All-ages venues invite musicians to downtown Fargo

Jessica Jasperson, MSUM Mass Communications and English

Fargo, N.D. — With downtown Fargo’s already eclectic music scene, live music is accessible to seemingly everyone, if 21 and older. Working toward strengthening the music scene even more, two venues open their space to viewers of all ages.

When the sun goes down, downtowners usually find swarms of people going into bars to get their live music fix, which is sadly limited to those who are old enough to drink alcohol. However, the Red Raven Espresso Parlor and The New Direction offer an alternative.

These alcohol-free venues not only give hip-hop, punk, electronic, acoustic and folk artists a space to perform, they give music lovers a space to listen.

The Red Raven Espresso Parlor tuned to more than coffee

The Red Raven thrives on being one-of-a-kind, open and accepting for the Fargo-Moorhead community in hopes to feature not just quality music, but quality art, coffee and healthy alternatives.

The Red Raven’s stage hosts acoustic performances, comedy nights, spoken word poetry and singer/songwriter nights. Plenty of tables and chairs welcome people to enjoy a favorite coffee drink and to soak in the tunes.

Luke Safely has worked at The Red Raven for 2 1/2 years. Since its relocation in January 2011 he doesn’t want people to confuse the old Red Raven’s music scene with the current location’s music scene.

Luke Safely is part of the worker owned and operated Red Raven Espresso Parlor. He is often seen behind the counter serving up coffee drinks and more.

“The old Red Raven was constantly metal shows and like really loud shows. And that’s what the New Direction has become, because it’s replaced the location of the old Red Raven,” Safely said. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, if we could still have those shows here that would be kinda cool. But, we mostly do singer/songwriter quiet shows, which works well for the customers and coffee shop vibe too, because it doesn’t drive people away.”

Some performers the Red Raven has hosted include: Jade and the Greenhouse, Restless Vibes and Rogue Valley.

“We mostly have acoustic shows. Once in a while we’ll have indie bands or an electronic artist, but that doesn’t happen as much,” Safely said. “Due to the acoustics of the room, if it gets too loud the sound bounces back and forth and it doesn’t sound good.”

No performances of cover songs will be found here. A copyright policy is intact at the Red Raven, so only original content is allowed.

The Red Raven is a coffee shop first and foremost, but the openness of its space to the community does not go unnoticed. When The Red Raven stage isn’t being graced by musicians, it’s used for weekly comedy nights on Tuesdays and for other special events like spoken word poetry.

The Red Raven Espresso Parlor, 916 Main Ave.

  • Welcomes all ages
  • Doesn’t charge musicians to perform
  • Free shows, unless otherwise stated
  • Hosts weekly shows, but mostly on the weekends
  • Sells coffee shop items

The New Direction jams to their own beat

The New Direction prides itself in being an all-ages venue, where alcohol isn’t necessary to have a good time and listen to all kinds of music.

Jack Stenerson performing at The New Direction, on a stage he is more than comfortable playing on. Stenerson and his band played in this spot when The Red Raven used to be located at 14 Roberts St. in downtown Fargo.

Jack Stenerson, co-owner of The New Direction, explains the genres of music played at his venue vary depending on the night.

“It turns out to be mostly punk and hard core and metal stuff, but we’re really open to a lot of things,” Stenerson said. “We’ve had really successful hip-hop shows here, but mainly the shows that do the best, the shows that sell out are your popular punk, indie hard core bands.

The New Direction’s stage area allows room to move around, and for the audience to get close and personal with the musicians.

Some of the bands that have performed at The New Direction include: Baltic to Boardwalk, The Greenery and Dear Rabbit.

A hang out room for the musicians is plastered with posters in this industrial feeling venue. Stenerson hopes to get bunk beds soon so touring bands can have a place to relax and sleep while on the road.

The New Direction plans to expand what its venue provides with weekly comedy nights and free study nights. Stenerson has been going to shows in F-M since he was 14 years old. He wants to give younger generations the up-close and personal music experiences he had while growing up.

Booths, chairs and couches are available for seating in The New Direction where Stenerson works toward providing a welcoming atmosphere for people of all ages.

The downtown buildings and strong support of the music scene can’t compare to the newly built establishments outside of downtown Fargo.

“It’s just kind of a different community down here,” Stenerson said. “We have other businesses here helping us out. Orange Records helps us out with ticket sales and things like that. So it’s nice being around other businesses that are more dedicated to the community than people know.”

The entry way of The New Direction is a set of descending cement stairs that lead to a world of music some haven’t discovered yet. The New Directions’ door is open for all people who enjoy music and hanging out.

“We just want to stress always that it’s basically for everyone,” Stenerson said. “You don’t have to know this style of music, and you don’t have to know somebody here. If you’re bored one night just kind of wander on down and see what you like. We just want it to be a place that everyone can make it their own.”

The New Direction, 14 Roberts St.

  • Welcomes all ages
  • Doesn’t charge musicians to perform
  • Cover cost ranges $5-$12
  • Hosts shows throughout the week
  • Sells candy, bottles of soda, tea and coffee

Bands and musicians who are interested in performing at The New Direction contact thenewdirectionfargo@gmail.com. Bands and musicians who are interested in performing at The Red Raven Espresso Parlor contact theredravenespressoparlor@gmail.com.

(Edited by Becki Degeest, MSUM Multimedia Journalism)

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