Best bets: Dylan Fest, polka fun and the horror of 'Birdemic'
Actual Wolf returns
After playing more shows during Homegrown Music Festival than should be humanly possible, Actual Wolf returns for another. The smooth-voiced alt-country-rock band featuring Eric Pollard plays Wednesday with Andy Cook at Red Herring Lounge.
Pollard played Rex Bar during the fest — in addition to daily pickup shows at Duluth Coffee Co. Actual Wolf released "Faded Days" last summer, a mix that includes dreamy nostalgia, Allman-flavored moments and a cover of Haley's "Hometown."
Minneapolis-based songwriter Andy Cook recently released "Modern Man," a quick-hit bit of Americana.
Actual Wolf plays at 9 p.m. May 23 at Red Herring Lounge, 208 E. First St. Tickets: $7.
Dylan time, most of the time
Local fans and Bob Dylan-pilgrims will be able to celebrate the Nobel Prize-winning Duluth native with 10 days' worth of Dylan-centric events, ranging from visual art to lectures and trivia to riding the rails. Duluth Dylan Fest starts Friday, May 18, and runs through May 27.
The festival starts with the opening reception for William Pagel's collection of Dylan memorabilia at Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum on Saturday, which includes a John Bushey Memorial Lecture with David Pichaske, author of "Song of the North Country: A Midwest Framework to the Songs of Bob Dylan."
Other highlights for this week include: Big Wu performing Dylan music and more Sunday at the Sports Garden and the opening for "Shakespeare's in the Alley: A Tribute to Bob Dylan" art installation by Skye.
Duluth Dylan Fest runs May 19-May 27 at venues in Duluth and Hibbing. See Page C4 for full schedule.
Fight or flight
"Birdemic," a cult classic by James Nguyen follows a lingerie model and her computer engineer boyfriend during a decidedly weird time for birds. They attack, spit acid or otherwise turn up dead on the local beaches. The new couple takes off for less birdy locales.
Read: global warming as cautionary tale-horror story.
Duluth Film Collective and Zinema 2 aren't afraid of a 19 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer or general worst-movie-ever chatter for this go-round's pick for Midnight Movies at 7.
"Birdemic: Shock and Terror" plays at 7 p.m. Monday, May 21, at Zinema 2, 222 E. Superior St. Tickets: $10.
Those Sutter Brothers
In Bart Sutter's new collection, "Nordic Accordion: Poems in a Scandinavian Mood," he gives cheeky treatment to the titular instrument. "O, melodious accordion/ much maligned, misunderstood / Butt of so many jokes —" then offers a stanza'ed ba-dump-bump about an accordion left in the back seat of a car and when its owner returns, the window has been smashed. But rather than stealing it, another accordion has been left beside it.
Bart Sutter and Ross Sutter will perform as part of his book launch. The former's a word guy — he's won multiple book awards and was Duluth's poet laureate — the latter brings the instruments — including an accordion. Ross Sutter is an award-winning bariton, multi-instrumentalist, who has performed around the country.
They are also promising a mystery guest.
Bart Sutter's book launch/Sutter Brothers show is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 19, at the Duluth-Superior Friends Meeting House, 1802 E. First St. Tickets: $10 adults, $5 students.
Speaking of poetry
Duluth's poet laureate, Ellie Schoenfeld, is behind an event that links words and movement. The "Wordy Dancing" program includes seven poets and dancers who are paired for a presentation.
Featured artists include Naomi Christenson and Elena Suarez, Bridgette Eckwood/Majur Atraktion and Alice Marks, Rebecca Katz Harwood and Deborah Rasmussen, Regina M. LaRouche and Ann Floreen Niedringhaus, Annette Strom and Diana Randolph and Doris Ressl Acosta and Lucy Tyrrell.
"Wordy Dancing" is at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 20, at Weber Music Hall at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Bill Frisell to play Sound
Guitarist Bill Frisell — whose music was described by the New York Times as "It's hard to find a more fruitful meditation on American music than in (his) compositions ..." — will play a show Friday at Sound.
Frisell won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album for "Unspeakable" in 2005. He will be joined by Tony Scherr.
Bill Frisell plays at 9 p.m. May 18 at Sound, 132 E. Superior St. Tickets: $25 at brownpapertickets.com.
The 40th annual Chmielewski Polkafest is billed as having 10 bands and 30 hours of dancing. The three-day event, held at Grand Casino Hinckley, is the longtime fest of Florian Chmielewski — who has been a dairy farmer, a county commissioner and a Minnesota state senator, and, of course, accordion player. His own band, the Chmielewski Funtime Band, has included four generations of polka players. The lineup includes acts such as Dale Dahmen & the Polka Beats, Singing Slovenes, Rod Cerar Orchestra, Gary Ridgeland Dutchmen and more.
Chmielewski Polkafest is May 18-20 at Grand Casino Hinckley. Tickets: $20 single day Friday and Saturday, $17 single day Sunday; $49 three-day pass.