TAK Music Venue aims to fill niche in F-M music scene

Todd Carlson stands Monday, Dec. 31, 2018, in the performance space of the TAK music venue at 1710 Center Ave., Dilworth.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Todd Carlson stands Monday, Dec. 31, 2018, in the performance space of the TAK music venue at 1710 Center Ave., Dilworth. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor Michael Vosburg

DILWORTH -- It’s going to be all about the music at TAK Music Venue.

No bingo.

No meat raffles.

Just a happy place for your ears.

“I don’t know, I just feel like there aren’t the number of venues there once was in this town to be able to listen to live music,” said TAK’s President Todd Carlson.

“I wanted to build a place that was actually centered around the music. … I didn’t want to build a bar that happened to have some bands on the weekends, I actually wanted to have a true performance venue that’s geared toward the music,” Carlson said Monday, Dec. 31.

The idea of creating TAK, which stands for Todd And Kirstin (Carlson’s wife and co-owner), came about a year ago. But it wasn’t until late-September when cement for the floor was poured at 1710 Center Ave., in the Gateway Center mall.

Now with a couple of shakedown events already in the books, TAK is days away from its grand opening.

Local favorite Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome will be center stage for that event.

“My goal that night is to get as many people through here, to see it and hear. I’m hanging my hat on this. It has to sound good here,” Carlson said.

Lifelong love of music

Carlson began playing in bands in eighth-grade. He now plays drums for a Christian music band, Red River Worship, which will play a Beer and Hymns event at TAK on Sunday, Jan. 6.

“An easy band to book,” Carlson joked.

Kirstin is a band director at Fargo’s Ben Franklin Middle School. She plays the flute as part of the Silver Winds Flute Quartet, which plays at TAK on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

Carlson used to be in banking. Then he worked as the CFO for Cellular Communications, until it was purchased by another firm in 2017.

“This was always eating me, this project about opening a new music venue in the area,” Carlson said.

He’s hoping TAK can revitalize a once-thriving live music scene.

“On a Friday or Saturday night (in Moorhead), you could go to Ralph’s (Corner Bar), Kirby’s, a lot of times the Trader and Trapper, (JC) Chumley’s, I mean they’d all have live music going on. Eastgate (Lounge) back in the day. There were so many places. And then across the river in Fargo, all the clubs that had live music consistently, there just aren’t as many,” Carlson said.

“That’s what I think this town is missing. You’ve got these clubs and bars that can hold 100, 200 people, then you’ve got these big venues, the Fargo Theatre, the Civic Center, the Fargodome, Bluestem,” he said. “This is, I think, showing a nice niche between” big and small venues.’

The main seating and dance floor has a little over 4,000 square feet of space, with a raised 36 feet by 24 feet stage, providing lots of room to play.

Russell Peterson, a member of Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome, said the space is tailor-made for the 12-piece, horn-powered classic rock band.

“Perfect. It’s perfect. I told Todd this room was built for us. Big stage. Big room,” Peterson said.

He hopes Carlson can attract touring bands, and that TAK will be more dance-oriented, allowing people to get up and move to the music.

Not just for music

TAK won’t be strictly a music venue, Carlson said.

It has a professional catering kitchen with refrigerators and a freezer to accommodate weddings, large parties and corporate events.

Nearby restaurants have indicated they’d also be willing to cater in food, he said.

The main room has a projector and screen that can be used for wedding parties, for bands to offer videos before their shows, or for movies.

Carlson also wants to bring in comedy acts, plays, and dance performances.

The large parking lot and untouched mall space were big sellers for Carlson. It didn’t hurt that the building is in Dilworth.

“I certainly wasn’t dead set on being in Moorhead or Dilworth, but it makes me feel kind of good to be on the Minnesota side (of the Red River), being a MInnesota guy all my life,” Carlson said.

The facility has a green room and separate bathroom for use by band members.

There are also three rehearsal rooms, complete with mixers and speakers, available for rent, Carlson said.

A happy mayor

“I think it’s a good addition for Dilworth and the overall F-M area,” Dilworth Mayor Chad Olson said Wednesday, Jan. 2.

“It seems to be a market that’s gone relatively unfulfilled.” Olson said. “It’s pretty unique and I’m excited to have it open here in Dilworth.”

Olson’s hoping that TAK’s parking lot is regularly filled.

“The location is absolutely perfect with the 34th Street corridor and Highway 10. I mean, getting in from Fargo is going to be a piece of cake. Starting with a positive, well-known band like Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome, it will be a great way to showcase the event center. I think it’s going to be kind of cool,” Olson said.

The venue offers beer and wine, thanks to a “theatre license” that allows minors to be in the facility without food being sold, Carlson said.

If he had sought a full liquor license, he would have been required to have half of his revenue come from food sales.

“I definitely don’t want to be in the food business,” Carlson said.

To pay for the bands and keep the lights and heat on, everyone who comes to TAK must buy a ticket. Tickets are available in advance through Eventbright, or can be purchased at the door.

The artists will determine how they want seating set up for their shows.

One group may want a big dance floor, another concert-style seating.

“Basically, I’m leaving it up to the talent again to design the room, which I think is a little unique compared to how some other clubs may do it,” he said.

TAK has a complete sound system, which also speeds set-up time for many bands.

“I’m really focusing on the musician’s side of it,” he said. “If that’s good, if they’re loving everything, there’s no way the people who are watching aren’t going to like it, too.

“It’s maybe a little backwards way of thinking about it, but I’ve just played too many places where the music is an afterthought and almost an annoyance sometimes.”

The philosophy is summed up in a fellow musician’s Facebook post, Carlson said.

“I can’t wait until I can play someplace where I don’t have to wait for either bingo for the meat raffle to be over for the band to start.”