Blues On Stage Logo

Take Another Little Piece of My Heart!
The Blue Moon in Kasota Closes
By Mark Halverson
It was too good to be true - especially in a small town like Kasota. Finally, reality caught up and southern Minnesota's premier road house - and only club that truly qualified as a blues venue - closed its doors with a small gathering of the core faithful the evening of October 1st.

The handwriting had been on the wall for some time. Crowds became sparser and sparser as the establishment battled blizzards, floods, general isolation, and finally several simultaneous different road construction projects that made access to Kasota this summer even more difficult. In the final analysis, though, it boiled down to lack of support from the area blues community. Not knowing a good thing when it was at hand. For a considerable time we had been hounding people during blues radio broadcasts to get out there and support the place, to little avail.

Even given the decline, I was a bit dismayed to find only about a dozen people on hand at about midnight on Saturday, September 26 when I threw good judgment aside and cycled out to check on things after a long day of partying. A good move in retrospect. Turned out to be my last visit with a "friend." I almost felt sick to see so few people - despite a respectable band that had not played the venue for a spell. Somewhat ironically, T.C. Blues News Editor/Publisher Kurt Koehler and Inside Straight can claim the dubious distinction of being the last band to play the Moon.

For almost six years the Moon had presented blues bands almost exclusively. Virtually all of the Twin Cities bands played there. Several Wisconsin bands that do not frequent the Twin Cities somehow did become regulars at the Moon. Journeyman national acts often appeared - sometimes playing on off dates that fit their "tour schedule" much more than what would have been sensible booking practices on the Moon's part.

The Blue Moon had a true "roadhouse" ambiance. Besides being almost in the middle of nowhere (excuse me, Kasota!), it was on a road not used for main stream travel - even regionally. The building was an ancient church - virtually windowless now. Not even a beer sign visible outside since one burnt out (or was removed) a couple years ago. A quaint and arcane interior. Bare wood floors, barn wood paneled walls, a mis-matched collection of furnishings - some more suitable to a living room than a tavern. A collection of taxidermy that was amusing - and perhaps a bit disgusting to some. A classic well-worn modest bar set salvaged from another area location familiar to many. Often decaying crepe paper and other decorations hanging from the ceiling still commemorating whatever past holiday or event prompted the last redecorating. An unusual collection of wall hangings - liquor advertisement and otherwise. While not actually dirty, the place always had a somewhat dingy character. Too hot and too smoky when there was a decent crowd. Small enough to always seem quite intimate. Not big enough to hold the type of crowds necessary to "pay the freight" even when they might have otherwise been drawn. Popcorn and peanuts usually available, and if you were a "regular" they would stock your favorite beverage for sure!

The place has always been a part of me. One side of my family is from Kasota. My father played basketball in the building when he was in high school in the '20's - after the building was converted to a sort of community center. My aunt and uncle lived across the street most of their lives. The "funeral lunches" for virtually everyone on that side of the family that hadn't moved far away were held there during its life as an American Legion Club - when it still served as something of a community center.

I grew up in the same town with the owners, Dan and Donna Stark and have known them my whole life. My father frequented a bar that was run by Donna's father practically forever. I was taken there by him from time to time for an Orange Crush while he had a beer or two after a hunting or fishing outing. A few parts of this bar wound up at the Moon, sort of bringing it full-circle for me in a way. I've had my own go at owning and trying to run a blues club in an (too) unlikely location, and could particularly share the pain and frustration I knew the Starks were experiencing in their endeavor.

What was best about the Moon and what will be most missed is the fact it was the only real meeting spot for area blues fans. Being the only area club with regular blues music might make this premise seem obvious. However, around here we're all very used to having to drive to the Twin Cities for most serious entertainment needs. No big deal (the reverse apparently is not true). The ambiance of the Moon and the fact there was a somewhat limited clientele (ultimately too limited) initiated, cultivated and maintained many friendships in a fashion not possible at most establishments that have less of a focus and a more transient customer base. Sort of the neighborhood blues club. On any particular night I might know most of the people there - or would get to know them before too long. Would wonder if something was wrong if Joyce and Val weren't there at some point during the evening.

Well, that is past. The owners seem to realize they have fought a nearly impossible battle and don't seem inclined to sink deeper - even if the immediate problems can be resolved. Perhaps to their credit in a somewhat skewed fashion of thinking, they say they really don't even want to be in the bar business if the music can't be part of it. Maybe there will be a few "farewell" events when things get sorted out a bit. Maybe somebody else will surface to carry the torch. The building/furnishings/license remain intact for now, so a phoenix is at least conceivable. I think however, that an era has passed for those of us in the Kasota area and you'll begin seeing some of us on your turf before long. Take heed! SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BLUES CLUB - or you too may become a blues refugee!!!!!

Visit The Blue Moon Web Page!

Mailbox E-mail Ray Stiles at:

Blues On Stage Table of Contents:
Home Page | Calendar | Spotlight | Features | Photo Gallery
Live Reviews | New Reviews | CD Reviews | New CD Releases | Blues Profiles
Blues Musicians | Blues Clubs | Blues Jams | Memorial | Blues Links
New Links | Website Updates | Website Description | eRICK's Blues Dates | Delta Snake

This page hosted by geo logo Get your own Free Home Page

Copyright 1998 by Ray M. Stiles. All rights reserved.