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Embedded in community, the 331 Club is a gem of Northeast Minneapolis

Photo by Chris Schorn

The Listing – The 331 Club

    • Location
      • 331 13th Avenue NE
      • Minneapolis, MN 55413
  • Capacity
    • 150 people
  • Seating
    • A great variety with 6 large booths in the back of the venue, bar stools along the bar, a long couch next to the stage, and standing space by stage.
  • Food and Bar
    • There is a small menu available, prepared by The Sheridan Room, which is next door. These include firehouse pizza, reuben’s, quesadillas, and chips/salsa.
    • The draft beer selection is almost all local beers, with rotating seasonal options.
  • Parking
    • Nestled in Northeast, street parking is the easiest and best option for parking.
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Photo by Chris Schorn

The Blueprint

The 331 Club started as a neighborhood bar in Northeast Minneapolis in 1899. It was a biker bar for many years. The venue underwent a large transformation in 2005, revealing the original tin ceiling, adding the stage, renovating the bar, adding oversized seating, and updating the bathrooms. A large chalkboard door frames the entrance, listing the events for that evening.

It’s unpretentious and low-key vibe are inherent when walking in through the covered entryway. Dual iconic paintings by Richard Merkin and John Bowman (Crossing) flank opposite walls, and have been mainstays for many years. (Fun fact- Richard Merkin is one of the featured people on the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album. His unique personality and artistic endeavors have caught the attention of many celebrities.)

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Photo by Chris Schorn
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“The Crossing” Photo by Chris Schorn

Tucked behind the outside of the venue, a large, beautiful mural by Broken Crow & OverUnder adorns the opposite wall of the patio, commanding attention and standing strong.

These pieces and touches are definitely the work of the owner Jon Oulman, who is a collector and has a wide appreciation for art. His restaurant, The Sheridan Room, houses many other unique pieces of his collection. Art has a way of bringing together innovative people and the 331 is a strong example of curating a creative space.

Broken Crow & OverUnder Mural
Broken Crow & OverUnder Mural

The obvious core of 331 is based in fostering the community. Their local partnerships with Fair State Brewing Cooperative and Bent Paddle Brewing on shows, along with helping to launch Trivia Mafia are a few examples. Their live streaming events of Radio Five Watt and a weekly KFAI House Party are staples to their rotation.

The 331 Club has also been the unofficial hub with Art-A-Whirl for over 13 years, providing a large outdoor stage and centralized location for the festival. Art-A-Whirl has been a proud fixture in Northeast Minneapolis, showcasing local artwork and artists.

There is no better example of the club’s dedication to growth in the community than the almost 14 year, weekly residency with The Roe Family Singers. What started out as just Kim & Quillan Roe has slowly grown, with members being steadily added over the years. The short documentary below is a testament to their support and partnership with 331.

The heart of the venue is their focus on local live music and their policy/motto: “Never A Cover.” This makes it an affordable place to discover new music any night of the week. It is a rarity in this city to have the opportunity to see such solid local talent without paying a cover. As a smaller venue, all of the shows feel intimate, no matter the attendance. So many bands have built their fan base and previewed their music at the 331. For many new bands, the venue has been an outlet for their friends and peers.

Jason Woolery, Head Sound Engineer

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Photo by Chris Schorn

Jason has been with the venue for 13 years and has watched his duties grow. What started as a simple plea to handle their live sound has blossomed into booking, website duties, and co-managing the enormous task of Art-A-Whirl.

This passion for music and his dedication to identifying ways to improve the space is what Jason continues to bring to 331. His mixing board has changed from an analog Dynacord Powermate 1600 (of which he knew every knob and tendency) to the more polished digital Allen & Heath QU-16 mixer (which he loves working on). His sound system includes mains of Electro-Voice passive ZX4’s, powered EV stage monitors, and Eliminator 18″ subs. His microphone collection is comprised entirely of local companies as well. As an expert in the room, he’s also transformed the sound by adding curtains, bass traps, and sound panels around the space. This helps to deaden the acoustics, giving him more control over the sonic palette of the room. This instant transformation turned a notoriously tough task of mixing into a joy.

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Photo by Chris Schorn
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Photo by Chris Schorn

A highlight of his involvement includes the indoor Art-A-Whirl shows, where everyone is packed on top of him. This time “in the trenches,” as he explains, is a rush and worth the many hours he spends in residency at the venue. Working with Charlie Parr, and mixing for The Drug Budget are other fond favorites of his. Although the 331 is known more for their bluegrass and acoustic presence, Jason continues to book and handle all styles of music. With his experience and ears, any band can find solace in a great night of music at the 331.

Insider Tips

With a cozy venue like the 331, space can be everything. The back booths are typically filled up first by groups. The bar stools fill up next as they are the main seating, closest to the stage. There are no physical obstructions in the venue, so seeing and hearing the music is not a problem.

When it does fill up, getting to the bathrooms can be challenging. The ATM is also tucked along a back hallway, making it a busy intersection. I suggest bringing cash to bypass this task and get quicker service at the long bar. The side patio is always a popular area to socialize and catch up with friends.

The venue does not have a “green room” for the bands, and band storage stacks around the stage. This gives you a distinctive opportunity to socialize and mingle with the musicians throughout the evening. Most venues do not have music on Monday nights, so I highly suggest catching a trademark The Roe Family Singers show. Brimming with local musicians, you never know what a Monday at 331 can bring.

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Photo by Chris Schorn

Upcoming Events

The full schedule can be found on their calendar page. A few immediate highlights include:

4/13- New Rocket Union (vinyl release) with Please Stop and Floor Model

4/24- Lenz and Frenz – Certain members of Pert Near Sandstone, Farmhouse Band, San Souci Quartet, Row of Ducks

5/3 – Filthy Animals (cd release)

5/17-5/19 Art-A-Whirl –  21 bands at 331 including Mark Mallman, Red Daughters, Rad Owl, Dua Saleh, Tramps Like Us, The Goondas, Witch Watch, Slow Moe, and many more. Full lineup listed here.

Music in Minnesota Memory

by Erik Ritland, Copy Editor at Music in Minnesota:

Erik Ritland at the 331 Club for his "Firelight" EP release show in 2010
Erik Ritland at the 331 Club for his “Firelight” EP release show in 2010

The 331 has always been special to me. The laid-back, neighborhood vibe, the great beer selection, and the quality live music (most of the “under the radar” variety) make it a singular venue. 

In addition to my duties as a Copy Editor at Music in Minnesota, I’m also a songwriter. I’ve released a handful of albums, but my 2010 EP Firelight is special to me, largely because I did the release show at the 331.  

It was the perfect party: all my friends were there, including everyone involved with the album. The place was packed. When you’re a musician under the radar, you live for moments like this.  

They happen practically nightly at 331, and that’s what makes it so special. Any random night that you’re bored you can go there for great food, great beer, and quality musicians that are worth supporting. 

Music venues are the lifeblood of our community. By providing musicians the opportunity to showcase, collaborate, and experiment with their craft, venues are essential in their development. This series will continue to promote and support our local venues across Minnesota. Please see the previous articles below and go support local music. Our hope is these articles show the importance of supporting venues and places where creativity can thrive.

Caydence Records and Coffee

The James Ballentine Uptown VFW Post 245

The Baroque Room

The Cedar Cultural Center

The Parkway Theater

The Warming House

Moon Palace Books

ICEHOUSE

The Hook and Ladder Theater

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