Skip to main content

Jay Bee and The Routine at The Whiskey Junction

Whiskey Junction, mounted Police, Minneapolis
Whiskey Junction, mounted Police, Minneapolis

The Whiskey Junction, located on the West Bank just off Cedar Ave. and down the block from the Cabooze, specializes in Blues and straight up guitar Rock.  "The Junction" (as the large awning outside proclaims), is a great mid-size venue split into two equal halves by the bar in the middle.  When entering, the stage can be seen from the front door and a row of uniquely L-shaped booths (all facing the stage) line the left-side wall, giving the impression that if you've come to The Whiskey Junction, you've come to see a show.  Inexplicably lining the walls above the booths are guitars in cases, commissioned by every beer making company from Beck's to Budweiser, which however odd it is to see beer companies making guitars, only adds to the bar's feel of having a rocking, drinking good time.  Finally, there is the other half, visible through two large, knocked-out areas of wall behind the bar, the stage right section of The Whiskey Junction includes additional tables (no cool booths though) and two pool tables which always seem to be in use.

Though from outside The Whiskey Junction may appear as more of a biker bar like The Joint located just down the block, the actual atmosphere is very populist and welcoming.  The drink specials most week nights call for very tall mugs of the most common domestics (bud lite, miller lite, etc.) for only 3 dollars and half-price appetizers until 11.  Seeing as the music usually starts much earlier then the drink and food specials end, it's a great deal for those who need some extra fuel to get their groove on.  Tuesday night is no exception.

As mentioned earlier, scanning the calendar of The Whiskey Junction is to find night after night of Blues or Rock performances but Tuesday nights have recently been set aside for the soulful sounds of Jay Bee and The Routine, perhaps the best soul cover group currently working in Minneapolis.  Now featuring The Time's Jellybean Johnson on guitar, The Routine's drumming is exceptional, their bass player on-point and their Saxophone some of the best in the Twin Cities.  Add to that the keys, another guitar alongside  Jellybean, and the smooth voice of their singer, Jay Bee, the band succeeds at transporting it's listeners with each successful cover.  Starting out the night with some instrumentals and bringing Jay Bee up for Bill Whither's "Lovely Day" and Shuggie Otis' "Strawberry Letter #23" (made famous by The Brothers Johnson) it appeared that the band called Ken Valdez up to the stage to sing Bobby Caldwell's "What You Won't Do For Love".  Looking somewhat surprised, and donning a Minnesota winter coat, Ken nailed the song before exiting to enthusiastic applause.  Overall, the show went down smooth and warmed up the weary in the cold winter night.

Take this bar in with a group of close friends and your favorite domestic tap beer.  Highly recommended is Jay Bee and The Routine but if your in the mood for something more Rock or Blues in either direction check out their lineup.  Coming up soon is a Van Morrison tribute show, which is sure to please.