St. Paul was a little behind Minneapolis on the trend of putting cool new restaurants inside old city park pavilions, but the capital city may have one-upped its neighbor now by adding a bona fide concert venue to the mix.
Last week, Como Dockside — the New Orleans-flavored restaurant in the ornate old building at Como Park — paid host to Colorado's bluegrassy jam-band mainstays Leftover Salmon, the first in a series of concerts in the pavilion's large, open-air terrace area.
Sure, there have long been community performances in that space, just as you can also often catch local school groups and jazz ensembles at the Lake Harriet or Minnehaha Falls band shells in Minneapolis. But this was a full-scale, ticketed concert with a real sound system, lights, roadies, sound check, beer truck, poster, etc.
"For a test run, we think it went really well and was a ton of fun," Mark Grundhoefer of MJG Productions, organizer of the Leftover gig, reported the day after the show.
A promoter, manager and guitarist about town — he plays with the Big Wu and fronts his own band, Mark Joseph & the American Soul — Grundhoefer had an "in" at Como Dockside that led to the new concert series: He's a good friend of the head chef, Mark Lemke. The restaurant's co-owners, Jon and Jarret Oulman, also have a long history of promoting music at their other places, the Amsterdam Bar & Grill and 331 Club.
With easy approval from the music-loving Mayor Chris Coleman and his team, Grundhoefer and the Dockside crew have lined up several more shows through the summer.
The all-star tribute band Big Pink, which has been packing the Cabooze every January with its tributes to the Band's "The Last Waltz," will put on its first summertime show this Saturday with the Belfast Cowboys (5-9 p.m., $12-$50, Ticket fly.com). New Orleans legends George Porter Jr. (bassist for the Meters!) and Jon Cleary will also perform there Aug. 19 with local jammers Frogleg. Capacity at these concerts will be capped at about 900 people.
Grundhoefer said more gigs are in the works for September and maybe even early October.
"It feels like an outdoor show, but there's a roof on it, so the music can always go on rain-or-shine," Grundhoefer enthused.
Another asset for the space: There's a permanent stage there, and it's quite large. That should prove especially useful with Saturday's "Last Waltz" tribute.
After touring off and on since April, Prince's bandmates the Revolution are coming back home again. They announced last week they will play another show at First Avenue on July 23, the day after their set at the Walker's long sold-out Rock the Garden festival. … Kudos to First Ave staff, by the way, for wasting no time giving local soul powerhouse Sonny Knight his own star on the building. The tribute was unveiled Tuesday, the same day as Knight's funeral.
There actually is a cool rock show on the gazebo stage in Minnehaha Falls Park this weekend: Rich Mattson & the Northstars will play there for free 7-8:30 p.m. on Friday. … The great, new Longfellow neighborhood shop Solid State Records will host live in-store sets by Teenage Strangler and Darren Brown on Saturday from 5-7 p.m. … The Electric Fetus also hosts a special in-store gig Monday by Matthew Sweet at 6 p.m. ahead of his show Tuesday at the Turf Club.
After hosting her first Klituation dance party at First Ave to great response this time last year, local spinster DJ Keezy is marking the first anniversary of the all-woman event in the mainroom on Saturday with a stacked guest list that includes Sophia Eris, Maria Isa, Lady Midnight, Desdamona, Manchita, K.Raydio and DJ Miss Brit (9:30 p.m., $10-$12). … Young shoegazer/fuzz-rock quartet Brilliant Beast will headline the Triple Rock on Thursday, celebrating the release of a new EP, "Jelly," produced by local studio vet Neil Weir (8 p.m., $5).
Lending some hope for the world: Red House Records announced a new record from Charlie Parr, coming Sept. 8 and titled "Dog." The title track is posted at startribune.com/music. … You can also head to our website to see which of the already-issued 2017 releases are my favorites in the annual tally, "Best local albums of the year (so far)." No more top 10 lists till December then, I promise.