The Depot—a Short-Lived Club and Music Venue

More Concerts—or at least where I caught the tunes.

The Depot in Minneapolis once was a Greyhound Bus station, reincarnated as a club in early 1970. I’m unsure where the buses went, but a bar and a dance floor with live music replaced them. [Interestingly, a man who became a father-in-law two and a half-years later, worked at the place as the steam engineer before it’s renovation.] Joe Cocker opened the place in April (I didn’t see him). Many more stars followed during its two-year existence. Early in the Depot’s brief musical days, I caught Mitch Ryder there in May 1970. The memories of the set are dim, but I remember the hits included “Devil in a Blue Dress.” 

Fall became a time for music and dance, following the summer of lust and adventure with Jill. Much to my surprise, I recovered quickly from her abrupt sayonara in early October. The resilience of youth is a fantastic thing.

Tickets for the performances I saw there were cheap by today’s standards. Just $4.50 for Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Happily, “Call Any Vegetable” and “Duke of Prunes” were part of the Mothers’ 35-minute session. Quite an ensemble: George Duke, Aynsley Dunbar, and happily—Flo and Eddie! The last two were founders of the group known as the Turtles. They sang Bubblegum hits like “Happy Together.” Hard to imagine them pumping out the very different “Tell Me You Love Me” with Frank not much later.

Side note: I saw the 200 Motels movie soon after. The cast includes most of the group at the Depot—plus Theodore Bikel, Keith Moon, Ringo Starr, and more. I have the LP; delightful memories.

I heard one more group in November ‘70, Exuma, led by a Bahamian man professionally known as Tony McKay. Unknown to me before, but I liked the sound enough to buy an LP of theirs with “Obeah Man” and “Junkanoo” among the tunes played at the Depot. It sounded like voodoo stuff. A recent Wikipedia article on him and his group says no—a spiritual healing thing.

Meanwhile, I went to the Depot and hit the dance floor between the shows I paid to see. Platform shoes, elephant bells, and a polyester shirt covered by a pullover sleeveless sweater; that was me, then. One night, a fine young lady mirrored my every move on the dance floor. It was as if we had known each other in another lifetime. I don’t remember what she wore, but it fit the scene. The encounter ended with a one-night event. A result seldom repeated in my life.

I caught one more show at the club, March 1971, not long before its closure. A good one: Eric Burdon and War. Probably his last appearance with them. I didn’t spill any wine, but I liked the song. There were other bits by War mixed in, of course.

6 thoughts on “The Depot—a Short-Lived Club and Music Venue

    1. Thanks for visiting again, Susan.
      Yes, those were the days! More to post over the next few months, with the eclectic tastes from one year to the next. I got a Miles Davis LP (Someday My Prince Will Come) when I was 17–never saw him though).

    1. Yeah, me too. Wait until you get to a few of the rest–Pink Floyd in ’75, Shakti opening for Weather Report in ’76, Jethro Tull, Anita Baker, Tina Turner, Keiko Matsui, Maria Muldaur and more over the years! I’d like to catch up with my high school classmate Donald Fagen before he hangs up touring Steely Dan [last one was 2021; without Walter Becker, who died in 2017].

  1. I wonder how many of us had local clubs that we patronized in our early years. They seem to have left a mark on us. Thanks for sharing The Depot, John, and some music memories.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Diana. Those were the early days–and a great place while it lasted. Once we moved to the DC Metro area there were clubs and venues galore. More on those memories later.

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