Steve McClellan is a long-time presence in the Twin Cities music scene, and is beloved by artists around the world. He virtually lived at First-Avenue nightclub for over 30 years; beginning as a bartender, continuing as booking agent, and eventually as its longtime general manager.
Since leaving the club in 2005, Steve has been teaching music industry classes at McNally Smith College of Music on topics related primarily to touring and booking. His volunteer work with DEMO currently includes a role as its founder & Artistic Director and he remains deeply dedicated to its mission and programs. In addition, Steve was also involved with booking live music on the Palace Stage at Wild Tymes in downtown Saint Paul. Past board engagements include the Cedar Cultural Center, Minnesota Music Academy, Developing Arts & Music Foundation, Heart & Soul Foundation, and the Downtown Minneapolis Warehouse Association.
Steve remains in demand locally and nationally as a consultant and panelist thanks to his decades of experience in the music industry and his seminal role in the Twin Cities music community.
Steve is widely regarded as one of the last of the independents
Andy Cizan, Jam Productions
Steve always ran the club [First Avenue] with heart, and not just a business sense, and bands appreciated that.
Dan Murphy, Soul Asylum
[Steve] sort of reminded me of Hilly Crystal from CBGB’s: the same kind of tough-talking guy, but when you got to know him, you realized he was in the business because he loved the musicians.
Chris Osgood, Suicide Commandos
In running First Avenue Theater in Minneapolis for 30 years, Steve McClellan has given the city an incredible resource. Not only a place to hear the best national and international music acts, but also a place for local music to receive exposure and encouragement. To survive that long in music takes many skills and qualities, including honesty, reliability, credibility, and personality – if these are lacking, the word soon gets round, and people stop coming. That Steve is still in business says it all.
Richard Thompson, songwriter/guitarist
The first time I met Steve was at First Avenue, he ran the place, his big smile and realness, to me that didn’t scream boss, to me it murmurred artist, the more time I spent with him, the more I realized Steve wasn’t there to be a boss, he was there to nurture, keep, protect, & create a safe place the artist & an even safer for the music! Thank God for Steve McClellan, without him there would be no Mpls Sound!
Louie Anderson, comedian
There is no one in the history of the Twin Cities music scene that I admire more than Steve McClellan. The latter half of the term “Music Business” has confounded many (including myself) who were drawn to this constantly mutating and vibrant art form. We, who are firm in our belief that the business must always serve the art, desperately need an advocate that understands and supports this fundamental axiom. In my experience, Steve is one of the few people who have consistently been able to straddle the fence between art and commerce while always keeping the balance of power straight. I applaud the people at DEMO for their efforts and wholly endorse the concept of establishing a headquarters for the varied Minneapolis music community with Steve McClellan as its fearless leader/spokesperson.
Peter Jesperson, Twin Tone Records