It’s a familiar scene at Betty Danger’s Country Club: two people seated in a car, slowly climbing towards the clouds.
You both wait patiently, appreciating the change of perspective every few minutes. And then, finally, it’s your moment on top. Up here, the world is still. Up here, you are eyelevel with the city skyline. Up here, you can eat tacos.
That’s the scene at Betty Danger’s, a bar and restaurant in Minneapolis, Minnesota that considers itself a country club for the 99%. Their mission? To protect the creative class. (And drink margaritas while they do it.)
From restaurants to breweries, music venues to galleries, lakes and nature trails, Minneapolis operates with an unassuming creative energy. Lady Lark, a soul-pop musician and Twin Cities native tells us, “This energy is so unexpected for a smaller city like Minneapolis, but it's very very much alive and well here”
The Minneapolis Sound
As 19th century European settlers moved in, Celtic, Scandinavian, and German sounds fused together, sowing the seeds for early iterations of folk, gospel, and jazz. Minneapolis is home to Prince, Bob Dylan, and the only full-time chamber orchestra in the entire country.
While Bob Dylan rose to fame for his own brand of stripped-down folk songs, Prince shepherded in a new era of music in the late 70’s. His style evolved into what is now known as the Minneapolis sound. Much like its namesake city (and creator), it’s funky, unique, and a little hard to pin down. Lady Lark describes it as, “That pop beat of the 80s and 90s: synth-heavy, with an element of funk and soul. It’s a sexy sound.”
Lady Lark browsing music at The Electric Fetus
The Capri Theater
In Minneapolis, community theaters were considered to be the staples of the neighborhood: a modest space to hold town hall meetings, throw weddings, hear live music, and share art.
In 1979, the Capri mainly functioned as a movie theater—but as we’ve learned in Minneapolis, even the most unassuming places can inspire enormous creativity. In between weekday screenings and Sunday matinees, the screen would roll up and transform the room into a performance space that hosted Battle of the Bands, live cooking shows, and community panels.
It was also during this year that Capri hosted a community benefit for the theater’s owner. For $4.25 people in the audience unknowingly witnessed musical history. Lady Lark says, “This is where Prince would play, before he was the almighty Prince. He was on this stage shredding on his guitar. Probably dropping down to his knees into the splits. It's almost like I could see him now.”
Today, the Capri is the last surviving community theater in North Minneapolis. They hope to revive the community theater tradition by expanding their music, art, and theater programs. By creating more opportunities for future generations of artists, the Capri secures its place in the history of Minneapolis sound while fostering the future of it.
Lady Lark in the Capri Theater
Minneapolis is the biggest proponent of its local talent. Minnesota Public Radio’s (MPR) The Current station dedicates their airwaves to local artists—but if you’re looking for some local jams to take home with you, head to Electric Fetus, a record store that boasts entire sections dedicated to local artists.
Electric Fetus is a decades-old Minneapolis institution. The smell of freshly burning incense greets you as you walk the original rickety 1968 floors, and the music they spin might keep you hanging around a little longer than you planned.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be a classic Minneapolis establishment without live music. Lady Lark elaborates, “I think that's one of the things that drew me to the Electric Fetus growing up—just knowing that these different musicians, people from Minneapolis and all over, would come here specifically when they were in town, whether it was just to look through music themselves, experience the space, or to perform.”
Exterior of the Electric Fetus record store
Land of 10,000 Lakes
While Minneapolis has no shortage of brick-and-mortar music venues, the city devotes much of its parks and outdoor spaces to hosting live shows. Dubbed the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” Minnesota has close to 12,000 bodies of water and more shoreline than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined. (And you’d never know about it, because Minnesotans are even too humble for a humble brag.)
Minneapolis summers are hot and the air is clean, making its lush parks the perfect spot to camp out and listen to music. “There’s this incredible sense of awesome that comes from taking in a live music performance at Lake Harriet,” Lady Lark says of the 335-acre park. “Being surrounded by nature, hearing music—it’s perfect.” (And if you’re worried about the notoriously cold winters, Minnesota has nine miles of enclosed walkways connecting the downtown skyways. The city literally has you covered.)
Minneapolis is responsible for some of the world’s greatest music, free of ego and pretension. “There’s a humility to the people here.” Lady Lark reflects for a moment and adds, “We don’t need to boast. If this home was good enough for Prince, it’s certainly good enough for me.”