July 27, 1984
It’s cool down at the Warehouse
By Bob Ashenmacher, News-Tribune staff writer
The surprise hit of this year’s Grandma’s Marathon weekend was the Warehouse.
Locals among the multitudes at Canal Park were surprised to hear live music pulsing from the big brick garage at 408 S. First Ave. E. It looked less like a nightclub than like the 67-year-old former ice house it is.
But some 500 people crammed in to hear reggae-calypso kings Shangoya the night of race day. The funky brick-and-ventilator look was a perfect setting. Long beerhall-style tables imparted a vaguely Germanic feel, as if one was catching the Beatles at the Star Club in Hamburg. Two huge freight doors were opened to let cool breezes in and attract onlookers, who were kept out by snow fencing. There was an exciting street dance feel.
Co-owner Butch Curran has decided to try offering live music on a regular basis. He had local blues purveyors The Wingtips last Friday night and Twin Cities rockers the Flamin’ Oh’s on Saturday. The Oh’s drew 300, even with a $3 cover charge and lots of free music outside at the Fog Fest.
Tonight it’s the Wingtips again, with Shangoya back on Saturday.
“We’ll try it at least through summer and fall,” Curran said. He plans to use more local bands when UMD resumes classes. The music area is adjacent to the Warehouse Bar, which is nearly three years old. Curran may give the new area its own name soon and is considering The Terminal. Entrance will still be through the Warehouse, he said.
Local club owners have been getting away from live music with depressing regularity the last couple of years. So why did Curran and his mostly silent partner Dick Hicks get into it?
“I saw some statistics the Marine Museum had on the number of people who come down into this area in the summer,” Curran said. “And I had the space. All I was using it for was storage.”
Curran brought in Charlie Sobczak, a local music promoter formerly with the Norshor Theater, to choose which acts to offer.
“I initially said, ‘Let’s try something outdoors,’ ” Sobczak said. “Butch said, ‘I know June too well.’ ”
The hall is a cavern-like 106 feet long and 45 feet wide, with a 23-foot-high ceiling. The walls still are dotted with a few chunks of the 5-inch-thick cork that used to insulate the ice blocks against summer heat. Large elevated areas on either end would make fine balconies. There’s plenty of room for a stage, two bars and a dressing room, should Curran’s plans go that far.
“We’re trying to decide now how much we should do,” he said. “Some people have told us that the crudeness of it is good.”
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I don’t have any more information about the Warehouse Bar, other than I know a lot of people remember it. Do you know when it closed? Share your memories by posting a comment.