All That Jazz

Experience Great Seafood, Cocktails and World-Class Music all in one Place

Article by Sue Baldani

Photography by Lucy Hawthorne

Originally published in Edina Lifestyle

While the Smack Shack has always been known for its casual coastal cuisine, great cocktails and tap beers, its Bloomington location is now also a destination for world-class live music. Performances take place in what it calls its Funky Little Shack. 

“The Funky Little Shack was originally designed as a small lounge area and has now evolved into our live music presentation area,” says Geoffrey Trelstad, beverage director and manager of the live music program. With its distressed tin ceiling, octopus-style light fixture, garage door, eclectic street art, neon sign, old-school stereo console and baby grand piano, it certainly is funky, but also fun and a great place to showcase musicians.

“We decided to offer music because we wanted to grow some culture, and when you offer quality culture like jazz music or jazz-informed music, I think that can kind of grow itself organically,” he says. “Offering that to our guests in this part of the Twin Cities, where there’s not a whole lot of live music, is great.”

Since the music program’s debut in mid-September, Smack Shack has hosted some renowned and talented musicians in its Funky Shack. “We’ve had Katia Cardenas, who is a pretty well-known local vocalist and jazz-centric who also performs all genres of music,” says Geoffrey. “We’ve also had Billy Peterson, a Grammy Hall of Fame bass player, and most notably as the bass player on Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks album, as well his nephew, Jason Peterson Delaire, who was a member of the group of musicians in Prince’s various different bands.” Jason is also Michael Bolton's keyboard and saxophone player.

Another musician, Zacc Harris, has played in the Shack too. “He’s probably one of the top jazz guitarists in the region, and he's also been a part of a couple of big jazz super groups – one called Atlantis Quartet and the other called the Beautiful Sunshine.”

Omar Abdulkarim has taken the stage as well. “He's a great trumpet player and a legacy player,” he says. “We've also had his 88-year-old father, Ahmed, playing trumpet here as well.”

In October, the Smack Shack also started hosting the Ray Barnard band. “Ray is like a jazz-informed R&B songwriter and a piano player,” says Geoffrey. “You could call him a blue-eyed soul with a kind of Al Green vibe. He has a lot of original, well-constructed songs which are really chill and very tuneful. He also has a really great rotating cast of some of the best R&B jazz-informed players behind him.”

For Geoffrey, booking these musicians takes him back to his roots. “I’ve been a hospitality guy for the better part of 30 years, and I've been involved with booking jazz and various genres of music for years.” 

Performances take place on Friday and Saturday nights and the feedback from customers has been very positive. “It's entertainment with these world-class musicians and it’s really exciting for us because I think this community can really appreciate the level of art and culture that's being offered.” There's also no cover charge to come in and enjoy these amazing performances.

Having this type of entertainment is just another great reason to hang out at the Smack Shack. “We're known for seafood and for flying in fresh oysters and lobsters,” says general manager Julianna Nelson. “While it's not fine dining, you get the same quality of food that you would get if you were at a fine dining restaurant. So, that same high quality is there, but the vibe is a little more casual and fun, and the music just enhances that.”

Along with the delicious and fresh food, there is a great selection of beverages. “We have an eclectic mix of cocktails including a lot of classics like the Hurricane, and we do all sorts of cool innovative things with tap cocktails, which are very unique and have a nice organic base mixer,” says Geoffrey. “There’s also a spicy margarita named the Cheech with smoked paprika salt, which is delicious and spicy, and a Passion Fruit Margarita. We have a lovely wine list from entry-level to expert level too.”

The best food, drinks and great entertainment equals happy customers. The musical lineup is updated every few weeks so customers can see who’s playing and make plans for a great night out. For more, go to

3801 Minnesota Dr. | 952-333-7722

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