January of 2014 was going to mark the FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of the Annual Amplified Life Showcase… but the unthinkable happened. The Horst Family, proprietors of the legendary Artists’ Quarter in St. Paul, announced to The Star Tribune that they would begin shuttering the doors to their iconic venue, and the last concert to ever happen on the AQ’s stage would take place December 31st, 2013. The landmark venue where we held our Showcase every year, for the past four years straight, announced they were closing their doors. Forever.
It is a tragedy that our community is losing such an iconic music venue when as recently as 2013, The Artists’ Quarter was listed by Downbeat Magazine as one of the 150 best places to hear live jazz WORLDWIDE and locally The City Pages named it The Best Jazz Club of 2013.
I can’t begin to express how much of a loss this is for the community at large. The Artists’ Quarter has been a home away from home, as well as one of the places “where it all began”, for me and many others. It’s an especially poignant loss for me personally. The AQ gave many entrepreneurs like myself our first opportunity to promote an event and for many young artists it became the first place they ever performed on a stage.
The Horst Family (Kenny, Dave, Dawn, Steven, & others) were one of our earliest supporters. When Amplified Life first started organizing events around 1999, The Artists’ Quarter lets us throw a Hip Hop party in their space. At the time, Hip Hop concerts were unheard of at The AQ. But they gave us a shot anyway and we sold out the show. By the time doors opened that night we had attracted a huge crowd and even after we started there was still a line full of people leading out the door and down the street clamoring to get in. We would have loved to let them in but by that point the AQ was over fire code capacity (by far; and yes, “fire code” capacity is a real thing). There simply was no more room… it was shoulder to shoulder. Excellent.
Years later, Kenny Horst personally helped me get enrolled at McNally Smith College of Music and then gave me a job tending bar at The AQ while I went to school. With such extensive personal and professional history written at the Artists’ Quarter, I am truly saddened that we don’t have the option to celebrate the Showcase’s 5 year anniversary on our home field, but… the show must go on.
Amplified Life, Inc. is currently seeking a new home for the Showcase and we look forward to announcing the change as soon as we get details firmed up.
Thankfully, it’s no too late to make some memories of your own…. You still have until the 1st of the year to show your love and support to The Horst Family by stopping by to see a show. You can find their calendar and more information at ArtistsQuarter.com
Lastly I’d like to thank the Horsts and the extended Artists’ Quarter family, for all they’ve done for me, my family, and my friends.