For years, the Uptown Bar was one of the most reliable small clubs for hearing live music in Minneapolis. During my time here, I saw memorable shows at the Uptown by the Flaming Lips, Babes in Toyland, Tommy Stinson, and the Jawhawks, whom I saw, alongside Paul Jeannotte and my friends from City Pages, on the last night before moving back to Oklahoma.
Meanwhile, just a mile up Lyndale, Mortimer’s was a favorite watering hole for my buddy Leon Hammer and me. It was a neighborhood joint, stocked with foosball tables, a jukebox, and Old Milwaukee. It was perfect.
Gentrification hit the Uptown area years ago. Gone are most of the scrappy, locally owned places, including the Uptown Bar. In its place are Urban Outfitters and Apple Retail.
Thankfully, Mortimer’s has stepped up to fill the gap, turning the adjoining space into a live music venue last year. And they did so while maintaining the grimy aesthetic, with low ceilings, a cramped stage and concrete floors.
Last night Paul and I went to the debut-album release party by the local Americana band The Long Odds. A six-piece band comprised of several veterans of the scene, it’s easy to close your eyes and hear stalwarts like the Jayhawks, Golden Smog, and Farm Accident. For a night, anyway, Uptown seemed like Uptown again.