On Tuesday, the third night of Homegrown Music Festival, director Melissa LaTour watched Ingeborg von Agassiz perform from a solitary spot near the stage at Grandma's Sports Garden, then ducked upstairs with a couple handfuls of other festival officials - noticeable by their signature red zip jackets.
Her take at the not-quite midway point: so far, so good.
"It's exciting," said LaTour.
The crowds have been big - despite chilly weather and rain, the inaugural takeover of the Lincoln Park neighborhood venues had been a success, and as for the road construction on a section of East Superior Street that passes in front of Homegrown stops:
"Nobody was a bummer about it," she said.
The 21st annual Homegrown Music Festival started this past Sunday and runs through Sunday. Over the eight-day span, nearly 200 bands will perform at dozens of venues in Duluth and Superior. There will also be fire spinners, burlesque, a kickball match between acts that play Friday and acts that play Saturday, a run organized by Alan Sparhawk of Low and whatever spontaneous unsanctioned events crop up along the way.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED SO FAR
Among the early buzz: Winzige Hosen, a band that includes lederhosen and a red tuba, got full chatter on Sunday night at Pizza Luce with a festive punk polka bent on maximizing the consumption of its fans. Brian Schanzenbach, Kala Shepersky, Luke Nyen, Abe Curran and Nikki Moeller is the ultimate fun-time band.
Lincoln Park venues have also rated well. For its Homegrown debut, Duluth Cider kicked aside its tables and turned the main room into a warehouse-style venue. Woodblind, the ska band of Jason Wussow, Veikko Lepisto and friends, and oh the dancing. And on Tuesday at Ursa Minor, Dance Attic's Suzi Ludwig and Jimi Cooper inspired the polka fans.
"People were waltzing in front of the band," said Margie Nelson, the Homegrown official charged with updating social media.
Today, almost all of the actions shifts for one-night-only to Superior. Among the notable acts: Father Hennepin (9 p.m. today, Cedar Lounge), AKA the reason for the season.
This alt-country band features Scott "Starfire" Lunt, who invented Homegrown Music Festival as a birthday party. While he couldn't have known it would explode to include more than a week of arts and music, he did recently note that he referred to the inaugural fest as the first annual. So.
This is the 19th time this band - which includes Ted Anderson, Suzi Ludwig, Brad Nelson, Bob Olson and Jimi Cooper - has played the fest.
Lunt has spent the weeks leading up to the event working on a decorative jumpsuit for the set and has chronicled parts of his project on social media.
Then, LaTour said, she's ready to get the action back into the heart of Downtown Duluth.
"Seeing people in the streets, that's my favorite thing," she said.
MUSIC AND MUNCHIES
With so much time spent not at home, food is a hot Homegrown topic. What to eat today, what wasn't eaten yet, what to eat tomorrow. Nelson said she and her husband brought Tupperware to Pizza Luce on Sunday night and packed up their leftovers for the week. Meanwhile, back at home they premade massive quinoa dish.
"A hotdish," she said, adding that she's lived in Minnesota long enough to refer to call it that.
(While Nelson was feasting on Luce fare, LaTour was on empty. "All I had that day was coffee," she said.)
Likewise, festival official Scott Hebert rattled off his intake for the day on Tuesday night at Grandma's Sports Garden: Coffee from Beaner's Central, cappucino from Amazing Grace, and a raspberry pecan muffin. Then he moved on to a Bent Paddle Lollygagger.
While some venues double as restaurants, the food trucks have also been on the streets. The hot picks from the Rambler this Homegrown season: mahi tacos and falafel sliders, according to the food truck's keeper.
"Those have been solid," said Jonathan Reznick, who pulled up earlier this week at Bent Paddle Brewing Co., and plans to be at Cedar Lounge tonight.
According to social media, Chow Haul, known for its noodle bowls and other fistfuls of food, will be stationed at Carmody Irish Pub on Friday and Spurs on First on Saturday. Oasis Del Norte, billed as a fresh and authentic taqueria, will be at Reef Bar today.
Among the Homegrown happenings: the secret shows, pop-up gigs and afterbars. Keep your eyes on the social media because Homegrown folk are friendly folk. So far, there is a not-so secret annual soup feast cutely billed Soupb4Supe - a come one-come all event in a private home.
Homeowner Rich Narum said Tuesday that now that the soup party - which includes performances by author John Thompson and music by Amy Hzl, Gavin St. Claire Trio and Winzige Hosen - is in its ninth year, it's OK to talk about it in the News Tribune. Details at 2104.us.
Meanwhile, per usual, Actual Wolf has been playing with a mix of friends at Duluth Coffee every morning.