At a sparsely-attended house party on the 2700 block of Pleasant Avenue Thursday night, local resident Steve Nowak is standing between you and the rest of the room, subtly working up to his Replacements story. “Yeah, Minneapolis is full of musical history,” says Nowak, unprompted. “Especially in the 80’s. You familiar with a lot of those local 80’s bands?”
Speeding past your attempts to reply, Nowak continues. “Yeah, my uncle worked at First Ave for years, met a lot of the great ones. There’s this song, ‘Bastards of Young.’” As you realize this interaction is less a conversation and more a podcast, Nowak curls his lip into a half smile as he readies the payload. “Not a lot of people have heard that one these days. It’s by a band called The Replacements, and they’re, like, the best thing to come out of the Minneapolis music scene.”
Nowak takes a deep breath, indicating his intention to continue speaking without interruption. “A few years ago, I was visiting my uncle at First Ave, and out of nowhere, Paul comes up to us and just starts talking to him.” At this point, your face is vacant. Nowak interprets this is as curiosity. “Sorry, Paul as in Paul Westerberg, lead singer of The Replacements.”
“So Paul points at me, and says ‘Hey man, can you bring us some more sandwiches?’ and I was, like, blown away.” Nowak, enraptured by his own storytelling, fails to notice your eyes darting around the room looking for a familiar face or some other escape hatch. “So I was like ‘Yeah!’ and I brought some backstage. Tommy and Chris were there too. It was incredible.”
“I don’t want to say I’m friends with Paul and the guys, but….” You shake your beer, expressing your intent to leave and obtain a refill. Mercifully, Nowak accepts this pause in his verbal deluge. “Oh, okay. Well, I’ll be here,” he assures as you surge towards the kitchen.
At press time, after having found another conversation circle, you can hear Nowak elsewhere trying to steer a debate about sushi towards local music.