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Duluth keeps up with The Current

Alan Sparhawk (left) and Mimi Parker of the Duluth band Low perform on Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current during a live broadcast from Endion Station Public House in Canal Park on Friday afternoon. (Clint Austin / / 3
Jill Riley (left) and Steve Seel of Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current broadcast live from Endion Station in Canal Park on Friday afternoon in Duluth. (Clint Austin / / 3
The Current program director Jim McGuinn (left) talks with Duluth mayor Don Ness as the station belonging to Minnesota Public Radio broadcasts live from Endion Station in Canal Park on Friday afternoon in Duluth. Watching are Angie Andresen (center left) and Cathy Nevanen with Minnesota Public Radio. This is the first time that The Current has broadcast live from Duluth. (Clint Austin / / 3

Let the calendar show that July 25, 2014, was “Stream The Current in Duluth Day.”

So sayeth Mayor Don Ness.

The music arm of Minnesota Public Radio set up a temporary red tent to broadcast live Friday from the newly opened Endion Station Public House in Canal Park.

Morning show hosts Jill Riley and Steve Seel brought their Macs and microphones to the patio space at the former depot and tapped into the local A&E scene — which included an on-air interview with Ness, a live performance by Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Low, a conversation with Bob Monahan of Chaperone Records and more.  

A casual Ness addressed the crowd of about 150, and a few dogs, while holding a pint of Hoppelujah IPA. He credited the DJs with playing original music from across the Minnesota.

“You guys have always been there and we appreciate it,” Ness said.

In turn, Seel told Ness he was giving former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, known to crowd surf at First Avenue, a run for the title of most rock ’n’ roll mayor.

“You have your first pint before we do,” Seel pointed out.

As for “Stream The Current in Duluth Day” — the public radio station’s signal at 89.3-FM doesn’t reach this area, but live streaming is available at

Program director Jim McGuinn said The Current approached the keepers of Endion Station about the live broadcast.

“We were brainstorming things to do this summer,” he said. “We play so many bands from Duluth. (We thought we could) come up to Duluth and have a hang — shine a spotlight on Duluth.”   

Seel introduced Sparhawk and Parker as being from one of the first bands played when The Current first aired in January 2005.

The Low duo performed a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire.” Their version will appear on “Dead Man’s Town: A Tribute to Born in the U.S.A.” — a compilation that will be released on Lightning Rod Records in September.

Why this song?

“It’s short, it’s simple, it’s Low-ish,” Sparhawk said. “The song is particularly intense.”

(At least one audience member claimed goose bumps during the performance.)

Endion Station, a 115-year-old building, was once a small depot — a theme it will carry in its new capacity as a cozy beachfront spot with a large patio, craft beer and ciders and a modest menu.

Then: Old 227 was a locomotive running iron ore to Duluth and Two Harbors.

Now: It’s a Starfire Pale Ale-braised pork, cabbage and stone ground mustard sandwich.

The casual restaurant-bar is the latest for Rod Raymond and Tim Nelson, owners of Fitger’s Brewhouse, Tycoons Alehouse & Eatery, Redstar Lounge and Burrito Union. They had the top bid of $300,000 when the city auctioned the building in 2012.

“We’re attracted to places that have cultural heritage,” company spokesman Brad Nelson said. “We can build on that and enhance that. This is the authentic Duluth experience: Beer brewed by local brewers made by water you can see right there on the deck of a railroad depot made from stone taken from the area.

“That’s about as authentic as it gets.”

Endion Station will keep truncated hours through the weekend, but will start keeping regular hours (11 a.m.-1 a.m.) on Monday.

After Endion Station, representatives from the radio station were headed to The Red Herring Lounge for The Current Does Duluth, a concert featuring Low, Tin Can Gin and Sarah Krueger.