Student Voice


July 12, 2024

Local bars bringing live music back to River Falls

October 18, 2012

Bookstores have entire aisles dedicated to self-help, or “self-improvement” as it is labeled at Barnes and Noble.

Every one of those books that line the shelves have the secret to healthier or happier living, or whatever result that the reader hopes to achieve by reading the book’s pages.

For a local musician, these books’ words are empty because the secret to life cannot be contained to words on a page, but instead to a rhythm of a drum or a melody running through his head.

Paul Mavasich decided at age 10 that he wanted to be a musician and ever since his first professional performance after graduating high school, that is all he’s ever been.

He was raised in a family with seven siblings and “there was always a lot of music around the house,” said Mavasich.

He started in his elementary school orchestra, but today he plays in all venues, including the international ones when he tours abroad.

Some of these include venues like bars, theaters, festivals and private events. He considers himself a musician who performs “music for hire.”

Mavasich enjoys performing at venues like Junior’s Bar and Grill, a River Falls bar on Main Street. He enjoys it because “You’re not told to stick to a specific genre - they let you do what you do.”

Junior’s Bar and Grill Owner Dustin Hanson thinks that local music is important because, “Unfortunately, nowadays the majority of the college students and people are accustomed to listening to the radio, listening to the iPod, going to the bars and restaurants and listening to the jukebox. We didn’t want to be that place. There are a group of college students who really appreciate live music.”

While there may not be a universal enjoyment of live music, there is an interest for some people because there are increasing numbers of places in River Falls that have been hosting live music. Junior’s Bar and Grill, Shooter’s Pub and Family Fresh Market are just a few of the local establishments that have been making the transition.

Hanson said that originally the transition was partly because of the enjoyment of live music, and partly because of the different crowd it attracts.

Junior’s Bar and Grill hosts a variety of genres performed by local bands and has made a name for itself in the music world because before the venue would search for the talent to perform, but now the talent is searching out the venue to perform.

Students also seem to have a positive reaction to this music transition, despite the fact that the stereotypical college student is not the main target of the venues.

“I like live music way better than radio music. And local better than radio music that is really publicized because it’s a lot more fun to know people and meet people who are starting who are in it for the money and don’t care anymore about music,” said UW-River Falls senior Katelyn Kusick.

Although she said she only hears live music at the bars once in a while, its something that she enjoys.

For other students, while they may have attended school all four years, they may still have strong ties back home.

Catherine Overby, also a senior, said that her brother is part of an Irish punk band and she can tell it is his passion and that “he’s really quite good at it.”

When she attends his performances, she says that she enjoys them immensely.

Local music is a niche market that is hard to find a spot in, but once a spot is found for people like Mavasich, happiness is found as well.

“They say if you love what you do, then you don’t work a day in your life. I don’t think I’ve worked a day in my life,” said Mavasich.