Plenty of people dream of opening a bar with their closest friends. Even more people dream of being successful full-time musicians. Few people actually make either dream become reality. Even fewer do both.
Welcome to the story of Eric Odness (bassist for Primitive Weapons), Rob Pope (bassist for Spoon), and Frank Bevan (former frontman for Freedom Fighters). The trio opened the Midwestern-themed Lake Street Bar in Brooklyn in 2013 along with Bobby Drake (drummer for The Hold Steady). And, if all goes well, the trio will be opening their second bar, Harold’s on Main, this December in Moorhead. Joining them is Sean Tillmann, better known as Har Mar Superstar.
Three years ago Pope was playing a show with Spoon at the Fargo Theater and texted Odness saying how great the town was, and how much fun they were having. “Then he said, ‘Let’s open a bar here!’” Odness recalls. When the two began to get serious about the idea about a year ago, Odness posted on Facebook: “Who wants to open a bar with me in Fargo/Moorhead?” The first two replies he got were from Preston Olson (an actor/musician/DJ/rapper and childhood friend of Odness) and Har Mar, whom Odness had met through the Minneapolis music scene 20-plus years ago. Another old friend, Tom Kemmer, a general contractor, also chimed in saying he wanted to build the place. And that was that. “I figured having one of my best friends since fifth grade and Har Mar fucking Superstar be a part of this wasn’t too shabby an idea,” he says.
Olson, Tillmann, and Kemmer all have equity in the bar; the other three will run day-to-day operations remotely with help of an onsite bar manager.
Harold’s will be located at 1330 Main Ave., a stone’s throw from the North Dakota border. Odness, who grew up in Moorhead, hopes Harold’s will take the place of Ralph’s Bar, which was shut down by the city years ago and was the kind of place where you’d always feel at home, Odness says. “Even if you didn’t live there anymore, you knew you could walk into Ralph’s and see friendly faces and the same great music was going to be in the jukebox.”
Harold’s is named after Odness’ grandfather, who gave him his first taste of beer and brandy as a kid. (“To clarify,” he explains, “it was more of a way to show me how gross it was and that I shouldn’t drink this stuff as opposed to being an irresponsible grandfather.”) Harold was also a beer delivery man for the Hamm’s distribution center, which back then was located down the street from Ralph’s.
The logo for the bar comes from Harold’s old Hamm’s work shirt—an old-school embroidered-cursive gem that would be the envy of thrifters everywhere. The vibe of the place will aim to be “a touch of class but not too fancy,” Odness says. “I want everyone to feel welcome here, but I think Moorhead needs a shot of ‘nice.’” He adds: “I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say we are going to have pink lighting.” (Which, to us, is more than enough of a reason to make the four-hour drive to Moorhead from the Cities.)
There will be craft beer, a full bar, and a few food options. Music will come in the form of “rad playlists” rather than live performances, and there are plans to host outdoor shows in the parking lot “when we aren’t knee-deep in snow,” Odness says.
He hopes Harold’s will help spruce up Moorhead’s nightlife. “The bar scene there is pretty sparse. […] Mostly they are old-man dive bars that have been around for decades,” he says, quickly adding: “I love every one of them! Karaoke at Vic’s is the best!” Odness is also excited about the location due to its proximity to Junkyard Brewing. “They make awesome beer and I think having them as neighbors will be a big plus,” he says, adding that he hopes the duo can bring more people to the area. “Moorhead City Hall is trying really hard to reinvent the town and breathe some new life into it. I hope our place will help push it to the next level.”
Even though asking Odness about the opening date of Harold’s made his “anxiety skyrocket,” he says they’re shooting for mid-December and have their sights set on for sure being up and running by Christmas, “so everyone who travels back home for the holidays will have a new home to come to.”