Primebar coming to old Il Gatto/Figlo space

The prime Calhoun Square space formerly known as Figlio — let’s face it, will anyone remember it as Il Gatto, its short-lived replacement? — isn’t going to be dark for long. That’s because Primebar will soon be lighting up the prime corner of Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street in Uptown.

The Primebar format has the bar shaking up specialty cocktails and pulling 40-plus draft beers, and the kitchen specializes in a long list of small plates (deviled eggs, shrimp-goat cheese bruschetta, barbecue pulled pork sliders) before moving into burgers, pastas and steaks and chops, all served in a contemporary setting.

Most small plates are under $10, with the most of the larger-plate options falling squarely in the mid-teens.

The restaurant and bar is part of the Chicago-based Restaurants-America, which operates a half-dozen concepts in Illinois, Florida, Arizona, Texas, Virginia and California.

“We’re really excited that they picked Calhoun Square to be their first entry into this market,” said Ken Seifert, the center’s general manager. “We think that it’s really going to add more diversity to the area.”

A late spring/early summer opening is planned.

  • Rick Nelson

Retribution Gospel Choir drops free EP

“Let’s start a revolution,” Alan Sparhawk fittingly declares in the almost-title track to Retribution Gospel Choir’s new EP, which was issued Tuesday as a free download on the band’s website. The idea of giving away music isn’t exactly revolutionary in this day and age, nor is it all that radical to hear Sparhawk crank it up and rock out with RGC anymore. Still, the four-song collection comes as quite a jolt.

Centered around the riotous Queen-meets-At the Drive-In song “The Stone (Revolution!),” “The Revolution EP” arrives just a week and a half after the band came down from Duluth to debut these songs to Twin Cities fans at the Turf Club. And it closely follows a year in which Sparhawk rededicated himself to his original, far quieter trio, Low, whose “C’mon” album brought the band back to the top tiers of indie-rock.

“The Revolution EP” serves as a solid reminder that RGC isn’t going away, and it appears to only be getting louder, wilder and freakier. It’s definitely worth the easy e-mailing-list signup to obtain. Local fans will have the chance to hear the songs played live again on April 7 when the band plays First Ave with Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps.

  • Chris Riemenschneider

Butcher & the Boar to open next week?

Opening dates are never set in stone. One of the season’s most anticipated bar/restaurants, Butcher & the Boar, was shooting for an early February debut. Now chef/owner Jack Riebel tells us he’s hoping to open to the public on March 8. (The bar’s Facebook page still says March 6, however.) A lot of people are eagerly awaiting this bourbon/beer/meat palace. So stay tuned.

Here’s one more update: Erik Forsberg says his gastropub, Devil’s Advocate, will open in early to mid-April. The former owner of the Ugly Mug was hoping for a February opening in the old Inn/Subo/Hell’s Kitchen space. He said permit delays are to blame for the late start.

  • Tom Horgen

Kruse cut from MyTalk 107.1

Colleen Kruse is no longer part of the MyTalk 107.1 FM family. Hubbard Broadcasting informed Kruse Monday that her show will no longer air due to poor ratings. Dan Seeman, vice president of Hubbard Radio, said the show was the least popular regular series on the station.

“I’m a big believer in Colleen,” Seeman said. “It just didn’t seem to work.”

Kruse’s producer and sidekick, Chris Reuvers, has been offered a full-time position at Hubbard’s sports station, ESPN 1500 AM. Kruse, a local comedian, started at the station roughly four years ago.
Seeman said guest hosts will fill in until a new show, which will still center around pop culture, can be put together.

  • Neal Justin

Melismatics on the radio

The always-working-it, pop-punk synth-rock quartet the Melismatics — led by husband/wife team Ryan Smith and Kathie “Pony” Hixon-Smith — landed last week on the playlist of legendary Los Angeles radio DJ Rodney Bingenheimer of KROQ-FM (the so-called “Mayor of the Sunset Strip”). Their new record, “Mania!,” also made it on the CMJ Top 200 chart, last week at No. 47.
Interestingly, the song Bingenheimer played, “Your Love Is a Poison,” is not the song that the band just issued a new video for, “Divided Devotion.” And neither song is the one that would likely get the most attention as a single, “Out of Yer Mind,” since it was co-written with Dan “Someone Like You” Wilson.

Truth is, “Mania!” — which features more boy/girl harmony-swapping and ample hooks — is the kind of well-polished rock record that sounds like seven or eight of its tracks could be singles. The band’s longtime supporter John Fields (Jonas Brothers, All Time Low producer) mixed them all but left half of the disc’s production to Minneapolis vet Ed Ackerson. The other half was produced by Jon Auer, co-leader of cult-loved ’90s pop-rock band the Posies.

  • Chris Riemenschneider

Ronnie Spector, 5.6.7.8.’s to headline Girls Got Rhythm Fest

Gender-specific, girl-power-style live music showcases always seem a bit trite and unnecessary in a local scene where women are well known to rock as hard as the boys — but not when they’re as cool as the just-announced Girls Got Rhythm Fest, scheduled May 11-12 at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall in St. Paul. The event will feature Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ronnie Spector (pictured), who still sounded great at the Dakota in 2010, plus Japanese punkabilly trio the 5.6.7.8.’s  (of “Kill Bill” fame) and pioneering California pop-punkers the Muffs.

The brainchild of Metro Magazine editor Dana Raidt (who started Radio K’s “Girl Germs” show while at the U) and promoter/jack-of-all-trades Travis Ramin, Girls Got Rhythm will be rounded out by about 10 younger bands with female leaders — and some with all-female lineups. Those will include Oregonian band Pierced Arrows, Norway’s Caroline & the Treats and Detroit’s Nikki Corvette, plus locals such as L’Assassins and Hot Rash.

  • Chris Riemenschneider

Sports bar to sports bar

Banking on Target Field, Smalley’s 87 Club opened in Butler Square in 2010. After closing the sports bar last month, new owner Russell King is reopening it as — wait for it — another sports bar. The Alley Sports Tavern (named for the big alley on the side of the building) is scheduled to open Monday. The remodeling will pull back a bit on the baseball theme.

  • Tom Horgen

Madonna adds second show

She must have missed us, real-ly missed us. Madonna, who hasn’t performed in the Twin Cities since 1987, just added a second concert Nov. 4 at Xcel Energy Center. Her Nov. 3 show is sold out. Tickets for the second show, priced from $50 to $355, will go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday at the Xcel box office, www.livenation.com, www.ticketmaster.com and 1-800-745-3000.

  • Jon Bream