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Grandma's Marathon weekend offers music options for any mood

Ggoolldd plays Friday as part of Lake Ave Live. Photo by Kelly Bolter

Whether you're a runner with a hankering to don your medal and dance 'til you're dizzy under a Big Top tent, or you're a Maple Grove-ian with a curiosity about what it's like to live here, there is a scene for you this weekend.

Grandma's Marathon will draw thousands of athletes, fans, friends of athletes and fans to Duluth, and celebrating will be done — both before and after.

We've compiled a list of music options to match a mix of moods.


The biggest show in town is, obvi, beneath the Big Top. Sugar Ray, fronted by Mark McGrath — one of the Top 5 smirkers from the edge-light 1990s alt-pop scene — plays on the eve of the races.

The Cali-band is best known for "Someday," "Every Morning," and "When it's Over."

Sugar Ray played Bayfront Festival Park in 2012 as part of a 1990s nostalgia tour.

"I think one of the greatest things of the '90s was it ripped down the walls of sound," McGrath told the News Tribune six years ago. "Everything got ripped down. The genres were ... exposed as just music. Listeners found out there are just 12 notes — it's how you wrap them."

In the mood to: close your eyes and singing along to "Someday" with thousands of '90s nostalgia hounds.

Sugar Ray plays between local fave funk band Big Wave Dave & The Ripples and Belfast Cowboys, a 9-piece band that channels Van Morrison, at the Big Top on Friday in Canal Park. Tickets: $20.


Devon Worley Band, with its young, hardy-voiced singer-songwriter, plays a race-night show beneath the Big Top — a slot that tends to draw thousands of runners and the people who love them.

According to the lore, Worley — a Minnesota native with ties to Duluth — has been playing out since she was in middle school. She told country pub The Boot that her sound could be described as "Led Zeppelin and Willie Nelson had a baby, and that baby's best friend was Eric Church. Some say it's like we're creating a whole new genre."

Big Wave Dave & The Ripples and funk-soul band Viva Knievel, which covers tunes ranging from Vampire Weekend, to Rick James, to Prince and Toto, also will perform.

In the mood to: trade in your running shoes for cowboy boots, your Gatorade for whiskey.

Devon Worley Band, Viva Knievel and Big Wave Dave & The Ripples play at 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets: $10.


For the D-Town curious: The scene beneath the Big Top isn't really an accurate depiction of what it is like to live here — which is cool. Everyone could stand to go off-brand once in a while. But, less than a fartlek away, true Duluth-y stuff is going down.

Lake Avenue Live is two nights of this-is-how-we-do-it.

Friday's lineup is house-dance artist Amy Hzl, deep-dark sea folkies Superior Siren, short-shorts glitter-rain roller skate band Gramma's Boyfriend (featuring Haley), old-skool punk band Venus DeMars & All the Pretty Horses, and synth-dream Milwaukee-based band Ggoolldd.

Saturday's lineup is rockers A Band Called Truman, blues-ians The Brothers Burn Mountain, alt-rockers Nudecolors, smooth-synth Red Mountain, South of Superior fronted by Hannah Rey Dunda's big gorg voice, and pop band Alamode.

In the mood to: party like you live in the 218.

Lake Ave Live is at 7 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday at the parking lot of the Dewitt-Seitz Building, 394 S. Lake Ave. Tickets: $10 per night.


GB Leighton, a longtime marathon favorite, won't be beneath the Big Top — but he will be playing nearby. The band, fronted by Brian Leighton, is always in motion. It travels around Minnesota, the country, at homebase Pickle Park and a special fan-friendly package tour with stops in Mexico. GB Leighton, which is in the marathon's Hall of Fame, reportedly has a new album in the works. Buckwild opens.

In the mood to: catch up with an old friend.

GB Leighton's Post-Race Tent Party is at 5 p.m. Saturday at Pier B Resort Hotel, 800 W. Railroad St. Tickets: $7.


Prog rockers Reflectivore, known for epic, moody soundscapes and accompanying video work, plays as part of a loud-loud lineup at The Red Herring Lounge. Ryan Rusch, Allen Cragin, Mat Milinkovich and Matt Osterlund were last seen at Pizza Luce during Homegrown Music Festival, where they streamed video on multiple screens, wore medical masks and Husky Energy T's. Rusch plays keyboard and sings and goes all in.

Lineup also includes Cysters and Buildings.

In the mood to: go off the beaten path.

Reflectivore, Cysters and Buildings play at 9 p.m. Saturday at The Red Herring Lounge, 208 E. First St. Tickets: $5 at the door.


John McCutcheon, a longtime folk singer-songwriter dulcimer player known for his family-friendly material, plays a show Saturday at Sound. McCutcheon has released 39 albums since he came onto the scene in the 1970s. His most recent, "Ghost Light," features his super-accessible, storytelling quality. No Depression said of it: "McCutcheon mixes celebrations of small-town delights with larger issues. Like any folk singer worth his salt."

McCutcheon is now crowdfunding a Pete Seger tribute album.

In the mood to: have your soul soothed.

John McCutcheon plays at 8 p.m. Saturday at Sound, 132 E. Superior St. Tickets: start at $35 at


The Big Top in Canal Park ain't the only Big Top in the biz. Somewhere near Bayfield, at the base of the Mount Ashwabay Ski Hill, is Big Top Chautauqua — a must for music lovers. This weekend's lineup includes Brandi Carlile, the folk musician best known for the wedding-ready song "The Story," released "By The Way, I Forgive You" earlier this year and Rolling Stone magazine called it a "delicate masterpiece."

Also: The New Standards, a Twin Cities-based band of Chan Poling, John Munson and Steve Roehm — between them, they've been in The Suburbs, Semisonic, Trip Shakespeare, Billy Goat, Electropolis and Rhombus — that takes Top 40 tunes and gives them a lounge-y jazz remake.

In the mood to: get far, far away from Duluth city limits.

The New Standards and the Blue Canvas Orchestra play at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Brandi Carlile plays at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Big Top Chautauqua, 3 miles south of Bayfield. Tickets: