Most buzzed-about happenings of Homegrown, Day 6, roughly in order: Fred Tyson in a homemade, kiddy-car style Cadillac propelled by Chad Lyons (of the Bottle Jockeys) in drag causing a commotion up and down Superior Street. Crazy cool laser projections of the Homegrown Chicken on the side of Blacklist. The Latelys set at the Rex. Fortunately, unlike in the early days of Homegrown, if you missed any of these things, there’s plenty of social media documentation to get you up to speed.
The evening began way out west as singer/songwriter Gina Lee did a set at Beaner’s Central. In addition to her own tunes, she did covers including Greg Tiburrzi’s “I Love You the Way That I Am,” and announced she’d be recording some songs with him this weekend.
In the past the 20+-member group Sing! A Women’s Chorus have been scheduled into venues a bit too snug for their Homegrown performances, so it was nice to see them slotted at the more spacious Dr. Robert Powless Cultural Center. Director Mags David introduced a “On Children,” a moving Sweet Honey in the Rock song based on a poem by Kahlil Gibran, as a song about aspirational parenting, following it with a song about real parenting, a crowd-pleasing mashup of “What’ll I Do With the Baby” and Al Sparhawk’s “Don’t Drop the Baby.”
Back at Beaner’s, talented hot club jazz group The Gentleman’s Anti Temperance League swung and harmonized through a set that included a new tune. Lead singer Kellie Reichert told the crowd, “This next one is a breakup song of sorts...breaking up with the season of winter,” before launching into “Winter is Right Outside Our Window.”
The Iron Range Outlaw Brigade raised some hell on the Teatro Zuccone stage, busting out dirty country rock jams with titles like “Redneck Truckers” punctuated by pedal steel and fueled by the PBR that all the band members had close at hand. The lead singer dedicated “The Ballad of Jimmy the Outlaw” to his friend Jim, “who got picked up on amphetamine charges.”
Over at the Robert Powless Cultural Center, a new venue this year, Lyz Jaakola’s family band (with a couple of friends in the mix) #theindianheadband shared a loose set blending humor and activism. Dressed in bandanas and hats mirroring the powerful mural of a native woman on the building’s exterior, the group sang about protecting the water from the “black snake,” before doing a fun mashup of “Hooked on a Feeling” and “Come and Get Your Love.”
At Legacy Glassworks, hip-hop duo Dubz had fun with their set, making sure everyone there knew not to “touch the glass.” Meanwhile, Ann Kathryn, singing and playing piano backed by bassist George Ellsworth, shared some new songs at Amazing Grace.
Maddy Siiter, who served on the Homegrown committee before going off to college last year, played a set at Blush, dedicating her song “Wishbone” to “all the badass women in this music scene.”
Down the street at Sir Ben’s, a dapper, white-hatted Briand Morrison performed on jazz guitar, using a looping pedal to create intricate solos over his own chords. Multi-colored lights enhanced the mood.
The crowd started assembling early for the Blackeyed Snakes set at the Red Herring, with latecomers spilling out into the street. Alan Sparhawk made the bold move of crowd surfing on the very first song before settling back on stage to get down to the serious business of whipping up some driving blues-rock gospel fervor. “Happy Homegrown, it’s my favorite time of year,” he told the audience, “walking around the streets with no coats on, seeing each other’s skin.” He let us know that the new album is all ready and just sitting in a warehouse in Minneapolis waiting to be picked up. Fans emerged from the show sweaty, satisfied, and ready for their next Homegrown adventure.
In past years Reflectivore has added a dose of theatricality to their performance, and this year’s set at Pizza Luce was no exception. Clad in Husky Energy shirts, the band started with a fake corporate announcement from that company about the recent refinery fire and controversy about dangerous chemicals that are stored there, ending with “Please accept these breathing masks from Husky Energy. All of us at Husky Energy want you to breathe easy” as they passed out black masks to the crowd. They debuted new video from True Norse Films to accompany their set.
New-ish local trio The Latelys drew a large and enthusiastic audience at the Rex. Jenna Harting played bass and belted out soulful songs of love backed by C.J. Hanson on keys and Rachel Riefenberg on drums. “Really good news,” Hanson reminded the crowd, “All these bands play all year ‘round. The Twin Ports has a great community of music. Don’t forget about us!” Judging from the post-show buzz from folks hearing them for the first time, that’s unlikely to happen.
Gaelynn Lea, looking mysterious in black with a black and gold fancy dress mask covering the upper part of her face, had the midnight slot at Pizza Luce. A full backing band including Dave Mehling of the Fontanelles and Al Church on guitar added a different dimension to her tunes, changing the delicate “Someday We’ll Linger in the Sun” into a mid-tempo groover.
The night ended with a groovy electro-pop set from Alamode at RT Quinlan’s while Mary Bue rocked out with her Holy Bones band back at the Rex (and still managed to get up early for the Saturday morning Rock and Run at Chester Park).
Tonight promises many more Homegrown adventures. Look for more projected images popping up on the side of Blacklist; technically, it’s called architectural projection mapping, but we just call it wizardry. Homegrown founder Starfire hosts a nostalgic celebration of the festival’s twentieth anniversary at the NorShor starting at 4:30pm. If new artists are your thing, check out Amy Hzl at Pizza Luce for a danceable set or indie rockers Mint Vintage at Sir Benedict’s. If you’re a Chasm of Czar fan, don’t miss what they’ve announced to be their last-ever show.