Tommy Stinson, bassist for the Replacements, talks about the CC Club

Categories: Music History, Q&A
photo by Bonnie Schiffman
The Replacements in 1989, with Tommy Stinson at front right.
Tommy Stinson learned to play bass at age 11, and just a year later started strumming with the musicians, including his brother Bob, who would make up the Replacements. For this week's cover story on the CC Club, Stinson -- who now juggles multiple projects, including solo albums like 2011's "One Man Mutiny," the recent "Songs for Slim" release, and a "day job" as the bassist with Guns N' Roses -- shared some of his memories about the days and nights he spent inside the bar.

For all the Stinson fans out there, here's the full conversation Gimme Noise had with the lifelong bassist about his years as a CC Club regular.

Gimme Noise: The French Meadow's owners are taking over the CC Club on May 1, so we figured it was a good time to look back.
Tommy Stinson: Yeah, what's the deal with that, they're going to turn it into another bakery?

See Also:
- COVER: Here Comes a Regular: An Oral History of the CC Club
- Contest: We want your best CC Club stories
- An oral history of the CC Club jukebox
- Slideshow: Tommy Stinson at First Avenue
- Tommy Stinson and Paul Westerberg plan studio time later this year

GN: They say they're going to keep it the same.
TS: Wow, huh. Well the only thing I can say about that is hopefully they can just clean it up a little bit and serve some good food.

GN: When did you first start hanging out there?
TS: When I was of legal drinking age. I got away just under the cusp when they changed the drinking age to 21. I had just been legal at 19 and it was too late for them to pull that back. So I guess, do the math, I'm 46. Actually, they were serving food. I might have been in there before. Yeah, there's a good chance I was in there before.

GN: What attracted you to that particular bar?
TS: At that time they still had 8-ball deluxe, the pinball machines that I loved, and I used to go in there, I think I would go in there with Peter, and the guys from Oar Folk and we would just have the 8-ball deluxe championships, and I would just be pounding on that thing. I don't think I ever really ate there. I think their food was always a bit dodgy, but that's just a recollection. I might be wrong about that. I wouldn't want to besmirch their name for the food.

And they always had a pretty good jukebox. I think what was cool about it if I recall is that they had a lot of local stuff as well as stuff that we all wanted to hear. I think there's a good amount of, if you're going to go bar music and you're going to go country tunes, I think they had the right kind of country tunes. Like less Travis Tritt and bullshit like that and more of Hank Williams and stuff like that. It seems to me they had a pretty wide jukebox of good stuff. I think Aerosmith is probably in that mix too; they seem to be in every jukebox that I've grown up around, you know. Yeah, I think that's part of it.

GN: Was it a place you knew about before you started hanging out there?
TS: I only hung out there because that's where everybody kind of gravitated from the time that we hooked up with Peter and stuff.

GN: Did you meet Peter there?
TS: Well, I think we did all our business there. Pretty much. It was either there or the Uptown. But we hooked up with him at Oar Folk, and at the time we hooked up with him he kind of signed the Replacements and all that to Twin/Tone, and then we spent countless hours in there talking, doing business, drinking and just general tomfoolery over there. We kind of lived there through the '80s. It was the place to go and meet and do the crap we were into.

GN: What was that?
TS: I can't really speak to that [laughs]. Oh, you know, just general goofing off. Wasting time, wasting precious time and brain cells.

The vibe was pretty easy to walk in there and get a drink, also pretty easy to get a free drink or one that you could pay later. I think several of us had running bar tabs that spanned a few weeks at a time at the height of it. It was kind of the home of all the rockers around there. Because it was across the street from Oar Folk, and ev-er-ybody, everyone that was in the Minneapolis scene back then went through Oar Folk or the CC Club. They were kind of one and the same in a way. That corner was -- if you went through there, the only way you wouldn't go to the CC or Oar Folk is if you weren't part of the scene.

GN: You were saying you kind of lived there. How much time do you think you spent there?
TS: Oh about a quarter of my life probably [laughs]. Pretty much. It wouldn't be so uncommon to go there in mid-afternoon and end up walking out at closing.

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