M-Shop 50th Anniversary

On January 4, 1974, something new opened in the basement of the Iowa State Memorial Union. The Student Union Board (SUB) had an idea to turn what used to be the Memorial Union's maintenance shop into a live entertainment venue and decided it was fitting to keep the name. Thus, The Maintenance Shop was born. Fifty years later, the incredible music and vibration from the subs can still be heard and felt around the West end of the MU, and the event programming is still being entirely run by SUB students, guided by a professional staff member.

The Maintenance Shop is now Ames' oldest continuously operating nightclub. Legendary English folk musician Richard Thompson was asked how many clubs he played in the mid-seventies that are still around today. He responded, "One place in Dublin and the M-Shop." Throughout the years, the M-Shop (as it is lovingly called) has hosted thousands of patrons, hundreds of performers, and a couple of internationally syndicated TV series. Located just inside the west entrance of the Iowa State Memorial Union, this tiny brick room has presented a startling range of local, regional, national, and internationally known talent on its stage.

In this intimate setting, patrons have heard the best local talent performing music, comedy, musicals, and theater and established artists performing blues, jazz, rock, alternative, hip-hop, reggae, country, folk, and everything else. From blues greats Muddy Waters and Koko Taylor, jazz masters Chick Corea and Pat Metheny, guitar virtuoso Leo Kottke, folk legend Arlo Guthrie, the incredible Taj Mahal, R & B / funk icons War and Tower of Power, to modern rock monsters Jack Johnson, Smashing Pumpkins, OK GO, The Replacements, Soul Asylum, Tripping Daisy, Silversun Pickups, Matt Wertz and The Academy Is... More recently, the M-Shop has hosted The Civil Wars, Thompson Square, Andy Grammer, Dia Frampton, The Devil Makes Three, Good Old War, The Lumineers, and Doomtree, to name a few. In 1994, the M-Shop won the W.C. Handy Award for Best Blues Club in America.

But it's not just the roster. The 195-seat capacity means you can see these artists up close and personal like nowhere else. There's literally not a bad seat in the house. The Shop additionally hosts many of the Student Union Board's theatre, multicultural, lecture, and comedy programs and is home to popular ISU student improv group Grandma Mojo's Moonshine Revival. All things to all people? Maybe not, but it's about as close as you'll ever get! Don't just take our word for it, though - stop by and check it out for yourself!

And going beyond live entertainment, the M-Shop has served as a deli and coffeehouse back in the day, serving the best food and drink on the Iowa State campus. Food service was discontinued in April of 2005. However, the M-Shop is still open as a lounge Monday through Friday during the academic year and offers students, faculty, and guests a relaxing place to have lunch, visit, study, listen to music, or purchase tickets for upcoming shows at the M-Shop Box Office.

The M-Shop is Ames' only full-time, live entertainment facility open to ISU students of all ages. Through student-segregated fee funding assistance, The M-Shop can provide ISU students with significant discounts on event tickets for most shows.  

Traditionally untraditional, the M-Shop will continue to expand its rich history as it continues to be one of the best live music venues in not only Ames or even Iowa or even the nation but the world...

M-Shop Logo
Video Poster
See how students are continuing the legacy of the iconic venue with live music, comedy and performances. Video credit: Iowa State University Alumni Association