Where to hear music in the Twin PortsThere was a time in the Twin Ports when there weren’t many places for musicians to play, but in recent years, venue after venue has popped up, offering a stage for local artists to spill their guts and their beers on.
By: Tony Bennett, Duluth News Tribune
There was a time in the Twin Ports when there weren’t many places for musicians to play, but in recent years, venue after venue has popped up, offering a stage for local artists to spill their guts and their beers on.
Places that never had shows now are having them on a regular basis, and brand-new joints are opening with music in mind from the get-go. Depending on what you’re into, there’s a place to hear it.
One of the more-trod stages in the area is at Pizza Luce. It is having fewer shows than it used to, but it has a good stage and a nice PA system, and it’s one of the only places in the country where you can watch a guy fling a chunk of dough in the air while you watch someone else play a guitar solo.
R.T. Quinlan’s has upped its gig offerings lately, and the bar is having shows with a frequency that matches its heyday of the early 1990s. The stage is sunk down in the back of the place like some kind of secret Cavern Club, and it’s a great place for bands of all stripes to cut their teeth.
Beaner’s Central in West Duluth is a friendly local coffeehouse that mostly sticks to more acoustic-based music, although it has punk shows and other things, too. Jason Wussow runs the place, and he’s a musician, so it’s designed for music to be a main focus and not an afterthought.
Fitger’s Brewhouse is a good establishment to get a locally brewed craft beer and a bite to eat while checking out some of the area’s more-reserved musicians; singer-songwriter fare is the most common item on the menu here.
The Red Star Lounge, also in the Fitger’s building, is newly remodeled and offers a full slate of music from dance to noise. This is a good place to be challenged by music that has a cerebral element to it.
Similarly, Sir Benedict’s Tavern on the Lake is a good place to hear folkier, niche artists doing what they do in a cozy environment. It also runs an open mic that is long-standing and well-regarded. Folk, bluegrass, Celtic — this is the place to hear it.
Amazing Grace Bakery and Cafe is another fine location for more laid-back music — it has a warm, homey atmosphere that lends itself well to musical storytellers.
Tycoons Alehouse & Eatery is a newer establishment that has a dark, classy ambience perfect for more-ethereal or downbeat musicians to do their stuff. And it serves the same craft brews as Fitger’s.
Head to West Duluth to get some great grub and take in some live music from bands local and national at Clyde Iron Works. It has two stages, and you can catch lots of different kinds of stuff there. See groups like Papa Roach, or go there for laid-back jazz.
Grandma’s Sports Garden has a good amount of shows, too — you can catch national acts such as Bob Mould there from time to time, for example.
Sacred Heart Music Center is a venue that has been set up inside a decommissioned church; there is no better place to hear certain kinds of more ambient music, as the natural reverb of the building is awe-inspiring.
There are even more places than these to explore for those in search of live music — one only need consult a local events calendar in print or online for lots more information on where the action is. No matter the taste, there’s a venue to serve it.
Tony Bennett reviews music for the News Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.