Duluth Homegrown Music Festival Saturday dawned clear and with an expected high around 60, so it was a safe bet that a kickball game would spring up at Chester Bowl Park for the first time since 2019. In a way it was a throwback to the early days, when the smaller number of bands performing translated into a smaller number of players on the field. Find a complete rundown of the game from Mike Creger on Perfect Duluth Day.
It was the last night of Earth Rider Brewery’s Starfire Unofficial Birthday Bash. The evening started with New Salty Dog, wrapping up a busy Homegrown week for them that included a performance at 2104, a duo set from Jacob and Owen Mahon on KUMD’s The Local, and a fun video that was part of Homegrown’s pre-recorded content for this year’s festival. The early crowd was a little bigger than it had been the rest of the week, with folks bundled up against the chill wind but obviously enjoying the set that included Dusty Keliin live-painting in the background while the Dogs ran through favorites like “Butt Rock” and “Pecan Pie” from their recent Pecan, Pecon album.
Next up, Rick McLean played his first in-person set since COVID-19 shut down stages in March, 2020. The solo performance included songs from his most recent EP, Mas Palabras. He gave a shout-out to a friend who had recently passed from an overdose, dedicating a cover of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" (done with what appeared to be a Cockney accent) to him. With time for one last song, McLean opted for an oldie, "St. James", because, being out of practice, he wasn't sure he'd remember the lyrics for the crowd-requested "Downtown." He dedicated it to Teague Alexy, the fellow Irish music fan who was getting ready to take the stage next. Alexy pumped his fist in the background as McLean tore into the upbeat tune.
After a year of solo “Tea with Teague” livestreamed performances, it was nice to see Alexy with a full band, running through recent tunes and old favorites like “Tryin’ to Get a Good Clean High off a Dirt Cheap Bottle of Wine.” Next up was Jen West, backed by members of Hardaybra (including Tyler Dubla, who had drummed for Alexy and would stick around for a third set with Woodblind).
Woodblind filled the stage for the last set of the night with their expanded line-up including Jimi Cooper on guitar, Eli Bissonett on fiddle, Bryan "Lefty" Johnson on percussion, and Dubla on drums. They invited West back onstage to sing on “Big Voice,” and Alexy came up to handle vocals on his song “The Working Man.” Jason Wussow introduced one tune as the theme song for a cooking show he and bandmate Veikko Lepisto had talked about doing but never got
farther than “pushing some vegetables around.” They sent the audience home with a dose of positivity, ending with “Magnificent” with it’s opening line, “Love, love, every single day/in the heart, in the soul, forever and a day.”
For those not up for an evening of live, in-person music, the Homegrown schedule also offered the option of a live performance from the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra streaming at duluthhomegrown.org.
Following that was the unveiling of the 2021 festival’s second video of material submitted by bands. Once again it was an eclectic, engaging mix of music and video styles.
The burlesque troupe Duluth Dolls contributed a set of cheeky performances from their membership, including an adorable, lip-synced cover of One Less Guest's "Suitcase for Two" by Moxie Maven Spruce. Another highlight was Jessie Nelson's "Young Grapes," a lament about being an unsuccessfull aging rocker, performed in just his underpants. Luke Moraveck of Zeb or Zeke and the Run Away Screamings showcased amazing one-man-band coordination, playing guitar while simultaneously using the instrument's headstock to play a piano. Ryan Van Slooten was a one-man-band of another sort, submitting a video that combined pre-recorded versions of him playing various instruments into one performance.
Coming up today:
1pm Charlie Parr livestream, recorded at Duluth Cider, at duluthhomegrown.org
2:30pm A re-run of the 2021 performance videos at duluthhomegrown.org
4pm Scavenger hunt ends
Coverage of the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival on KUMD is made possible by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund