Charlie Parr didn’t register for Homegrown Music Festival this year — in fact, he hasn’t played the fest since 2014 when he shared the stage with Black-eyed Snakes at Clyde Iron Works.
But pandemic twists and turns now have Parr playing potentially the biggest non-Homegrown show during what would have been Homegrown week. The eight-day festival was scheduled to run April 26-May 3 at venues in Duluth and Superior. Nearly 200 local bands were expected to play before organizers canceled the event to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Parr, a popular bluesy folk musician, plays at 7 p.m. April 29. The concert will stream on Duluth Cider’s Facebook Live.
He's not the only musician who will appear on a screen in the upcoming week. Here are ways to get Homegrown Music Festival vibes from the comfort of your own sweatpants.
Parr from the cidery
This will be Parr’s second show from the mostly empty venue. On March 25 he played in front of just cidery owner Jake Scott and Tim Leutgeb, who was charged with tech. That concert, with its “MTV Unplugged” color palette and vibe, has been viewed nearly 68,000 times and shared more than 700.
Parr, who favors a live audience over a recording studio, said it took time to get comfortable on the stage.
“I’m really, really used to the feedback of the audience,” he said.
Then Leutgeb started reading aloud the Facebook messages that fans were posting, and Parr had a chance to respond.
“I started to enjoy that,” Parr said. “Initially I was really, really unsatisfied. (But) at least I get to play. It’s still a thing I get to do. I’m grateful for that.”
Read (and weep)
Organizers typically spend a year preparing for the next Homegrown Music Festival and its related events. This year, the committee got as far as creating a field guide with a note about how the festival might not happen — but not far enough to take it to the printers.
The guide, with its fresh and colorful cover by local artist Moira Villiard, includes schedules, band biographies and photos, and sports reporting from last year’s kickball match. It is available online for perusal and fan fiction about what might have been.
Fun facts: Dan the Monkey Man was the opener, Gaelynn Lea the closer, and the Owls Club was a venue. The Latelys were one of the main events on Wednesday at Clyde Iron Works, and Winzige Hosen the finale on Tuesday at Grandma’s Sports Garden.
WDSE-WRPT is broadcasting a block of local music content starting at 10 p.m. Friday with the Homegrown edition of “Making It,” and including the 2014 performances by Actual Wolf, Southwire, Black-eyed Snakes and Charlie Parr at Clyde Iron Works at 10:30 p.m. “The Playlist” plays at 11:30 p.m., and the 2012 episode of “The Playlist” with the Hobo Nephews at Grandma’s Sports Garden airs at 12:30 a.m.
It’s worth visiting WDSE just for trolley footage.
Turn up the radio
Christine Dean of KUMD-FM has live performances or album tracks and interviews lined up for non-Homegrown Homegrown week. The shows air at 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and include Dance Attic, One Less Guest, Dave Mehling of the Fontanelles — with more to be announced later.
Live, from somewhere
Breanne Tepler is billing her non-Homegrown show as Stay Homegrown. The singer-songwriter behind Breanne Marie and the Front Porch Sinners probably won’t have the whole band with her — but Evan Tepler is her husband, so count him in, too. Breanne Tepler said they will play a 30-minute set at 6 p.m. May 2. Timbre Ghost, Dustin Tessier’s project, plays at 7 p.m. May 1 on Facebook Live.
Paul Lundgren, who puts together the annual field guide, said he expects to see more Homegrown events crop up.
“There are some who can answer the creative challenge with interesting stuff,” he said. “We’ve been seeing it for a month, and I expect we’ll see more of it next week in the name of Homegrown, even though it isn’t formally planned.”
But what if you invented Homegrown for your birthday party?
Lunt, who created Homegrown as a way to celebrate his birthday, has taken the cancellation in stride. With so many things closed and canceled, it’s just another thing to be bummed about, he said.
Lunt is no longer involved with planning the event, but his band Father Hennepin was scheduled to perform.
“It’ll be the year it didn’t happen,” he said.
Last week, Lunt was still considering his options for that Saturday night time slot that his band held. Maybe it won’t have anything to do with local music.
“I’m really into baking bread lately,” he said.