Submited photo of Brianna Lane, Greg Neis and John Louis.

Musicians-turned-entrepreneurs to open unique performance venue in Minneapolis

New "listening room" music venue is the first of its kind in the Twin Cities

By Kevyn Burger

In the eight years that Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter Brianna Lane toured the country, there was a particular style of venue that she came to prefer — a so-called “listening room.”

“I played them in Boston and Atlanta and even in Fort Atkinson, Wis.,” says Lane, 37. “It’s odd that the Twin Cities, which is such a center for music, hasn’t had this kind of performance space.”

That will soon be changing.

Lane, along with two other local musicians — her partner Greg Neis and her friend John Louis — signed a lease for a listening room in south Minneapolis. Called “The Warming House,” it will begin staging shows in the spring featuring artists who perform acoustic folk and Americana music.

“Listening rooms are not bars or restaurants; people don’t come to eat or drink or talk with friends while a musician plays away,” she said. “This space is music first; it will be for performers and attentive audiences.”

Lane imagines that the intimate 40-seat house will fill a niche for musicians and their fans. She says it will resemble a miniature version of the Cedar Cultural Center or the Varsity Theater, and provide a venue for local or touring acts that have a following but aren’t ready to fill the larger houses.

“We will be curating shows, booking the talent and setting up weekly open mic nights,” she said. “We’ll have songwriting workshops and will host all ages shows; there’s not enough places in town that do that.”

Over the past few decades, the building at 4001 Byrant Ave. South has been leased by a series of small businesses.  Currently it’s a center offering self-defense, karate and fitness classes; prior to that it housed a consultant and an upholstery shop.

The business plan for the Warming Room sets it up as an educational venue; as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization, it will rely on donations, sponsorships and grants.

Lane, who currently teaches guitar, banjo, voice and songwriting, says she and her partners are still exploring how the space will be used.

“We’re excited to raise up songwriting and provide artists with a place to get paid to play original music,” she says.