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Tune in as we celebrate the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival, happening April 30-May 7. We have you covered with daily Live From Studio A sessions featuring Homegrown rawk and/or rollers, festival highlights from local music experts, and daily photo and blog posts.Like and follow our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to be in the know for Homegrown.This Homegrown Week on The North 103.3 is made possible by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Homegrown Music Festival 2023 Day 4

A smiling bearded man plays guitar and sings into a microphone under blue light with two bandmates seen indistinctly in the blurred background.
Jeremy Nelson
Adam Stariha of Black River Revue

Day 4 of the 2023 Duluth Homegrown Music Festival opened with another Mahon Morning set by brothers Jacob and Owen Mahon at Duluth Coffee Company featuring guests Russ Sackett and fiddler Clif Nesseth (who was still going strong 13 hours later when he joined Black River Revue for their midnight set).

The evening shows were not for the claustrophobic, with packed venues right from the start, and what appeared to be a fire inspector lingering nearby to keep an eye on capacities. Janie and the Spokes started the night at Wussow’s at 6:30. They shared songs from a recent album and a forthcoming new one. Frontwoman Jane Aas introduced her song “Mississippi” saying it was inspired by growing up near the Mississippi River and exploring the caves, joking that “on a good night” they came in handy to run away from the cops. The band introduced a new song, “Mimi,” written by drummer Garth Anderson as an ode to female drummers, including Duluth’s own Mimi Parker of Low whose death in November still resonates through the community.

A band performing on an elevated stage
Christine Dean
Janie and the Spokes perform at Wussow's Concert Cafe

When the number of venues doubled at 7pm as music got underway at the Jade Fountain, the crowd seemed to double as well, with both rooms overflowing. With Nick Cave looking down from a poster behind the stage, Luke Moravec’s one-man Scooby Doo-inspired project Zeb or Zeke and the Run Away Screamings delivered not only a raucous musical performance but a full-on, Scooby-style mystery to solve that took full advantage of the venue’s unique atmosphere, complete with fake newspaper clippings and accomplices planted in the audience.

A seated man playing guitar that he's also using to hit keys on a keyboard and singing into a microphone.
Jeremy Nelson
Zeb or Zeke and the Run Away Screamings at Jade Fountain

Moravec (who, yes, also happens to host Northland Morning on The North 103.3) teased the mystery of the emerald chicken in a Zeb or Zeke Facebook post two days earlier. It was a fun caper in the spirit of going big during Homegrown, and although, due to the large crowd, many patrons missed the mystery aspect, Zeb or Zeke's performance alone provided plenty of entertainment.

Woodsong Souvenir, which features members of Morningbird as well as Lynn Evenson from the Mesabi Symphony Orchestra on upright bass, also had a packed house at Wussow’s and delivered a tight set of beautiful acoustic songs. Frontman Christopher David Hanson's faithful companion Minnow the dog was also on hand as expected.

A band performs on an elevated stage.
Megan McGarvey
Woodsong Souvenir perform at Wussow's Concert Cafe

Tim Kaiser worked his magic at the Jade Fountain, hitting the crowd with ambient soundscapes so powerful the wall of sound created was palpable. Playing a musical signal- manipulating device of his own creation, his performance added a welcome experimental touch to the evening. For fans of Kaiser’s particular brand of weirdness, he will be performing again during Homegrown with Big Science on Friday at 8:30pm at Zeitgeist’s Teatro Zuccone.

A seated man manipulates home-made electronic instruments while an audience looks on.
Megan McGarvey
Tim Kaiser performs at Jade Fountain

It was Thor Leseman’s first Homegrown appearance, and he clearly was enjoying it to the fullest. “I’m having fun, are you?” the Eveleth singer/songwriter asked the audience back at Wussow's. Both his guitar playing and singing were dynamic and expressive, bringing to life his lyrics as he sang about trying to hoping for something better than playing dirty bars. He got serious for a song about George Floyd that felt like it was modeled on Bob Dylan's early protest songs.

A view from the side and slightly behind of a man on a stage playing guitar and singing into the microphone. The lighting is dim, but an audience can be seen in front of the man.
Megan McGarvey
Thor Leseman performs at Wussow's Concert Cafe

Over at the Gopher Lounge, Grand Holler delivered a tight set at Gopher Lounge with smoky vocals and an enthusiastic crowd.

A man in the left background playing keyboards and a man in the right foreground playing guitar and singing into a microphone.
Megan McGarvey
Grand Holler performs at the Gopher Lounge

A quiet and intimate surprise after being sandwiched between festival goers at other packed venues was Wes Hadrich at Jade Fountain. His poignant, heart-on-his-sleeve acoustic songs spoke to loneliness, lost love, with descriptive imagery of the south and the heartland. A worn and weathered journal of handwritten lyrics in front of him that looked as though he spends lots of time writing down his thoughts, observations, and poetry. He slipped in a cover of Jason Isbell's "Different Days" that fit right in with the tone of his originals.

A seated man in a cowboy hat plays guitar and sings into a microphone with his eyes closed.
Christine Dean
Wes Hadrich performs at Jade Fountain

The crush in other venues finally started to ease up as music fans made a beeline to the Kom-on-Inn to see Glitteratti. Featuring Dave Carroll and Tim Saxhaug of Trampled by Turtles and joined by Alan Sparhawk of Low, the Marc Gartman project was clearly one of the higher-profile and anticipated acts of Homegrown this year. Patrons were squeezed uncomfortably into the long narrow venue, trying to get a glimpse of the band. The accomplished musicians performed Glitteratti originals as well as covers like the Velvet Underground's "Who Loves the Sun" with glorious harmonies. After a mesmerizing version of Pink Floyd’s “Fearless,” they finished their set with a snippet of “Sundown” in honor of the passing of Canadian folk legend Gordon Lightfoot earlier in the week.

Side view of a man playing guitar and singing into a microphone with another man playing guitar behind him.
Jeremy Nelson
Marc Gartman performs with Glitteratti at the Kom-on-Inn

The Slamming Doors delivered a solid set at the Gopher Lounge that ended with an extended jam of Bob Dylan's "I Shall be Released," with what sounded like some Prince guitar licks snuck in for good measure.

A band performs on a stage
Megan McGarvey
The Slamming Doors perform at the Gopher Lounge

Back at the Kom-on-Inn, Renagade of Untold Stories performed, trading lines with MN Moder and backed by Jaze. It was a fun set that got the crowd dancing along.

Side view of a man rapping into a microphone.
Jeremy Nelson
Renagade of Untold Stories performing at the Kom-on-Inn

Near the end of the night music fans had three different flavors of hard rock to choose from at three different venues. At the Gopher, Halfsleeper created dark, moody soundscapes punctuated by singer Tina Fox’s screamed vocals. The band’s dynamics shifted from a tempo that had one couple slow dancing to a more insistent, menacing rhythm that got other audience members forming a mosh pit.

A woman dressed in all black sings into a microphone with her eyes closed turned sideways away from the audience in front of the stage. In the back right corner of the photo there's a neon Bud Light sign.
Megan McGarvey
Halfsleeper performs at the Gopher Lounge

At Mr. D's, Port City Limit also rocked hard, but with a more rootsy, blues influenced sound. They riled up the crowd with a blistering version of "Wipeout."

Back at the Kom-on-Inn, Bellerpuss played raging hard-core punk while wearing cat ears. The trio's heavy sound rivals bands with twice as many members, and it didn't take long for a mosh pit to form on the floor.

A drummer and guitarist performing while wearing cat ears.
Megan McGarvey
Bellerpuss performing at the Kom-on-Inn

After all of that rocking, the final act of the night, Black River Revue, had a lot to live up to at their midnight set at Mr. D's. They were up to the task, with guest musicians Jacob and Owen Mahon on guitar and drums respectively plus aforementioned fiddler Clif Nesseth adding some jam to their grass for a high-energy set. Front man Adam Stariha joked that, in honor of the night's Western theme, he had his "most uncomfortable footwear on tonight, just for you." Despite the late hour on a Wednesday night, a substantial crowd filled the venue, in keeping with the rest of the night's shows.

A band performs on stage under red lights.
Jeremy Nelson
Black River Revue performs at Mr. D's

Coverage of the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival on The North 103.3 is made possible by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Christine is The North 103.3's Music Director, a host of Music Through the Day, and the producer of Live from Studio A. One of her favorite things about her job is the opportunity to share music from the Twin Ports’ many talented local artists. In her spare time she takes full of advantage of Duluth’s outdoors opportunities.
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