Feelin’ Groovy in the Park

The heyday of local music in the Park.
Members of Jokers Wild from left, Lonnie Knight, Pete Huber and Denny Johnson, frequently performed at many metro-area venues during the late 1960s.

The fine young men in this photo are members of Jokers Wild, performing in October 1967.  But they’re not on the famed Hullabaloo television show, they’re at a teen club in the Skunk Hollow area of St. Louis Park. Hullabaloo was a popular national program that featured the latest recording stars, big-name hosts and those frenetic Hullabaloo dancers. The show was so hot that it issued franchises for people to open their own clubs around the country.  Barbara Jacoby of Wayzata obtained such a franchise (for $17,000) and approached the St. Louis Park City Council for a permit to operate the club in the former Cambridge Café at Edgewood. Michael Halleck remembers how he, his girlfriend Lonnie (now his wife) and Jacoby’s son Fred painted the interior purple. Lonnie eventually became a dancer, complete with white vinyl go-go boots. The club earned a  mention on-air by the Monkees when they took over KDWB for an afternoon in July 1967 (admission was 97 cents and an empty carton of Fresca), and in the Park High Echo newspaper.   This was the heyday of  local rock groups, the biggest being the Trashmen and the Castaways, not to mention Park’s own High Spirits.  The groups played at hundreds of venues around the cities, including our Roller Garden, Park High and the old community center on Lake Street.    Although many remember the local club as a popular place, by 1968 it was replaced by Arnie Sagarski’s Purple Cigar before falling off the radar.  Those days are gone but not forgotten, however. Lonnie Knight, pictured on the left, is still a formidable musician, and performs at the Bob Dylan tribute show here in Wolfe Park every summer. Denny Johnson, on the right, runs minniepaulmusic.com, a website documenting ’60s bands. And if you’re thinking those outfits were hot—they were! @Learn more about the Hullabaloo teen scene and Twin Cities rock ’n’ roll at jeanneandersen.net/musichighlights.html.  I welcome your stories!