Young Spuds in a Longhorn Daze

 

Martin Keller, the first staffer hired at Sweet Potato, is a Minneapolis-based writer and publicist.


 

Guitarist Bob Mould recalls the first encounter with Grant Hart and Greg Norton: "It was at the Ramones/Foreigner concert; we came late, our seats were up in the balcony so we knocked over about five security guards but we made it, right up front." In this state of reckless fervor and unbridled excitement the seeds for Hüsker Dü were planted.

Terry Katzman, November 26, 1980

 

On their first U.S. tour, the Stones played one or two shows on each coast plus a single date at Big Reggie's Danceland, Excelsior, Minnesota. A month later "Not Fade Away" would smash its way into the charts and the Rolling Stones would bring their running battle with the Beatles stateside. On this night, however, they were just another unknown band. A three-dollar cover charge further deterred the curious and only a few hundred spectators showed up. Those that did were hostile....Some of the local toughs sidled up to Keith Richards and taunted him until a boot in the mouth closed off the insults. The Stones didn't play long and left the stage spitting backwards at the audience.

Daniel Gabriel, July 22, 1981

 

No doubt it was due to nefarious corporate machinations, but the simple fact is that Dayton's in the Sixties was hip....Dayton's didn't stop at selling clothes. They also imported bands. Sometimes the bands played in the aisles on the second floor. More often they appeared in the eighth-floor auditorium....Two occasions in the auditorium deserve special mention. One was the appearance of the Yardbirds. Then at the height of their fame (summer of '66), London's finest opened their show with "Shapes of Things" and stomped their way through a rousing 40-minute show that culminated in a raving "Heart Full of Soul."...The other occasion was the appearance in the spring of 1967 of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band...the show remains historic as the first full-bore psychedelic light show to be seen in the Cities.

Daniel Gabriel, July 22, 1981

 

On a crisp fall evening in 1976, two dozen people crammed into rock writer Andy Schwartz's south Minneapolis apartment...to "figure out how to start a scene."...[T]he brainstorming session [included] members of the Suicide Commandos, Prodigy (the nucleus of which would later become Flamingo), Riff Raff (the nucleus of which would later become the Pistons), Spitfire, Rockola, writer Tim Holmes, Oarfolkjokeopus store clerk Peter Jesperson, and Curtiss A....

"It was kind of silly and cute, like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland," says Curtiss A.... "We each were assigned a different part of town to patrol; we were to go ask each different bar owner if we could play at his bar. And I guess it did make a difference. There finally were places to play."

Jim Walsh, December 20, 1989

 

City Pages: How'd you lose the Wednesday night Uptown gig? Curtiss A: I got fired. There was a guy up there I didn't like, who was rude to me, a creep who drinks there. And one night I yelled at him, the next night I spit all over him, the next night I choked him. And they threw me out every night and then they said, "Anything else and you're out of here." And the next week, [band member] Caleb informed me after we got done playing that he wouldn't be there the next week....And I just started to boil, it just made me mad....So I went and talked to my therapist--what I was going for this whole time was anger, I wasn't addicted to any drugs or anything, no matter what anybody said....I asked her: I said...I like him but I wanted to hit him and she said, "Why don't you try taking it out on an inanimate object?" So the next morning on the way to group I stopped in at the Uptown and I was having a cup of coffee and somebody came over and said something to me and it had something to do with Caleb, and I just got really mad and went up onstage and took a knife and stabbed his amp--took it out on an inanimate object. And that night I got a call from Dale and he said, "You're out of here."

Michael Welch, February 24, 1988

 

In the late Seventies, the two friends from grade school were first musically united when keyboardist Harris joined Flyte Tyme, a band led by bassist/vocalist Lewis. Before and after Harris joined, Flyte Tyme didn't play around that much because only a few clubs would book them even though they played all the popular black tunes of the day. Prince chroniclers have commented on how smart the kid was to not play around Minneapolis, instead taking his act straight to the major labels and make his shows special events. However, Prince and the acts that followed them...went right to the top because nobody at the bottom--local radio, press, and clubs--would give them the time of day....

That ignorance of what local black musicians were doing bothers Harris in retrospect, but at the time Prince set an example that inspired other acts. "[W]e said, 'That's the way to go.' So rather than pouring all your money that you'd make from gigs into band equipment, you'd put it into going into a studio and doing a demo tape. It just changed everybody's perspective."

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