The Friday schedule for the 2020 Duluth Homegrown Music Festival's looked to be epic, with many performances from artists we don't get to see regularly these days for one reason or another. Red Mountain, Jim Hall, Charlotte Montgomery, Purple Hearse, and a reunion set from The Very People, a soulful band from the '00s were among the highlights that could have been.
On the bright side, here are some cool things about Virtual Homegrown: livestreams stick around for a bit after the fact, so if two of your favorites are scheduled at the same time, you don't have to wish for cloning technology or book it to the other end of town to see both, you can simply watch one live and one archived at your leisure. Also, you get to see the inside of your favorite performers' houses.
Another twist to the traditional Homegrown formula is that some prime performances have been happening on weekday afternoons. Duluth Coffee Company wrapped up their week of Instagram livestreams with Ingeborg von Agassiz at 2pm. She'd planned to do an electronic set, she said, but changed her mind, performing a rare acoustic set of originals accompanying herself on guitar. Some tunes she'd shared on her website, but never performed for an audience before. The stripped-down set highlighted the ability of her distinctive voice and songwriting to stand alone, even without the theatrical trappings of her electronic shows. Ingeborg had fun interacting with the virtual audience (which included her mom and sister), and encouraged folks to "put [me] on in the background. Clean your kitchen! Bake some cookies!" The set had us looking forward to her next album.
Low has been doing a regular 3pm Friday Instagram set from home called "It's Friday, I'm in Low." This week they started with a brand new song, gave a Homegrown shout out (photographer Aaron Reichow, who's been documenting this year's virtual festival, was shooting through the window), performed some fan favorites, and teased Alan's upcoming series "Vansplaining." It's based on a recurring feature on the Low Twitter that has bands sharing pictures of their vans loaded for a gig and Alan offering helpful packing critiques. It's exactly the kind of content we need right now; watch for it coming soon to their YouTube channel.
Speaking of content we need right now, in the early evening, Trampled by Turtles dropped a new video featuring band members performing "We All Get Lonely" together from their various homes through the magic of technology. We're not sure if the timing was intentional, but it felt like a little Homegrown miracle.
Mandolin player Nate and guitarist/lead singer Adam Stariha of Black River Revue performed a duo set from the Cedar Lounge at 7pm as part of the venue's regular Friday series via the Earthrider Brewing Facebook page.
Meanwhile, Ann Kathryn performed a set from her house on keyboards with guitarist Dominc Mcfadden on the porch behind her, on the other side of a sliding glass door. She performed songs from her debut album as well as some new ones, including one she described as "a little jazzy number, 'Firefly Blue.'"
In true Homegrown fashion yet a third set was happening at the same time. Timbre Ghost (aka Dustin Tessier) started his acoustic set by announcing that, in honor of Homegrown, he'd be playing some "Duluth favorites." Alongside his originals he included covers of Mary Bue, Low, and Gaelynn Lea.
Yet another Homegrown livestream started at 7:30pm. Theresa Williams wished everyone a Happy Homegrown and pointed out her display of Homegrown t-shirts from 2015 through 2019, lamenting that there won't be a 2020 shirt before launching into a set of originals and covers, accompanying herself on electric guitar.
Nate J. Mattson titled his 9:45pm YouTube livestream "Modular Music for Pandemics." It featured video footage from the front of a train cruising through sunny, mountainous landscapes with improvised syntesized music accompaniment.
Marc Gartman capped off the night with a Fever Dream set at midnight on Instagram, running through the band's first record.
Coming up on Saturday:
Breanne Marie and the Front Porch Sinners will be doing a socially-distanced #StayHomegrown2020 set at 6pm.
Sonja and Lee "Big Country" of Feeding Leroy will be this week's featured act for Bent Paddle's Virtual Saturday Night Sound Sessions at 8pm.
Homegrown coverage on KUMD is made possible by The Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.