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Full year of entertainment ahead for Twin Ports

Cloud Cult plays a half acoustic, half not show this month at Clyde Iron Works. (Photo by Cody York)1 / 4
In recent years, Trampled By Turtles has played to a sold-out crowd at Clyde Iron Works during Homegrown Music Festival. (2012 file / News Tribune)2 / 4
Bayfront Blues Festival is Aug. 8-10 at Bayfront Festival Park. Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter Chastity Brown performed in the acoustic tent in 2012. (2012 file / News Tribune)3 / 4
The Minnesota Ballet's annual production of the "Nutcracker" is something to look forward to in December. (2011 file / News Tribune)4 / 4

Dear Duluth. We have a certain reputation as last-minute ticket-buyers.

Maybe that was a legit characterization in 2013, but it's 2014 and maybe now we're people who look ahead. Maybe we spent New Year's Eve toasting our Google calendars. Maybe we spent New Year's Day shopping for day planners.

Well, we're in luck.

The artists and administrators charged with keeping us full of fun, frivolity and art-inspired contemplation have been working to fill our year with all manner of art and entertainment.

Here is a month-by-month, non-scientific and not-at-all-inclusive look at what to look forward to in 2014.

Consider this just the first dashes of ink in your 2014 calendar:

January

Cloud Cult hasn't been based in Duluth for years, but there is still a definite Duluth-ness to this band that promotes environmental issues and always, always gives a shout-out to Lake Superior during its local shows.

This band is pure, feral glee. You'll see it when the sometimes shoeless members of the band grab drum sticks and dance and beat on snares in a way that seems like their skin might split from trying to contain the force of energy.

Cloud Cult released its album "Love" in March 2013 and is off on another tour that starts at 8 p.m. Jan. 31 at Clyde Iron Works.

The band is a mix of electronics, strings, distortion and pop and is scheduled to perform a tale-of-two-concerts: Half acoustic, half not.

February

Dropkick Murphys seems like the kind of band that won't be happy unless you wake up after a show with a fresh shamrock tattoo on your calf and knuckles bloodied from the aggressive reception of a Claddagh ring.

The Boston-based Celtic punk band is again scheduled to perform at the Twin Ports Brewfest, an annual event that starts with sampling from breweries and wineries and ends with a concert.

Dropkick Murphys released the album "Signed and Sealed in Blood" in January 2013, which inexplicably and unpredictably included a Christmas song.

Twin Ports Brewfest is Feb. 22 at Black Bear Casino. Skinny Lister opens the show.

March

Something wicked this way comes, and the local classical theater company is bringing it.

Wise Fool Shakespeare returns to The Bard with a production of "Macbeth."

The company last produced Moliere's "The Miser" in September 2013.

"Macbeth" is the story of a man who would be king. First he had to get his hands dirty. But dirty hands lead to dirtier hands. And if hands get too dirty, a king-ish sort might start seeing things.

Wise Fool Shakespeare's production opens March 7 at the Lincoln Park Middle School Auditorium.

April

Here's hoping you spent April getting a solid eight every night. That you ate your veggies, hydrated and practiced yoga.

You're going to need to be in prime condition for Homegrown Music Festival, an eight-day soiree that features more than 150 bands playing at more than two dozen venues. Not to mention the Homegrown bonuses such as art shows, poetry readings and homemade music videos for homemade songs.

There will be not-so-secret secret shows, kickball, inside jokes and stuffed mascots and you might as well commit to a slice-a-day diet from Pizza Luce.

This is a good time to resign yourself to the fact that you cannot see everything.

Homegrown Music Festival runs April 27 through May 4.

May

The New York Times called a 2012 production of Kate Fodor's play "Rx": "A winning combination of light satire and romance" and said it was "a sprightly, engaging comedy."

Renegade Theater Company gives the show its Northland premiere when it opens May 1 at Teatro Zuccone.

"Rx" is the story of the down-in-the-dumps Meena who is looking for a cure for her 9-to-5 blues. So she takes a pill. Her therapist falls in love with her, so he gets a pill, too. And so on until chaos ensues.

June

The titular character is old and cranky and he's going to show his nephew what is what by marrying a much younger woman and making her his heir.

His plan doesn't stand a chance against his devious friends and family in Lyric Opera of the North's production of "Don Pasquale."

The local opera company most recently produced a two-fer, dividing the night between productions of "The Face on the Barroom Floor" followed by "Bon Appetit!" in October 2013 at The Underground.

"Don Pasquale," a comedic opera, plays June 12 and June 14.

July

It's an out-of-character scheduling move for the Duluth Playhouse, but its big summer musical plays just a single week and off-site from the stage at the Depot.

"Les Miserables" is July 16-19 at Symphony Hall.

You know the scene: 19th-century France, political unrest and our hero has just been released from jail. Not to mention a shower-singing and car-karaoke-friendly soundtrack.

This production might be enough to finally wear away at the brain burn of Anne Hathaway's cry face.

August

Bayfront Blues Festival is a longtime three-day event that inspires thousands of revelers to descend on Bayfront Festival Park for three days and two stages worth of music.

Consider this: A festival goer might have to attach a blinking D-cup bra to a vertical post so that he/she can find his/her way back to a crowded camp between performances.

Acts are being penned into the master schedule now, including Friday's headliner Los Lonely Boys.

Bayfront Blues Festival is Aug. 8-10.

September

You will notice a change in vibe as students are woven back into the local A&E scene, sitting in the audiences and sharing the spotlights.

Check out the college calendars for staged productions, music and art exhibitions by the newbies.

October

"Evil Dead: The Musical" has become a defining piece for Rubber Chicken Theater Company. After a year hiatus, the show will play at The Underground, a new venue for the hokey Sam Rami horror show.

The production, like the movie, has a cult following in these parts. It also has a splatter zone for people who don't mind leaving the show coated in a blood-like film.

November

Northland NewsCenter provides the proverbial starter gun for the holiday season. No one decks a hall around here until the annual Christmas City of the North Parade has crossed the finish line on Superior Street.

The parade, now more than half a century old, features marching bands, mascots, dancers and variations of the anthem "Christmas City," originally done by Merv Griffin.

You could watch it on TV from the comfort of your couch. Or you could be a decent human being, trade out your pajama pants for snow pants, and be part of the crowd on Superior Street.

December

'Tis the season to buff those shoes and fasten those bows: It's time for the Minnesota Ballet's annual production of the "Nutcracker." This version has an Edwardian theme and is set in New York City. The show includes professionals from the company in the traditional roles and students from the School of the Minnesota Ballet upping the cute factor.

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