Thaw music festival heats things up in downtown Rochester

The second year of the festival expands to six venues in downtown Rochester March 25.

Bad Bad Hats
Bad Bad Hats will perform March 25 during the Thaw music festival.

ROCHESTER — The Rochester Thaw is almost here — and we’re not talking about the shrinking snow piles around the city.

The Rochester music festival begins Saturday afternoon with bands hitting stages at six downtown Rochester venues.

Established in 2019, this year’s Thaw is only the second year of the festival due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eight days before the second year of The Thaw was to kick off at the Castle, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all live events. In 2021, a late-year spike in COVID cases led organizers to cancel again. In 2022, festival planners decided to take a year to re-imagine the festival, find sponsors and partners to bring the event back in a big way.

They did. Thaw moved from two stages in one building to a 30-act downtown festival.

The expanded event follows the formulas of popular festivals in the region: Big Turn in Red Wing, Minnesota; and Mid West Music Festival, which takes place in Winona, Minnesota, and La Crosse, Wisconsin.


Festival founder Nick Novotny said the Winona festival inspired his plans for the evolution of Thaw.

“Personally, it just came from enjoying a format and wanting to bring that here,” Novotny said when tickets went on sale in December.

Putting the festival into the auspices of My Town My Music helped it graduate to the multivenue event this year, he added.

“Now, since joining up with My Town, there’s a support system,” Novotny said. “With that whole team pushing behind this, we decided to go for it.”

The six venues, Bleu Duck; Art Heads Emporium; Cafe Steam; L.C.’s Venue; Treedome and the Chateau Theater, each feature a full lineup of music.

“I think each one has its own kind of audience that it will hit for them,” Novotny said.

Tickets get people into all venues to see any of the acts. They are $45 in advance and $55 the day of the festival online at or in person at Threshold Arts, Cafe Steam on Broadway, Art Heads Emporium or Treedome.

Jaedyn James and Minnesota indie band Bad Bad Hats headline the festival at the Chateau. The lineup also Jaedyn James; Why Not; The Immaculate Beings; Faith Boblett; Seasaw and a performance by Burly Bluffs burlesque troupe.


A full festival lineup schedule is available at .

The second year of the Rochester Thaw festival expands to six venues in downtown Rochester on March 25, 2023.
Becca Larson / Forum Design Center

John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he gets paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about Southeast Minnesota artists and musicians, he's either picking banjo, brewing beer, biking or looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter "b." Readers can reach John at 507-285-7713 or
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