Duluth's Homegrown Music Festival aims to just keep growingHomegrown Music Festival kicks off its 15th year with the music of reformed punk musicians.
By: Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
Homegrown Music Festival kicks off its 15th year with the music of reformed punk musicians.
These days, you will see a softer side of Yester.
“We still wanted to make music, but we didn’t feel like punk was the way we wanted to go,” said Chris LeBlanc, the band’s drummer and also part of DJ Crunchy Bunch. “We wrote mellowed-out, acoustic-driven music.”
Yester is the first musical act of the eight-day event. They play an all-ages show at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Teatro Zuccone and are part of a night that includes longtime established acts such as Tangier 57, 500 Million Society and Todd Gremmels, as well as newish bands with familiar faces such as American Rebels, and veterans testing new band combinations, such as Wolf Blood.
The festival runs from Sunday through May 5.
Mayor Don Ness’s official Homegrown proclamation is at 7 p.m. Sunday at Tycoons Alehouse, where the venue also will open the first cask of its signature Homegrown Hempen Ale.
Ness said he will try to top last year’s proclamation, which included a reading of his original Homegrown origin story.
“Fortunately, I set a very low bar with the origin story,” Ness said.
Ness also will contribute to a Tangier 57 song when the space-y lounge band famous for its matching sweaters plays its set at 9:30 p.m. at Tycoons.
“Not sure you’ll be able to call it singing,” Ness said. “But it’ll be something like that.”
LeBlanc said he is hoping people will head to Teatro Zuccone after Ness’s opening statement to catch the band’s set.
“It’s really cool to be part of the start,” LeBlanc said. “There is nothing that can match the energy everyone exudes during Homegrown week. You can see it in the streets; you can hear it in the streets; you can practically smell it in the streets.
“It’s a unique week.”
The core of Yester is LeBlanc and guitar player Kyle Ollah.
The duo has been working on a full-length album and is shooting for a June release date and collaboration with Chaperone Records. After that, they’re planning a Midwest tour.
Expect to hear plenty of new material during Sunday’s show.
Homegrown Music Festival includes more than 180 bands playing at dozens of venues in Duluth and Superior, including newbies Mr. D’s, Spurs on First and The Flame Nightclub in Superior.
The schedule also includes the Homegrown Photo Show, Homegrown Music Video Festival, Homegrown Poetry Showcase, a kickball game, fire dancers and the potential to be serenaded by a guitar player on a free trolley.
Last year’s festival drew about 5,000, according to second-year director Walter “Walt Dizzo” Raschick. This year the steering committee has printed 17,500 Homegrown Field Guides, 2,500 more than last year.
“We love bigger crowds,” Raschick said. “The cool thing is: Sold-out venues look amazing.”
Last weekend, Homegrown-friendly acts Sarah Krueger, The Fontanelles, Cars & Trucks and Retribution Gospel Choir played a show at Amsterdam Bar & Hall in St. Paul and it was billed as a Homegrown Twin Cities Invasion.
“The market is ripe for Duluth bands,” said Raschick, who also hosts a weekly Duluth-centric music show on The Local Current — in addition to his show Thursday nights on KUWS-FM. “Some of the biggest bands in Minnesota are from Duluth. The idea was to kind of open up the festival to people down there.”