Summertime Day Trip – the Legendary Surf Ballroom
As Rochester residents (and rockers) await the results of of Monday's City Council meeting with regards to a newly proposed music venue in the old Armory Building, keep in mind that history is worth preserving. If they OK the project the artists will come, and so will the visitors!
In the meantime, I like to call this place the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame of the upper Midwest. If you aspire to learn more about Rock & Roll history, take a day trip to Clear Lake, IA and the Legendary Surf Ballroom, only a stones-throw south of Rochester, MN off I-35.
There is a reason many recording artists are hell-bent to play a show at this storied venue set in the picturesque, little north Iowa town. It's the History!
From Alice Cooper, to ZZ Top. Slash w/ Myles Kennedy & The Conspiritors have gigged here. So has Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts only a few shorts weeks before his death. Artists from different genre's & era's in music find the charm of this historical landmark a 'bucket-list' item for themselves. Billy Gibbons of ZZ-Top was so taken back by one of many popcorn machines used on-site that he ended up buying one from them for himself.
On my very 1st visit to 'The Surf' in Aug of 2003 there was some renovation in progress. I was en route to Minnesota for the very 1st time, moving from metro-Phoenix. A quick walk-through on a weekday morning during that construction period must have unearthed some embedded musical 'spirits'. As I was traversing one of the venue corridors looking at the walls lined with photo's. a chill came over me. The hairs on the back of my neck stood-up. Why? I have no clue!
Walking through their halls lined with signed black & white 8 x 10's of artists from the early days of Rock & Roll may not interest all music lovers, but with Rock & Roll, in my view it's always been about who came before, and how current-day performers have been influenced by those who preceded them.
If you ask John 5 , the guitarist for Marilyn Manson to list some of his influences you might be 'shocked' to know that Dick Dale, surf-guitar icon is on his list. The aforementioned Dale has a scheduled show upcoming August 4th. Plain and simply, it's all relevant to the current-day! Slash will tell you the same thing. I recall his on-stage homage that he shared during his performance at 'The Surf'.
Billy Gibbons, a noted rock historian gushed about it's charm amid his performance. 'Uncle' Ted Nugent was immersed in the Motown music scene back in his Amboy Dukes days. Chuck Berry once asked him to fill-in on bass guitar. Yes, the godfather of Rock & Roll guitar has played the hallowed halls of 'The Surf', too! I call that more than relevant! Lita Ford just played here this past Friday night.
You don't have to be a historian to enjoy this place. A modest $5.00 per head donation for a weekday walk-through and an hour or so spent is truly worth it's value in Rock & Roll Gold. They've now amounted so much memorabilia they now display some of it at an eatery & bar just north of their main parking lot. Only a stones-throw from Rochester and southeast Minnesota 85 minutes down I-35, The Surf Ballroom & Museum is officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Read The Surf’s HISTORY. Check it out sometime!
'Train Wreck' ~ Z-Rock Weekend - TSM Rochester, MN