By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Aug 29, 2000 at 10:38 AM

Seven years and hundreds of gigs after Jim Linneman opened his bar in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood, Jimbo (as his friends know him) is celebrating the tavern's anniversary with two special nights of live music.

This Friday, Linneman's is hosting a reunion show of The Mosleys. Sammy Llanas, of BoDeans fame, joins the group on Saturday.

"We wanted to do something special, so we got the Mosleys," says Jimbo. "They don't really exist anymore. One of the players lives in New York City, so we decided to bring him back for this special occasion and reunite The Mosleys."

Llanas, who is somewhat of a regular at Linneman's, will play Saturday night. "He's going to be the headliner on Saturday, but he's going on first at 10 p.m.," says Jimbo. "He'll play a long, 120 minute set and be followed by the Mosleys. Sam and I share a love for the Mosleys, so he wanted them to follow his set."

Linneman's reputation of bringing quality local music to Riverwest goes back to his days as organizer of the Locust Street Festival of Arts. Shortly thereafter, he made the plunge and bought the building that would eventually be his bar.

"It's been a long rough ride, but it's been a lot of fun," says Jimbo, who opened the bar after he left the journalism grind at AM 620 WTMJ radio. Linneman bought the building and spent the next seven months renovating the bar, formerly known as Heaven City, and gave it "the Old World character that it exhibits today."

"I tried to make to look like 1902 again," says Jimbo, a 15-year resident of the neighborhood. "I wanted to have it blend in with Riverwest." The bar serves beer from local Milwaukee's Lakefront Brewery, and the building is decorated to reflect an era long gone.

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Seven years ago, Jimbo says he didn't know a lot about the bar business, but "I did know a little about the music business. That's how it materialized that Linneman's became a live music venue."

A live music venue is a bit of an understatement. The bar hosts bands more than 25 nights a month, and Milwaukee staples like Sammy Llanas, Victor DeLorenzo and Sigmund Snopek are regular acts.

Says Jimbo, "We're very music friendly here. We support live music. We do a great deal to encourage people to exploit their creativity and work their way up. Some of the more veterans players recognize that. I'm very proud to say that we've had all three of the Violent Femmes on the same stage in one night. That was right when they were the headline band at Woodstock II."

But veterans aren't the only musicians who benefit from the live music atmosphere omnipresent at the bar. Younger, unsigned bands also get a chance to play. "We have a very popular acoustic open stage that takes place Wednesday nights here. It's my favorite night of the week, because it always encourage new people with new songs to test out their material in front of an audience," says Linneman.

Jimbo also allows bands to record their music directly to CD. For just $10, a band can record three songs. He says some of these CDs have been used for demo tapes around town.

Last year, Jimbo released a CD sampler, which was a request by the bands who frequent his establishment. "It's basically broke even. I still have several hundred in my basement," he says. The CD, which features local bands like Amy Rohan, Sarah Kozar, Freshwater Collins and more, is available at Exclusive Company, Atomic Records, at the bar and at his Web site (www.linnemans.com).

Linneman's Riverwest Inn is located at 1001 E. Locust St. For more information about this weekend's shows, call the bar at 414-263-9844 or visit their Web site at www.linnemans.com.

Andy is the founder and co-owner of OnMilwaukee.com. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.