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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16 comments
dorianepaso
dorianepaso

My best friends and I lived around the corner on Aldrich '89-'91 and I first saw my tall skinny husband-to-be slouching past the wooden bars.  3 countries and 22 years later and I can still see the cigarette smoke decend as the lines at the pool tables gets rowdier and we sit at the King's table deciding which house party or warehouse to go to after closing...ah the intrigues, the music ...I love you CC Club!

TheWolfe
TheWolfe

 I lived above the CC for years and 3 houses with in a 1/2 a block from there  in the 80's and 90's. Wow the stories. :P

Mike Larson
Mike Larson

Loved the article. One of my favorite city pages articles I've read.

guitarlo
guitarlo

Since City Pages (Minneapolis magazine) is running a story on a local watering hole in my ex home town of 45 years, a place that I claimed as the birth place of the Minneapolis underground rock scene, where I grew up and played a role in helping the Minneapolis Music Scene in the 80s become what it was I feel it right to share my slice of the CC Tap story since I lived next door. And my favorite memory was Chris Osgood advising me to cheer up there. Don't be so down. Rock on. http://www.shawnphillips.com/ah/CCTAPsuz.htm

David Kaiser
David Kaiser

Most over hyped shit establishment I've ever had the displeasure of being a patron of.

Fred Haeusler
Fred Haeusler

I know the origin of the Bohemian Club's pizza nailed to the wall ...

alicia-vera
alicia-vera

Cool. I remember drinking shirley temples and playing the 8 ball pin ball machine there as a kid, back when my parents were regulars. And my mom used to be a waitress there when it was the c.c tap!

Kenny Peterson
Kenny Peterson

Also, as much as a weirdo I may be at times times, I am not the Kenny that David Carr is referring to. While I may be guilty of spending a few paychecks here, my money has always been made legitimately. ;-)

Kenny Peterson
Kenny Peterson

Excellent article. Glad the new owners are taking a lesson from history and leaving this institution "as is". And even looking for a "new, old jukebox".

freealonzo
freealonzo

As an infant I lived on 24th and Garfield in the early/mid-60's as my father went to school.  His first "legal" drink in a bar after turning 21 was at the CC Tap.  He remembered it then as a "Cop Bar."  Alas in the late 60's we moved to the suburbs, otherwise who knows, I may have been hanging at the corner when during my teen years in the late 1970s.

Guy Harrison
Guy Harrison

This is brilliant! Clarence Campbell (the original "CC") was my great grandfather's brother. Great grandma Frieda was the original server and I believe Grandma Betty probably did a stint there. I tried to get hired a couple times, but was always a little afraid of what familial specters might linger there.

Mare Anderson
Mare Anderson

I miss their battered, deep-fried onion and green pepper rings and mushrooms.

fredflintstoned
fredflintstoned

My older brother lived across the street and went to rehab with Tom Arnold. Lol. Wish I was able to enjoy the 80's like that! Or not.

Dan Hoffman
Dan Hoffman

Wish I had a nickel for every dollar that I spent there...

 
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