Before it was Treehouse Records, the building housed the well-known and ridiculously named record joint Oar Folkjokeopus. It exists cater- corner on 26th and Lyndale from the CC Club, and the two share more than mere proximity. Oar Folk sold punk rock records from the infancy of the movement and onward. It was the sole dispensary of note. Lesser known cuts and the limited pressings of all the best local bands filled the racks. This led the shop to become a dominant force in the scene. Run by musicians, frequented by musicians, it wasn’t uncommon to find the guy who wrote the record you held in your hands browsing the racks beside you. If the CC Club was where artists went to celebrate bursting out of the Minneapolis scene, Oar Folk was where those same people met and nurtured it into a thing to be celebrated.
In the years since, the stoic corner store has experienced changes in management, ownership, and in 1984, a devastating fire that gutted the place. It got back up and running, and continued on until 2001 when it was replaced with Treehouse Records.
It’s windows half-covered in posters and bills, one can get only a glimpse of the inside before stepping in. Through the door and the air hits your nostrils, the smell of aged album jackets bringing warmth and nostalgia. Like old books, the worn edges and that particular scent of times passing fills spaces almost tangibly. It’s a welcoming thing. A blasted and frayed couch settles near the entrance, the kind that might eat you should you sit down and sink into it. Beyond are the mainstays, rows of LPs new and used, CDs and 45s. Prints of all sizes and sorts cover the walls, plenty of them old enough to be advertising releases of cassettes.
When you find yourself browsing the racks, tip your ear towards the folks behind the counter and their hangers-on. Many have been here since the early days of Oar Folk and during the formation and splitting up of many of the local groups that passed through. Overhearing banter between them, all seemingly familiar faces to one another, is a comforting experience. Opinions on re-releases, suggestions to someone seeking something new, talk of which musician has just been through the door; they are conversations that have probably been had a thousand times but they continue anyway, drifting on the air and adding new layers of history deep into the walls.