Christopher Roberts

Our Next Chapter

In June, The Jive Mill started a new chapter.
For many of you, this was the first time you were introduced to The Jive Mill, but our roots were planted over the last four years in house shows professionally hosted by and for our community.
Ultimately, we wanted to see if Rochester shared our wish for a music-first venue.
We moved into 212 N Broadway and were open for our first show within a week. Our goal was to provide a space that held true to our house concert roots and the feel of a living room in venue form.
From the beginning we used the opportunity of a short term lease, spanning the summer, to open a test venue of The Jive Mill’s mission. At the end of the summer, we extended our initial 4 month lease which allowed us more time to assess and refine our endeavor and continue our test venue.
With this in mind, RavensFire on Dec 30th will serve as the conclusion to our test venue. But you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Now is our chance to take the lessons we have learned and put them toward our next chapter at a new address.
We are excited to be welcomed back into your homes as we move from 212 N Broadway and search for our permanent home in Rochester.

The Jive Mill has a home!

We’re excited to announce that The Jive Mill has a home!


We’ve been wanderlust vagabonds for the last four years (and don’t get us wrong, we’ll still be traveling and putting together the best house concerts around), but a permanent space allows us the ability to host bigger, better shows, with less reliance on dinner time. This has always been where we’ve been headed. And for us, it’s a dream come true.
With an education in music business and internships under my belt with artists and a publishing company in Nashville, TN, landing in Rochester (and extreme student debt) put a halt on things. Yet we quickly found there is a thriving music scene in Rochester that is swelling with a need to expand – and we saw an opportunity we couldn’t refuse to breathe life into.
We’re excited to offer Rochester a music first listening room venue. What you get when you come to The Jive Mill is great music, always. That’s the promise we strive to make and believe we have delivered every time we’ve put on a show in the past. Music first also means this will be different from many other venues – it’s not a restaurant or bar that has music to draw customers. At The Jive Mill it’s music first, and music at the center. (This also means that to start we won’t sell coffee, food, drinks, etc – though we will get creative and offer these for events when possible.)
We’re also excited to have a space that can also be used during the days and off-nights for whatever you can imagine: visual art gallery, meeting space, seminars, theater, and more! Art in rochester is going somewhere and we hope it’s The Jive Mill.
Our grand opening will be the weekend of June 16th. Good Morning Bedlam and Root River Jam will be headlining Friday the 16th, with more fun throughout the weekend. More updates for this event and others before and after are coming soon, so keep an eye out.
A sincere thanks to everyone who made this possible – it’s a remarkable thing that’s happening and we have not done it alone. A special thanks to Chris who moved us to Rochester and instilled an entrepreneur’s spirit in me, Josh who has jumped in, both feet first, with us in this endeavor, and Carsten who just does lights and sound, but who’s job description reads simply “other duties as assigned.”
(We’ve been working hard the last few months to get this up and running – see some photos below of the process.)

Root River Jam [Album Review]

My first up close listen to the music of Root River Jam was at our house concert with them last spring. I had seen the group play out at a few restaurants in town and was excited to hear them again in the intimate space of a living room.
I have to say I was blown away by what Root River Jam does when they’re playing original tunes in front of an engaged crowd, and loving every bit of it. At that house show – it was like a new band.
That same energy and love of what they do bursts through in their debut, self-titled album, Root River Jam. The first time I listened to the opening track, Wait Oh Wait, I was struck by how suddenly the ride had begun. There was no easing into what Root River Jam was offering. And then the licks at the end of the track sealed the deal. I was hooked.
If you’ve met frontman Dave Wilson, you know the kind of heart he pours into his music and the people around him. This album exudes that same spirit. Songs like Arco Freeway show the intention and care for craft that drives Dave’s songwriting, and Root River Jam as a whole.
Their version of Ashokan Farewell is a great example of the group’s ability to draw the listener into a moving, introspective experience. David Beyer, on violin, helps to pull listeners into the heart of such songs, but his fiddle lines are absolutely the icing on the cake for the “bluegrass” end of Root River Jam’s sounds.
From the swell of the bow on tracks like Arco Freeway to the punch of his solo on Don’t Let It Slip Away, Blake Bonde’s versatility as a bassist is more than apparent on this album.
And while Miles Johnston’s drumming is energetic and driving, it is absolutely precise. His additions are especially welcome on tracks such as Tears Like A River.
This album takes us through a variety of emotions and approaches, and there’s a little something for everyone. It’s fitting, as the group often describes themselves as a blend of many different styles including folk, rock, celtic, blues and jazz.
But Root River Jam, the album and the band, show some of the best of folk in Southeastern Minnesota. Dave sings about all of life – songs of celebration and of loss. The band’s name is even a reference to one of the major rivers in our region. And like much of the best folk music, it’s fun, and it’s good for dancing and singing with friends.
Root River Jam is also the result of a continuous spirit of collaboration within the group. “The oldest song is probably 6 or 7 years old. But they weren’t really complete,” Dave said as we spoke over a cup of coffee earlier this week. “The other guys in the group have really helped shape them into what they could be. It’s really a blessing to play with them.”
There’s even an appearance by local trombonist, John Sievers (The D’Sievers), on Dirty Martini, and it’s one of my personal favorite moments of the album.
But as for my personal favorite track? Leave This Town. There’s just something good about a folk song that manages to feel like the open road and a little bit of home at the same time.
The final track on the album, Start From the Beginning, is a great reminder that sometimes the beginning is the best place to start. And if this debut release is any indication, Root River Jam is just getting started.
I highly recommend picking up a copy of this album and listening to some of the best of Southeastern Minnesota wherever you go. Find your copy at or at their CD release show this weekend.
Root River Jam is:
Dave Wilson – guitar, vocals
Blake Bonde – upright bass
David Beyer – fiddle/violin
Miles Johnston – drums

Don’t forget to get out this weekend and support Root River Jam. Their CD release show will be at Kinney Creek Brewery on Saturday, March 25 from 5:30-9 pm.
Root River Jam CD Release Show
Saturday, March 25, 5:30-9 PM
Kinney Creek Brewery
1016 7th St NW, Rochester, Minnesota 55901

5:30pm a Discussion led by the MN Music Coalition.
Join Rochester area artists and music supporters for a social hour and dialogue on “How to Energize a Music Scene.”
6:45pm Music starts with Jailhouse Payback.
8:30pm Root River Jam takes the stage!

Purple Rain [On the death of Prince]

We, as The Jive Mill, have been lucky to be a part of the Minnesota music culture for the last few years. We’re relatively new around here, but it’s an incredible place for music – it doesn’t take long to learn that.
Prince was, in many ways, an example of what makes Minnesota music great. He actively influenced our corner of the world beyond his music. He was a part of Minneapolis, a part of Minnesota. Around here, “Everyone has a Prince story.” The music world lost an icon with the death of Prince, and our home lost a friend.
We saw that more clearly than ever when everything went purple.

Purple rain falling over Target Field, via the Minnesota Twins

And man, did people dance and sing!

Thousands surround First Avenue as the Prince Party continues through the night on April 21, 2016. (pic: Ben Garvin, KARE 11)

[See the ‘Purple Rain’ sing-along, courtesy 89.3 The Current]
But one thing is for sure – his music, and his influence on the state of music here in Minnesota, will live on.
For us, the best way to honor is to keep on making music, sharing music, and providing a place for others to share that music too. With maybe a dance party or two along the way.
– The Jive Mill

What is a house concert anyway?

House concerts are new to a lot of people, so we thought we’d give you some insight into what you’re getting into when you join us at The Jive Mill.

Photo via Elizabeth Nida Obert, Post-Bulletin, Rochester, MN

Give me the basics.

House concerts are casual, small concerts hosted in living rooms, backyards, or similar space. With space limitations, the crowds are smaller, but with a high ‘in person’ experience.

We’re always thinking music first.

When we put together a house concert, we’re looking primarily for local and regional artists who are looking to share their craft. A lot of musicians end up playing the bars, coffee shops, or restaurants as background music, and they would like a place to really share their work.

Hosting is easy!

We don’t always host The Jive Mill at our house. We generally find friends or acquaintances who will open up their home. Often these people have a connection with the artist they host, but almost as often they’ve simply enjoyed a previous show and trust us to bring quality art. We handle basic refreshments, seating, and financial details so that the event is simple for the host and high quality for the artist.

An intimate experience.

For us, the goal of a house concert is the intimate experience between the artist and the audience. With only about 20-30 people in a room you’re able to really give and receive feedback. You’re not just listening to a musician, you’re creating an experience alongside the musician – and we think that helps everyone experience the music just a little deeper.

For some more reading…

Did you know that we were featured in the Post-Bulletin’s 507? Check out the article here.
Minnesota Public Radio also wrote this great piece about house concerts in Mankato, MN.

Oliver Books House Show

The Jive Mill Series is back!
We’re excited to announce that we’ll be hosting Oliver Books for a house show! Oliver is a local musician who is actively involved in the creative community in Rochester, MN. Oliver has quite a story to share, and he’ll take us on a bit of that personal journey through his music.
WHO: Oliver Books, solo musician/singer-songwriter
LOCATION: SW Rochester, MN (details available when you get tickets)
TIME/DATE: 7:00 pm, July 18, 2015
TICKETS: Free event, but please RSVP on our Facebook Event or grab tickets (below) due to limited seating

Tickets available here

We’ll have a tip jar available if you want to help Oliver keep making this great music – we suggest $5.
For more about Oliver, check out this episode from The Local Experiment (The Rochester Experience) from last December!

Aaron Strumpel House Show

We’re excited to announce that we’ll be hosting Aaron Strumpel for a house show on March 13, 2015! Aaron has been making some incredibly creative music for a long while now and we’re excited to be able to bring him in to this intimate gathering in Rochester, MN!
Aaron just released his newest album, Bright Star, and you can get a preview and purchase his music here:
It’s a free event, but we’ll have a tip jar available if you want to help Aaron keep making this great music – we suggest $5. Aaron will also have his music for sale.

Chris Tripolino House Show

On February 15, 2014 The Jive Mill hosted Chris Tripolino. Chris is a singer-songwriter originally from Cedar Falls, Iowa – now of Minneapolis. The evening brought a folk/bluegrass feel aided by Ryan Van Arkel on guitar, Cara Schmit on violin, and Jesse Klosterboer on upright bass and keys.
Chris is currently finishing up his newest album, Firstfruits. You can listen to his previous album here and check out for more information.
Chris Tripolino, February 15, 2014 @ The Jive Mill, Rochester, MN

Nic Stevens House Show

Nic Stevens is a singer-songwriter from the Twin Cities and will be in Rochester for a house show on November 9th at 7pm. Nic’s music is inspired by his passionate vision of life as a spiritual journey.
We are excited for the release of his new project on October 26th. Feel free to download the first track of this new album NOW from
Nic Stevens, November 9, 2013 @ The Jive Mill, Rochester, MN