Local Current Blog

Three new Twin Cities venues bring live music to unexpected places

Tracy Mumford/MPR

There are many distinctive places to see live music in the Twin Cities, and three new venues are adding colorful options to that list.

Can Can Wonderland

Can Can Wonderland is located in the old American Can Company factory on Prior Avenue in St. Paul. Open Thursday through Sunday, this unique spot is home to an artist-designed mini golf course, pinball games that scream “nostalgia,” creative drinks and live music events. Can Can is lined with murals and colors that make it inviting and not at all intimidating. Where else can you play a round of mini-golf and listen to a live concert at the same time?

“Music is definitely part of the arts so that was a no-brainer,” wrote the venue, in an unsigned e-mail, of their decision to include live music in their business. “We also feel there are a lack of performance venues for emerging artists that really need the opportunity to be able to perform and to hone those skills, so it is a great fit for us.” The venue offers a wide range of entertainment: from local musicians and karaoke nights to dance lessons and comedians. Needless to say, they offer a little something for everybody.

Moon Palace Books

It’s no surprise that Moon Palace Books hosts authors and storytimes. Now, the Minneapolis bookstore is also getting into the business of live music. Since its opening in 2012, the bookstore has bounced around to a couple different locations but now calls Minnehaha Avenue home. The hours on their website read 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., but if you take a look at their events calendar, you will find all kinds of after-hours events including DJ dance parties, album releases, and other performances.

“Since we opened in our new location with a music venue, it’s definitely changed things,” co-owner Jamie Schwesnedl wrote in an e-mail. “It’s a lot more lively at night, and sometimes way more chaotic. The range of people who come through the space in a week is wild – and really fun. Now we have books, coffee, pizza, and music – pretty much everything we need – all under one roof!”

Pimento Jamaican Kitchen

Pimento Jamaican Kitchen gained a huge following when it was featured on Food Network’s Food Court Wars and won. In 2016, they expanded to a location on Minneapolis’s Eat Street. Their rum bar, which is open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., features music every single night of the week and even has an outdoor stage. You can follow the restaurant on Twitter to get an idea of what awaits you each night.

“We’re excited about what we’re building here,” co-owner Yoni Reinharz said of the endeavor. Reinharz has taken note of changes within the music community in the Twin Cities. When local venues close, “There are less and less places to perform and connect.”

Pimento hopes to fill a little bit of that hole by booking music, which Reinharz said is “based around a Jamaican and Caribbean model, but expands to the rest of the African diaspora.” At Pimento, you can find reggae, hip-hop and more. “We could go as far as punk rock and still be on-brand. It’s great that our music base has a natural connection to all of these different genres.”

  • Hal Davis

    Moon Palace is a fine venue for books, food (great pizza!) … and now music. They co-hosted the Hook & Ladder Roots Festival, making it even more lively than in past years, with performances by Jack Klatt and Jedff Ray & Hurricane Harold.