The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Downtown St. Paul: Jazz in the Artistƒ?TMs Quarter

By Colin Williams

It was a bit overwhelming to be in college in advance of everyone else at first. A week after the rest of the MacWard Bound people had arrived and everyone had already been around the campus parties a few times, it was finally time for something else to do. A few friends and I wanted to get into the Cities for a change, and going on a recommendation by the cashier in Applause Records, we decided to check out downtown St. Paul and the Artist’s Quarter.

The Artist’s Quarter is located on 7th Place in downtown two blocks from Stop 14 on the 21 bus line. Downtown St. Paul is clean and attractive—but this being a Sunday, and St. Paul, there was really nothing going on besides the show.

The venue is inside the Hamm Building and down a flight of stairs, located in a dark, candle-lit room decorated with jazz posters. Most of the patrons were friendly and though frustrating for the smoking population, the room was smoke-free and clean thanks to the Twin Cities’ smoking ban.

Local favorite Happy Apple was playing. Not knowing them at first, I wasn’t prepared for how incredibly talented these three guys are. The first song was a complex and trippy 20-minute tune with some ridiculous name, but the following songs were shorter and often less complex, some of them ballads and others upbeat, jamming kind of jazz songs. The drummer, David King, introduced each song with what was essentially a comedy routine, explaining songs with names like “He’s Okay” and “Marc Anthony Returns” with stories about croquet and dead cats. Another song was a story about Vikings invading Cuba.
All three are very unconventional musicians; looking physically like a rock band with Mike Lewis, the saxophonist, looking like Jay of Jay and Silent Bob fame and bassist Eric Fratzke jamming like a member of an indie band.
Altogether, the two sets were about two hours each and broken up by a half-hour intermission. The songs ranged from conventional modern jazz similar to Coltrane or Charlie Parker, to some pretty wild, almost post-rock stuff. I was particularly impressed with the salsa-esque “Vikings invading Cuba” tune. Most came with ridiculous names, but all songs were filled with such a barrage of melody that at one point it sounded like six guys backed by a conga.

My overall impression of the whole experience was that of a classy, clean and large venue with a right capacity that contained some rather incredible jazz. They have gigs about 6 nights a week with admission ranging from $4 to $12, so it’s a pretty good buy for the relatively upscale vibe of the place.
Happy Apple won’t be back for a while but some other acts may be worth a listen. Their website,, is straightforward with a calendar of upcoming gigs and other events. If you’re interested in jazz and chilling out to it or just wanting to try something new, it’s definitely worth 20 minutes on a bus and the change in your couch to go see some incredible music while getting out of the Mac bubble for an evening.

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    Colin InceSep 6, 2019 at 10:00 am

    some truly superb info , Gladiolus I discovered this.