The Turf Club is an historic landmark in the Twin Cities music world. One might wonder how this club set in the Midway—the land between downtown Minneapolis and downtown Saint Paul—amongst porn and pawn shops, liquor stores and Ax Man, maintains a name at all. This is not the hubbub of nightlife; no river views, no skyscrapers, no horse carriages or antique fire trucks, no pretty street lights, no Snoopy. It’s University bus stops and Snelling traffic.
But part of the Turf’s charm lies in the very fact that it is set apart, an outcast from the rest of the busy modernizing Twin Cities. A hop and skip to one of the numerous venues in Minneapolis is always an enticing option, but Saint Paul has a unique and opposing aesthetic to Minneapolis, one that is captured on the outskirts of downtown, at the Turf. Rich in unpolished history, this is a rock ‘n’ roll joint that gives everyone what they expect from a Midwest bar: flannels and beer. Sorry, there ain’t no chocolate martinis here.
Opening in the ’40s as a two-steppin’ country bar, mellowing a bit through the folk artsy ’60s, morphing with the dance wave of the ’70s, then embracing the grunge of the ’80s, the club is like a treatise on Minnesota music. And this brings us to the other part of the club’s success: its consistent dedication to local and independent music, something this town of ten thousand musicians definitely recognizes and even appreciates enough to maintain loyalty in the face of an adverse location. So much so that the adversity becomes even more reason to frequent the damn place. [St Paul Almanac]