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Best Of MN: Best Music Venue

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(credit: CBS) Matt Brickman
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minnesota’s music tradition ranks right up there with places like New York and Los Angeles.

Anytime you can claim Prince and Bob Dylan as your own, you’re off to a good start.

For as many great musicians that have come out of Minnesota, it seems like there are just as many great venues.

But WCCO viewers’ pick for the best of the best, shouldn’t come as such a surprise.

It’s a landmark in Minneapolis — First Avenue.

“Who knew that a Greyhound bus depot would make such a great club,” Nate Kranz said.

In the last 30 years, First Avenue has become iconic.

But this building has made some changes throughout its history. It was a bus depot through the 1940s and 1950s.

And in the 70s, it was bought out by national disco chain called Uncle Sam’s.

“They painted it red, white and blue,” Kranz said. “It looked like a flag. It was total disco. It had the light up dance floor.”

Thankfully disco died, and this place got on the right track.

“After a couple of years, they painted it black and renamed it First Avenue,” Kranz said.

Since then, First Ave has been thriving on the strength of national touring bands, as much as Minnesota musicians.

“We’ve been lucky to have such a great local music scene for so long, going back to Prince, Husker Du, The Replacements,” Kranz said. “But, if you think about now, we have Doomtree coming up and they’re gonna have three sold out nights.”

“There’s the Purple Rain effect too. Everybody knows this was where Purple Rain was shot, this is where Prince would play.”

It’s a cliche, but this is the house that Prince built.

His presence is everywhere, and he still comes in from time to time.

It’s not just the stars that make First Avenue great.

It’s the opportunity to catch young bands, and watch them take off.

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