Somewhere Prince is making pancakes and the Replacements are rehashing glory days. Anyone who has hit the streets lately can see that the Minneapolis sound is alive, well and thriving in the same dirt cheap bars lit with discarded Christmas lights that we've all come to know and love.
The ownership has changed since Westerberg penned the lament, "Here Comes a Regular," but thankfully much about the CC Club remains the same. There's still a record store kitty-corner that draws die-hard music geeks from around the Twin Cities and the 8 a.m. opening time welcomes those who never bothered going to bed. The dim lights, cheap prices, awkward bathrooms and faint smell of persistent cigarettes assuage the rock n roll angst of trying to pay your rent, living out of the back of a van and cultivating rock n roll swagger.
To the world, it's where Prince became The Purple One. To the rest of us, it's the place to discover new sounds and encounter old friends. There is only one First Avenue. Sure, the argument could be made that it's more a club than a dive bar, but check out the bathrooms (the haunted stall in the ladies loo) or tour the less than roomy green rooms. This place remains the heart of the city, inside a converted bus station. The strength of the drinks also don't hurt a poor, thirsty drinkers feelings, either.
Maybe it's the curved, linoleum topped bar that makes Lee's acoustics so perfect for reverberated guitar twang or perhaps it's the hum of the neon sign outside that best backs a modestly sized band. There is no question that Lee's Liquor Lounge, at the edge of downtown, puts on a great, intimate show, whether we're talking about the music or the always interesting cast of characters drawn in off the streets.
We'll forgive the gussying up of late at The Turf Club. The once janky interior decorating has been stripped back to reveal some of the 1940's glory of the building. They even added a kitchen! Which, as much as we remain devoted to the tacos, is a nice addition when you're pounding Summits like water from an oasis at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday. Whether in the main room settled on elbows at the bar or tucked into the seclusion of the lower level lounge, there is no better place for catching local acts in St. Paul. The dark recesses of the lounge also allow for a perfect meeting of Mr. or Mrs. Right Now and the glorious makings of an unforgettable, awkward, rock n roll morning.
If garage rock manifested as a bar, it'd be the original Grumpy's location on Washington Avenue in Minneapolis. Punk rock enough that they generally do not give a fuck, but Minnesotan enough that you're going to be well cared for. It's an unique aesthetic that Grumpy's nails. With drinks specials five days a week and a brunch that will silence the dogs barking in the back of your head, Grumpy's fuels singular experiences and foggy memories.