With Sean “Har Mar Superstar” Tillmann, Adam “Owl City” Young and Cloud Cult leader Craig Minowa among its native sons, Owatonna seems like the kind of small-to-middling-size Minnesota city that should have a cool music venue.
That’s exactly what Minneapolis expat Mark Woodrich thought when he started booking shows this summer at the Concert Club of Owatonna, aka Jefts Hall, an ornate library in what used to be the campus of Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, which closed in 2008. Woodrich is able to rent out the venue and get enough locals to come out for a modest ticket price to make it all work, with a mix of tables and chairs for seating options.
“There’s a lot of us down here who used to live in the Cities and still go to shows up there, but want something closer to home,” said Woodrich, a realtor by trade with a little concert booking experience in his past.
To his surprise, even metro area music fans have been happy to drive south for his concerts, which so far have included the Pines, Dusty Heart and John Magnuson.
On Friday, the venue hosts a songwriterly, Americana-flavored double-bill with Milwaukee’s rising star Trapper Schoepp and Billy Dankert of Gear Daddies fame, from just a little further south of Owatonna in Austin, Minn. Tickets for the show (7 p.m.) are $17 and available via the Concert Club's Facebook page. More gigs are being lined up through the winter, including a Feb. 23 date with Minneapolis’ great folk/bluegrass pickers the Roe Family Singers.
“For someone in the southern suburbs, it’s about the same distance as going to the Turf Club,” he pointed out. Somehow, though, we’re guessing there’s not an adult novelties shop next door like at the Turf.