Local Culture Thoughts

The May 2004 Issue of Volume One Was 20 Years Ago. Feel Old Yet?

let’s throw it back to the 2004 scene featuring venues, businesses, artists, and happenings of the time

McKenna Scherer |

20 years ago today – May 15, 2004 – Eau Claire looked a whole lot different than it does today, and not just downtown or in terms of commercial development (although, yeah, it’s basically a whole new landscape today). The threads of the local culture – the events and venues and local businesses and artists of the time – were also quite different. I mean, I was 4 years old in 2004, so I was probably face planting in a sandbox somewhere and couldn’t tell you what was happening around town. But thanks to the McIntyre Library’s digital collections and archive of Volume One, I found the May 2004 issue of our magazine online.

In that issue (Which was 20 years ago! Really need to nail that in. Time is a fickle thing!) you’ll see many things in the calendar that stir nostalgia because they aren’t around anymore: venues like House of Rock, Fanny Hill Dinner Theatre, and Klassix Restaurant & Lounge; restaurants and bars like Sweetwaters, Geckos Night Club, and Tailgates Sports Bar; and bands and performers like Amateur Love, Pipeball, Day Old Bread, and Drunk Drivers.

Events happening on May 15, 2004
Events happening on May 15, 2004

Then there are the people, places, and things that are still standing tall in 2024: venues and bars like Stones Throw, The Mousetrap, and Shenanigans; eateries and coffee shops like Sammy’s Pizza, Acoustic Café, and Racy D’Lene’s; and musicians who are still at it today, like Howard “Guitar” Luedtke, Jim Pullman, Peter Phippen, Bear Creek Band, and Drunk Drivers. (I bet you thought I was too young to know about Drunk Drivers, and that they still perform from time to time. Well, I am. My co-workers remember.)



Other things happening, per the May 2004 issue of Volume One, included the 30th anniversary reunion of NOTA, UW-Eau Claire’s student-run arts publication, which is still going strong today; Menomonie's Food for the Soul Art Walk, which happened on the third Thursday of each month from May until September; The Day After Tomorrow, Troy, Ella Enchanted, The Girl Next Door, Hellboy, Mean Girls, Man On Fire, Leon: The Professional, Kill Bill: Volume 2, and Shrek 2, among others, were playing at local cinemas (which then included Oakwood Mall 12, London Square Cinema Six, Cameo Budget Theatre, and UWEC Davies Theatre). I mean, WOW, y’all were really living with a crazy lineup of movies – I would pay genuine American dollars to see Shrek 2 for the first time again, and on the big screen. (Imagine this scene with theater-quality speakers.)

Working at V1, I frequently hear about ye olden days of Eau Claire and the local arts scene, but it’s pretty wild to see the physical proof of it all through advertisements of bygone or still-surviving businesses, articles about bands that were then new on the scene, creative writing pieces, and the events calendar.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a punch in the gut of nostalgia, I suggest diving into the McIntyre Library’s Volume One digital archive.