The Godfather of First and Fifth

You can learn a lot about a city by standing in the same place for 25 years

He'll reminisce about the night before Soul Asylum bassist Karl Mueller's funeral in 2005, when dozens of members of the music scene gathered for an Irish wake at the Loon, where Mueller had worked off and on for years. At this point, Mahoney will point to his most prized possession in the bar: a platinum record of Soul Asylum's 1994 hit Grave Dancer's Union. "They didn't have to do that," he'll say. "Karl was a friend, and all those guys have become friends over the years. The Jayhawks, the Fray, the Suburbs, they've all been part of this. I thought it was very cool for them to present the bar with that. It shows a lot.

"Whenever Prince did a run of shows, he would park his car out there, come in with his bodyguard and go upstairs before going to the concert. And every show, he'd drop off tickets. A guy would come in the front door and hand me tickets—all in the first five rows—and he'd say, 'Here. Make sure everyone gets these.' You don't hear about stuff like that. The goodness of those people."

He'll tell you about his dream scenario three years from now, on opening day of the Twins' inaugural season in the new ballpark, when he hopes that people who started going to the Loon 25 years ago will come in with their kids and grandkids. "The city is so exciting right now," he'll say. "You can feel it. We're the cornerstone of the Warehouse District for a reason. Over the years, what I've learned is that it doesn't matter if you're a CEO of a major company or a dishwasher. If you treat 'em all the same, if you treat 'em with respect, they'll be here forever. So hopefully we'll be here for another 15 years or so, and one of these days I'll be standing out on the street corner shaking everybody's hand like the mayor."

Or the Godfather.

"Yeah. Like the Godfather."

Jim Walsh can be reached at 612.372.3775 or jwalsh@citypages.com

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