Tag: Mears Park
Things are about to get a lot more jazzy in Downtown St. Paul this weekend as the Twin Cities Jazz Fest returns for the 13th year in a row. Head to charming Mear’s Park and numerous satellite locations Thursday through Saturday for more music than you can shake a saxaphone at.
Thursday kicks things off with a bang with music starting as early as 4pm at Senor Wong’s with Larry McDonough and
John Penny and runs through the night at venues all over downtown including The Black Dog Cafe, Hat Trick Lounge, The Bulldog, Artists’ Quarter, St. Paul Hotel, Mancini’s, and Studio V. The main stage at Mear’s Park will kick it’s weekend of free outdoor Jazz off with Alicia Renee with Jon Weber at 6pm and Connie Evingson at 7:30pm.
Friday feel free to pop over to McNally Smith College of Music during your lunch break at 12:30pm for a clinic with Gary Burton, then meander over to Walker West Music Academy at 3pm for Jon Weber. At 4:30pm the Mear’s Park takes the reigns with music all night long on two stages featuring Seven Steps to Havana, The Peterson’s, New Gary Burton Quartet, Miguel Hurtado, Marquis Hill, Zacc Harris, Jeremy Boettcher, and Sue Orfield. Music at surrounding venues will again be going strong at The Black Dog Cafe, Hat Trick Lounge, Artists’ Quarter, St. Paul Hotel, and Studio V.
Saturday, however, is when the Twin Cities Jazz Fest really shows its teeth, with so many musicians on three stages that we dare not list them all here–but we’ll try. Hear a wide range of sounds from the likes of Danilo Perez, Air Force Notables, Deodato with Gerardo Velez, Joh Patitucci, Jason Weismann Quartet, Janes Buckley, Jazz Central All Stars, Salsa del Soul, The Grindberg-Strachan-LeCrone Quartet, Twin Cities Youth Jazz Camp, St.Cloud Area All Star Jazz Band, Mpls South HS Jazz Band, Minnesota Youth Jazz Band, Dakota Combo and more. Not to mention, jazz will be in effect all night at surrounding locales including The Black Dog Cafe, Hat Trick Lounge, Artists’ Quarter, St. Paul Hotel, and Studio V.
For a complete schedule of the performances, locations and more info visit www.hotsummerjazz.com
Is there possibly a cuter lunch date than enjoying an beautiful summer afternoon listening to live music in St. Paul’s intimate Mear’s Park? Likely not, say we. And especially when you factor in the summery stylings of a eclectic lineup of bands, a potential picnic gets that much more appealing. Pack a few sandwiches, grab shady perch, and settle in for some serious lunch-hour jams every Tuesday through the Summer. Definitely a charming way to ease yourself into the long week ahead, and perhaps even to impress a certain office crush.
Music kicks off at noon every Tuesday and the event is free and open to to public. For a full schedule of upcoming Music in the Parks events and more info click HERE.
June 7th: Parisota Hot Club
June 14th: The Fountainheads
June 21st: Rum River Brass
June 28th: Charlie and the Good Times
The annual Concrete and Grass Lowertown Music Festival (not to be confused with last month’s Lowertown Music Fest) gives you the perfect excuse to check out St. Paul’s hippest district. Produced in partnership with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, Ordway Center, Schubert Club and the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, the annual neighborhood music festival offers everything from indie rock and hip hop to traditional salsa to chamber music, taking place on two stages (one amplified and one acoustic) in Marks Park – not to mention plenty of tasty food and drink options from Lowertown eateries. Best of all, it’s free.
Though it doesn’t have as high-profile of a lineup as the Lowertown Music Fest, we’ll venture to say it’s better-suited to the eclectic and relaxed vibe of Lowertown. Friday’s roster includes spoken word/hip-hop favorite Dessa (8:30 p.m.), long-known as the lone female member of the Doomtree collective before breaking out on her own with her thoughtful, R&B-laced Badly Broken Code – critically acclaimed for its literary prowess. Jazz musician Irv Williams (6:30 p.m.) and a performance from the Minnesota Opera (5 p.m.) round out the main stage lineup, R&B singer/MC Desdamona with Carnage (6 p.m.) and folkie Molly Maher (7:30 p.m.) on the acoustic stage.
Saturday boasts a lineup headlined by seminal Twin Cities punk band Suicide Commandos (8:30 p.m.) – fronted by Chris Osgood, who also happens to be Vice President of Organizational Development at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul.
Buzzing local indie rockers Communist Daughter (6:30 p.m.) are also worth catching, also on the main stage on Saturday. Frontman Johnny Solomon and guitarist Adam Switlick found buzz locally with their former outfit Friends Like These, landing the cover of City Pages and getting the Hold Steady’s Craig Finn to guest on some recordings before disbanding a few years ago, Solomon seemingly turning his back on music to focus his energies on opening a restaurant. Fortunately, things are looking up with Solomon’s return to music – the band’s even garnered praise in Rolling Stone for their debut album Soundtrack to the End. Visit www.concreteandgrass.com for the full schedule.
While you’re there taking in the autumn air, nosh on snacks from Lowertown eateries (we suggest a pizza from Black Dog Cafe or fish taco from Barrio), and beer from Flat House Brewing,
(6 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Mears Park, 221 E. 5th St., St. Paul, www.concreteandgrass.com)
The street-blocking light rail construction isn’t enough to keep music-loving locals from traversing across the river, thanks to tons of big events (Red Bull Flugtag), parties in the park (MN Original’s launch in Mears Park), titilating benefits (Racktacular) and dance parties (Let’s Dance). Now with the newest music festival to hit the Capital City, the organizers of Saturday’s Lowertown Music Fest (not to be confused with the Concrete and Grass Lowertown Music Festival in September or last weekend’s Lowertown Block Party) have upped the ante by booking three local acts that can easily sell out the First Avenue Mainroom: Mason Jennings, Cloud Cult, and Tapes ‘N Tapes.
Probably one of the most popular singer-songwriters in town, Mason Jennings has been steadily building a fanbase without giving in to commercial gloss. On 2009′s Blood Of Man, Jennings played all the instruments himself, giving a rough-around-the-edges feel to the solid set of songs.
Duluth experimental folk band Cloud Cult made a name for themselves nationally after their song “Lucky Today” was featured in an ad for Esurance and they found themselves on Last Call with Carson Daly. They’re bound to preview some new tunes from their upcoming full-length Light Chasers, which doesn’t hit stores until September, but the orchestral pop album is already available for purchase online.
Indie-rockers Tapes ‘N Tapes also found some fame after garnering an impressive 8.3 rating on Pitchfork for their breakthrough album The Loon as well as a coveted spot on Late Show with David Letterman back in 2006. Though the band’s upward trajectory has plateaued, hopefully they can make good on the buzz when their upcoming third album (recorded this past March) is released.
The fest clearly is capitalizing on the resurgence of the Lowertown arts district over the past couple of years, but it’s hard to complain about such a good lineup, which is rounded out by buzzing folkies Peter Wolf Crier, UK folk-punk singer Frank Turner and wacky kid-friendly duo Koo Koo Kanga Roo.
3 p.m. Sat. $25-30. Mears Park, 5th & Sibly, St. Paul, www.lowertownmusicfest.com
If there’s one thing local jazzophiles look forward to each year, we’re guessing the Twin Cities Jazz Festival is it. A three day event, the Jazz Fest packs in a huge amount of entertainment. From small, intimate nightclub sets to lively coffee shop jam sessions to outdoor performance stages featuring big names and small names alike — there’s a little something for everyone. And no worries if you aren’t a jazz expert; the 12th annual live music extravaganza is far from pretentious with performers of all ages and styles getting together to throw down and jam out. Come with friends, come with a date, or even bring the kids — it’s never to early to start the music appreciation process!
The epicenter of the fest resides in the urban oasis that is Mears Park. There you’ll find the main stage and just down the block, the 6th Street Stage. On Thursday evening kick things off with performer Pippi Ardennia in Mears at 6pm, then club-hop around the Lowertown Entertainment District all night long. From the Hat Trick Lounge to the Black Dog to the St. Paul Hotel to Camp Bar and pretty much everything in between, Thursday night is a great time to aquatint yourself with the many fantastic venues the area has to offer.
Friday evening, head over to the park after work for live music from 4pm to 8:30pm from the likes of Story City, Sean Jones, Joe Lovano with US Five, Pete Whitman’s X-tet, Aakash Mittal and more. Clubs around the entertainment district will be hoppin’ into the wee hours as well, featuring performers like Atlantis Quartet, Southside Aces, Fantastic Merlins, Kid Dakota, and Jon Weber Trio — just to name a few.
Saturday is the big day, however, with live music in the park from Noon on through to 10pm, featuring such faves as Connie Evingson with Parisota Hot Club, Salsa del Soul, John Ellis & Double-wide, and John Scofield with The Piety Street Band and many, many more. Saturday also offers up a Youth Stage at Cray Plaza, featuring the jazztastic stylings of the younger set, hailing from schools, music organizations and mentorship programs. Still want more jazz after this long day? You’re in luck, because the Hat Trick, the Artists’ Quarter and the Black Dog Cafe all have tunes going well past your bed time.
Overwhelmed? Yeah, us too. But luckily, the Jazz Fest has compiled all the events and set times into a handy-dandy printable PDF schedule HERE or in a slick online program guide HERE. The 12th Annual Twin Cities Jazz Festival runs June 17-19th in Mears Park (221 E. 5th Street, St. Paul) and is FREE and open to the public.And for just about any other info you could possibly desire, check out the official website at www.hotsummerjazz.com. Oh, and don’t forget your black beret, hep cats!
While you’re in town checking out the St. Paul Winter Carnival activities (which kicks off this weekend), there’s also a ton of other nightlife events happening this weekend in St. Paul:
FRIDAY: Modern Radio 10-Year Anniversary Shows at Turf Club
The record label has been pronounced dead to many in the recording industry, but Twin Cities-based label Modern Radio is still kicking after ten years. They’ve also become one of the most well-respected, enterprising, and fair labels in town. To celebrate, they’ve invited a number of its bands to play a couple of gigs, and day one happens in St. Paul’s Turf Club. The lineup includes the Chambermaids, FT (The Shadow Government), psych rockers Daughters of the Sun, Double Bird, and Sheridan Fox. The night promises special bonuses, like fresh-baked cookies by label owners Tom Loftus and Peter Mielech. With so many awesome local bands signed to it, Modern Radio is definitely worth celebrating. (9 p.m. $7. 21-plus. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul. 55104. 651-647-0486.)
SATURDAY: Trash Film Debauchery: “Troll 2″ at Turf Club Clown Lounge
The experts say not to trust Wikipedia, but you can trust it when it comes to its take on the terrible D movie Troll 2: “(It’s) widely considered to be of poor quality.” That’s enough for Trash Film Debauchery, a group of trash film afficionados who regularly hold screenings at the Turf Club. The 1990 horror film doesn’t actually include any trolls from the original Troll, nor does it have anything to do with the original movie. Instead, the film follows a family that travels to the far-away kingdom of Nilbog, which turns out to be a goblin den. The strangest part may be that the goblins are actually vegetarians, so they have to turn people into plants in order to eat them. It’s bad enough to have inspired a recent documentary called Best Worst Movie. (10 p.m. Free. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul. 55104. 651-647-0486.)
SATURDAY: Beer Dabbler at St. Paul Winter Carnival in Mears Park (SOLD OUT)
For the first time, the St. Paul Winter Carnival has teamed up with the traveling Beer Dabbler Showcase. More than 40 different breweries will serve all-you-can-handle tastings of its selections, including locals Lift Bridge, Fulton, Finnegans, Brau Brothers, and others. Head over post-parade or after the Coronation, or before the hot air balloon launch. If you get hungry, Lowertown eatery The Bulldog Lowertown will be serving food onsite, and Barrio will have its inaugural run of its Taco Truck in Mears Park beginning at noon; offerings include menu favorites like Potato Sopes and Tacos de Lengua. Buy tickets at or get more info at www.BeerDabbler.com and www.winter-carnival.com. (3:30-7:30 p.m. $20. 221 E. 5th St., St. Paul. 612-269-1674.)
SATURDAY: Deep Blues Film Festival at Dayton’s Bluff Eagles Club
Thanks to the success of St. Paul outdoor festivals such as Concrete & Grass, Jazz Fest, and Music in Mears, the organizers behind the Deep Blues Festival (which normally takes place in Lake Elmo) to the capital city. To celebrate, they’re throwing a blues film festival, featuring documentary blues films and performances from some of the most innovative musicians around. Click here for the full schedule. (Noon-11 p.m. Also next Saturday, Jan. 30. 287 Maria Ave., St. Paul. 651-774-7643.)
This weekend, St. Paul is packed with everything from circuit bending experimentation (TART and FoodTeam), a return from local punk rock heroes (Arcwelder), a new Leonard Cohen collaboration (Kid Dakota and the Fantastic Merlins), Turf Club’s annual blowout with three Turf favorites (Birthday Suits, Vampire Hands and The Blind Shake), and a local hip-hop illustrator’s first solo show (Chuck U).
THURSDAY: TART + FoodTeam at Big V’s
Call it what you like (math electro? Post-math?), but the music of local one-man projects TART (Phil Khalar) and FoodTeam (Ryan Olcott of the beloved 12 Rods) are equal parts cerebral and enjoyable. Khalar and Olcott both seem to approach sounds as bits and pieces of a whole, which are then constructed into cohesive, sonic compositions. TART is said to be based on the concept of blending beauty with noise, the electronic with the organic, and the sweet with bitter, while Olcott’s project involves what he calls “circuit bending,” or the de-programming of yesteryear’s forgotten consumer keyboards. Community!Fire!Exchange! opens. 9 p.m. $5. 21-plus. Big V’s, 1567 University Ave. W., St. Paul. 651-645-8472.)
FRIDAY: Arcwelder at Turf Club
Punk-rock trio Arcwelder are one of those local acts that seemed on the verge to be the next big thing internationally, but they have always been beloved in their hometown. They even have a star on the hallowed walls of First Avenue. After forming in 1988, the band toiled on the road and in dank punk rock clubs until 1991, when none other than New Order named their song “Favor” as their pick for “Punk Rock Single of the Week” in NME. Before long, they were signed to hip indie label Touch and Go Records (also home to Shellac and the Jesus Lizard) in 1992, and enjoyed popularity culminating in an international tour with Jawbox in 1996. The punk rock heroes haven’t toured since, but have played the occasional local show. With haze-rock duo Gay Witch Abortion, Double Bird, and DJ Freddy Votel (former Cows drummer). (9 p.m. $6. 21-plus. 1601 W. University Ave., St. Paul. 651-647-0486.)
FRIDAY: Fantastic Friday Music Series at Black Dog Cafe
Innovative jazz-chamber band The Fantastic Merlins recently joined together with haunting indie-rock trio Kid Dakota to collaborate on a yet-to-be-released album of Leonard Cohen covers, How the Light Gets In. At this intimate, stripped-down show at Lowertown cafe Black Dog, the ensemble will preview the release before heading off to perform together in Paris. On the impending European tour, Kid Dakota says on its myspace page, “We will be returning to some of the places we played last spring and also finally making it back to countries that we haven’t visited since our 2004 tour with LOW (Yes, Im talking to you England and Ireland!). We will be touring with two fabulous bands from Berlin, Ter Haar and It’s a Musical.” Ingo Bethke opens; see below for more on happy hour specials. (8 p.m. Free. All ages. 308 Prince St., St. Paul. 651-228-9274.)
FRIDAY: Lowertown First Fridays happy hours
Every first Friday of the month, Lowertown First Fridays open studio and gallery crawl takes over the district. (CLICK HERE for the651.com Arts writer Kate Iverson’s interview with Lowertown artist Rhea Pappus.) To keep art lovers well-fed (and well-lubricated), bars and eateries in Lowertown’s bustling entertainment district offers up a slew of happy hour specials. Black Dog Cafe has its daily happy hour from 4-7 p.m., which includes $3 Summit pints, $2.50 Grainbelt Premium bottles, and $4.75 house wine. (308 Prince St., St. Paul. 651-228-9274.) Mexican fusion bar and eatery Barrio is offering $5 small plates, two tacos for $5, $5 margaritas, $18 margarita pitches, and $3 taps from 2-6 p.m. & 10 p.m.-midnight. (235 6th St. E., St. Paul. 651-222-3250.) Gastro-pub The Bulldog has its happy hour from 3-6 p.m., including $1 off pints, wells and domestic bottles and half-priced appetizers. (237 E. 6th St., St. Paul. 651-221-0750.)
SATURDAY: Robozoology at Nickademus Art & Framing
Local illustrator Chuck U is presenting his first solo show, and his collection of graphic, color-drenched paintings and prints. Chuck U (né Ungemach) has long been well-known in the local hip hop community for his posters and cover art, and their organic, hand-drawn feel depicts fiendish monkeys, monsters in top hats, and spewing furry snakes. True to Chuck U’s music roots, the opening reception will also include a live set from local Brit-popsters The Idle Hands. (Opening reception 6 p.m.-midnight. Sat. Ongoing through Feb. 9. Free. All ages. Nickademus Art and Framing, 225 N. Snelling Av., St. Paul.)
SATURDAY: Turf Club Blowout
Japanese metal two-piece Birthday Suits team up with psychedelic prog indie-rockers The Blind Shake and spaced-out noise rockers Vampire Hands for a solid night of noisy sounds to bring in the New Year. The annual blowout also serves as a sort-of Vampire Hands reunion as original member Colin Johnson returns for a one-off show – it just may be the last time you’ll see them all together again. (9 p.m. $6. 21-plus. 1601 W. University Ave., St. Paul. 651-647-0486.)
Star Tribune‘s Chris Riemenschneider lauds St. Paul
St.Paul’s Lowertown entertainment district and music fests such Taste of Minnesota and Concrete & Grass get props in Chris Riemenschneider’s “Finding nine reasons to cheer Twin cities culture in ’09″ from the Star Tribune.
Lowertown’s rebirth of cool
I already fawned over downtown St. Paul’s hot “new” nightlife district in a column in September, but three months later and 70 degrees colder, I’d like to more strongly state my fondness for eating Barrio tacos and drinking Bulldog beer under a starry night, listening to Romantica in Mears Park during the Concrete & Grass Festival.
(Too bad the new Twins park didn’t get built down there.)
Outdoor music cranked to 11
There were more block parties, themed fests, music-in-the-park series, and zoo and museum gigs of note this year, and best of all they lasted well into the fall thanks to the aforementioned Concrete & Grass and Vita.mn’s cool Movies & Music Series at the picturesque Lake Harriet Bandshell.
(All this, despite what the Aqua-tennial and Taste of Minnesota have done to music fests’ image in this town.)
It all seemed to start when the Bulldog opened its first St. Paul location in Lowertown. A buzz had already been happening around St. Paul’s nightlife district, also home to music club Station 4, gay bar Rumours & Innuendo, the laidback Black Dog Café, and Mexican eatery Señor Wong. Soon afterward, Barrio Tequila Bar opened next door, and it was official – Lowertown was becoming St. Paul’s version of Uptown (before it became overrun with chains, that is).
This weekend, the annual Concrete & Grass Lowertown Music Festival breezes into Mears Park for three days of fantastic music and live performance — for FREE no less! Some of the hottest local acts such as Freddy Fresh, Romantica, Moore By Four, The Idle Hands, Kid Dakota, Heiruspecs and many, many more will titillate your eardrums at this awesome end-of-summer outdoor extravaganza. Bring a blanket, score a sweet spot in the park, and soak up the sounds while sipping brewskis from Summit and sampling culinary delights from area restaurants. A fab way to bid adieu to summer, if you ask us. Check the performance sched below and make a cameo at Mears this weekend!
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11TH
3:30pm STORY CITY
5:00pm THE WARBLERS
6:30pm THE MINNESOTA OPERA
8:30pm FREDDY FRESH W/ MARK WHEAT
6:00pm DAN NEWTON
7:30pm PAPA JOHN KOLSTAD W/ CLINT HOVER
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12TH
12:00pm McNALLY SMITH STUDENT ENSEMBLE
1:00pm IDLE HANDS
4:00pm MOORE BY FOUR
7:00pm THE ORDWAY
5:00pm ALICIA RENEE
6:30pm SPIDER JOHN KOERNER
7:30pm KID DAKOTA
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13TH
12:00pm GOSPEL W/ GINGER COMMODORE & TANNER TAYLOR
1:30pm THE SCHUBERT CLUB
5:00pm THE SAINT PAUL CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
4:00pm THE FLATWHEELERS
6:00pm LUKE WALLRICH
Mears Park is located on 6th & Sibley in Lowertown St. Paul
For more information visit www.concreteandgrass.com
Downtown Saint Paul’s Señor Wong
Don’t let a little construction ward you off, Saint Paul’s unique, dual-cuisine restaurant, Señor Wong is open for business and ready to provide you with tasty Asian and Latin-fused dishes. From chicken tacos and spicy chile rellenos to traditional Vietnamese pho and chipotle burgers, Señor Wong’s eclectic range of culture and spices, not to mention crazy fun happy hours and chill ambience, makes it one of the best spot in the city to unwind with great eats and tasty drinks.
Tonight, explore delicacies fresh from the Coast with the weekend “Coastal Seafood Special” (offered from Thursdays to Saturdays every week) paired with a flirty Polynesian cocktail. Or choose another refreshing beverage from Señor Wong’s extensive cocktail and beer list including Asian and Latin import beers, a few locally brewed ales (Surly and Flatearth), Artesian sake, and a plethora of flavorful red and white wines by the glass or bottle.
And don’t forget about Señor Wong’s amazing Happy Hour specials. Monday through Sunday enjoy your favorite drink on the lounge or patio from 4 – 7 p.m., with a “Late Night Donkey Show Happy Hour” from 10 p.m. to close. Their specials during these hours feature $1.50 off all draft beers and wines by the glass, and $2 off all sake by the glass. And yes, you read that right. I said all. Plus, $2 off Señor Wong’s creatively nicknamed specialty drinks the Angry Dragon, French Lemonade, Concubine and the Donkey Punch and incredibly deals on featured appetizers like the jalapeño-filled Wonton Popper and the feel-good Sweet Potato Fries.
If that wasn’t enough, Señor Wong’s also features daily themed Happy Hours throughout the week. Monday the hard working folks in the hospitality field can enjoy 2-4-1 rail cocktails and $2 domestic beers. Tuesday evening it’s “Chinese Fiesta Night” (9 p.m.- 1 a.m.) with $2 sake bombs, jose cuervo drinks, $3 select Asian and Latin beers. Wednesday night prepare yourself for the happiest “Hump Day” you’ve ever experienced with $1.50 off all draft beers and wines by the glass, $2 off sake by the glass and $2 off select big drinks running – wait for it – from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.! On Thursday,
channel Bruce Lee and don a karate bandana as you take part in “Kung- Fu Funk Night,” featuring Asian action flicks, $3 sake bombs and $3 select Asian bottle beers. On Friday and Saturday night’s, jam along with local DJ’s DJ Del6 (Friday) and DJ Fundamentalist (Saturday). It doesn’t matter which night you chose to celebrate your inner dragon, you can’t lose at Señor Wong.
Monday nights “Dinner for Two Special” featuring a rotated dinner menu which includes a delicious appetizer, specialty entrees and a sinfully good dessert for only $30. Oenophile’s listen up! On Sunday nights, Señor Wong’s offers a unique experience during their “Bottle Night” special. Bring in your own wine and enjoy their food from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., with no corkage fee!
Señor Wong’s is also host to charming upcoming neighborhood events including Mears Park’s Concrete and Grass: Lowertown Music Festival. 3 days of free music on two stages, September 11th – 13th. The Lowertown Block Party September 19th and 20th and the rowdy, wrangling “Brawl of America” Rollergirls Pub Crawl, also taking place September 20th.
Due the afore mentioned construction on 4th and Robert Street, Señor Wong is offering validated parking to the Kellogg Square Parking Ramp after 5 p.m. every day. The restaurant even provides fast-paced, free Wi-Fi access, so you can work and play at the same time. What could be better than guilt-free Happy Hour?
Señor Wong, 111 Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul, 651.224.2019
North East corner of the Kellogg Square Building. Main entrance is on the 4th street side between Minnesota and Robert Street.
Note: Señor Wong’s will be closed Sunday and Monday for the Labor Day weekend.