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First Ave, Dakota and Crooners make national 'best venues' lists (again)

Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts made a point of hitting the Dakota with his namesake jazz band, featuring Bernard Fowler on vocals, before his other band played TCF Bank Stadium in 2015. / Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts hit the Dakota with his namesake jazz band, featuring Bernard Fowler on vocals, before his other band played TCF Bank Stadium in 2015. / Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

We know they’re great, but it’s nice to know that music lovers around the country also still appreciate First Avenue, the Dakota and Crooners.

Minneapolis' two enduring downtown music venues and the younger jazz club on the northern end of town all made national lists this week ranking them among the best venues in America. Actually, in the case of the Dakota and Crooners, Downbeat magazine declared them one of the “World’s Greatest Jazz Venues” in its February issue.

The mainstay jazz publication has picked the mainstay Minneapolis supper club for this list 25 years running. But considering the Dakota has been branching out with a wider variety of music in recent years – see: tonight’s performance with singer/songwriter Joe Henry and Friday’s Shabby Road Orchestra sets – it’s nice to see the place still recognized primarily for the genre it rode in on. And there is certainly plenty of jazz on the club’s calendar at the moment, too, including such big gigs as Stacey Kent (this Sunday), Bill Frisell (March 2), the David Sanborn Quintet (March 9 and 10), Stanley Clarke (April 7 and 8), Sammy Miller & the Congregation (May 3) and Charlie Hunter (May 12).

Crooners is a newer pick that certainly fits the jazz tag. Shows on its calendar include veteran cabaret singer Joyce Lyons tonight, singer/pianist JoAnn Funk on Friday, the St. Olaf Jazz Ensemble on Saturday and shows with Lori Dokken, Prudence Johnson and Pat Donohue next week. Downbeat wrote that the supper club (at 6161 Hwy. 65 NE) "offers three unique concert stages for dinner-shows, with an emphasis on regional artists."

Meanwhile, First Ave was named one of the “9 Coolest Concert Venues in the United States” by the Portland, Ore.-based men’s-life hipster blog the Manual. That may not sound as prestigious as making similar lists compiled by Rolling Stone, but this tally clearly drew on unique character and history over everything else, with Chicago’s Green Mill, New Orleans’ Preservation Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and Austin’s Moody Theater (where “Austin City Limits” is taped) also all making the cut.

That was the second brag-worthy honor for First Ave received this week. The Minnesota Twins also announced a special July 28 First Ave theme night that will include limited-edition jerseys based off the club's 50th anniversary this year, the celebration of which officially kick off in early April.


Over 25 Years as a @downbeat_mag “Best Jazz Venue!”

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The Weeknd's 2020 tour will arrive at Xcel Center on a weeknight in June

The Weeknd also packed Xcel Center in 2017. / Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

The Weeknd's previous tour behind his "Starboy" album packed Xcel Center in 2017. / Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

Twin Cities fans will be among the first to see the Weeknd on his his newly announced tour, which will hit Xcel Energy Center on June 22.

The Monday night show will only be the fourth stop on the “Can’t Feel My Face” hitmaker’s After Hours Tour, which kicks off June 11 in Vancouver and will also land in Winnipeg on Jun 17. Opening acts on the tour will be Miami R&B singer Sabrina Claudio, who landed the 2018 hit “Don’t Let Me Down” with Khalid, as well as Houston rapper and Travis Scott protégé Don Toliver.

Tickets for the St. Paul date go on sale next Friday, Feb. 28, at 10 a.m. via Ticketmaster and the arena box office. VIP, platinum and American Express pre-sale seats will be available Uesday. Once again, tour promoter Live Nation is not revealing ticket prices to the public ahead of time in keeping with its "dynamic pricing" practices.

Toronto native Abel Tesfaye, aka the Weeknd, finally issued details of his new album “After Hours” earlier this week. His first album since 2016’s “Starboy” will arrive March 20 and already has a good build-up in the form of first singles “Heartless” and “Blinding Lights.” He’ll add to the buzz with a March 7 appearance on “Saturday Night Live.”

This will be his second headlining show at Xcel Center, following a 2017 performance that drew 14,000 fans.