On a pilgrimage for great live music? Join American Way's caravan to these up-and-coming music scenes, where today's artists seek their big break.
Ask the person sitting next to you to rattle off a few cities that are home to thriving up-and-coming music scenes. Cities that will likely produce the next "big star." Chances are they'll recite one or all of the following: New York, L.A., Chicago, even Austin or Seattle.

Though all are proven spawning grounds for great talent, a number of lesser-known spots offer the fan in all of us the chance to say of next year's hot band, "I saw them when they were playing at this hole-in-the-wall!"

Take the Twin Cities, for instance. On a recent Tuesday night at Minneapolis' First Avenue & 7th Street Entry, where the club scenes for Prince's Purple Rain were shot, we found nearly 1,000 people in attendance for "new band Tuesday." The talent was certainly hit and miss; some could someday be a hit, and others, well, they missed. But it didn't matter to these fans. "I love it. I think it offers a chance to see something new and different from what's already out there," says spectator Peggy Starr. "Minneapolis is totally supportive of their local bands. You can see a local band any night of the week ... and they sometimes get to open for the big acts coming through here."

To help us get the skinny on Minneapolis and other burgeoning spots for great local music, we talked to a host of radiodeejays and program directors, whose business it is to take the pulse of their music communities. What follows is a tale of four cities, each overrun with area bands vying for the dream. Or, if nothing else, keeping their parents up at night worrying about whether they'll ever get a "real job."

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL