Find Your Beat on the Twin Cities Music Scene

By Alyssa Ebel

First Avenue music venue_Chad Rieder
First Avenue / Photo by Chad Rieder

Over the years, Minnesota’s music marvels have played a major role in shaping popular music history with the sounds of artists such as the legendary Prince, Bob Dylan, The Replacements, Atmosphere and more. The Twin Cities music scene gets a special shout out by locals and visitors alike for its rich diversity, varied venues, local talent and outdoor festivals. Travel + Leisure magazine ranked Minneapolis eighth among “America’s Best Music Cities.” 

“Cross-pollination makes the Twin Cities music scene a vital one. ‘Local’ is not a genre, but a fierce, hard-working streak found among our area talent,” notes Reed Fischer, City Pages music editor. “Folk singers end up as guest vocalists on hip-hop records, there are a dozen venues that sell out regularly with local headliners, radio stations love to play Minnesota artists, and there's a good chance that the person standing next to you at a show has a band of their own.”

Whether you groove to jazz and blues, indie, punk, reggae, rock, country or classical, you’ll find live music anywhere from small coffeehouses and bars to auditoriums and big-name venues. Check out the music scene at local favorites, including First Avenue, Varsity Theater, Mill City Nights, Icehouse, The Amsterdam, Triple Rock Club and the Cabooze.

Jazz fans shouldn’t miss The Dakota Jazz Club in downtown Minneapolis. The Fine Line Music Cafe and the summer concert series at the Minnesota Zoo both feature eclectic lineups, and The Cedar Cultural Center is renowned for world music.

Soundset music festival in Shakopee_Wes Eisenhauer
Soundset / Wes Eisenhauer

Music festivals in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area can be the focal point for a visit: Soundset and Bella Music Festival (May), Rock the Garden and the Twin Cities Jazz Festival (June), the Basilica Block Party and Warped Tour (July), Music in Mears (June – August), and Walker Art Center’s Summer Music and Movies (July – August).

With the region’s countless venues, there’s not a night in the week you can’t find live music.

And there’s much more Minnesota music to explore beyond the Twin Cities. You’ll find a vibrant and diverse offering statewide, including in Rochester, Duluth, Mankato and the Fargo-Moorhead areas.

Check out the Music Clubs page for a list of music venues around the state.