by Grace Gaskill
As soon as I open the car door my ears are filled with the twang of banjos and the raw voices of some up-and-coming yet still undiscovered musician. My feet crunch the chewed-up pavement parking lot as I make my way over to the tiny building. The thin walls of the quaint and humble Underground Music Café allow the sound to seep down Hamline Avenue and into the surrounding neighborhood, which ends up attracting music lovers and coffee drinkers alike.
Underground is a small coffee shop that resembles the sunken-in living room of a house. The seating options vary from a long bar and stools to round tables and chairs to comfortable arm chairs. The environment is quiet, comfortable, and hip. Bright colors and musical instruments line the walls. In the back corner is a simple stage for musicians and performers to share their talents. Underground has some sort of band, solo artist or event every night of the week, and every Sunday is open mic night.
Underground serves a wide variety of beverages, ice cream and even some good food options. Their coffee is excellent because it is fresh and local, supplied from True Stone Coffee Roasters in St. Paul. Their food is both fresh and filling. They serve soups, salads and sandwiches, gluten-free and vegan options, homemade donuts and breakfast food all day long.
Underground isn’t like other coffee shops. Not only does it offer good coffee and food, it also provides a great study space, a place to sit and chat with a friend, an environment to discover a new musician and a venue to showcase your own talent. The large open-room layout provides an atmosphere that allows customers to feel like they are in their own home rather than in a public coffee shop. Each time I step into Underground I feel like I’ve gone over to my uncle’s house to hang out with family for a while.
“I haven’t played out and around that much at all, so it’s a great place for me to get experience,” says Jed LePlant, a second-year Youth and Family Studies major, the RA of Armory Hall and a musician on the rise. “Instead of sitting around my grandparents’ table or having a jam session with friends, it gives me a real audience, but it’s not a full-blown performance with 4,000 audience members. Underground is a good in-between venue.”
LePlant has played at Underground a few times over the last couple years. Sometimes he does a solo gig, and other times he plays a song or two with another group. Both have been a good learning experience for him. LePlant has a couple connections at Underground. He emails them and asks to play, but sometimes they email him with upcoming opportunities.
“We like it when you guys come do this. It helps out the café,” says Ursula, an Underground employee. “There are definitely opportunities to make [students performing at the café] a regular thing.”
LePlant encourages UNW students to perform at Underground because it is a pretty easy way to acquire performance experience. I would encourage you to go there and check it out yourself. The venue, atmosphere, fresh coffee and hip vibes will make it your new go-to for studying and hanging out.
Hours of Operation
Monday through Thursday – 6:30am-8:00pm
Friday – 6:30am-10:00pm
Saturday – 7:00am-10:00pm
Sunday – 7:00am-8:00pm
1579 Hamline Ave.
Falcon Heights, MN 55108
undergroundmusiccafe.com or talk to Jed LePlant.