For thirty years the Palace Theater, a 97-year old movie house in downtown St. Paul, remained empty—a silent ode to the laughs and applause that once chimed throughout the building. However, the theater is now the target of a $12 million project to attract more people to St. Paul and to expand the cultural scene. A music fan myself, I’m excited to attend a concert there someday. It will be a change from heading to Minneapolis for live music concerts, as having been named the second-best music scene in the U.S., Minneapolis has succeeded in establishing itself as a respectable and creative music town. There more than a few music venues in Minneapolis, but a visit to any of these will give you a good feel of our city’s distinct scene.
Photo by Todd Buchanan
1. First Avenue
The phrase “Minnesota music history” cannot be said without mentioning Prince and we are proud of that. Because of Prince’s musical legacy, we are also proud of the venues that are associated with him. The most popular and well known is First Avenue, where Prince recorded a live performance with portions used in Purple Rain. It was also the starting point for many Minnesota-native musicians like Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, Soul Asylum, Semisonic and Atmosphere (and it’s the venue of Doomtree’s annual Blowout event, which you know I’ll be going to).
2. Capri Theater
A venue not so well known, but can brag about being part of a momentous stage in Prince’s career is the Capri Theater. Built in 1927, it is the only one of 13 movie houses that remains in North Minneapolis and now hosts theater, dance, spoken word, community forums and more. We even named it the Best Jazz Venue. The 250-seat theater is where Prince began his international music career in January 1979 with his very first show.
3. Loring Pasta Bar
A venue not necessarily historic, but would ring with nostalgia if Bob Dylan walked by is the Loring Pasta Bar, a restaurant with live music every night and salsa and tango on the weekends. Before it was the Loring Pasta Bar it was Grey’s Drug Store, which Bob Dylan lived above while he attended the University of Minnesota.
4. The Cedar Cultural Center
Bob Dylan is folk. Prince is R&B. Soul Asylum is alternative. There isn’t just one genre of music that comes out of Minneapolis nor one kind of music that comes into Minneapolis. The Cedar Cultural Center is a non-profit performing arts organization that hosts local, national and international music. It was voted the Best World Music Venue in 2012 by the readers of About.com and is an essential venue that diversifies the music scene in Minneapolis.
5. Electric Fetus
A music store that also distinguishes Minneapolis’ music scene from the rest is Electric Fetus. Considered a counter-culturists store, it opened in 1968 and was where the hippies shopped. As the hippie culture faded, Electric Fetus continued to sell music that you will have a hard time finding anywhere else, and is where you will probably run into local budding musicians and maybe even catch a live performance.