Homegrown: The Apocalypse and Feeling Good About Twin Ports Music

Paul Whyte

Tuesday, April 24, “theater two” of the Zinema was decently filled with members of the Twin Ports community anxiously waiting to watch the Duluth based bluegrass band “Trampled by Turtles” perform on the David Letterman show. The viewers patiently waited through the guests and dragging commercials. It’s hard to describe the amount of energy that was in the theater once TBT started playing on the large screen, but it’s safe to say it was an energy of pride and positivity.  In my couple of years of genuinely loving the music scene of this area, I couldn’t help but feel that wave of energy myself. It did cross my mind of the days back when the Teatro location was the Red Lion and the nights of punk bands and Black Label beer were enjoyed by a handful of enthusiastic audience members while washed out regulars sat at the bar and looked on with a glazed look in their eyes.
Earlier today, Bob Boone, Publisher and Owner of the Reader, described to me how the Duluth scene was when the Reader first started and even further back into the 80s.  He described it as just a few folk and blues artists, some bar bands and perhaps a random metal band.  Looking at this year’s Homegrown and the fact that there are nearly 170 musical acts, it kind of blows my mind. I’ve worked with these people at jobs like at a sub shop, a restaurant, bagging groceries, have worked with them somehow in music or just bumped into them while at a show and when I see them doing what they do, I feel nothing but inspired and happy about how far things have come and may continue to go.  
Well, although this might be the last year of the Earth’s existence and it really seems like everything is sliding down a slippery slope to a future that is growing more and more uncertain, the 14th year of Homegrown (aka “Homegrown the Aplocalypse”) is anigh and I’ve felt for the last few years that Homegrown is better than Christmas.  The week long music and arts festival will start on Sunday, April 29.  For those unaware of what Homegrown is; it’s a music festival that started as a birthday party for Scott “Starfire” Lunt back in 1999.  Around ten bands played for the celebration and obviously it has continued to grow through out the years, just has the music scene in the Twin Ports has.
On Sunday, the Festival will kick off with the Homegrown Visual Arts Edition at the Duluth Art Institute at 5 p.m. and the Hempen Ale Cask Release and Mayor Don Ness’ Proclamation at the recently opened Tycoons on Superior Street.  I’ll be giving my personal recommendations of some of the things going on, if you’re a musician playing on one of these nights and you’re not in this, it doesn’t mean that I don’t think you rock, it only means that there’s 170 acts to choose from.  For those out on the first night, check out Planemo at Pizza Luce’ at 11 p.m. at Pizza Luce’ or high energy drum and guitar duo, The Brothers Burn Mountain at Tycoons at 11:30 p.m.  
Monday, the last day of April, will start at 4 p.m with the Homegrown Photo Show at the Teatro/Zeitgeist building and will be followed by the Homegrown Music Video Festival in the lower floor at Zinema 2, a poetry show case at Teatro will happen at 7:30 p.m. Who’s idea was it to name one building three different names anyway? Check out Two Harbors songstress, Hannah Rey, at Carmody Irish Pub at 8 p.m. The local fun and light hearted folk/punk group, Wyatt Famous, will be playing their last show at R.T. Quinlan’s at 9:30 p.m. and the “cowpunk” group, The Undesirables, will be playing right after.
Tuesday will start with the encore of the Music Video Festival at 5:30 p.m. For those underage, or those who want to support young up and coming artists, check out the Teatro Zuccone show with Excuse Me, Princess and Presently Skyward. Hattie & Her Man Band with The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank at Grandma’s Sports Garden should also be a good time that night.
If you want to make the Trampled by Turtles show at Clyde Iron on Wednesday, you’ll have to be on your toes.  I’m not sure how that show will go down or if them playing on Letterman right before Homegrown was a good or bad thing, but it’s going to be a madhouse of fun vibes. For those looking for some rock, check Good Colonels at R.T. Quinlan’s at 11 p.m. or those seeking some original electronic/experimental music, Danecdote will be playing at the Red Star at the same time.
Thursday is when things start to get a little more intense in the Homegrown week. Starting off a weekend long party in Superior might be a little sadistic/masochistic, whatever way you want to look at it, but it’s certainly a way to get things warmed up for the weekend. The other thing I’ve always thought was a bit rough is how this festival always ends up around school finals. It’s really not the best time to party for a week straight, but if you’re dedicated it’s certainly possible. The night will start off with the Opening Soup Town Reception at the Red Mug at 6 p.m., a phenomenal vocalist, Suzy Q, will be performing right after that at Red Mug. For those into a little punk rock, check Phillip of Nazareth and Hard Feelings at Bev’s Jook Joint. Fearless Moral Inventory and Adam Depre “Old Knifey” and the Cutthroats will be rocking at the Main Club on Thursday as well.  There will be plenty of pyrotechnics at the show at the Main.  There will also be Ryan Van Slooten accompanied by a band at the Thirsty Pagan and The Half Hearts at Norm’s will end off the night in Superior.  It’s important to not forget acts like Malibu High featuring Keith Ambrose Nelson playing Duluth side at Burrito Union at 9:30 p.m. or The Tico Three with Israel Malachi at 10 p.m. at Chester Creek Cafe, just in case you can’t make it over the bridge or are scared of Superior.  
All of this will spill into a spectacular weekend, which I’ll probably discuss in a Hotticket next week.  I’d like to thank each and everyone of you for your involvement in the arts and music scene of this area and I look forward to watching future generations keep this all going. If you’ve gone to a show and tipped a singer/songwriter, bought a local album or merchandise, played a show for free or a couple of beers to just support the scene or a good cause, I have sincere appreciation for that dollar or that hour set that you put in. You Rawk!
A weeklong pass for all eight days of Homegrown is $25, and single day weekend pass is $15, and a single day weekday pass is just $5, which will be well worth it if just going out on Thursday in Superior. It will be required to have a weeklong pass to attend he Trampled by Turtles show at the Clyde Iron Center on Wednesday and it will be a “first come, first serve basis,” so try to be understanding or vigilant. Last year I arrived around 15 minutes too late and had some friends with, I believe we hit up the Beaner’s Open Mic instead. If it’s a bar, it’s probably 21+ (please refer to a “Field Guide” if you are interested in Homegrown or local music and arts for complete information).  All ages events include through Thursday include venues such as the Duluth Art Institute, Duluth Photography Institute, Teatro Zuccone (building) and Red Mud in Superior.


Paul Whyte

A South Shore native and University of Wisconsin-Superior journalism graduate. Lifelong musician, and former open mic host. Passionate about the music scene and politics.

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