Local Current Blog

Minnesota music scene reels from loss of Muddy Waters, a ‘port through so many storms’

Muddy Waters on May 4, 2020. (Jay Gabler/MPR)

“I just want to say thank you,” said Dessa in an emotional video posted to Twitter on Sunday. “You’ve been an important port through so many storms.”

Her sentiments echoed those of many Minnesotans paying tribute to the Lyn-Lake restaurant Muddy Waters. It opened in 1987 as a coffee shop at 24th and Lyndale before, in 2011, moving a few blocks south to its recent location where it expanded to a full bar and restaurant. Yesterday, Muddy Waters closed its doors amidst the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In both incarnations, Muddy Waters was a popular hangout for members of the Minnesota music scene. It was particularly known for its association with indie hip-hop artists including the members of Doomtree and Atmosphere, who mentioned the venue in the turbulent track “Between the Lines.” In her video Dessa alludes to the venue’s history as a haven for those who need help, as well as mentioning Doomtree’s deep connections there.

On Facebook, owners Sarah Schrantz and Paddy Whelan asked “alumni” to share memories, prompting testimonials from many patrons. Below are some comments from members of the Minnesota music community on Twitter. In closing permanently during the economic shutdown, Muddy Waters joins other local institutions including the music venue Honey and the Fifth Element record store.