Tuesday, Day 3 of Homegrown, saw much of the action shift to Canal Park where fans could easily loop between Vikre, Amazing Grace, and the Sports Garden, or hop across the Lake Avenue Bridge and take in nearby shows at Prove Gallery or Dubh Linn.
The one outlier venue was Bent Paddle, whose new tap room hosted its first Homegrown event and the first of the night. Acoustic four-piece Four Mile Portage started the evening, even inspiring a little square dancing. It was the warmest night yet for the festival, allowing audience members to enjoy the action from the patio. The band tweaked the lyrics to a traditional tune, "Bear Creek," singing, "The water up Bear Creek, tastes like Bent Paddle beer," inspiring cheers from the crowd and bartenders.
The second showing of the Homegrown Music Video Festival (which is celebrating its tenth anniversary, by the way) went off without a hitch. If you missed it, your last chance to catch the four new videos and old favorites including Jerree Small and Social Disaster tunes is on Sunday, May 6 at 2pm at the Red Herring.
The fun, folksy and funny ensemble the Riverside Bog Stompers brought lovely, sweet harmonies to Amazing Grace. Nicholas Klee of Borderstone sat in on mandolin, and banjo player John Bankson (wearing a snap-front blue shirt with a Sasquatch over each breast pocket) even pulled out a dobro, a rare Homegrown sight. The set, played to a nearly full house, had a true coffee house feel.
The night’s only unofficial Homegrown gig (that we know of!) was Actual Wolf at the Duluth Coffee Company Roastery, where the vibe was laid back, with kids and dogs mingling with the hipsters and a fancy cocktail bar in back. Anton from Red Mountain joined in on a few tunes.
At the Mama’s Stolen Horses show at Prove, it quickly became apparent that congratulations are in order for the wife-and-husband duo as Abby Jo negotiated her guitar around a pregnant belly. The Americana duo played harmony-rich tunes from their latest release, Son of the Machine, to a crowd that included members from Elephant Hotel, Feeding Leroy, and Four Mile Portage.
Something completely different was happening at Vikre, where renowned tenor Bill Bastian performed a righteous mashup of classical music and rock as only a master like him can deliver. He accompanied himself on a Telecaster on everything from Elmore James covers to opera pieces including Giuseppe Verdi's “La Donna è Mobile” from the opera Rigoletto.
Next up, singer/songwriter Greg Tiburzi continued the folky vibe at Amazing Grace, running through a set of mostly originals and reminding the crowd that it was May Day. He closed, fittingly, with a cover of a WWII era song by Vera Lynn called "We'll Meet Again"
Back at Vikre, The Old Smugglers took the stage. Armed only with three-piece suits and acoustic guitars, the look of this duo confounds their energy, like two college professors in a musical ultimate fighting grudge match. Their rousing set of got audience members dancing to their rowdy tunes and swaying, hands in the air, to their final, more subdued song..
Sam Miltich and the Clearwater Hot Club kicked off the lineup at Grandma’s Sports Garden for a set featuring two guitars, bass and drums of a different color. The crowd was appreciative of the group of talented, sophisticated jazz cats.
Back at Vikre The True Malarky continued the raucous energy initiated by the Smugglers who’d played before them, only this time with t-shirts, electric guitars, and a drummer. The trio ended their set with a brand new song from a forthcoming release.
Woodblind had the crowd in the palms of their hands at Grandma’s Sports Garden, whipping much of the crowd into a dancing frenzy with their ska set. They welcomed a series of special guests, including guitarist Jimi Cooper of the Fractals and Dance Attic, who sat in on a cover of “War Pigs.” Later Jen West and Teague Alexy also came up to play “Doobie Dublah” and “Working Man,” and they wrapped up their set with the fun, upbeat “Big Voice.”
It was a much more subdued affair in the back room of Dubh Linn, where Kyle Ollah did traditional folk tunes like “The Ballad of John Henry,”, accompanying himself on guitar and banjo. He’ll also perform a Homegrown set for the first time in a while with Yester on Saturday, May 5 at The Rex.
Next up on the Grandma’s Sports Garden stage, the The Duluth Dolls treated an appreciative audience to everything from traditional, jazzy burlesque performances to belly dancing with some rock and roll in between. All of the dancers had their own vibe and style, each bringing something new and exciting to the stage, including a little humor from the dancers themselves as well as the emcee.
Black River Revue closed the night at the Sports Garden as a fog machine hazed the large space. Homegrown spectators happily danced and stomped their feet to the upbeat bluegrass tunes, raising their beers in jubilee (one fan even threw an empty PBR on stage). “Who else like me has to work in the morning?” frontman Adam Stariha asked as crowd members screamed and raised their drinks.The set included a singalong on a version of “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” and Teague Alexy reappeared to join in on harmonica for a tune.
Back at Dubh Linn, Dean Berlinerblau’s Modify had some computer issues, cutting short his intended set, but he gamely grabbed a guitar for one extended, experimental tune. At midnight Ire Wolves took the stage in the dark room. The singer started with a casual ‘ ‘sup?” to the crowd before the band tore into their tight hardcore set. Despite the late hour on a weeknight, the room filled up fast with die hard music fans.
Our recommendation for night 4: don’t forget your earplugs, especially if you’re going to see the Dames at Clyde Iron. Also, take note that the times of the late-night mezzanine shows at Clyde have been pushed back half an hour, with Low-Hi Funk starting at 10:45pm and Fearless Moral Inventory at 11:45pm.
This Homegrown Week on KUMD is made possible by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.