There’s something comforting about the fact that, although this year’s Duluth Homegrown Music Festival is virtual, the traditional schedule remains intact. For kickoff Sunday, that means a Children’s Music Showcase in the morning. This year’s hour-long video showcase is a well-curated mix of music and activities, with Brian Barber’s Draw-Along Fun Time teaching kids how to draw a chicken and Bootsy Collins (because, why not?). Local kid favorite Dan the Monkey Man debuted a new song, “I Got a Good Dog” with plenty of pup footage. Chris Monroe read her book Monkey with a Tool Belt Blasts Off, and two local organizations that give kids opportunities to create and perform music , The Music Resource Center and Beats by Girlz, featured enthusiastic participants performing and sharing what the programs mean to them.
Like all of Homegrown’s streaming content, the showcase was available right on the Homegrown website on a page whimsically designed to look like an old-fangled television. Once a live event is done, video can be found on the Homegrown YouTube channel (or, more conveniently, follow the links on the Homegrown Schedule page.
The Mayor’s proclamation at 6pm was preceded by a video made up of a “photo dump” by photographer and former Homegrown Committee member Kip Praslowicz. For several years he’s combined all of the photos he’s taken during the festival into a fast-moving saga of bands, fans, and shenanigans; don’t blink and you might even pick yourself out of a crowd. Backed by Toby Thomas Churchill’s “You Know We Did,” which reminisces about when “We rocked the doors right off the place”, it's a perfect piece of nostalgia for Homegrowns past with sweaty crowds, trolly rides, and kickball.
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson noted that it’s been “roughly 730 days, for two years, since we were last able to gather in person.” “Homegrown is by far the best part of my year,” she said, before kicking off the festivities with her official proclamation.
Next up, the new band showcase, another traditional Sunday event. As always it was a mix of familiar faces with new projects and unknowns, ranging from hard rockers KV from Nisswa to a classical piano piece from Sam Chandler. Each artist submitted one song, some self-recorded home video and others more sophisticated video productions. For the first time the full Homegrown guide was sorely missed, with no bios to answer the question, who are these people? Is Cory & the Greasy Insane-O’s for real or a one-off goof with his song “Butt Cheeks?” (“I love your buttcheeks/They set the night on fire/I love your buttcheeks/They’re taking me higher“). How does one learn more about Rutcellar, the guitar and drums duo who contributed an ear-catching instrumental? Only time will tell which of these new acts will be around a year from now to perform live at Homegrown.
Meanwhile, an evening of live streamed shows from 2104 kicked off at 6, with acoustic living room
performances from Kaylee Matuszak, Bill Flanagan, and Sugar on the Roof, who shared songs from their recently released album. At 7 an event sponsored by the Minnesota Music Coalition started at Sacred Heart Music Center featuring Cory Coffman, Superior Siren, and Afrogeode. The Sirens were clearly happy to be doing a full-band show for the first time in a while; “It’s kind of fun to be nervous again,” said front woman Laura Sellner. Along with old favorites, the group shared some new songs, one from Sellner’s solo Superior Siren album due out this Friday, May 7, and one that will likely appear on a future band album.
The first of what we hope will be many pop-up events during this year’s Homegrown was announced in the afternoon, a Duluth Public Art Commission-funded piece featuring a projection on the wall of Zenith Books in West Duluth with a soundtrack of local music delivered, drive-in style, on an FM channel, 91.7. The installation will continue every night from 9-11 through Friday.
Today’s activities start with two Homegrown Live from Studio A sessions on KUMD, 103.3fm or streaming at kumd.org:
1pm Danny Frank
2pm Lyla Abukhodair
Livestreams from 2104 tonight:
6pm Grains of Stars
7pm Cory Coffman
8pm Feeding Leroy
Today’s official Homegrown events showcase the ancillary arts:
7pm Poetry Showcase
7:30pm A short film by Joshua Priestly and starring Teague Alexy. This Feeling Will Be Over Soon stars Alexy "as a neighborhood busker hustling a living on the streets of Atlantic City when his life takes a sudden and violent turn. "
7:45pm Homegrown Photo Showcase
8pm Music Video Showcase.