I recently decided that it would be fun to travel all over Wisconsin and find small out of the way places where one can find good, really good music in small intimate settings. And so that is what I am going to do over the next 12 months. We have all visited large venues to see big name performers–Elton John, Eric Clapton, Carol King and James Taylor–or my latest bucket list performer… Cher in Las Vegas. But what about the small bars in the small towns where you can sit next to the performer or join in on the songs either vocally or instrumentally? How about the places where music becomes less a passive experience and more an active one?
This idea came to me as I sat at the Pavilion in Hayward Wisconsin. The Pavilion is a gift store and wine cave owned by Molly Otis of Molly and the Hay Makers fame. The shop is combined with the Fiddlehead Restaurant (a small set of tables in the back on two floors) that serves food only on the weekends. The restaurant is owned by Lisa and Jane, who own two restaurants in Minneapolis. Lisa cooks and Jane, a visual artist, serves as well as provides an amazing array of paintings. When one is luckiest, a Friday or Saturday evening combines the talents of all of these women–great food, great atmosphere and amazing music by Molly and the Danger Band. This past Saturday, she was joined by a band regular, Randy Wydra, on the electric bass and another Randy (last name unknown to me) on guitar. Guitar Randy hails from Minoqua. He is not a regular band member. He happened to be in the area celebrating his 34th wedding anniversary when he decided to sit in with the band for a couple of numbers. At one point other customers joined in heartily as vocal backup and the evening was complete.
This is definitely a spot to visit if you are ever in the area and you are interested in winning a trifecta–good music, good food, and good atmosphere. Life doesn’t get much better than that. Keep checking in as I scour the state for more great finds.
— Dayle Quigley