With the arrival of spring and a steadily increasing number of vaccinated concertgoers out there, concerts are starting to return to Twin Cities venues. Yes, live music in front of live crowds. (Remember that?)
It won’t be quite the same, not yet anyway. Indoor shows will be held at reduced capacity and masks and other COVID-19 guidelines will be followed. Still, fans have a number of options to enjoy live music in the coming weeks.
Here’s a look at the major venues that are back up and running — or have shows on the way.
Crooners Supper Club
Of all the Twin Cities music venues, Crooners has probably hosted the most live concerts during the pandemic, both outdoors and, more recently, inside. On April 23, the venue is opening the Belvedere, a new outdoor club that will seat up to 150 guests. It will feature “tented table seating with choice views of Moore Lake, expanded patio flooring, a large custom-built stage and aesthetics reminiscent of an Italian outdoor music amphitheater,” according to a news release.
The Belvedere will offer full dinner and cocktail service and easy access to the Crooners building. It will serve as Crooners’ sole outdoor stage.
Jamecia Bennett is the first act booked to play the new stage (April 23-24). Other musicians set to perform include Joyann Parker (April 29-30), the New Standards (May 1-2), Storyhill (May 14 and 16), Marilyn Maye (May 20-23).
Crooners’ pair of indoor stages have live music booked most Thursdays through Sundays. Livestreams, both free and ticketed, are also available for select shows. For details, see croonersloungemn.com.
The world-famous Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue has taken a cautious approach to bringing back live performances. The venue has offered some shows at severely restricted capacity and has hosted livestreams. Some in-person concerts are scheduled at First Avenue and its other venues, including Yam Haus (May 7, Palace Theatre), the Hold Steady (May 21, First Avenue and two shows May 22, 7th Street Entry), Chicano Batman (June 12, First Avenue), Flora Cash (June 19, Fine Line) and Polaris (June 25, 7th Street Entry). First Avenue also has an outdoor Ween concert booked for Aug. 21 at Surly Brewing Festival Field. See first-avenue.com for details.
Minnesota Music Cafe
Jaybee and the Routine featuring Jellybean Johnson plays St. Paul’s Minnesota Music Cafe each Wednesday night. The Payne Avenue club also hosts live music each Thursday through Saturday. Upcoming shows include Mary Elias and the Young Legends (April 15, 22, 29), the ’70s Magic Sunshine Band (April 16), the Westside Band (April 17), the Maxx Band (April 23), the High and Mighty Band (April 24), G.B. Leighton (April 30) and the Free and Easy Band (May 1). For details, see minnesotamusiccafe.com.
The Hook and Ladder Theater
Minneapolis nonprofit club the Hook and Ladder will livestream a Dr. Dre tribute show (April 20, of course). Starting May 1, the venue will host in-person concerts, including James “Cornbread” Harris (May 1), the Belfast Cowboys (May 7), a Queen tribute band (May 8), Davina and the Vagabonds (May 15, two shows), Jeremy Messersmith (May 21), Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound (May 22) and Keller Williams (June 5, two shows). See thehookmpls.com for the full schedule.
Uptown venue the Granada Theater is opening April 15 and has a series of diverse live shows planned, including Hunny Bear (April 16), MoeDell and Maygen and the Birdwatchers (April 17), Jiselle McCollams Jazz Cult (April 23), Beethoven’s Best Works (May 4-6, 25), Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (May 11-12, 19) and a Roy Orbison tribute (May 14). For details, see granadampls.com.
In conjunction with the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, downtown Minneapolis’ Dakota has an ongoing series of free livestreams each Thursday, including Ticket to Brasil (April 15), Joan Hutton (April 22), Sarah M. Greer (April 29), No Room for Squares (May 6), Katia Cardenas (April 13) and Moore by Four (May 20).
The Dakota is also making a return to in-person concerts. The schedule includes Keri Noble (May 7), Chris Botti (May 27-30), Josh Rouse (June 12) and Spyro Gyra (June 13). See dakotacooks.com for details.
Minneapolis’ Parkway Theater has a special series of shows featuring Billy McLaughlin and SimpleGifts with guests Turn Turn Turn (April 18), Annie Mack (April 25) and Peter Mayer (May 2). Fans can attend in person or watch online. Comic Steve Hofstetter will perform live May 20 and 21 and the Samples are booked June 28. See theparkwaytheater.com for the full schedule.
Burnsville Civic Center
From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, the Burnsville Ice Arena parking lot will host the ambitious 2021 Relief Sessions Summer Concert Series, which features drive-in style concerts, some of which are free. The series includes historic and contemporary bands, tribute acts and a comedy improv tent.
The packed schedule features three to five bands playing each day. Highlights include tributes to Bruce Springsteen, Tony Bennett, Van Morrison and Billy Joel (May 29); Mary Jane Alm, Ipso Facto and the Flamin’ Oh’s (June 18); Mick Sterling, Molly Maher, Flipp, Curtiss A and the Suburbs (June 19); Miss Myra and the Moonshiners, Lehto and Wright, Michael Monroe and the Big Wu (June 25).
Tickets go on sale at noon Monday via thereliefsessions.com.
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres will continue to host tribute bands on its main stage through the end of June. The schedule includes tributes to Bruce Springsteen (April 16-17), Barbra Streisand (April 18), Johnny Cash (April 30-May 1), the Carpenters (May 6-8), Barry Manilow (May 16), Chicago (May 28-29), John Prine (June 11) and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (June 25-26). The theater plans to reopen its production of “The Music Man” on July 2. For tickets, see chanhassendt.com.