A few snow flurries and a blustery wind off the lake sweeping through Canal Park didn’t deter fans from turning out for night 3 of Duluth’s Homegrown Music Festival, once again packing venues. Ursa Minor hit capacity early on, and things will only get busier as the week progresses.
Follow @dhgmf_alerts on Twitter for updates on venues throughout the week.
Once again a morning crowd filled Duluth Coffee Company to see Actual Wolf and his Tuesday guest, Superior Siren bassist Nyssa Krause. Her Sirens bandmates looked on as the pair tackled Gillian Welch and David Rawlings tunes, and while there were a few false starts, once the harmonies kicked in on tunes like “Time (The Revelator)”, a little magic started to happen. Here’s hoping for a repeat next year.
The evening shows commenced with Dance Attic at Ursa Minor, showing off both some new shirts and some new tunes from a forthcoming new album. The western-style shirts, made by Cooper’s Fractals bandmate Darryn Wallace, featured fringe and embroidered lift bridges. Fires burned on the patio to take the chill off for patrons waiting for someone to leave the at-capacity venue. The accordion and guitar duo got a few folks dancing, playing a waltz and some polkas along with their peppy tunes skewering country music fans’ taste in beer and paying tribute to cabin life.
Bella Larson and the scene kids brought a lo-fi bedroom punk aesthetic to Amazing Grace. The singer/guitarist donned a Betty Boop t-shirt and a messy platinum blonde wig to sing quirky (but surprisingly on-key) songs including one about John Wayne Gacy repeatedly referencing the serial killer’s pre-execution last meal, KFC and shrimp.
Back at Amazing Grace, Mama’s Stolen Horses (with guest Jacob Mahon on banjo) played harmony-laden Americana to a packed house. Last year Abby Jo Robin was several months pregnant during their performance; this year her and husband/bandmate Kristoffer’s baby was in the front row playing with one of their CDs. They introduced the song “Blue Hole,” about an aquifer in the New Mexico desert, saying they often sing it to their child.
At Sir Benedict’s Tavern for Black River Revue it was such a tight squeeze it was hard to tell the audience from the band, and back in Canal Park, Vikre proved to be a welcome refuge from the wind before doors opened at The Sports Garden. It was crowded, but not uncomfortably so, and Wes Hadrich’s songs and Nick Drake-inspired guitar work went over well.
Later family band #theindianheadband were dressed up for their set, which kicked off with Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Songs” with Ojibwe lyrics mixed in. Never ones to shy away from politics, they performed an original song called “Covfefe” (a reference to a much-mocked tweet by President Trump) and reminded the audience to protect our water.
Next up at Amazing Grace were the Holy Hootenanners, with Colleen Myhre and a few of her bandmates arriving fresh from her solo set at Sir Ben’s,to join the rest of the band for a rousing set of soulful country gospel tunes. Bassist Jeff Gilbert introduced a song he’d written for his mom, a tender country ballad that brought a hush over the crowd and possibly a tear to more than one eye. After a somber moment once the song ended he said, “time to switch gears,” as the band segued into a grooving cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”
Meanwhile, at Ursa Minor, The Brothers Burn Mountain were electrifying the closely-packed audience. By now the line to get in was at least twenty people deep; some fans opted to lose their spot and just press their noses up against the garage windows to watch the action as the sound spilled out onto the patio.
Grandma’s Sports Garden hosted the biggest shows of the night and stayed packed from the start of Glen’s Neighbor’s 8:45 set till the end of Big Wave Dave and the Ripples. Glen’s Neighbor energized the crowd with their countrified rock, wrapping up with a foot-stomping version of Charlie Parr’s “1922,” a nice tribute since Parr isn’t on the Homegrown schedule this year (we’re still hoping for a secret show ala last year’s surprise Turtles set, but we may just be wishful thinking).
Outside, Chow Haul was serving up a menu that included something called the “Emily Larson Project,” in honor of Duluth’s Mayor, which they explained, is “a spicy pork and noodle bowl; she picked it out herself.”
Ingeborg von Agassiz’s one-woman set was a contrast to the other, stage-filling acts surrounding her at The Sports Garden. Her layers of synth loops, simple melodies, quirky lyrics, and mesmerizing voice kept the crowd engaged; when she came to the “Going south/ south for the winter” line from “Bulletproof Vest” many fans went wild and sang along. After the show, a, green-haired young woman who’d been in the crowd excitedly told us “I made eye contact with Ingeborg and she smiled at me. She’s the reason I got bangs!”
Next up, the Slamming Doors looked like they were having so much fun, it was impossible not to dance along. They came out hollering and kept the energy going through the rest of their rootsy rock set of originals with a few covers, including Tom Petty’s “Walls,” in the mix. Frontman Adam Herman introduced a new song with a story about a villian.
It was suits, sunglasses, and soul for days when Big Wave Dave and the Ripples took the stage to bring the night to a funky conclusion.
Coming up tonight, it’s West Side Wednesday, with the action moving to West Duluth, starting with young band The Langertsons at the Clyde Iron Works Mezzanine and wrapping up with The Black-eyed Snakes at Mr. D’s, with plenty of solid options in between. We saw just a handful of folks wearing tropical shirts for the Homegrown fashion challenge, but we suspect Wednesday participation might pick up a little with a Western theme. The forecast looks even more dismal than last night, so bundle up and drive safely as we may get some snow and sleet.
As always, we’ll be out sharing the action via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; follow along to stay up on what’s happening.
Tomorrow morning Actual Wolf welcomes members of Feeding Leroy to his 10am-noon set at Duluth Coffee Company, which could be your only chance to see them since they sadly are not on the official Homegrown schedule this year.
This Homegrown Week on KUMD is made possible by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.