Twin Cities Jazz and Blues Scene Plays On
By James Riemermann/Courtesy of Explore Minnesota
It’s been half a century or more since jazz and blues have drawn big crowds or filled arenas. But for fans, this means getting to hear some of the greatest musicians alive from a front-row cocktail table, rather than the back of a crowded and noisy theater.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul area has a number of bars and clubs that cater to lovers of jazz, blues, R&B and related genres, from intimate jazz clubs with fine dining to lively blues bars with full dance floors.
At the top of the list is the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, where greats like McCoy Tyner, Ahmad Jamal and Larry Coryell have played many times. This December’s calendar features the Ramsey Lewis Quartet and The Bad Plus.
It’s been said the Dakota’s great food keeps the great musicians coming back—back in 1985, it was one of the first Minnesota restaurants focusing on “farm-to-table” fare.
Coming up behind the Dakota is its new sister club in downtown St. Paul, Vieux Carré. The speakeasy-inspired venue takes the place of the former Artists Quarter, serving a tasty New Orleans-style menu and an eclectic calendar of jazz, blues and more that wouldn’t be out of place in that great musical city
It’s impossible to list the many local bars and music halls that include a mix of blues and R&B in their eclectic schedules, but a few of the standouts are Wilebski’s Blues Saloon in Maplewood, Mineapolis’ Cedar Cultural Center with a distinctive blend of blues, jazz, folk and world music, and an handful of lively bars, coffeehouses and clubs along Cedar Ave. in Minneapolis’ West Bank neighborhood.
Here are some resources for finding jazz, blues and related music in the area: