Duluth Homegrown Music Festival

The final Sunday of the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival is known as Brunch and Recovery Day, a chance to sleep in and wind down another year with a chill, daylit  final Homegrown hang. This year, everything was different; what we were recovering from was not a week of late nights and overindulgence, but a week that, while it had many fun moments, just felt...off. No kickball, no "Happy Homegrown!" said while passing friends on the street on the way to another venue, no trolley, no hugs.

Saturday of what would have been the 22nd annual Duluth Homegrown Music Festival dawned sunny and was the warmest day so far this year. Under normal circumstances, it would have been perfect weather for a little #RockandRun jog  led by Low's Alan Sparhawk followed by a gathering of  musicians kids, and pets at the annual Friday bands vs. Saturday bands kickball game at Chester Bowl. Social media was full of fans mourning the loss; eventually, a handful of folks met up for a socially-distanced gathering at the park to take some pics and commiserate.

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.

There was a lot to choose from on what would have been Souptown Night for Duluth's Homegrown Music Festival. Early risers could enjoy Teague Alexy's daily Tea with Teague set or flip over to the Duluth Coffee Instagram for another Actual Wolf performance from his kitchen.

This four-piece is led by Duluth native Dave Mehling. He fits this project in around side gigs with artists including Gaelynn Lea and fatherhood. The band had plans to release its second album of melodic rock during the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival; the festival didn't happen, but fortunately the album, A Time at the Cabin, did and is now available online.

On what would have been Westside Wednesday for Duluth's Homegrown Music Festival, Teague Alexy dominated in the number of online shows AND caffeinated beverages for the day. He played his daily Tea with Teague set at 9am and returned to our screens for a Homegrown set on Duluth Coffee Company's Instagram at noon.

At some point during the day Jaw Knee Vee popped up briefly on Facebook live, playing for a minute from what appeared to be an empty bar. Maybe a test run for a longer livestream to come? We're crossing our fingers.

What would have been Canal Park night for Duluth's Homegrown Music Festival was a low-key affair online, with just a couple of livestreams and an online version of the Homegrown Music Video Showcase.

Two men wearing headphones and one man behind a sound board
Jason Wussow

This Duluth duo featuring Jason Wussow and Veikko Lepisto was set to release a second album, Bluebird Day, when COVID-19 hit. We chatted with them about the album and they shared some tunes via the internet on April 30, 2020 during what would have been Duluth's Homegrown Music Festival.

Woodblind

Homegrown coverage on KUMD is made possible by The Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

 

Black River Revue
Black River Revue

This local modern bluegrass group just released a live album, Gitchee Tracks Live Volume 1, recorded primarily at Duluth's Sacred Heart Music Center. We chatted with them about making the album and they performed some tunes for us from banjo player Tim Leutgeb's basement (using a tape measure to ensure proper social distancing). They also talked about a festival their hoping to put together once live concerts are a thing again. Listen to our session from April 29, 2020, during what would have been Duluth's Homegrown Music Festival.

Like the Whos in Whoville, joyously celebrating Christmas even after the Grinch tried to ruin it by stealing all the holiday's trappings, Duluth Homegrown Music Festival fans aren't letting COVID-19 take away the spirit of the canceled festival.  The pace picked up on Day 2 of #StayHomegrown2020, with more and occasionally overlapping livestreams.

Charlie Parr started the morning live on Duluth Coffee Company's Instagram. (Today it was Actual Wolf at 9am, and tomorrow you can catch Teague Alexy at noon.)

Day 1 of Virtual Homegrown was quiet, with just a bit of wistful chatter about where fans would have been in a normal year. The festival normally kicks off with a mayoral proclamation; this year, a mayoral tweet would have to do.

A cartoon drawing of a chicken
Artwork by Chris Monroe

On March 15 Melissa LaTour, the Director of Duluth's Homegrown Music Festival shared an update from the festival's web page letting people know all festival events would be canceled this year. "Please know we love you and want you and your loved ones to be healthy," she wrote. And with that, the festival's uninterrupted 21-year streak came to an end.