Why do we go to concerts? The simple response is for the music.
A more comprehensive explanation, in my opinion, anyway, is to have the best time alongside other concertgoers, listening to the music we all love in a sort of conglomerate. Easy enough, right? Seems pretty straightforward, but it’s not always that easy to find the ideal and cozy music experience.
Many people underestimate the joy of small music venues. Sure, they don’t have big name artists like Taylor Swift or Beyoncé, but what a small venue lacks in famous artists, they gain in discovering something new. It’s the same energy, equal enjoyment, basically the same everything except ticket price.
Here is a guide to some small music venues in Southern Minnesota that you may not have considered going to for a lovely music experience:
Cannon River Winery – Cannon Falls
There’s no arguing that this place is beautiful and picturesque in every way. This historic winery plays host to many wine and art events on the weekends. These events are almost always accompanied by live musical entertainment as well. This isn’t a place where you’ll find a head-banging rock band, but you’ll find smooth jazz, melodic piano, and soothing acoustic stylings by various artists. This is the perfect venue to visit for a date night or a relaxing girls night. What’s better than listening to music that’s just about as smooth and delicate as the wine you can taste?
Ed’s (No Name) Bar – Winona
Self-proclaimed as “Winona’s Living Room,” Ed’s (No-Name) Bar certainly doesn’t fall short of making you feel at home. Beautiful art adorns the walls. Their beer and wine selections are a favorite of many, and a music lover of almost any genre can be satisfied here. You can hear anywhere from Indie-Rock jams to acoustic performances. They are always updating their Facebook and Website with upcoming events, local arts, and what’s new on tap.
Imminent Brewing and Tanzenwald Brewing – Northfield
As Northfield’s downtown brewery, Imminent is the place to go for people and dogs of all ages. Yes, I said dogs. The atmosphere here is charming. You’ll hear a wide array of musical talents. Alt-rock, Jazz, Acoustic, Singer/Songwriters are just a few of the genres you’ll experience to get your body moving, and the house brews flowing. Imminent is a place to have a private birthday party, family reunion, or join in on one of their scheduled events.
Just outside Northfield’s downtown lies Tanzenwald, which prides itself on “celebrating the art in everyday things.” Inside the rustic taproom, it celebrates the art of brewing, cooking, playing music and simple relationships within a community. The brewery, which also serves food, hosts a mix of musicians on a weekly basis and is also happy to hold parties and other events.
Marie’s Underground & Tap House – Red Wing
If you like food, beverages, and live music, Marie’s is the place for you. 60’s cover bands, Bluegrass/Americana, Rockin’ Sheriffs, and a couple of Red Wing’s own teachers are just a taste of what you’ll experience when you enter the Underground. They also play host to an open mic night every month with a free personal pizza to all performers. Does it get any better than that?
Mully’s on Madison – Mankato
Calling all country music fans! Pull on your cowboy boots and button up those flannels because I have got a treat for you. Mully’s is Mankato’s only verifiable country bar and venue. Featuring a different country act every weekend, you’ll never not be able to scratch your live country music itch here. You may even want to try your hand at becoming Country’s next rising star on their regular Karaoke Nights.
The What’s Up Lounge – Mankato
The What’s Up certainly won’t win any beauty pageants as far as aesthetics are concerned, but this place has been a principle venue in Minnesota since the 1900s. Punk, Rock, metal, hardcore, rap, experimental and the like is the primary draw of this venue. The What’s Up has played host to many local bands as well as internationally known ones. This place was even the venue where I attended my first concert: Motion City Soundtrack circa 2005. If you’re an emo kid (like me) head on down to Riverfront Drive, grab yourself a beer and start headbanging.
North Star Bar – Rochester
Live music every weekend and no cover charge? Say no more, the north star is the guiding light for all of your musical needs in Rochester. The North Star is one of the best places in Rochester to get your live music fix and get your groove on with the large dance floor. With an assortment of cover bands, local bands, and even local cover bands you’ll have more fun than you can handle. Rock, Alternative, Country and even some throwback Emo tunes are just a taste of what will spark your fancy. Their website and Facebook page have a schedule of each band scheduled to play.
Signature Bar and Grill – Faribault
Do you like getting jiggy with it to the sounds of Swing while enjoying a slice of the best pizza Faribault has to offer? Signature Bar and Grill is a place you may want to visit. You’ll also hear selections of Jazz, acoustic and good ole’ fashioned rock music cascading the atmosphere here. Signature is a good place to enjoy some delicious grub and catchy tunes for a night out with the boys, girls or family.
There are many, many other places across the region to kick back, relax and listen to some tunes, so use this list as a starting point, but check out your own backyard and beyond for some wonderful musical experiences.
By Emily Kahnke