Folk music is broadly linked to culture and ethnicity, the 60s counterculture, and social activism. American folk music is as varied as its musicians. But many of us associate folk music with acoustic guitar compositions that have Midwestern and Southern roots. We also think of folk music heroes such as Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, and the late country singer Johnny Cash . Two helpful resources for folk music events and venues are Granite City Folk Society and the Homestead Pickin’ Parlor. Anyway, here are a few picks we gathered.
Rock Bend Folk Festival
PO Box 222
Saint Peter, MN 56082
This community organization has celebrated art and music with annual festivities since whenever. Every year, a cavalcade of top musical talent lines up for the folk music fest. With acoustic guitars, soulful lyrics, and rhythmic arrangements, these artists continually captivate audiences. Mark your calendar for the latest folk fest round-up.
Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant
1010 Nicollet Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403
This chic Minneapolis music club and restaurant cooks with many genres of music, including folk. Artists such as Judy Collins, known for her lush vocals and classic folk numbers, have made appearances. And there are musicians such as Ben Watt, whom one might call a folk music revisionist after listening to his riveting folk jazz. Another artist who has been a guest performer is ballad songstress, guitarist and painter Marissa Nadler.
Fine Line Music Café
318 1st Ave., North
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401
Many indie rock bands proven their mettle on metal at this edgy music café. But Fine Line Music Café continues the grassroots folk/country tradition. More of today’s leading edge bands are discovering new truths and inspiration from traditional ballads and bluegrass music. Many indie groups learned their craft through community-based workshops, such as Homestead Pickin’ Parlor.
Homestead Pickin’ Parlor
6625 Penn Ave., South
Richfield, MN 55423
A music store and workshop, Homestead Pickin’ Parlor hosts music events and weekly jam sessions. Opened in 1979, it quickly became a resource for music performers across all genres. A number of musicians launched their careers with folk and bluegrass gigs. Many would later transition to other music genres.
Bo Diddley’s Pub and Deli
129 25th Ave., South
Saint Cloud MN 56301
You can enjoy live folk music, whenever it happens, while chowing down soup, sandwiches and subs. If you want beer and wine, you’ll have to go the deli pub in St. Joseph. Because the pub-style deli is mainly a sandwich and sub shop, you’ll have to contact the pub’s deli for folk music events. But Bo Diddley’s is one of St. Cloud’s favorite music venues.
Pioneer Place Theatre On Fifth
22 Fifth Ave., South
St. Cloud, MN 56301
Considered one of the best in theatrical and music productions, Pioneer Palace pays tribute to country music stars such as the late Patsy Cline. It also features guest pop/rock musicians who pick up their acoustics to play gentle folk music or sweet music that’s folksy. The theatre had staid beginnings as a St. Cloud Elks Club. Now it rocks and jams with performers and performances from everywhere.
Ginkgo Coffee House
721 North Snelling Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55116
Traditionally, folk music fans went to a coffee house instead of a bar room to get their folk music fill. Coffee and folk music have always been steadfast companions. Ginkgo maintains the coffeehouse tradition of cappuccino, tea, espresso and high quality American roasted coffee. It also features soothing live folk music, whenever the musicians are available.
Related: Best Coffee Shops In Minneapolis
Charlie’s Restaurant & Irish Pub
101 Water St., South
Stillwater, MN 55082
There was a time when, if you wanted live folk music, you’d go to a coffee house or outdoor folk music fest. But in an Irish pub, you’ll often hear traditional Irish folk music. Charlie’s Restaurant & Irish Pub has plenty of live music performances on Fridays and Saturdays. They take place at the historic Water Inn. The pub’s events calendar is filled with performers who revel in traditional Irish music. Often, they embed Irish music into contemporary music genres. In the summer, the pub expands its live music listings.
Related: Best Irish Pubs In Minnesota
Linda Cameron has written home design, home improvement and lifestyle articles for The Boston Globe and City Shopper Magazine. She has related interests in the building industry, travel, real estate and financing. She is a contributor to Examiner, House Spot, Techsling and Behance, covering topics on career, people, businesses, education and technology.