Homegrown Music Festival Day 1: Mustard, hand-jives, speculative fiction
This year's mayoral proclamation was more than a mayoral proclamation. It was an everyone proclamation. Homegrown Music Festival got its start Sunday evening at Hoops Brewing with its traditional blessing from Mayor Emily Larson — but some of the key words were crowd-sourced, Wacky Mad Libs style. It was a lot of "whereas" separated by fill-in-the-blank nouns and verbs.
It might be the first time the words "hand jive" have ever been part of a proclamation.
It's certainly the first time the Duluth mayor wished fest founder Scott "Starfire" Lunt a happy First Communion. Probably.
She was joined in the stage-like space by Crystal Pelkey, dubbed "The Homegrown Hugger" and Lunt.
Homegrown Music Festival, in its 20th year, is eight days of rock, roll and other arts. It features almost 200 bands at dozens of venues in Duluth and Superior, and it runs through Sunday.
Dave Hoops brewed a beer named for Mayor Emily Larson: Sort of. Hoops Brewing names its beer by numbers.
"Number 10, Mayor's Blend," Hoops decried to a room full of festers.
Finally. The moment (at least some) Homegrown'ers have dreamed of: an outdoor concert. The festival started with a family-friendly lineup at Great Lakes Aquarium, a last-minute venue switch that didn't quite make the ink-on-paper schedules. There were two stages — one inside, where Dan the Monkey Man was able to spread his collection of monkey gear and shared musical instruments, and one outside, where Ryan Nelson of The Farsights was able to comfortably play drums in a mustard costume with a watery vista as the backdrop.
There was face-painting, hula hoops, the opportunity to have one's face sprayed with glitter. There was also a dance-off between fleet-of-foot characters, one in a chicken costume, another in a gorilla costume.
Sonja Bordahl, Lee Martin and friends played an alt-country set with family-friendly words — including introducing the word "sippy cup" into a Gillian Welch cover. Zeb or Zeke and the Run Away Screamings is a "Scooby-Doo" tribute, with Luke Moravec playing all the instruments. He covered Outkast's "Hey Ya," a bueno hula hooping tune.
Daniel Oluwaseyi Oyinloye's scene was all business — a Mac on a small table at Teatro Zuccone — but the vibe was warm and charming. The storyteller-community organizer started his set by talking about his Nigerian background, then segued into inspirational hip-hop that made the chairs at the venue seem extraneous. Oyinloye recently released the album "Universe," which he has described as being about "a better world."
Dog Talk, a band based on Gold Star Junkies, is a garage-rock band fronted by Kristine Hagstrom and her coolest-girl-in-school vocals. She made it all look fun and reunion-y, with hugs and waves and at one point letting an off-duty musician help her out of her uncomfortable boots. "We're going to try something different," she told the crowd at Pizza Luce, then switched off between playing a tambourine and a fish. She ripped through a cover of Silversun Pickup's "Panic Switch."
Hip-hop artist JayGee got a late start to his set, but then offered up 30 minutes of pure, barely-contained glee backed by an unidentified, big-personality rapper who, at one point, dropped down to the stage to mime swimming — a nod to the lyrics.
Prone closed new band night with an electro-funk bass-falsetto swirl that played like modern speculative fiction about the 1970s. Chris LeBlanc, hood up, played guitar and keyboard and sang while his bandmates harmonized.