The CC Club: An oral history

The iconic bar's owners, famous patrons, and hometown regulars remember the dive's best moments

Almstead: Since we were there every night, all the other bands in town who weren't doing anything would show up. The Commandos, Skogie and the Flaming Pachucos, Prodigy, which became the Flamin' Ohs. And soon after, the Suburbs started coming over.

Hugo Klaers, drummer for the Suburbs: Oar Folk is what brought most everyone out there. Peter Jesperson was at that store and the head of Twin/Tone, and we were on Twin/Tone, and we would just go hang out at Oar Folk for an afternoon and read all the rock magazines and listen to new records and then either go practice or you go to the CC. It would probably start with like two people crossing the street, and then when Oar Folk closed, there'd be a little bit of a rush.

Jesperson: A lot of times we'd close up Oar Folk at 10 o'clock and we'd all walk across the street for a drink. Even at the time people joked about it, but that corner was like the Haight-Ashbury of Minneapolis. The record store became kind of the nucleus of the scene and musicians, and a lot of people actually moved into the neighborhood to be close to the record store and the CC. It was really the center of the burgeoning Minneapolis rock scene.

The Replacements in 1989. "I [spent] about a quarter of my life in that bar," says bassist Tommy Stinson.
The Replacements in 1989. "I [spent] about a quarter of my life in that bar," says bassist Tommy Stinson.

In 1974, David Prass bought the bar from Ray and Maxine Abel, re-christened it the CC Club, and transferred a full liquor license from his father's old bar, the Golden Horse. Prass died in 2010, but is survived by his wife, Suzanne, and four children, including daughter Alexis Seiler.

Suzanne Prass: He bought the bar in August of '74, I remember. It was a neighborhood bar, so he didn't make a lot of changes, other than transferring the liquor license. He did put new red leather seats on the booths and the grill was right in the bar when he bought it. David did put in the kitchen. At one point he had some kids from the school of architecture come in and possibly draw up a way to make it modern and, you know, put windows in the front. But then he thought, "You know, that's not what this bar is."

Alexis Seiler: When we started listening to the Suburbs, my dad used to tell us that they were [at his bar], and I'd say, "Dad, no they're not, you're not that cool." So one morning I woke up and came down to breakfast and this [holds up a copy of the record Dream Hog, signed by all five original members of the band] was sitting on the table.

Klaers: What does that say, "Your dad's Number 1 customer?" Wow. That's funny. I remember signing this for her.

In 1977, Jesperson and two other Oar Folk regulars decided to start a record label. They signed the Suburbs as their first band.

Jesperson: We probably named the label there. I'm sure the name Twin/Tone was decided at the CC. In the early days, before we had a proper office, we used to have Tuesday meetings at the CC. The two gentlemen who were partners in the label with me — Paul Stark and Charley Hallman — we used to meet there every Tuesday and map out what we were going to do for the next week, and planning out releases and whatnot.

On his walk home from work one day in 1978, Paul Westerberg overheard three musicians practicing. He joined the group — Tommy Stinson, Bob Stinson, and Chris Mars — as singer, and after briefly calling themselves Dogbreath and the Impediments, the band settled on the Replacements. In May 1980, they handed Jesperson their four-song demo tape, and signed to Twin/Tone not long after.

Tommy Stinson, bassist for the Replacements: I [spent] about a quarter of my life probably in that bar. It wouldn't be so uncommon to go there in midafternoon and end up walking out at closing. I hung out there because that's where everybody kind of gravitated from the time that we hooked up with Peter and stuff. I think we did all our business there.

Jesperson: In the fall of 1981, we released the first Replacements record, and the Suburbs double album Credit in Heaven, and an album by a group called the Pistons. Those three records all came out about the same time, and I remember having a big release party at the CC where we brought in turntables. I think I still have a flyer for it, "CC Club Record Release Party."

Stinson: We knew everyone, and people pretty much left us alone, for the most part. Except for the once-in-a-while oddball that just wasn't privy to the manners of the CC Club. You just let people do their thing and you don't bother them if you see Soul Asylum or us or any of the other bands.

Dave Pirner, lead singer of Soul Asylum: If you were in a band and you're hanging out at the CC Club and something happens with your band, and you get noticed, it's just sort of not a big deal because it just happened to the table next to you. I started hanging out there right around 1983, when I was 18, because at the time 18 was the drinking age. I'm sure I'd driven by it a million times with my parents or whatever and wondered what was going on in there or what the deal was. I was always at the hardware store with my dad across the street, or I was always at Small Engine City right next door because I mowed lawns as a job, and I was always at Oar Folk. That hub, that neighborhood, was always like the coolest place in town.

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