Local bands wanted
Stop me if you've heard this one before: Since Ralph's and Kirby's closed ... Musical locavores in Fargo-Moorhead can complete that sentence in their sleep - the gist being that stage space for original rock, metal, hip-hop and other noncover ban...
Stop me if you've heard this one before: Since Ralph's and Kirby's closed ...
Musical locavores in Fargo-Moorhead can complete that sentence in their sleep - the gist being that stage space for original rock, metal, hip-hop and other noncover bands is too slim since those two perpetually eulogized Moorhead bars closed their doors.
Lots of people complain about it. Jon Bracken wants to do something about it.
"Nobody's picking up the ball on the original music. The market is there. I know it's there," says Bracken, the 33-year-old co-owner of Rascals. "I raised my hand, basically, and said, 'I'll do it.' "
The January lineup for Rascals - the north Moorhead bar formerly known as Rockin' Pete's and before that as Jerry's - shows Bracken is putting his money where his hand is. The month has 15 days left, 10 of which will find local acts playing at Rascals, a variety stretching from bluegrass to hip-hop to screamo.
That's the business plan: Bring in area bands that write their own stuff, a few touring groups on the weekends, and hope live-music fans follow.
"I'm pretty much open to anybody," Bracken says of local bands. "Granted, the quality's not always there. But who am I to stand in the way?"
Area musicians, understandably, appreciate the open-stage philosophy. There are places hosting local originals - The Aquarium, Red Raven Espresso Parlor, All Star Bowl and a handful of other coffee shops. But a joint focusing on homegrown talent is important, says Addison Shark, guitarist and singer for local punk band Gumbi.
"That's going to play a key role in how successful our music scene is and how prolific it is," Shark says.
It's an admirable effort, one Bracken readily admits is a long shot to survive. There are so many cards stacked against it. For one, Rascals does not exactly occupy prime real estate, located just north of the Clay County Courthouse. Plus, the state smoking ban in Minnesota has been tough on Moorhead bars. The Broken Axe, a Moorhead music venue, folded just last month.
"It's tough. It's rough. It is," Bracken says.
It's not the first foray into the local music scene for Bracken. He helped manage Moorhead's now-defunct Eastgate Lounge a few years ago when it was doing shows.
A carpenter by trade, Bracken ended up starting Rascals after he renovated it as Rockin' Pete's, a short-lived enterprise that closed in July. Since it was already set up for shows, he opened Rascals with Lenny Carlson, the electrician who did the wiring for the renovation.
There have been some encouraging signs. This past weekend, the bar got its best crowd yet - well over 100 for a two-night stand by Chicago jam band 56 Hope Road.
It's still planted in build-the-base mode, but Bracken says he understands the venture will no doubt take awhile to take off. If it doesn't? No tears.
"It's a labor of love. I'm there 70 hours a week," Bracken says. "The music is what drives my wheels."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535
If you go
- What: Moorhead City Limits
- When: Tonight at 10
- Where: Rascals, 1500 11th St. N., Moorhead
- Info: No cover. (218) 287-1846 Local bands wanted Dave Roepke 20080117