For a variety of reasons I ended up at two local institutions last weekend. Palmer’s on the West Bank and Big V’s on University in St. Paul ( I really need to make sure I get tickets to shows that First Avenue puts on at the Turf Club). I think most of us would consider them dive bars but it gave me some thought to what an actual dive bar is and how the music scene it can help define it. I think if I sat down with many of you we could put together quite a list of our favorites in the area but they all have some of the same characteristics: (1) Interesting locals to look at when the show does not draw your attention; (2) a limited selection of food-preferably just bar pizza made in those magic ovens and possibly some pickled goods; (3) a local beer selection-Big V’s has a great special on Hamm’s (4) interesting stage layouts-especially at Palmer’s where one band stands at the far triangle corner of the building and the second band was playing next to the mens room (I had to watch out for the bassist as I waited to use the bathroom).
Some times the music doesn’t matter its just hanging with locals who share the same tastes in beer, music or conversation. At Palmer’s we ended up with a great group of musical artists including members of Pert of Sandstone who we spent a lot of time talking about suggestions on places to stay in Winona for the Midwest Music Festival. I did discover a band over the weekend that I am checking out this week; Machine 22, but the rest of it was pretty forgettable musically.
Let’s not forget these great venues on those off nights where we might not get into the show we had planned, it’s a great way to explore our area and check out the local favor. Every once in a while you might even get a pleasant surprise.