Your Guide to Local Live Music Venues

From open mics to blues jams, there’s no shortage of live music around the lake.
Local music acts fill the warmly lit window of Excelsior’s 318 Cafe several nights a week.

The Lake Minnetonka area is home to dozens of independent coffee shops and chef-driven restaurants, many of which transform into intimate settings for live music on certain days of the week. Here, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best places to catch a show close to home.

318 Café

Founded in 2004 by two musicians and restaurant-industry veterans, this cozy 50-seat coffeehouse has hosted a variety of premier local artists like Dan Wilson, Caroline Smith and Romantica. Up-and-coming acoustic duos are as likely to grace the stage as big-name acts, making it the perfect place to discover your new favorite artist. Music starts around 8 p.m. most nights, and covers are generally in the $5 to $10 range. Check website for full schedule of events.

Dunn Brothers Coffee

A bustling coffee shop by day, laid-back listening room by night. Excelsior’s Dunn Brothers location features not only local food, beverages and art but also local musical acts like jazz guitarist Kelly Blau and folk-rock band Due North. The monthly open mic nights provide a chance to see well-established singer-songwriters try out new material or newcomers making their debut. Live music Thursday through Saturday nights; call or check Facebook for full event schedule.

Excelsior Brewing Co.

Right in the heart of downtown Excelsior, the popular taproom boasts an eclectic roster of live acts, from folk and alt-country jam bands to contemporary rock outfits and cover bands. If a late-night concert isn’t your thing, stop by for Brewgrass Sundays, a weekly event featuring live bluegrass music from noon to 2 p.m. Most shows are free and take place Saturdays 8 to 11 p.m.

Arts Center on 7

This multi-use arts center, which houses the award-winning Minnetonka Theatre program, hosts many of the district’s student band and choir concerts. The space is also home to the Music Association of Minnetonka, a community organization of 10 performing groups that offer free community concerts. “It’s a wide-ranging organization,” says facility manager Collin O’Brien, noting that the center occasionally hosts performances by outside artists and is available for private rental.

Wayzata Brew Works

The brand-new brewery in the Boatworks building features stunning views of Lake Minnetonka and a 2,500-square-foot taproom where visitors can enjoy a craft beer and live music on Friday and Saturday nights, making it a new favorite go-to spot for a date night. Frequent performers include the high-energy country/rock Shalo Lee Band and classic-rock cover group Mixed Brew. Most events are Fridays and Saturdays 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. See website for full details.

Unitarian Universalist Church of Minnetonka

At this 100-year-old landmark building, music performance is not limited to Sunday-morning services. UUCM hosts an annual performing arts series that brings a remarkable array of musical talent to the stage. Steve Katz, an internationally known guitarist and founding member of pop group Blood, Sweat & Tears, performed earlier this year, and upcoming concerts by the Minnetonka Civic Orchestra and the Lux String Quarter are sure to impress.