Mood Swings CD
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Changing Moods

Another new collection of classic '80s/'90s alt-rock, which also happens to have Christian Fritz's involvement: The Mood Swings enlisted him and four other DJs to remix five of the six new songs on their second album for Susstones Records, "No Limit." Did you get all that? Added up, the disc -- which the band will promote tonight at the Hexagon -- is essentially one EP with a remix EP of those same songs tacked on the end.

As with a lot of other local indie-rockers who have gone through the techno-wannabe blender (see: Bob Mould, Low), the dance beats and digi-blips on the remixes sound forced and just plain awkward. But the original tunes stand up more than fine on their own. Lead Swingers Ashley Prenzlow and Sallie Watson -- with newish full-time drummer Michael Reiter (Mighty Mofos) -- took the tight, spunky harmonies from their first album and added more tight, spunky, dueling guitar parts in nuggets like the Hole-styled opener "Simple Things" and the fun "Louie, Louie"-lifting romp "Want Need Love."

Reprinted from Chris Riemenschneider's article Star & Tribune 6/15/07

Putting the Hex back on the scene
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Reprinted from the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Chris Riemenschneider: Putting the Hex back on scene

Some bars get cooler with age, and some simply get older and crustier. The Hexagon Bar in the Seward neighborhood of southeast Minneapolis has somehow accomplished both after 80 years in business.

The Hex -- which sits at the corner of 27th Av. S. and 26th St., across from Stardust Lanes -- has followed the examples of the Turf Club, Mayslack's and the Terminal Bar, becoming an old neighborhood bar that books younger music acts.

Thanks to a new stage and booking agent, Chris Dorn of the Beatifics, the place has suddenly become popular again. But one of the reasons it seems so hip is that it really looks and feels like the same, old, divey neighborhood bar. The artwork is mostly cheap beer signs. And the main waitress, Rosie, reminds you of "your favorite aunt and a drill sergeant," as owner Bob Hupp affectionately described her.

"We hadn't seen a lot of changes for quite a while, so it seemed like it was time to make some," said Hupp, whose family has run the Hexagon for three generations.

Hupp's place has one of the oldest liquor licenses in town, obtained right after Prohibition in 1934. It's called the Hexagon because of the shape of the old bar, which was replaced in the '80s.

To get an idea of the old/new dichotomy at the Hex right now, you'd have to go back to Halloween, when Ol' Yeller played there dressed up as a cheesy '80s-era rock band complete with acid-washed jeans, pony tails and bad Tom Petty and Blue Öyster Cult songs. About half the crowd seemed to get the joke. The other half seemed excited to hear a band like the ones the Hexagon used to have.

"There are two sides to the bar, literally and figuratively," said Dorn, who started booking this summer after a successful 1966-vintage "hoot" night in May.

The Hex sits on a corner that has been a haven, off and on, for local music. In addition to the Hex's minor music history -- including swing-style combos in the '40s and '50s -- it's where Duffy's (later Norma Jean's), Mr. Nib's and other clubs stood in the '70s and '80s. The Hex is all that's left.

Under Dorn's musical direction, the place is quickly becoming Minneapolis' answer to the Turf Club. Tonight's show is by the Neil Young-loving garage bands Kruddler and Genius Jr. Next weekend's gigs include Spaghetti Western and the Deaths on Dec. 2 and regulars Big Surf on Dec. 3. The next big hoot night is an A&M Records tribute on Dec. 10, featuring the likes of the Autumn Leaves, Astronaut Wife, Basement Apartment and Jan.

A sure sign of the Hexagon Bar's newly hip status: DJ Jake Rudh permanently moved his weekly Transmission shows there from the Imperial Room on Wednesday. Contrast Rudh's cool blend of post-punk and electronic tracks with the Hexagon's Sunday shows by the Country Doctors, an old-timey country jam led by Trailer Trash's Dan Gaarder for about the past eight years.

As with the Country Doctors shows, Hupp and Dorn know there are some things about the Hex not to be updated.

"I asked some of my younger, hipper friends how we could improve the place," Dorn said. "Most of them said, "Don't change a thing.' "

Best Venue 2005
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Article reprinted from City Pages, Best of Edition 2005 (April 27, 2005)

Best Concert Venue

The Hexagon Bar

2600 27th Avenue South




Long a hidden Clubhouse for down-and-out boozehounds, Thin Lizzy cover bands, and country western hobbyists, this little saloon ain"t just for trucks anymore. We've got Chris Dorn, frontman for sporadically active popsters the Beatifics, to thank for the transmutation. Last September, Dorn took over booking duties for the hex's modest stage, and he immediately opened the bar's doors to the bright, sunshiney world of local music - indie rock and pop, to be more precise, with a smattering of the Americana and bluesy stuff that befits the place's proudly lingering dusty gin-joint vibe. As the bar's calandar began to fill up, so too did the barstools, and the hex quickly became the Seward hotspot. "I like to favor bands from the neighborhood," Dorn says, "because live local music is as much a social activity as it is an an exercise in artistic fulfillment." True enough. Perhaps that's why there's a wall separating the old bar, with its long in the tooth regulars, from the younger throngs crowding around the stage or, during DJ Jake Rudh's Wednesday night "transmission" sets, dancing around the tables. If this keeps up, the Hex just might have to make more room for all the incoming hipsters. The Dodecahedron Bar, anyone?

Michael Yonkers at the Hex
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Experimental legend kicks up sand at Surf Night

In Da Club: Michael Yonkers at the Hexagon Bar

Image by Kathy Easthagen

by Christina Schmitt
January 11, 2006

Michael Yonkers was once a surf rocker. This is something he wanted the audience to know last Saturday at the Hexagon Bar's "Surf Night," so he told them about his old '60s band, the Vectors. Good strategy, since many of the baby boomers who came to check out the opening band Big Surf didn't know what to think when Yonkers finally brought out his guitar mutation. "Think about it/Forget about it," he belted out, obliquely criticizing the Bush administration, and playing riffs lost in intense doses of noise, reverb, and delay. It wasn't surf night anymore.

A tight band of fans stacked alongside the stage knew exactly what Yonkers was about. Some simply respect the idea of him: An outsider who stayed true to his art, Yonkers was almost signed to a major label in the '60s and enjoyed a second coming in the early millennium, with a CD released by indie giant Sub Pop. Others were there for the spectacle of watching a strange guy with strange effects play a guitar butchered to a small rectangle and neck, all swaddled in duct tape. And still others wished he had a full band, which he does sometimes, to give the music some attack.

A couple of artsy young women in front were simply into the sex appeal of a rocker who knows what he's doing. One girl, late 20s, gazed up at Yonkers, early 50s. She was worried about his back because, she explained, he had once hurt himself and has never fully recovered. And then she went back to dancing, singing along with the songs that she knew, which was most of the set.

Pert Near Sandstone at the Hex
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Pert' Near Sandstone at the Hexagon Bar

Image by Sean Smuda

by Mark Desrosiers
March 22, 2006

Traditionally, March 18 is a night when bars are empty and hungover moans echo through our fair metropolis. Not so Saturday at the Hexagon Bar, which was standing-room-only with bouncy fans of two local hillbilly bands.

Pert' Near Sandstone--all fiddle and banjo and clenched-jaw vocals projected into a central mic--got the dance party started with a variety of new-timey string tunes, including a bitchy version of "Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss," and a jingle instructing patrons which bar they should be ordering drinks from.

The Como Avenue Jug Band were missing their regular jug player, but grizzled and smiling replacement Taylor Carik--who first took up the jug only 24 hours before--was an excellent substitute (at least visually--his jugs didn't seem to be miked). Sweat-soaked tap dancer Becky Olson was a joy to behold (inspiring several blindingly obvious "jugs" quips in the crowd), and it was difficult to take your eyes off singer Ken Tyborski's circa-1978 moustache. But the real star of this soused 12-member outfit was spoons player Matt Simmons, who wielded his utensils with vein-pulsing intensity, frequently darting up to shout an obscene stanza or drunken rant. The mic got covered with every member's spit as they passed their secret flask and conjured expansive sing-alongs about hermaphrodites, vacations, and prescription medications. At set's end the hillbilly quickstepping crowd witnessed an a cappella (with jug) death sentence: "I got a noose around my neck and it feels strange." Were they saying that cigarettes and whiskey and wild, wild women will march us all to the gallows? In that case, I regret that I have but one life to lose for my favorite local jug band.

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