well as a taxi that’s dubbed the favorite of Wisconsin’s own Miller Lite Beer, at least from the sign attached to the side door of the cab, when parked next to the much-Minnesotan Smilin’ Moose.
– The reigning Hudson Pizza King/hard rock screamer, Rich Raley of Dick’s late night fame, is now going after the cheese curds crown, hoping to dethrone Ellsworth. He was seen at a local non-Big-Box grocery store scouting out quality ingredients for discount prices. One must ask, was there an elevator music ripoff of an AC/DC or G’N'R song by him drowning out the cash register’s clicking?
– Did your team win in the Super Bowl? That was my question for my favorite red-headed bar patron right after the game. Her response? “Tom Brady f—– us over.” And as you could presume from his supermodel wife Giselle’s request afterward that he “retire,” that wasn’t the only action Brady was getting that evening. Which brings me to the point of a woman who in an advertisement on sports bar TV, also named Giselle, said she was very happy with her new dating site. If you have those kind of credentials, who needs a dating site?
– And then, back to the redhead. She was out late after having been to a Minnesota Wild game, and said an interesting and fulfilling path led her to St. Paul. She had planned to stay home and do laundry, and homework, when a roommate called in sick (don’t want to be around the cold ice if that is your status), and wanted to part with her FREE TICKETS. So the redhead took the freebie, and was treated to a victory in dramatic fashion, via a shootout, no less. Now that raises the stakes quite readily for a redhead, rather than reading about it as part of your routine homework!
– Chiming in to sing the national anthem at an informal downtown concert on Super Bowl night, as she’s done many times before locally, was Andrea, a longtime bartender at Agave Kitchen, who also has been flown to pro sporting events over a several-state area to do the ditty. This has been a gig of hers for years, and unlike Luke Bryan at the Big Game itself, Andrea has absolutely no nervousness about belting out her version of the anthem before a crowd.
– Nothing really rattles, either, the Dick’s stalwarts named Matt, whether one be serving behind the bar during the NFL’s biggest showcase, on TV because of his status as Falcons star quarterback, or just a former sometimes-rowdy regular who had been back on the scene for a while and would make a good defender who gets under your skin. All three share the same or largely similar last name, that being Ryan.
– Regional performers of all types took part in a metro event celebrating the music of Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Bob Dylan, and others. Local gamer Dennis 4 Tennis took in the event, and said he was able to grab a seat next to the parents of one of the dancers, pictured prominently, who had come all the way from Florida. He gave me one of his two autographed copies of the program.
– This also sounds like a party. A birthday bash throw for, and by, some Dick’s regulars, began with a wine party at their house, then moved to Dick’s just in time for two-for-ones. There’s a little tipsiness in the house!

Amount, manner of music is ballooning at 28th annual Hudson Hot Air Affair

February 1st, 2017

There is even more music to accompany the ballooning at the 28th annual Hudson Hot Air Affair, which has the theme Gone With The Windz — and there might even be some woodwinds thrown in as instrumentation.
The event goes on from Feb. 3-5. Music acts, by venue, are: At Mallory’s, Ella and Wade on Friday night and Kyle Kohila on Saturday night; at the tasting event at the Hudson House Grand Hotel, Boondoogle on Saturday night; at Urban Olive and Vine, Jazz Savvy on Friday night and Mark Keating on Saturday night, (with those two taking the stage at 7 p.m.); at The Smilin’ Moose, Kick on Friday night; and also deejay dance music and karaoke on both nights of the weekend.
Mallory’s on the north end of the downtown is new to the local band scene. Acoustic rock and country duo Ella and Wade are often dressed in black, like Johnny Cash, and he is one of their influences, along with Brandi Carlile, Blake Shelton, Oasis, The Lumineers, Garth Brooks, Kings of Leon, Gretchen Wilson, Zack Brown Band, 3rd Eye Blind, Matchbox Twenty, CCR, The Band Perry, Steve Miller Band, Sublime, The Cranberries, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Miranda Lambert.
Kyle Kohila usually goes it solo as an acoustic show, with strong and aggressive fingerpicking, and he also has a celebrity dress-alike. He and the late, great Michael Jackson have the similarity of wearing one glove. His sets may include, as an example, an acoustic version of Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC, as only he could do it, a rocking out take on Folsom Prison Blues by yes, Johnny Cash, and a tune that smacked of slide guitar in Mother by Pink Floyd.
The Roberts-based band Boondoggle will highlight the tasting event, Gone With The Windz edition, on Saturday from 7:30-10 p.m. Guests also can enjoy spirits, wine and beer tastings, and appetizers, along with a silent auction to benefit Operation Help. There is an admission charge for this activity.
Boondoggle is known for their imposing stage-presence, driven by the sheer height of some of the band members, which is even more impressive on a raised stage.
Boondoggle’s members say they have been “terrorizing” the region with loud rock ‘n’ roll and “badass” country music since 2002, playing their version of hundreds of popular songs, which include The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The rock power trio Kick returns to kickstart Friday proceedings at 9 p.m. at the Smilin’ Moose. Their bio and again, manner of dress, evokes memories of the mock interviews done by the band Spinal Tap … “Atop wailing riffs all but forgotten. Young, old, ancient and winking, they’re not stopping. It’s rock and roll.” Kick definitely looks the hair-band part, not too unlike Motley Crue, from which they may have in-part taken their name — but not as hard-core or as much leather, just the big and wavy locks shown in their signature online photo of a lead guitarist taking a scissors-legged leap while jamming between the other two musicians.
You’ll want to tap your toes and snap your fingers to start the weekend, but it’s still savvy, not your usual jazz band. With what’s called a fresh and innovative sound, Jazz Savvy is a unique trio with songs you might not expect to hear locally, even though they have built a following at a number of Twin Cities area venues. There’s no pabulum radio sound, no smooth jazz, or “canned” standard tunes, and every time Jazz Savvy gives a performance, they give the audience a new jazz experience, they say.
After playing a wide variety of instruments and styles in his youth, at age 29, Mark Keating began extensive study of fingerstyle guitar, drawing inspiration from Michael Hedges, Leo Kottke, Pierre Bensusan, as well as artists such as John Dowland and Turlough O’Carolan for their compositions in traditional and Celtic music. He also boasts styles from jazz to drudging rock, to folk style instrumentals.
Rounding out the music options connected with the Hot Air Affair are acts at two of the other participating sponsors. There is deejay dance music downtown at Dick’s Bar and Grill on Friday and Saturday starting at about 10 p.m., which gives a chance to mingle with the pilots, especially after the adjacent Torchlight Parade and following fireworks starting at 7 p.m. Friday. DJ Ben Michaels, who is relatively new to the scene, has been known to provide some interesting mixes with the songs he plays, not just typical retreads. Also, there is karaoke in an intimate setting at the bar at the Plaza Lounge/Hudson Bowling Center on both nights at 9 p.m., a venue not far from the Moonglow or Field of Fire that is set for Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
Other noteworthy Hot Air Affair events are balloon launches at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and at 3 p.m. on Saturday, all weather permitting, and smoosh boarding at 1 p.m. Saturday. All are at the Rock Elementary School grounds.
The Hot Air Affair is presented by the WESTconsin Credit Union.
Visit for more information.

– Also, calling all modern country, rock and pop music lovers to “fly” to Burkhardt and take in a “Shotgun Wedding,” the name of a band, not a train wreck, at the Willow River Saloon on Friday night. This is called a double or triple shot, musicwise, of a must-see female and male fronted band featuring some of the Twin Cities’ best musicians — not just national influences, although they play a range of popular, plus a few lesser-known artists — and hailing from local bands such as Under the Covers, The Bad Animals, Playback, Shane Wyatt, Shadowstone and The Hootenanny.

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.