Oar folk -Friday Flashback (1985)
2004-03-26 @ 10:54 a.m.
photo credit Brady Hegberg on 7/5/00
Oar folkjokeopus was where my life began in many ways. It was a record store in Mpls at the corner of 26th and Lyndale, across the street from the CC Club.
I started going there with legalbeagle in 1984 I think. I can’t remember what the first record I bought there was, but I do know that local music opened itself up to me there. In a sense it made me look at all the good music I already knew differently too, somehow. We went there a lot because the beagle always knew the coolest places because her brothers -all local musicians, naturally knew the coolest places. Oar folk had all the Bruce Springsteen singles and import 45s (so important for the B-sides to me) and so we went. We were, after all, both working women who weren’t interested in spending our money on anything except records. At 16 I did not care about clothes at all. T-shirts and jeans. I hadn’t figured out yet that most musicians don’t date girls that dress like them. I wasn’t really trying to date any musicians either so it didn’t matter.
The guys who worked at Oarfolk were the ultimate hipster geeks. 15 years before the term was coined Jim Peterson walked and breathed and suggested albums to me while saying as little as possible and pushing his glasses up his nose. Terry Katzman looked like a shorter, more awkward Elvis Costello. Mitch Griffin the drummer for Boiled in Lead would have us baby-sit and then pay us in records. Mike Lehecka, a kid who we could never quite figure out, although he was our pal for years.
Peter Jesperson would still be behind the counter at Oarfolk if he wasn’t on tour with the Replacements and he was something else. He didn’t look like much. He was short and had long hair in a outdated way, and his body wasn’t anything to really notice. My first reaction to him was “that guy manages the Replacements?” but if you talked to him about music, he got really interesting. He could generate gallons of love and enthusiasm that would just pour out talking about the music he liked and it was really infectious. One Sunday afternoon he was playing an Elvis song (was it “One Night”, beagle?) and he morphed into something else entirely. It was like before then, I knew what the idea of sexy was, but I don’t know that I really “got” it before Peter Jesperson that day.
There was no fawning worship or anything, because I usually felt like a student or acolyte back then- I couldn’t possibly know enough to talk to these guys about music other than for leads on what to listen to next. The favorites list at Oar folk was gold back then too.
New Day Rising- Husker Du, Project Mersh –the Minutemen…On my 17th birthday, I told my mom and dad to “just go into Oar folk and buy whatever Jim says is good.” Among other things I got Everything Falls Apart used for $2 because of Jim putting it aside for me.
One summer night we hung out until closing at 9, and decided we would offer Bob Stinson a ride. (bless the bravery of 16) “I have an open beer…” we shrugged. “I’m not wearing shoes…” and beagle laughed and said “I’m not either, and I’m driving!” Later, I asked Bob Stinson to my prom after the show at First Ave the day after the Replacements played on SNL in 1986. He was on tour, and I was really just asking, but he did say yes.
Dave Ayers was working at Oar folk then too, and there was nothing geeky about him. (later we found out he too, was a secret geek, but we were dazzled by his outer perfection initially) Later he went on to push Made to Be Broken into my hands (he was Soul Asylum’s manager) saying “Buy it and if you don’t like it after you listen to it 10 times, I’ll give you your money back. Write me a review. In fact, if you write me a review after listening to this once, and then ten times- and you still don’t like the record -Not only will I give you your money back, but I will buy you a milkshake.” My face is hot just thinking about that conversation even years later, when Dave Ayers has become just a lost acquaintance to me, a forgotten myth.
Made to Be Broken came out after Oar folk burned down though. There was a huge fire in October of 1985 that gutted the building. We cried when we heard that the records all snapped when the heat caused the shrink wrap to really shrink. All the snow globes collected behind the counter melted. After that happened, the counter guys all defected and a store called Garage d’OR records opened across the street from Twin/Tone on 26th and Nicollet. They had a Christmas Party grand-opening (scroll down) where I got to see Dave Pirner do an acoustic version of “Never Really Been” while standing next to Bob Mould who nicely encouraged me to stand on the window ledge so I could share his vantage point (he was that tall).
There isn’t an Oar folkjokeopus anymore. It’s Treehouse Records now, because Mark Treehaus was the manager when Oar folk re-opened and he bought it. There isn’t a Garage d’OR record store anymore either. But when I was a senior in high school, and I was met with the decision to either move to Colorado with my family, or stay with my friend’s family to finish my senior year in Mpls, that was part of the climate in Mpls that I was unable to give up for the balmier temperatures of Colorado…