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Concerts come back to Owatonna Music Space

Music space, owatonna, concerts, downtown, music
Mark Woodrich stands near the stage inside his business The Music Space of Owatonna, which is open again for local and national acts after two years. The business also stocks vinyl and CDs, and has seating for the carry-out lunch crowd. Staff photo by Joni Hubred
Joni Hubred, News Editor

Mark Woodrich opened The Music Space of Owatonna in 2019, with a plan to bring live music to downtown Owatonna.

He’d barely gotten started when COVID-19 hit but after two years, he has reopened the store’s stage in a big way, already drawing local and national acts. On Sunday, renowned guitarist and singer Jim Avett–father of The Avett Brothers Seth and Scott–traveled from North Carolina to perform.

“This place has always been a concert venue first, with a record store,” said Woodrich, whose shop also carries a wide selection of vinyl and CDs.

Woodrich said he always loved playing music but figured out early on “other people played music better but not everyone can manage the business end.” Over the years, he worked as a concert promoter and band manager.

“This is sort of the culmination of everything I’ve done,” he said, “to create a great place for music in Owatonna.”

While open to all genres, Woodrich tries to bring in bands that reflect what people respond to best–and he’s always looking for suggestions. The Music Space stage is becoming known among musicians, and they are reaching out to him as well.

“I want to be on the national map so that artists know we’re a great place for people to play,” he said, adding the stage is also open to “great local artists. I want to support great music no matter where it comes from.”

Local musician Rachel Schroeder is also organizing open mic nights on Thursdays, 7-10 p.m., for anyone looking to perform for an audience. That has grown to the point where musicians are asking for a second night “so they can jam a little more,” Woodrich said.

A couple of open mic participants have gotten their own shows, he added.

Growth in downtown Owatonna–including the North Cedar Avenue streetscape and opening of the Courtyard by Marriott hotel on Cedar–give Woodrich a lot of hope for the future. He’s already getting foot traffic from the hotel, as well as guests attending concerts.

While he’ll probably be hiring and customers may see some new faces, “that doesn’t mean I don’t love this place.” He foresees growth in the city’s central business district that will “foster a scene where people are more together.”

In fact, Woodrich invites anyone who’s having lunch in town to stop by and utilize the store’s seating. And don’t worry about a beverage with your carry-out; he stocks a variety of craft sodas, including beverages like Dorothy’s Root Beer that is made in Ely and only available locally at The Music Space of Owatonna.

“Anybody is invited in here… you can put on a record and enjoy the music and your lunch,” he said, “and possibly take that music home with you, too.”

The Music Space of Owatonna is located at 216 N. Cedar Ave. To learn about upcoming concerts–including folk music duo Pine & Fire, international touring guitarist Chris Duarte, and high-energy rock band Störmbreaker–follow the business on Facebook.

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