Beasley’s Big Band Brings Swing Dancing to the Wabasha Caves

Beasley’s Big Band brings jazz to the Wabasha Caves as part of Swing Night.
Jim Hoar on the left, and the late Chuck Beasley on the right.

The Wabasha Street Caves were home to a speakeasy during Prohibition. Today, the legality of liquor has changed but the music has stayed the same, thanks in part to the efforts of Beasley’s Big Band. The jazz group, which plays every third Thursday, is part of the Wabasha Caves’ weekly Swing Night.

What sets Beasley’s apart from other groups, says band manager and trombone player Jim Hoar, is the arrangements. “Our music was custom-arranged just for the band by Chuck Beasley. Most other bands don’t have that; they’re buying sheet music from a company,” says Hoar.

Beasley, who founded the band back in 1991, arranged songs from big band legends such as Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington. While Beasley lost his fight against cancer four years ago, Hoar says the 19 musicians keep his legacy alive by continuing to play his music.

When it comes to venues, Hoar says there’s no space like the Wabasha Caves. The band got started 15 years ago by friends who played in a college band together; in addition to the Caves, they perform every three months at O’Gara’s on Snelling Avenue.

Hoar says the Caves are perfect for those who can’t resist the beat of swing music. “I’d say 80 percent of the people who walk in the doors are dancing,” says Hoar.

Dance with Beasley’s Big Band
Wabasha Street Caves
215 Wabasha St. S.
November 19 // 7-9 p.m.