Memories of Lefty's: The bands, debates and Pub Theatre

11:43 AM, Apr. 4, 2013  |  Comments
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Readers share their favorite memories of Lefty's, one of Green Bay's top music venues in the late 1970s and into the 1980s.

A memorable night with Mojo

Mojo Nixon played there on a Monday night in 1987. This was before he got his little bit of notoriety from the song "Elvis Is Everywhere," so he was really an unknown quantity. Lefty's had the front of the stage area cleared for dancing, and tables in the back part of the room. Out of nowhere, Mojo Nixon comes out in a flannel shirt with a bullhorn and starts yelling at everyone to push all the tables right up to the stage, calling us all "peckerheads" and telling us to hurry up. So we're all totally scrunched together up front.

During the grand finale of what might be the best performance I've ever seen in my life, Mojo starts yelling for everybody to stand on their chairs. "GET UP! GET UP! GET UP!" I had a few beers in me, so I decided I'd go him one better and stand on my table instead of my chair. I stand for about a second, then lose my balance and come crashing down, flat on my back, on someone else's table. Drinks and glasses go flying everywhere, people are jumping up to avoid getting splashed and to catch falling stuff. It's bedlam.

Without missing a beat, Mojo looks down at me, as he continues playing, and yells, "I said GET UP! I didn't say nothin' 'bout FALLIN' DOWN, fool!" It was great.

- Rev. Norb

Doing the 'Wave' at Lefty's

The Duck Duck Goose was right across the street. Many nights each bar would have a band - a blues band at The Goose and a rock band at Lefty's. We'd go back and forth between each bar. Since the cover charge was so cheap, you could pay at each bar and then go back and forth and enjoy several bands. Lefty's, however, was the best.

During the '80s, I started a cable TV program called "Video Wave." It was hosted by Cookie Dominguez, and was one of the first locally produced video music programs in the country. Along with featuring music videos by acts like The Smiths, Talking Heads and Echo & The Bunnyman, "Video Wave'' also featured many local acts like Fun w/ Atoms and The Duanes (precursor to The Garys). Many of the weekly "Video Wave'' shows were shot at Lefty's, where we interviewed acts like the Violent Femmes, The KingBees, Fetchin' Bones, The Suburbs and The Wallets. Lefty's became the unofficial home of "Video Wave.''

- Greg De Tennis

The conversation was good, too

Aside from the music, the one thing that made the bar great was the people. The drinking age at the time was 18, so it was very much a college hangout. Students and professors both hung out at Lefty's - mainly art and theater majors but also business and political students. There was always great conversation to be found, and while people didn't always agree, there were rarely arguments. People respected and appreciated a differing viewpoint. Seeing a guy in a suit discussing politics or debating religion with a guy sporting a Mohawk wouldn't be unusual.

Another thing that drew me to Lefty's was a thing called Pub Theatre. Pub Theatre was just that, theater in the bar. There were pieces written for the space, as well as classic and avant-garde shows. That, to me, is what made the place so special - the fact that there was a steady intellectual undercurrent to most of what went on there, and that includes the music.

- Steve Stengel

Prime bar hopping territory

My personal highlights were, of course, Fun w/ Atoms, along with Paul Lent's band called Worlds. One band that sticks out was Pat McCurdy and The Men About Town. With Lefty's, Duck Duck Goose and The Speakeasy all within a block of each other, it made for some easy club hopping. When I drive by the old Lefty's, it is an empty feeling. We've had some great bars in Green Bay, but for me, Lefty's was the best.

- Mark Mellberg

Remember all the instruments?

Some of the bands that I saw at Lefty's included the Violent Femmes and Spooner, which was Butch Vig's band before he went on to produce Nirvana's "Nevermind" and form Garbage. I loved the atmosphere. It was dark, and there were old musical instruments hanging on the walls. When I drive down Main Street, I still look at that corner and remember the place.

- Tom Mann

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