Northfield is known for many qualities, chief among them its music scene.
Dubbed Music City, Minnesota, the moniker didn’t come without effort. Of course, there’s world-class talent at St. Olaf and Carleton colleges, but peppered throughout downtown Northfield are a smattering of interesting and intimate spaces for musicians local and beyond to set up shop and share their talent.
Here’s a look at some of the venues hosting some of the best music offered in the state, as well as thoughts about each place from Mark Ross, a local singer/songwriter.
The Contented Cow
From jam sessions to music festivals honoring Bob Dylan and The Beatles, The Contented Cow, a British-style pub, has something for everyone depending on the day. Based on the act, one of the two indoor spaces may be used for the set, or a larger outdoor stage with the Cannon River as the backdrop will be used.
What Mark says: “Northfield’s Contented Cow is a place where any artist can work out a time and give this music thing a shot.”
Froggy Bottoms River Pub & Lily PADio
Nestled along the west bank of the Cannon River, Froggy Bottoms, like The Contented Cow, offers a little bit of everything. From DJs to singer/songwriters to bands, you can find music many nights (especially weekends) either indoors in the lower section of the establishment or on the Lily PADio upstairs, overlooking the river.
What Mark says: “Froggy Bottoms has a great upbeat atmosphere. In the summer, the patio almost feels like a resort with people from in and out of town.”
J. Grundy’s Rueb ‘N’ Stein
A longtime establishment known for rocking downtown and Division Street, J. Grundy’s, affectionately known as The Rueb, offers a variety of musical tastes from its upstairs space. It’s easy to find as you drive into town on Fifth Street – it’s right on the corner!
What Mark says: “Live music at the Rueb ‘N’ Stein makes you feel like you have left the country and are in the hip warehouse district of a city.”
The Grand Event Center
Once a movie theater and now used to host wedding receptions, events and the occasional theater production, The Grand Event Center also invites in the occasional music act. Given the setup of the space (remember, it’s an old theater), it provides a great atmosphere for annual visitors Trailer Trash and a recent event featuring Garrison Keillor.
What Mark says: “The Grand has the classic theater appeal where local, regional and national acts tour.”
Tanzenwald Brewing Company
The newest kid in town, Tanzenwald has an intimate corner for music in its recently renovated creamery-turned-brewpub. Throughout its early life (opened about a month), it’s already featured music acts many of its evenings. Come for the music, stay for the awesome beer and food.
What Mark says: “The vibe of the Minnesota microbrewery scene is definitely felt when you visit Tanzenwald. Eclectic music and people from all walks of life.”
The Tavern Lounge
Smaller in space, mighty in music. The Tavern Lounge, located in the rear of the Archer House River Inn building, hosts live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. A mix of local favorites dashed with acts from the Twin Cities, the Lounge uses both its indoor space and its deck overlooking the Cannon River to host its musical acts.
What Mark says: “The Tavern Lounge is the place to be up close and intimate with the music. A great place to hear the story behind the song.”
It wouldn’t be a true night on the town for a show if you didn’t stay overnight. Come to town, take in an act or two at some of the aforementioned establishments, then put up your feet and lie down your head at one of the conveniently located lodging options in downtown Northfield or along Highway 3.