Victor’s on Water pays tribute to musical history with vinyl series

(Sun Sailor file photo)
Victor’s on Water, at the corner of Water Street and Second Street, is now featuring a new listening event, Victor’s on Vinyl.

Michael Jackson’s ‘Off the Wall’ Aug. 24

By Paige Kieffer
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Victor’s on Water is bringing the sweet sound of music to Excelsior in their downstairs lounge, which opened last year.

“What the whole lower lounge at Victor’s is about is not only doing private events and dinners, but also bringing new forms of entrainment to Excelsior and trying to stimulate the business in Excelsior,” said Victor’s on Water owner Erik Paulson. “We’re trying all kinds of things that are new and exciting.”

No night is the same at 205 Water St. One night may feature a saxophone player playing sweet tunes for the town, or people may be tango dancing or some of the Twin Cities’ greatest musicians may play in the lounge. Victor’s offers a variety of entertainment opportunities for everyone.

Paulsen said, “We’re trying to establish a different types of entertainment throughout the week and on the weekend attract more people into the city.”

The latest entertainment event at Victor’s on Water is a vinyl listening series.

Paulsen, who previously worked in the entertainment industry for more than 40 years, was having dinner one evening with musician and record producer Bobby Z, whose most known as being the original drummer for Prince’s band, The Revolution.

Bobby Z began talking about listening lounges in Tokyo and Europe, that have emerged during the recent vinyl renaissance, where music fans can listen to records with the highest-quality sound. Paulson thought this would be an interesting thing to bring to Victor’s on Water.

“I started thinking about it and it was very cool,” he said. “Vinyl is coming back and is one of the few areas of the music industry that’s growing. It’s coming back because people like the purest sound. Not the cleanest sound, but the purest sound. They also really enjoy the artwork that goes along with it and the presentation of an album.”

He added, “I thought this was a great opportunity to take my previous life in the music industry and bring some of it into my new life, while using some of the friends and colleagues I have made over the past 40 years in the music industry.”

The Victor’s on Vinyl event features a presenter who spins classic albums, in vinyl form, while giving the history of the album and the music. Listeners also get the chance to ask questions and learn new things about the album that’s presented. The event follows an Italian-inspired dinner and dessert.

“People love a story and people love to feel involved,” said Paulson’s daughter and Victor’s Managing Partner Janel Olson. “The storytelling, which is a lost art, is brought back in this event.”

“We play the album and comment about specific humorous things, anecdotes, issues the group faces and more,” said Paulson. “It’s a very interesting process and new way of listening to music because you have some knowledge about what went into the music and what it actually means.”

Victor’s on Vinyl started in January, featuring Prince’s “Purple Rain” presented by Prince’s longtime associate, friend and band member Bobby Z. A couple of months later, the series featured the Rolling Stones “Let It Bleed” album, presented by author and music industry executive Rob Chapman. It was also a sell out.

The Rolling Stones event also honored the folklore Victor’s has with the band.

Victor’s on Water was previously the Bacon’s Drugstore property, which is infamous for Mick Jagger’s visit. As the story goes, Jagger ran into Excelsior local Mr. Jimmy Hutmaker, who complained to Jagger that he had ordered a Cherry Coke but received a regular Coca-Cola instead at Bacon’s Drugstore. Jagger quickly dismissed his complaint, saying “You can’t always get what you want.” This is reportedly the inspiration behind the Rolling Stones song of the same name.

In May, Victor’s on Vinyl played Bob Dylan “Blood On The Tracks” presented by Minnesota music legend, Kevin Odegard.

Odegard is the lead guitar player on many of the album’s featured tracks and author of the book “A Simple Twist of Fate: Bob Dylan and the making of Blood On The Tracks.”

Paulson said, “We’ve been sticking to music that has changed the course of direction for society, youth or caused a shift in thinking.”

The upcoming listening experience will celebrate Michael Jackson with his 1979 album “Off the Wall.”

“In 1975, the Jackson 5 was wooed away from Motown Records where their entire career had started from the time they were little kids,” Paulson said, explaining the history of the album. “A guy by the name of Ron Alexenburg who was a senior executive for Epic Records wanted to bring the Jackson 5 from Motown to Epic Records and his boss didn’t want to sign them and said it was a ‘kid act.’ Alexenburg said that he had strategy to get the Jackson 5 out of Motown Records and then talk Michael Jackson into leaving the group and going out on his own, and that’s what they did.”

Just before Michael’s 21st birthday, he teamed for the first time with producer Quincy Jones. The result was “Off The Wall,” his first solo album.

“This exuberant upbeat masterpiece shows Jackson’s passionate sensuality when collaborating with Jones,” Paulson said. “That album really established Michael Jackson as the future superstar he would become.”

“Off The Wall” was the first in their partnership and set the record for the most singles from an album to reach Billboard’s top 10.

Alexenburg will present the next in the series 8-10 p.m., Thursday Aug. 24, 205 Water St., Excelsior.

He will provide industry insight, humor and intimate stories.

For more information, visit victorsonwaterstreet.com or call 952-474-8879.

Follow Paige Kieffer on Facebook at facebook.com/mnsunsailor.