The CC Club: An oral history

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

Anderson: And we just made this deal: "Bob, we gotta play this gig tonight at the Fine Line, you know, come and play with us." When we left Bob, he said, "Don't be late. Don't be late." He really didn't want us to be late. And, of course, we were, because it was the airport and it was snowing and we were trying to get ready to go to the gig. My recollection is that we were like 15 minutes later than we said we'd pick him up. I got out, and I knocked on the door. It had a door at the bottom of the back of the building and it was open, so I went up to what I thought was his apartment, and I knocked on the door. And nothing happened. I got just this really creepy feeling. Like I was so creeped out, I don't think I even knocked again. So that following Sunday, which might have been the very next day, actually, Peter Jesperson had his radio show. He said Bob had died. And Steve — who I was with, Steve Price — called me. And I think we cried on the phone.

I think Bob's death was — you think of him so tied to south Minneapolis, and southwest Minneapolis. I think Bob dying in Uptown at that time isn't even metaphorical. I think it was a legitimate casualty of what was going on with the scene. It was sort of indicative of what was happening to this sort of idealized place that was never really ideal anyway.

In late 2012, whispers began circulating that the high-end organic restaurant next to the CC Club, the French Meadow, was in talks to buy the bar. In January 2013, the rumors proved true: The Emards and their partner announced that they had sold the CC.

Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner was one of many musicians who turned the CC Club into his living room.
Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner was one of many musicians who turned the CC Club into his living room.
When David Prass bought the CC in 1974, he changed the bar's name to the CC Club and made T-shirts to announce it.
When David Prass bought the CC in 1974, he changed the bar's name to the CC Club and made T-shirts to announce it.

Moe: We just got tired.

Sharon: Moe's going to be 80 July 6.

Moe: There's always something. And then every time something comes up, every week, it's always a phone call. If something bad happened that ruins the whole weekend. "We sold out of this," or so on. It just got — in the last couple of years — I wanted to sell a couple years ago, but they didn't want it. Then my partner, she didn't want to sell, and so I said, "Then you buy us out, because I don't want to be here anymore. I'm going to stop coming. I'm just tired." And then my wife started getting tired and she didn't want to do it either. Finally, last summer, both of them said, "That's it."

Lynn Gordon, president of the French Meadow Bakery and Cafe and new owner of the CC Club: When the news came out, there was incredible feedback. They have very loyal customers, and I got hate mail like, "She's going to put wheatgrass in the beer!" I think because French Meadow, perhaps one could think it's the antithesis of the CC Club, so initially everyone took a double take. But we're very excited to honor the establishment as it is, and we recognize that it has a culture and a flavor and people love it. It would be a bit arrogant of me to think that I could improve it. Hopefully we can do it justice.

Pirner: I don't know what kids do these days, but I'm always saying to people, "Well, I'm sure kids coming up in music in Minneapolis and everywhere else have the same sort of situation that I had." Only over time have I started to think, maybe there was something incredibly special about it, and maybe every town doesn't have a musical community like I had growing up, but it's hard for me to imagine.

Stinson: It's just a dingy old working-man's bar, they're littered all over the country, like where the blue-collar guy goes to unwind and talk about his woes. But all of us, we kind of came from that. We all come from that sort of life, a bunch of crap working stiffs trying to get by.

Metsa: Kind of the beauty of the CC is, on certain levels, it really hasn't changed in terms of visually and the vibe since I started going there in '78. The beauty of the CC , and any great bar, is you walk in and you're a little bit suspended in time.

Moe: I don't have the right words for it, it's just something about the place. It doesn't matter what era it is, it's the kind of place that young people like coming to. It's always been a place you could find somebody, somebody you were looking for or someone you knew. It's always been, "I'll meet you at the CC Club."

Check out our behind the scenes look at the CC Club

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