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An intro to what you'll need for this year's Homegrown

Photo illustrations by Gary Meader /

Here we go again, music fans. The 18th annual Homegrown Music Festival starts Sunday, with the sweet sounds of kid-friendly music, and ends eight days later with the last strains of a relatively new bluegrass band.

In between, expect to see rock, roll, punk, folk, metal, art rock and more at mostly downtown Duluth venues — but also in Superior. About 200 bands with local ties are expected to play at about 40 different locations. Weeklong wristbands are $30; Friday or Saturday single-day bands are $20; and a week-day long wristband is $10. A $30 wristband is required for Wednesday's main room show at Clyde Iron Works.

Here is a good start on what you might want or need to know about the festival, but you're going to have to Google the effects of PBR on human hair in your free time.


You should have the gist of the origin story if you're going to walk the walk. No one's going to quiz you, but if they do: His name is Scott "Starfire" Lunt and, years ago, he threw a birthday party with a pretty hot musical lineup. After that, it grew and grew and grew into what you see today.

Starfire might not be in charge anymore, but it's still his birthday week. Go listen to his band. Father Hennepin plays at 8:30 p.m. May 7 at The Red Herring Lounge.


You could, conceivably, have a Happy Homegrown and never once hear the sweet sounds of live local music. There are a few festival-related events that are more visual, less aural. First, a political blessing. Mayor Emily Larson gets her first crack at a Mayoral Proclamation alongside the annual cask release of the Homegrown Hempen Ale at 7:15 p.m. Sunday at Tycoons Alehouse.

If you've got a mind for Homegrown history, the annual Homegrown Pub Quiz is at 9 p.m. Sunday at Carmody Irish Pub.

The Homegrown Photo Show (5 p.m. Monday at The Red Herring Lounge) features the images of past festivals. Expect to see Hefty Bag fashions, demolished stuffed animals, sweaty crowd shots and so much emoting.

The Homegrown Music Video Festival is old school MTV-style entertainment: Freshly made music vids set to locally-made music (6 p.m. Monday at Zinema 2; or 7 p.m. Tuesday at Zinema 2; or noon May 8 at The Red Herring Lounge).

If you like lyrics spoken rather than sung, twanged or screamed, the Homegrown Poetry Showcase is at 7:30 pm. Monday at Sacred Heart Music Center.

For the 'thletes: There is a casual 5-mile Rock 'n' Run at 11 a.m. on May 7 — go stride-for-stride with Alan Sparhawk — followed by a Rocker vs. Rocker kickball game, both at Chester Bowl Park.

Boom. You didn't even have to take your earplugs out of the package.


When we last saw a political figure kickoff the festival, it was Mayor Don Ness, he was wearing sunglasses and there was an original song poking at complaints about potholes—complete with a backing band.

As for new Duluth Mayor Emily Larson's proclamation plan? As of last week, she hadn't written anything, yet, but one thing was certain:

"I'm not singing," she said. "I just think everyone should lower their expectations."


In the deepest dark of winter, there is a rock 'n' roll-looking man who, once a month, dons monkey ears and brings tubs of musical instruments to a local coffee shop for interactive concerts with kiddies. Dan the Monkey Man looks like a Red Hot Chili Pepper, but plays music that is more of the "Twinkle, Twinkle" school.

DtMM is part of the Children's Music Showcase that starts at 2 p.m. Sunday at The Red Herring Lounge. It's a free all-ages show that includes Terrence Smith and Friends, Robi Meyerson and The Fidgets.

There will also be face painting, puzzles and the sorts of things that attract youngsters with short attention spans and all of the energy in the world. Meaning: There will be dancing even if there isn't officially dancing.

Also: next year's festival director Melissa LaTour will read from her book "I Spy a Bug."

And, um, there is also a bar there for those who have a designated stroller pusher.


Listen. This festival is lousy with folk bands, punk rockers and post-proggers. Why not break it up with some classical music. The Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra will be rehearsing its Heaven & Earth concert from 7:30-9 p.m. May 6 at Symphony Hall, and festival-goers can flash a wristband for a free drop-in.

The program includes Ottorino Respighi's Church Windows and Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. It's a working rehearsal, so you can come and go as you please without the usual shushing one might expect from such bad behavior.

The real-live event is at 7 p.m. May 7, but that's not part of the Homegrown Music Festival package. You have to pay for that one. Tickets start at $20 and are available at (218) 623-3776.


Renegade Theater Company also has a special for Homegrowners. "Seminar," by Theresa Rock and directed by Lawrence Lee, is playing during the fest, and they're offering $10 tickets at the door for performances at 8 p.m. May 6-7.

For the uninitiated: This contemporary play, set in NYC, is about four young writers holed up in an apartment with their instructor for a 10-week intensive session. Chaos ensues.


Remember in 1998 when your cousin got married and, during the reception, each table had a centerpiece composed of disposable cameras. So you took some snaps during the Chicken Dance, exercised an early version of the selfie, and never realized your thumb was always, always, in the frame. The Duluth Art Institute is offering festival-goers the opp to take a wayback machine to this primitive form of chronicling.

Pick up a disposable camera during the opening reception of the Homegrown Photo Show at 5 p.m. Monday at The Red Herring Lounge, record your week in a delayed gratification way, and drop off the camera by 5 p.m. Sunday at the Duluth Art Institute or The Red Herring Lounge.

Some of those images will be a part of a post-Homegrown pop-up photo show, Photo Stupor, on May 9 back at The Red Herring Lounge. Note: limited amount of cameras available.


Heads up, high schoolers. This isn't just a festival for the olds. Of the nearly 40 venues hosting music and merrymaking, a strong percentage are all-ages stops. (And, actually, some of the all-ages places have free admission, so go you! It's case by case, so mind your Homegrown Field Guide.) None of the coffee shops, restaurant-restaurants, galleries or theaters have age restrictions. Also all-ages: Legacy Glassworks, Minnesota Power Plaza, Sacred Heart Music Center. Here's a mixed one: Clyde Iron Works Mezzanine is all-ages, but the main stage is not.

This tip is also applicable for music-head parents who are babysitter-challenged.


So you wanna get from The Underground to the Barrel Room at Fitger's Brewhouse lickity split, preferably without blistering. What's a player to do? From 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, the Homegrown Trolley shuttles music fans up and down Superior Street, making stops at all DTA bus stops along the way. It's free. There's also live music on board: Tyler Scouton and Clover Street Cronies on Friday; Teague Alexy and Chris Clemens on Saturday. This isn't New Orleans, so leave your booze at the bar.


The News Tribune will have daily coverage including band profiles, late-night dining options and festival recaps. Stay tuned. Also, follow @DNTANE on Twitter. Schedule changes and other updated festival information is available at or at @dhgmf on Twitter. This year's hashtag — for those who want to follow along far, far from the scene of the crime (or those who want to be a part of the reportage) — is #hgmf16. Instagram it, suckers.


Next up on the horizon, music-wise: Duluth Dylan Fest. The big guy turns 75 this year, so it's time to par-tay like a rolling stone. Then, it's summer concert season, so get your Hula Hoop ready.