Friday of Homegrown Week saw another night of live performances at Earth Rider Brewery festival grounds for their Starfire Unofficial Birthday Bash, and it was Duluth Homegrown Music Festival founder Scott “Starfire” Lunt’s actual birthday, which made everything even more festive. If it seemed as if more people than usual were clad in flannel, blame item #31 from the Unofficial Homegrown Scavenger Hunt task list, “Flannel Day!” The hunt continues through Sunday at 4pm.
The food truck of the day, Oasis del Norte, was on hand and the sun was shining as Kyle Ollah started the evening off with his rootsy folk trio, featuring Clancy Ward on fiddle and Jen Krussow on upright bass. Meanwhile, inside the Cedar Lounge, Ingeborg van Aggasiz was performing for her regular Friday residency, sharing a mix of originals and covers of tunes including Bob Dylan’s “Abandoned Love” and The Replacements’ “Swingin’ Party.”
Following Ollah and company, Betty Danger, who describes her sound as “outlaw folk,” kicked her set into gear with an original tune, “I Wanna Rock.” Her country-flavored set included "Drunk On A Sunday" from her latest album Enigma, released on May 1.
Next up, Tim Nelson, Earth Rider founder and longtime Duluth scenester and musician, took the main stage with his band The New Norm. Their rock-and-roll performance infused a welcome jolt of energy into the crowd, getting them moving for the first time of the evening. As they wrapped up their set of groovy, riff-based tunes ranging from bluesy to psychedelic, Nelson said, "first gig in a year and half everybody, thank you!"
Laura Sellner was up next on the side stage with a solo Superior Siren performance. After opening with a long-time favorite, “Swamp Creature,” she shared songs from her new EP, Kill Your Darlings, released the same day. Her voice lured the crowd closer to the stage to better hear the beautiful, haunting, and intimate “eerie folk” set that also included a cover of John Prine’s "Hello in There."
Father Hennipin closed the night with a country set, playing old favorites from their one-and-only album as well as newer songs (enough that a second album doesn’t seem out of the question) and covers including Merle Haggard’s “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down.” With shouts of "Happy Birthday Starfire!" ringing out from the crowd, it was a good reminder of how this local music party got started all those years ago.
The official Homegrown programming of the night was the first of two video compilations, curated from submissions made to the committee by local musicians. The amount of time and care put into these is evident, with a thoughful mix of genres and video styles. Some feature a solo artist playing in a corner of their living room, others are full band performances on a stage or an artsy video that doesn’t even show the performer. A Band Called Truman culled footage from previous shows to edit together, capturing the energy of a live Homegrown.
Some standout moments come from guitarist Darin Bergsven, who found a way to play a duet with...himself, and The Spin Collective, whose submission answers the question, is it possible to spin fire and snowboard at the same time? Steve Solkela's "Overpopulated One Man Band" was silly fun.
While the performances couldn’t quite capture the energy of an in-person festival, they did capture the spirit. The blend of genres, from rock to hip-hop to singer-songwriter to metal, sometimes back-to-back, reflects the experience of a live in-person Homegrown but without the hangover and sore feet from booking it
up and down Superior Street to catch the next act. With just a single song from each artist, it’s a fun, quick-moving sampler of Northeastern Minnesota's music scene. Homegrown Executive Director Melissa LaTour posted pics on social media of her enjoying an outdoor screening of the video with other members of the Homegrown crew, just one example of ways folks are creating their own fun during this virtual festival year.
Coming up today:
Will there be a kickball game? It seems likely, with some sunshine and loosened COVID-19 restrictions, that a few band members might find their way to Chester Bowl for an impromptu game around noon today.
7pm The Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra's season-closing performance will be live streamed at duluthhomegrown.org
9pm a new curated Homegrown video will debut at duluthhomegrown.org
Earth Rider hosts one last evening of shows:
5pm Lyla Abukodhair (inside the Cedar Lounge)
5pm New Salty Dog
5:45pm Rick McLean
6:30pm Teague Alexy Band
7:15pm Jen West Band
8pm Woodblind Big Band