Some say Minneapolis-St. Paul owes its strong music scene to the frigid weather that forces people inside for nearly half the year. Whatever the reason, the Twin Cities have some deep musical roots that surprised us.

Though national acts ranging from Prince to Soul Asylum trace their roots to this region, it has another, equally prominent claim to fame. Over the past 40 years, Minneapolis-St. Paul has evolved into a scene for the business side of the industry, with a production and distribution infra-structure that rivals any in the world.

Within the cocoon of this self-contained industry, local music prospers. Bands flock here to work their way through the local venues. In fact, with a population of 2.7 million, the Twin Cities may have more musicians per capita than any other area save Austin. City Pages, the area's popular entertainment weekly, lists more than 70 venues featuring some 200 acts.

J.P. Liesenfeld, former deejay at vintage rock station V105 FM, sings the area's praises. "If you're an up-and-coming act that hasn't established itself as a national band, this is a great place to start, because there are so many venues available to play at."

ARTISTS TO WATCH: Look for R&B acts such as the clever Har Mar Superstar; rockers Faux Jean and Guitarzan vs. Bazzilla; and the melodic pop sound of 12 Rods. If Fargo, North Dakota, folk songstress Brenda Weiler is in town, as she often is, catch her show.

WHERE TO GO: Some clubs offer different types of music on different nights of the week, so call ahead to see what's playing. In general, for jazz, visit Jazz-mine's (612-630-5299) or the Dakota Bar and Grill (651-642-1442), with its fine dining on one side and lavish live music room on the other. You'll find rock and alternative at 400 Bar (612-332-2903), the classic Turf Club (651-647-0486), Fine Line (612-338-8100), and First Avenue & 7th Street Entry (612-332-1775), with its numerous stages, great sound system, and alternative rock. Craving R&B? Try Arnellia's (651-642-5975) or South Beach Night Club and Discotheque (612-204-0790), an upscale spot that often has a strict dress code.