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Arts & Culture

Homegrown Music Festival 2022: Day 1

When the 2019 Duluth Homegrown Festival concluded with a “bonus” set from Actual Wolf at Canal Park Brewing, no one had a clue that it would be three years before fans would all gather again to celebrate local music and wish each other a “Happy Homegrown.” After the 2020 festival was canceled and the 2021 festival went virtual, 2022 promises to be a joyous return.

A child in a rainbow colored stocking cap is seen from behind kneeling and playing a toy zylaphone while watching a man wearing monkey ears play guitar
Keely Zynda
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A young Homegrown attendee plays along with Dan the Monkey Man

Unfortunately, no one told Mother Nature. It was foggy, rainy, and 39 degrees for the opening event of the 2022 festival, the Children’s Music Showcase. Fortunately, Northlanders are a hardy bunch who bundled up and turned out with their kids anyway to watch Dan the Monkey man kick things off at the Duluth Library Plaza with a cover of the White Stripes’ “We’re Going to be Friends.” The Harbor City Roller Dames painted faces, PJ's rescue brought puppies, and instruments were available for kids to play along. Steve’s Overpopulated One Man Band was next, with Steve Solkela wearing a cymbal on his head to play along with an accordion, a trumpet, a horn, and some drums. He played kid favorites like "Old McDonald," adding an axolotl to his rendition.

A man wearing a cymbal on his head and playing the accordian while singing into a microphone
Keely Zynda
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Steve's Overpopulated One-man Band

Down in the Depot’s Lake Superior Railroad Museum, families stayed warm and dry as Brian Barber read from his book Yeti Needs A Haircut and the students of Beatz by Girls, a program run by Duluth musician Shauna Heckman, showed off their beat-making skills. Lauralloons was on hand to create fun chicken headgear from balloons to add to the festivities.

Back at the library plaza, Woodblind fittingly played their song “Cold,” and countered that with a sunny ska version of “Good Vibrations.” They gave a shoutout to Charlie Parr (who’s spending Homegrown on a European tour,) before launching into “Jubilee.” Ventriloquist Jeremy Lepak and his pal Lyle finished off the afternoon; Jeremy will be performing again Monday night on the MN Whitewater Rafting Shuttle.

With the Children’s Showcase concluded, the adult fun commenced at at Hoops brewing. A half hour before the mayor’s proclamation Hoops was quickly filling up and parking was hard to find on Lake Ave. A potential new Homegrown tradition was begun as a representative from Lake Superior Art Glass presented Mayor Emily Larson with a chalice, filled with Emily’s Extra IPA for toasting the start of the festival; they plan to make a new Mayor’s chalice yearly. A smattering of masks in the crowd reminded us that Covid is still a thing; the mayor advised patrons to “Be safe, stay home if you don’t feel well, mask up if that’s what feels right, distance..” then, looking around at the packed room, ruefully acknowledged, “well...okay, some of this has gone out the window already.” Bottom line: those hoping to avoid Covid a little longer will likely want to sit out this year’s Homegrown as most folks appear to be ready to put it behind them.

A smiling woman raising a glass chalice full of beer in the air for a toast
Keely Zynda
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Mayor Emily Larson toasts the crowd

Post-proclamation, AfroGeode and the Gemstones commanded the stage with a mix of soulful originals and covers ranging from Screaming Jay Hawkin’s “I Put a Spell on You" to Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity.” Stardust Collective followed with a groovy, feel-good rock set, wishing everyone a “peaceful but fun Homegrown.”

A disagreement (that briefly spilled over onto social media) between The Ripple and its building manager about live music led to the rescheduling of events originally planned for that venue. It’s a good reminder that the online guide is the most up-to-date; Darren Sipity is now performing on Tuesday at 9pm at Dubh Linn Irish Pub, while Jesse Luoma and Steve Garrington have shifted to a Saturday 6:30pm slot at the Annex du Nord. This unexpected gap in performances actually made for a nice little dinner break and a chance to regroup before diving back into the evening at Carmody.

A group of young men posing with an older man in front of a bar window with several bar signs
Keely Zynda
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Keith Dust (front) and Friends pose with Eddie Carmody outside his bar

There was a buzz surrounding Keith Dust’s set that proved to be well-deserved. The lo-fi performer self-produced two intriguing albums but only recently assembled a band for just a handful of shows before his first-ever Homegrown set The fuzzed, stoned, loud, rock performance had the crowd jumping up and down and chanting “Keith Dust! Keith Dust!” at the end, and was immortalized on the ladies room wall with the words “Keith Dust Rips.”

Keith Dust Rips graffiti written in chalk on a green background
Christine Dean
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In true Homegrown fashion, this rowdy display was followed immediately by...some polka. Polkarobics took the stage, men in lederhosen and accordion player Suzi Ludwig in a dirndl. The band had the crowd dancing to originals and polkified covers like Blondie’s “Heart of Glass.”

The evening shifted gears again as Rick McLean took the stage, backed by a band (including new bassist Pete Biasi) for the first time since the start of the pandemic. He used the occasion to rock hard through a set of his tunes.

Man playing electric guitar and singing into a microphone
Keely Zynda
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Rick McLean at Carmody

NVR TGTHR kicked off the evening at Pizza Luce. The new four-piece features several familiar faces and Homegrown veterans laying down a solid set. The older members of the audience were thinning out by this time, but an enthusiastic contingent of younger fans continued to rock along with the next band, The Hermits.

Down Superior Street, Fenestra Funk ended the night at Carmody on a funky note, adding yet another genre to the eclectic evening. Darling Danger, led by charismatic lead singer Suzy Q, capped off the evening at Pizza Luce with a fun set of covers that kicked off with the B-52s "Love Shack."

Woman holding a fan singing into a microphone on stage
Keely Zynda
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Darling Danger at Pizza Luce

Coming up today:

Monday is Craft District night; aside from Big Science and the Homegrown Poetry Showcase at Sacred Heart Music Center at 6 and 7pm respectively, all events take place in Lincoln Park. A red bus, the Minnesota Whitewater Rafting Shuttle, will carry patrons between breweries, bars, and cideries on West Superior Street.

Mondays dress-up theme is “Manic Monday,” and folks are encouraged to wear ‘80s attire

Robin Hood was Right joins us Live from Studio A at 2pm on the North 103.3

Father Hennepin, the founding band of the Homegrown Music Festival, will perform at Duluth Cider at 8:30pm.

One last housekeeping note: the official hash tag for this year's festival is #hgmf22.

Coverage of the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival