When people think of the Twin Cities, they think of winter, The Mall of America, Prince, and “The Minneapolis Sound.” Not necessarily in that order.
But just because our late Princely saint was born and raised in the 612 don’t mean that Saint Paul ain’t got rhythm, too.
Places, people, and things to get the party started -- or keep it moving -- as we lean into Jazz Fest Weekend, where Twin Citians come out en masse to shake their booties collectively in Mears Park.
It’s a beautiful thing.
Saint Paul lost an important cultural landmark when beloved, dimly lit, underground jazz club, Vieux Carre in the basement of the Hamm’s Building shuttered. But it’s back, baby, with a new name. There's just something about a dark, below ground, secret-feeling jazz club that no other space or vibe can replicate.
Enter this ultra-intimate space and forget about everything on the outside world for as long as the strings and the horns do their thing.
Upcoming shows include everything from the music of Bob Dylan to twangy Ameriana to good old fashioned vintage jazz.
Bringing in both national and local blues artists, Blues Saloon was wise to add a huge dance floor to do what you came here to do.
Open blues jam and no cover on Tuesdays. Simple bar fare like burgers and wings mean you can keep the brown liquor flowing -- the Blues’ best accompaniment.
Thought of more as a rocking, since 1950 institution, The Turf actually brings in a wide variety of acts-- I spent one unforgettable Halloween night here with New Orleans’ own Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
Head downstairs to The Clown Lounge for experimental jazz, wood paneling, well worn booths, clown paraphernalia, and taxidermy. A more eclectic music experience you won’t soon find.
Upstairs in the Historic Hamm Building (KJ’s Hideaway is in the same building, downstairs) Park Square is a more proper, but still reasonably intimate (350 seats) theater experience with eclectic performances like The Mysterious Old Listening Society, performed in the style of an old-time radio broadcast.
Good food and drink surrounds the space -- try Meritage for an oyster bar and true French Brasserie experience, or Afro Deli for fast casual and excellent pan-African cooking.
One of the prettiest, most classic rooms to drink and eat, this low whistle-inducing stunner is one of those “they don’t make them like they usta” gems.
All of this glamor makes it an exquisite venue for live jazz like the Blue Ox Jazz Trio, Appearing June 24-25. Try walleye anything or Swedish Meatballs for a taste of old school Minnesota.
Join this unique walking tour for little known facts and places haunted by jazz greats gone by -- you’ll also get some tips and tricks on where to find current stylings.
You’ll begin in the Hotel Celeste Bar, housed in a former convent. A cocktail is included in the $25 ticket price.
With an emphasis on community (and beer) Dual Citizen Brewery is a friendly, approachable space to take in some live music.
They donated a portion of every beer sold in April to support the Jazz Fest, so that fact alone makes it worthy of a visit, and a thanks.
Keep an eye on the calendar for music and other events.
“The Fitz” is Minnesota’s oldest standing theater, and is home to live radio performances by Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media.
Upcoming shows include the tapestry of Jazz, Soul, Hip-Hop, and Classical stylings of local songstress PaviElle French.
With a mission to provide free jazz shows for all ages and members of the community, watch for performances cropping up at local parks, bandshells, and rec centers like Dayton’s Bluff.
Open mics are open to all ages, 10 years and up.
Ever danced the night away in a cave? If these cavernous walls could talk -- Wabasha Street Cave has been home to a wide variety of cultural and performances over the decades, from proms to gangster tours.
If it's music you want, music you’ll get at weekly Thursday night swing dancing nights with rotating live bands. Lessons are available with the $10 cover.
The Ordway Theater abutting Rice Park offers a make-an-evening-out-of-it opportunity for eats, drinks, picturesque strolls, and music.
One of the Paul’s fanciest venues, a night at the Ordway always meant getting dressed for a seriously grownup night on the town.
Upcoming shows include Black Violin, combining classical and hip hop for a boundaries-busting sound, and the legendary Nachito Herrera and the Havana Jazz All Stars.
This East Side mainstay is all fun and no pretense. A diverse crowd enjoys sounds of all persuasions from funk to country to hip hop.
River City Jazz Orchestra, Century Jazz Big Band, and Dirty Shorts Brass Band is just a small sliver of what’s jazzy and upcoming.
Former Prince bandmate Jellybean Johnson plays here regularly.
One of my favorite venues in either city-- the Broodjes (small Dutch sammies) paired with Amsterdam frites (served with mayo!) are worth the trip alone, but all kinds of acts swing through here for raucous good times.
Better Mistakes “Brassish” Band is an upcoming show with the unique harmony of tuba paired with guitar and drum.
Go to this historically Black neighborhood to enjoy a full day of outdoor jazz, food, vendors, family activities and art. Presented by Black-owned and operated Golden Thyme Cafe, past events have included Nachito Herrera and local legend Walter Chancellor Junior. Keep an eye on their site for this year’s lineup. Make sure to stop into the cafe, too-- it’s a true neighborhood hub serving rotating soul food-ish specials, and of course, great coffee.