When it comes to the blues, the Twin Cities holds its own against bigger Midwest powerhouses like Chicago. Below are five great venues to check out the blues in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and the surrounding area.
Wilebski’s Blues Saloon
1638 Rice St.
The Twin Cities only completely blues-focused venue is located on a strangely urban stretch of Rice Street in St. Paul.
Founded in 1979, they feature shows on most weekends, in addition to their legendary “Greatest Jam on Earth” on Tuesday’s.
Although you’ll have to go to some of the venues listed below for the biggest names in the blues, the intimate, blues-y vibe of Wilebski’s can’t be beat.
The Dakota Jazz Club
1010 Nicollet Mall
It might be called the Dakota Jazz Club, but this swanky Minneapolis venue is also home to shows from rock, blues, and other (mostly Americana) genres.
If a big name in the blues in coming through town, you can reasonably guess that they’ll be playing at the Dakota. The somewhat extravagant, sit-down dinner style isn’t the grittiest backdrop for the blues, but it’s certainly comfortable. Fancy food and cocktails are never a bad thing.
For a calendar featuring specifically their blues shows, click here.
The Cedar Cultural Center
416 Cedar Avenue South
The Cedar is perhaps the most eclectic Minnesota music venue. Singer-songwriters, world music, Americana, and avant garde all find a home here.
The small-to-mid sized room is perfectly intimate for the blues, while giving you more room than a place like Wilbeski’s. It’s a good space for acoustic bluesmen like Chris Smither, who plays there often (when he isn’t at the Dakota, that is).
2901 27th Ave. South
As far as amount of blues shows a month goes, Schooner’s beats out Wilebski’s significantly, as they feature music almost every night, and most of it is blues oriented.
Under-appreciated local talent with blues-y names like 7th Street Shuffle, Barry and Tim’s Juke Joint, and Catfish Troy and the Electric Revival share the same stage as more established acts like Jack Knife and the Sharps and Davina and the Vagabond’s drummer Connor McCrae’s Red Apple Trio.
Looking to jam but can’t do Tuesday’s at Wilbeski’s? Schooner’s has you covered on Sundays and Thursdays.
2531 East 7th Avenue
North St. Paul
Easily the dive-iest venue on this list, Neumann’s – which is located on the old school, main street style main drag of North Saint Paul – is Minnesota’s oldest bar. It’s 130-year history is littered with fun surprises, including its time as a speakeasy during Prohibition and its most distinctive characteristic: a frog pond near the front door.
Known as a haven for bikers, Neumann’s still has a friendly atmosphere. Shows occur regularly on Friday and Saturday nights. The majority of acts that play there are local, independent blues bands. Many are led by middle-aged “weekend warriors” who have the passion of musicians who play purely for the fun and of it.