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While the rebirth of one mainstay rock club is on hold for a while, there’s good news about the reopening of another: The Turf Club just announced it will host a grand re-opening party Aug. 28 with local country-rock favorites Dead Man Winter (led by Dave Simonett of Trampled by Turtles), Frankie Lee and Erik Koskinen.
Another big Turf show was just announced for Sept. 4 with the Jayhawks, who are already set to play First Avenue the following two nights and reportedly have something playful in mind for the warm-up gig (on sale Friday at noon).
With an eye for a mid-size room across town that will add to its booking options, First Ave bought the Turf Club last winter and promised to spruce the place up without ruining its good vibe. The doors were shut June 1 for renovations, which began in earnest almost immediately.
Among the heaviest work was adding a kitchen (to serve pub grub a la First Ave’s successful in-house eatery the Depot), a new roof, a new sound system and, yep, new bathrooms. While they were closed for summer, the Green Line opened its light-rail station right outside the Turf's front doors – which, by the way, were also replaced with new doors.
“We’re just now getting to the part where everything is getting put together and it’s really starting to look great,” said First Ave general manager Nate Kranz, talking between interviews for the club’s new staff positions Wednesday. He said the Aug. 28 should be an easy target to make.
“We gave it a 10-day buffer, so barring any major glitch, we should be fine.”
While there were some not-so-pleasant surprises in the reconstruction process, there was at least one good one: The crew discovered a large mural of horses that had been hidden behind a curtain. It probably dates back to the 1940s and will now serve as the backdrop to the new stage.
The first week or two will be seen as a “soft opening” to test the staff and kitchen, but things won’t be soft for long. Among the acts already down to play the new Turf are JD McPherson (Sept. 9-10), Shonen Knife (Sept. 16), Nick Waterhouse (Sept. 20), Ty Segall (Sept. 24), Mike Watt’s new band Il Sogno del Marinaio (Sept. 28), Christopher Owens of Girls (Oct. 4), Squeeze’s Glenn Tilbrook (Oct. 14) and Sondre Lerche (Oct. 17). There’s also a great classic Turf lineup with the Birthday Suits and the Blind Shake scheduled Sept. 13 -- the day the Replacements are also booked to play St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood.
Previously advertised to open next week, the 400 Bar at the Mall of America is still a long ways off.
Next week’s concert with former Wings/Moody Blues member Denny Laine is now listed to take place at something called the 400 Gallery, which is a room inside the neighboring Midwest Music Museum. Same thing with the bar’s would-be first show by Nashville band Kate Tucker & the Sons of Sweden, also originally announced for the bar but now taking place in the gallery on Monday night.
Joe O’Brien, who partnered with co-owners Tom and Bill Sullivan at the old 400 Bar before its closing in December, downplayed the distinction between the two rooms on the MOA’s nightlife-oriented fourth floor.
“It's all one complex under the 400 Bar umbrella -- museum, venue, restaurant,” he said. “This is a listening room, offering fans a unique opportunity to experience great music close up and uninterrupted.”
Clearly, though, fans thinking they're going to see "the new 400 Bar" next week will be disappointed. The white-walled gallery space only boasts a 100-person capacity. Alcohol will not be served there, but O’Brien said fans can get a drink “steps away at the other great bars on the fourth floor.” Those include Hooters and Corona Cantina #1.
A peek through the windows at 400 Inc.’s bar and restaurant space Tuesday confirmed a lot of work still needs to be done there. In fact, it looked as if little to no work had been done in the long-vacated former sports bar space. Tables and chairs sit in dusty piles, and the old football mural is still up behind the bar. O’Brien would not provide more details on renovation plans or a projected opening date for the bar.
Thankfully, the 400 team's Midwest Music Museum opened as projected last month with the Grammy Museum-curated show "Ladies and Gentleman... The Beatles!" The $7 exhibit will be on display through Sept. 7 and was updated locally to include many photos from the Fab Four's 1964 concert at Metropolitan Stadium, where the MOA now stands. Admission to the exhibit is included with the price of next week's concert tickets (and how could it not be included?).
In related news, the 400 Bar's Bill Sullivan is dusting off some of his own old photos and stories of a different kind of legandery rock 'n' roll band and hoping to make a book out of it. The former tour manager for the Replacements just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund "Lemon Jail: 'Mats Tour Diary 1983-1986." That, too, might make a great museum exhibit, though maybe not a family-friendly one like the Beatles show.
POSTED BY KAREN ZAMORA
The night doesn’t have to end after Tuesday’s All-Star Game at the Twins Stadium. The usual 2 a.m. last call will not apply to many Minneapolis bars celebrating the main event.
All-Star Gamers have plenty of options to continue their fun.
Thirty-one downtown bars will remain open until 4 a.m. on game night. Many of which will host DJs and really late-night happy hours. Click here for an interactive map with street addresses.
Bars in Kansas City where the 2012 MLB All-Star game took place did not have extended bar hours.
Palmer's Bar/ photo by Tom Wallace
When it comes to toasting great pubs and restaurants, national magazines tend to overlook the Twin Cities. Esquire magazine broke that tradition in 2006 when it named Nye's Polonaise as the best bar in America. Now they've dared to it again.
Palmer's Bar, a war-horse hangout best known for its hootenannys and generous pours, has made the list of "Best Bars in America." The mag praises the West Bank establishment's "dive" persona and recommends having a bourbon neat with a beer back.
The June/July issue, featuring Mark Wahlberg on the cover, is now available on newstands.
Fans excited about taking light-rail to the Turf Club when the Green Line opens in June are going to have to wait another couple months to do so. St. Paul’s most beloved rock venue will be closed during much of the summer for renovations. Plans call for the doors to shut starting June 1 and remain closed through probably at least the end of July – although, not literally closed, since new front doors are actually part of the vast array of upgrades that will be done in that time.
“We’ll be doing a kitchen installation, installing the fire suppression system, repairing the bars, putting a new roof on, replacing all of the HVAC, and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting,” First Avenue general manager Nate Kranz listed off. First Avenue took over the club in October and formally bought it just before Christmas.
The kitchen instillation -- in the big part of the basement not used for the Clown Lounge – will be the most dramatic change for the Turf. After its success with the Depot Tavern, First Ave will similarly pair food service with its usual rock ‘n’ roll business, keeping customers there longer and bringing in non-rocking patrons, too. Kranz said the staff will hold a “soft opening” for a few weeks upon reopening to get the restaurant side in shape, followed by a grand reopening celebration, probably in early September.
Besides the kitchen, many of the other improvements – some of which are already under way – are mostly just structural renovations that won’t alter the club’s great character, something the First Ave crew (Turf patrons themselves) promised when they took over. In other words, it’s mostly just the kind of stuff that will keep the place standing for another 70 years, and maybe even another five or six more Mark Mallman Marathons.
As for the two-plus months when the club goes dark, look for more First Ave-promoted shows at the Cedar Cultural Center and Triple Rock. The Triple Rock, for instance, already has a couple shows on the summer calendar that otherwise might have gone to the Turf, including Clap Your Hands Say Yeah on June 11 and a Felice Brothers/Robert Ellis co-bill on July 1.
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