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It’s all Shades of Blue

Andersons open blues bar at former Dodge Tap site

February 19, 2012
By HANS MADSEN, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

Naming a new bar isn't always easy.

For JR Anderson, who recently opened Shades of Blue with his wife, Michelle Anderson, inspiration struck during a conversation about shirts.

"We were talking about having shirts made for the bar," he said. "I said no matter what goes on the front pocket, I want shades of blue on the back because we're all just shades of blue."

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
JR Anderson, co-owner of Shades of Blue, 22 N. 12th St., in downtown Fort Dodge prepares to pour a draft beer for a customer recently. Anderson, who owns the bar with wife Michelle, said Shades of Blue will feature blues music exclusively, both live and on the sound system.

The eureka moment stuck.

At 22 N 12th St., Shades of Blue is in same building that housed the Dodger Tap. Anderson got the keys on Jan. 1 and opened on Jan 12.

Patrons will notice a few changes.

One is the music. Anderson is quick to point out that it's now a blues bar and that's what customers will find on the jukebox when there isn't a live band on the weekend.

The Andersons were inspired while attending the annual Lizard Creek Blues Society Blues Under the Trees.

"We thought a blues club would be something Fort Dodge could get behind," he said.

The blues are a uniting force that not only cheers up the listener, but also brings people of all ages, backgrounds and income levels together under the common bond of the music, he said.

Anderson is optimistic. The first live performer in the club - Erick Hovey - drew a sizable crowd.

"It's a testament to the fact that people have a real craving for good blues music," he said.

He has a plan to keep it that way.

"We're working with the Lizard Creek Blues Society to ensure we get good blues bands," he said. "We have a good working relationship with them."

The change in theme has been good for business.

"I've kept a lot of regulars," Anderson said. "We're also seeing more new customers."

Anderson is in a good position to know; he bartended there for almost four years.

"They get to know me, I get to know them," he said of his patrons. "It's like 'Cheers' - everybody knows your name."

In addition to the new music, he's also made a few changes in what's available at the bar, including imported beers and microbrews and several new brands of top-shelf liquors that his customers have requested.

In the future, Anderson would like to expand into the building to the south of his location to gain a bit more space. He is also working on adding a movable stage that can be set up for visiting bands.

"We'll start small," Anderson said. "Try not to get ahead of myself."

He also said that a dart league will be starting up shortly. Anderson is working on a website for the club and for those wishing to do a little connecting with their past. He's put in two retro arcade games that play 1980s games such as Pac-Man.

"It has all the big ones from the '80s," he said.

They are still a quarter to play.

Contact Hans Madsen at (515) 573-2141 or



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