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Catch Homegrown original Father Hennepin at Carmody

Scott "Starfire" Lunt

Attention, Homegrown Music Festival newbies:

Smack dab in the middle of today’s festivities is the musical act that is the reason for the season. Without Father Hennepin, you might not have that fun shackle cinched to your wrist.

Father Hennepin, which includes Homegrown founder Scott “Starfire” Lunt, plays at 9:45 p.m. at Carmody Irish Pub.

The festival features about 200 bands playing at more than two dozen venues in the Twin Ports and runs through Sunday. The music starts at 10 a.m. today with Kraig James playing a solo show at the Chester Creek Café Wine Bar.

Crew Jones and Duck Duck Punch close out the night with shows at 12:30 a.m. at Tycoons Alehouse and Pizza Luce respectively.

Before there was the band Father Hennepin, there was the name Father Hennepin.

“I lived in Minneapolis and I was sitting in a bar in a Northeast neighborhood,” Lunt said. “I looked out and saw a Hennepin street sign. ‘Father Hennepin’ popped into my head. I thought ‘That’s a great name.’ ”

Years later, Lunt was living in Duluth and surrounded by music-minded friends who were interested in being part of a pre-named band. The lineup includes Lunt and Ted Anderson on guitar, Bob Olson on bass, Brad Nelson on drums and Susie Ludwig on accordion and keyboard.

“I still don’t really know how to play guitar,” Lunt said. “I like singing. You surround yourself with good people and it works.”

Back in the day, Lunt was a music fan hosting a radio station out of his basement. Random Radio, which eventually caught the attention of the Federal Communications Commission, included info on local bands such as Low, Gild and Biochemical Characters.

He started Homegrown Music Festival as a way to celebrate his birthday. He rented a space, invited some bands and premiered his alt-country act. Within two years, the festival had shifted to a two-night event with more than 20 bands.

Eventually Lunt handed off organizational duties. These days it’s got a steering committee, headed by Walter “Walt Dizzo” Raschick, and dozens of volunteers.

The band only plays a few shows a year, these days.

“Life gets in the way,” Lunt said.

“I still get a lot out of being a member of the band and being part of it,” Nelson said. “I’m glad the band is still going and I’m grateful to have the other four members in my life.”

Expect to hear some yet-untested songs by Anderson today, and Lunt has a new Dr. Bronner song.  

And the band, per usual, has picked a cover song not typically associated with alt-country acts. Think Boy George.