Best 2012 Local Music

Paul Whyte

It has certainly been quite the year for music in the Twin Ports and surrounding region and it’s no cut and dry task to decide the highlights of the last year. One thing that is for certain is that we believe we have a tight knit music and arts community up here and everyone does their part whether it be photography of performances, album art, producing and engineering, promoting and of course, playing. From the belly dancers to puppeteers, sound guys and to everyone who shows up, it’s all of us that make the area a diverse and fun place to live in.

2012 Shows:

Homegrown: The Apocylpse
April 29-May 6
There’s nothing that quite expresses the culmination of the arts and music community of the Twin Ports coming together more than the Homegrown Music Festival which has bee held around the first week of May for the last 14 years. This year KUWS DJ, Walter Raschick, took the reins of the week long festival and with the help of volunteers and people dedicated to the scene, successfully landed a memorable (or maybe for some, not so memorable) Homegrown.

Wilco Receives Key to Duluth
at Bayfront
July 1

After receiving Duluth citizenship by Mayor Don Ness, an action which started a peculiar feud between Duluth and Madison, WI over Wilco citizenship. On July 1, Wilco also received the “key to the city” of Duluth, awarded by Mayor Ness. The Reader furthered the strange Wilco love by titling our publication “Wilco Weekly” on our July 5 issue.

Readerfest at Bayfront
July 28

The Reader wanted to go all out for our 15th anniversary. What better way than to throw a free public concert at the Bayfront? We’d like to thank bands such as The Brothers Burn Mountain, Hannah Rey, The Centerville All-Stars, Ultra Day, Old Knifey & The Cutthroats, Uprising, Molly & The Danger Band and star from The Voice, Vicci Martinez, for helping us celebrate our anniversary. We couldn’t have done it without dedicated volunteers, sound guys and stage hands.

Pictured above: Vicci Martinez  -photo by: Andy Perfetti
Pictured above: Vicci Martinez -photo by: Andy Perfetti

One Week Live at Beaner’s
September 24-30

For the last 11 years Beaner’s Central owner, Jason Wussow, has held this unique weeklong showcase of local talent at his coffee-shop venue in West Duluth. Over 20 bands are recorded live on stage and are featured later on CD. On Wednesdays there is the Songwriter Competition. This last year there were performances by artists such as Diet Folk, Murder of Crows, Portage, The Brothers Burn Mountain and Minneapolis based indie-rock band Zoo Animal to name a few.

2012 Bands and Artists

It’s difficult to look back and choose which bands or musicians we “like most.” If you’re doing something in the music scene of the Twin Ports, there’s a good chance we like what you’re doing. When looking at this category we’re mostly focusing on acts that made their presence known in the area and made some big strides in 2012.


Earlier in 2012 Snobarn was a duo consisting of Ariane Norrgard on guitar and keys and Gaelynn Lea who plays violin. The two shared vocal duties and often bring in harmonies between them. In 2012 they were joined by Bryan (Lefty) Johnson and Chad Erlemeier on rhythm and Eric Bong on bass. On December 1 they launched their Kickstarter campaign which will end January 31, 2013. They’ve already made plans to use the proceeds to record at Sacred Heart in February.

The Brothers Burn Mountain
It’s hard to pinpoint the sound that brothers Ryan and Jesse Dermody come up with when they play. It’s a mix of high energy rock and bluegrass. Throughout the entire year of 2012 Brothers Burn Mountain has played every Thursday at Fitger’s Brewhouse, making them a definite mainstay in Twin Ports music. They released a new album titled “When You Crave a Sweetness” on September 15 after already releasing an album in January.

Sam Wall’s Medicate
It never hurts to use Facebook as a promotional tool for a music project. In the case of Sam Wall and his hip-hop project Medicate he revealed that he had an album’s worth of songs that are beyond his years. After performing just a couple of small shows, Medicate was asked to rap at Grandma’s Sports Garden, opening for Kosha Dillz.

2012 Albums

It’s fair to say we did not listen to every album recorded near the Twin Ports in 2012. We did however listen to a lot of music and tried to get our hands on what we could. Finding new CDs on our desk is like Christmas each time but it’s not unheard of for us to listen online to albums as well. Here’s our top five picks for 2012.

Mary Bue: Apple in the Ocean
Lion or Gazelle: There’s Blood in Fire
Teague Alexy: This Dance
Three Song Sunday: Don’t Be Sad On Me
Iron Range Outlaw Brigade: Backwoods Hellride

2012 Minneapolis Bands

Although we primarily focus on Twin Ports music, it’s hard to not pay attention to some excellent talent that makes it’s way up from the Twin Cities. The following are a couple of bands that sent us their 2012 released albums and we loved them.

The Pines
When we listened to “Dark So Gold” by The Pines we were blown away. The Pines head up to the Twin Ports a few times a year. Their sound mixes roots/Americana with indie and modern twists.

We’ve yet to hear a BNLX song we don’t like. This Minneapolis band plays catchy alternative electro-punk. Their version of Lana Del Rey’s song “Video Games” was highlight on their EP #7. BNLX also makes it up to the area periodically for shows.

2012 Band Break Ups

It’s always hard to say if a band is totally broke up. There are reunion shows and changes of line up and musicians starting new projects all the time. We loved these following bands that broke up in 2012. They might regroup someday, but not any time soon.

Wyatt Famous
It was hard not to feel good when going to a show and listening to the really positive folk-punk of Wyatt Famous. They played their final performance April 30 at the Homegrown music festival.

Good Colonels
The Good Colonels were a primarily instrumental rock group. They played several shows a year in the area and broke up when guitar player Codie Leseman left to teach in South Korea. Bassist Joe Conaway from Good Colonels and Anders Lundahl from Wyatt Famous continue to play music in the band The Horror.


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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