Cover painting by Emmett Johns
At the Welcome Inn . . .
“Send me something great,” I said, and they did. “Something related to bars, saloons, pubs and watering holes, and their denizens and hosts,” I said, and it is.
I went on to say that I was not interested in glorifying or vilifying alcohol with this book; that I simply wanted to catch the feel and the smell and the sound of the bars. The social and the antisocial. The sweet spoonful and the dash of bitters.
The bar scene, as many of us knew it, has changed – is changing – will always be changing. This is probably a good thing in many ways, but there has been, in the bars of my time, an often wonderful coming together of a diversity of spirits (pun intended), a diversity of outlooks – true conversation – which I hope will never be lost.
This book opens, appropriately I think, with a song: a ramblin’, talkin’blues prelude of a song: a celebration by the Northwoods’ legendary Warren Nelson. After wending its way slowly down the bar, visiting with some of this country’s fine established and upcoming artists and authors, it concludes with a paragraph – a simple paragraph – lifted from a work in progress being written by my friend and mentor, Norbert Blei. I hope that this volume honors him in some small way, for he is certainly the impetus for much of my writing and he is the common thread that stitches together over half of the contributors presented here.
Drink it in, friend. Here’s lookin’ atcha! — Ralph Murre