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Two of Minneapolis' smallest music rooms with big reputations, Mortimer's and the Aster Café, have each announced their return to hosting indoor live performances in July.

Mortimer's will host its first gig in nearly 16 months on July 7 with Whiskey Rock 'n' Roll Club Mpls and "guests." That first show was just intended to be a free test-run of sorts timed to manager Alex Walsh's birthday, but Walsh said, "It went from us just wanting a low-key start to going all-in pretty quickly."

Subsequent shows in the vintage saloon's rocking back room — located on the ever-changing corner of Franklin and Lyndale avenues south of downtown — include Pool Boy (July 8), New Primals (July 9), LuLu Champion (July 15), the Rope (July 17), Silt (July 22), and Eleganza! with the Toxenes (July 23). Music will only be offered Thursday through Saturday nights to start. Then in August, shows will expand to midweek with a Wednesday residency by explosive punk newbies Low Rats through the end of the month.

Walsh said audiences will be capped at a somewhat limited capacity at first "until feels comfortable." One other difference, he noted: "No more $5 covers."

"I think we all learned [from the pandemic] local bands deserve to get paid more," Walsh said, citing $7-$15 covers as more the norm.

Seems totally reasonable and applaudable.

At the songwriters-driven Aster — where the tables and chairs inside the dining room make for natural spacing and limited capacity — the café in the heart of the historic St. Anthony Main riverfront recruited an old friend to kick things off: Kraig Jarret Johnson of Run Westy Run and Golden Smog will perform with "friends" two nights July 9 and 10.

Among the evening shows that follow is an intimate date with Tina Schlieske and her sister Laura Schlieske on July 18, plus Chris Lynch's Dust of Suns (July 16), Billy Johnson (July 17), Rachel Kilgour (July 30) and Ryan Traster (July 31).

"The biggest change we are excited for this summer is our new stage location," Aster talent buyer Jen Whittier noted. "We relocated it to the middle wall of the space, and are super-stoked for guests to enjoy the new thrust-style set up."

Tickets for Aster gigs are being sold as dinner reservations via Look for updates on sporadic advance tickets at Mortimer's via Both venues are also serving food full-time/full-capacity again daily.

Here are their schedules so far:


  • July 7: Whiskey Rock 'n' Roll Club "You Get What You Pay For" (live album recording)
  • July 8: Pool Boy / Smellkin Ernesto / Hyooman
  • July 9: New Primals / Mal / Silt
  • July 10: The Assortment
  • July 15: LuLu Champion
  • July 16: Cola Horse / Trash Catties
  • July 17: The Rope / Autumn / Bloody Pink
  • July 22: Silt / Mommy Log Balls / Obchod Na Korze
  • July 23 Eleganza! / Toxenes / DJ MeganO
  • July 24: Jeweler
  • July 29: Annex Panda / Funk n' Spuds / pureSHIFTER
  • July 30: Gothess: Blade Runner Theme
  • July 31: The SuperModels / Joey Joey Michaels
  • Wednesdays in August: Low Rats and friends

Aster Café

  • July 9-10: Kraig Jarret Johnson
  • July 16: Dust of Suns / Brother Timothy
  • July 17: Billy Johnson & the Hillcats
  • July 18: Tina and Laura Schlieske
  • July 23: Brooke Elizabeth / Jenna Graves
  • July 24: Aaron Seymour and friends
  • July 30: Rachel Kilgour
  • July 31: Ryan Traster / Hannah Von der Hoff

Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658