I’ve been busy submitting Jay’s Longhorn to film festivals around the country and in Europe. So far, the film screened in April at the Highway 61 Film Festival in Minnesota, has been chosen as a finalist at the Northeast Mountain Film Festival in Georgia — where it will screen on June 15 — and has been selected to the Las Vegas International Film Festival.
Before First Avenue and 7th St. Entry, there was Jay’s Longhorn — the first club that welcomed punk rock/new wave/alternative rock bands in Minneapolis. “I definitely think that the Longhorn set the stage for everything that happened after it,” said Bob Mould, Hüsker Dü and Sugar.
Smart Alex — a 70s powerpop band from St. Paul, MN — had regular gigs at Jay’s Longhorn (and Duffy’s) and in 1979 put out the 45 Chitter Chat / Tonight. Led by Mike Nilles and Pat Olberding, Smart Alex headlined Longhorn gigs that included Hüsker Dü and later the Replacements as opening bands.
Smart Alex re-united on May 22, 2015 at the Turf Club, performing one of their hits from 1979, “Tonight,” included here.
See them February 9 at the Parkway Theater as part of the Jay’s Longhorn Reunion Concert!
—Mark Engebretson, Producer and Director
I’m proud to announce two upcoming events: Jay’s Longhorn Reunion Concert on Feb. 9 and the Jay’s Longhorn film premiere on March 31 — both events at the Parkway Theater in South Minneapolis. The Feb. 9 reunion concert will feature six great bands who played at Jay’s Longhorn in the late 1970s: Smart Alex, Yipes!, The Hypstrz, Flamingo, The Suicide Commandos, and Curtiss A and Jerks of Fate.
Thanks to everyone who supports this labor of love that I call “Jay’s Longhorn: A Documentary.” After nearly a year of dormancy, the project is back in editing with a goal of completing a final edit by the end of December. There will be next steps, of course, and some twists and turns that I haven’t encountered before. But my goal is for a spring 2019 release date. So, please stay tuned for more information.
Dave Ahl of the “Sub-Commandos” sings “She” by the Monkees at the Jay’s Longhorn Reunion at First Avenue on May 16, 2015.
The first time I sang onstage was with the Hypstrz on Halloween night, October 31, 1977, at the Burnsville Bowl. I was dressed as “Dr. X,” a masked professional wrestler who I grew up loving and hating, as did my friends in the Hypstrz, Billy and Ernie Batson.
Yipes! was a rock/power pop combo from Milwaukee, Wisconsin that used to play 3- or 4-night stands at Jay’s Longhorn during the early days of the club. I loved them! They did cool, rather obscure covers and they wrote wonderfully poppy originals — my favorites being “Out in California,” “Hangin’ Around,” and “East Side Kids.”
Flamingo opened Jay’s Longhorn on June 1, 1977. Already veterans, the band started as Prodigy and performed at venues across Minnesota, including the Blitz Bar, which was located across the street from Jay’s Longhorn. “We used to play together in a band called Prodigy and even back then, before Flamingo, we were doing original stuff,” said Robert Wilkinson. “This scene was ready for something new to happen and when everything exploded like out in New York … it all coincided here, too.”