Sunday, February 21, 2010
"The Cash And Carry Band" Plays The Fourth Street Saloon...An Incredible North Minneapolis Sound
A few nights ago, I went to the Fourth Street Saloon with some friends to hear a really great group called "The Cash And Carry Band."
Apparently, Cash And Carry plays regularly at Fourth Street Saloon, on Wednesday nights. They have a Myspace page, but it's not very active, click here.
What I want to know is how can something this good be hiding in plain sight without being all over the internet, without crowds of people showing up to hear the band play? Well, I know why: because in recent years, decent people have avoided the Fourth Street Saloon, ceding it to a hard thug element.
I'd only been in the saloon once before, about two years ago when I first came to North Minnneapolis, looking to buy a house, not really knowing anybody up here. It's a different neighborhood now, especially around the Merwin's Liquor Store where there used to be so much drug loitering and public intoxication before an improved fence was installed. But the Fourth Street Saloon hasn't changed a bit...
There is still a smoking room in the back where the air reeks of marijuana. There is still a sign reminding people that trying to pass a counterfeit bill is a FEDERAL CRIME. It's still hard to tear one's mind away from thinking about the fact two people were killed in the parking lot, in separate incidents, just a couple years ago.
When I walked in the door at 8:57 p.m., I was made to pay the $5 cover charge which wasn't supposed to take effect until 9 PM. Then I walked through a metal detector which went off, loudly, but I was told, "Oh, you're fine." Thanks, I feel safer already.
But once inside, we had a wonderful time and nobody bothered us a bit, except in boozy friendly ways. The liquor was cheap and subject to a 2-for-1 special. I was surprised by how incredibly large and roomy the bar was inside. This real estate is severely underutilized. Sooner or later, as revitalization takes hold on West Broadway, somebody with big bucks will snap up this bar and make a fortune. Such change is inevitable. The new Twins Stadium is going to send development marching up Washington Avenue, taking a left on Broadway.
But right now, Fourth Streeet Saloon is a diamond in the rough. And I mean rough.
Yet everything--and I mean everything about that bar--was balanced out by how incredible the band was. Everywhere in North Minneapolis I've looked for, and wondered where I might find some kind of brilliant and distinctive North Minneapolis musical sound which has not yet come to the attention of the world at large, the next big thing.
Sometimes I think maybe I hear the faint beginnings of that sound in Kip Browne's living room, when we're jamming out parody songs or Kip starts fooling around on the guitar and I sing in my outrageous imitation of Pete The Pedophile while drinking Jagermeister, green tea, and ginger ale.
It's a good time. Don't judge me.
But those are amateur sounds. It's fun, and Kip has talent which is increasing all the time, but that's not developed and perfect music. This band--Cash And Carry--they are like the stories you read about of incredibly rare and valuable blues records discovered at a yard sale. Don't take my word on it. Just click above and take a listen.
But back to the subject of inevitable change, which will surely roll over the Fourth Street Saloon...
Just a short ways away, Donny Dirk's Zombie Den is the crown jewel of NoMi night spots, with sudden and serious contention from Good Sports Bar And Grill, where you can bring your whole family, even little kids, for food which really should cost more, but doesn't. There are persistent reports of a renovation planned at the Halek's bar, which won't be known forever as Halek's because it is no longer owned by the Halek family. And then just up the street is the Fourth Street Saloon, which may be (arguably) the roughest bar in the city (just based on the casualty rate) but happens to have this incredibly good, soulful, authentic music and great drink prices.
(We're still trying to figure out if that was soul, blues, jazz or still rock 'n' roll to me. The band describes itself as a nine piece jazz, funk, soul, r & b, blues dance band.
It's obvious what's going to happen here. I saw the same thing happen two decades ago in Fargo North Dakota, when music and art majors from the local colleges started hanging out at the notorious Ralph's Bar, rubbing elbows with chronic inebriates. Something had to give, and it sure wasn't the music and art majors. And--despite dire, dramatic warnings to the contrary--none of the music and art majors got "stabbed by an angry, drunk wino."
Now is the time to check out the Fourth Street Saloon, ahead of the trend, while it's still cool...especially on Wednesday nights, when Cash And Carry plays.