It's been nearly a year since artist Tom Moriarty began considering the potential of the city's blank spaces. Or, as he described it on Instagram, "walls itching for some vibrancy and life breathed back into them."
He used Photoshop to create a version of what that resuscitation might look like. And on Sunday night, likely not a coincidence that it was the first night of Homegrown Music Festival's second year without official in-person events, Moriarty got a step closer. At dark, he and Daniel Benoit projected moving images on the wall of Zenith Bookstore, "Looking Up from Below," in front of a small audience that included Bob and Angel Dobrow and Steven Bockhold.
The former are the owners of the shop and, depending on your familiarity with the local music scene, the latter might be better known as That Guy Who Wears Wild Outfits During Homegrown Music Festival. Bockhold's appearance makes the moving mural definitely Homegrown adjacent.
Moriarty is expected to continue this rogue, unofficial bit of punk rockery throughout the week from 9-11 p.m. at 318 N. Central Ave. There is a musical tie-in on 91.7 FM. You will see space scenes, water and swells of color, weather, astronauts and paddlers, bubbles in shades of purple and pink.
Homegrown Music Festival runs through Sunday and, in addition to the official streams available on the fest's YouTube channel, expect to see the occasionally pop-up oddity worth dragging your wet-haired 7-year-old from the bathtub to the neighborhood's local indie bookstore a scratch past her bedtime.
Then consider the sort of nugget it inspires from the chilly first grader in a fuzzy sleep onesie: astronauts and divers are basically the same thing.
Does that mean astronauts are actually space divers and divers are the astronauts of the sea? Who knows. It's early in the week, but definitely food for thought.
Obligatory explainer about Homegrown: It's the annual art and music, mostly music, festival that runs in late April and/or early May featuring bands at dozens of venues in Duluth and Superior. This year's events, official and unofficial, are scattered between online video and livestreams and in-person outdoor shows.
Of note on Day 1
YouTube Homegrown, which is available for streaming, includes a Children's Music Showcase with kid-friendly acts, doodles and tunes, a reading by Chris Monroe. This also showcases Isolation Band, Lyz Jaakola and her family's commitment to DIY-ing during quarantine. They regularly went live from their basement, with both originals and covers and covers re-imagined to include pandemic-themed lyrics, and in a range of genres. "Couch Potato" is an original and catchy hip-hop tune and this whole family-fun scene is #goals.
If there was a Top 10 list of iconic images from Duluth's music scene, it would include Superior Siren on stage at Sacred Heart Music Center, a venue that aligns so well with the foursome's moody strings, whispered drums and mythological imagery. The band fronted by Laura Sellner played as part of the MN Music Coalition's Minnesota Music Summit on Sunday night. It was a quiet set that included a cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" and Nyssa Krause's backing vocals twisted with Sellner's voice in a way that made the song their own.
AfroGeode, is among the heck-yes projects to emerge in the past year. Diona Johnson is an artist who has a big, gorgeous voice, both in sound and in the content of her original work. She was the finale to the summit, her second time in two weeks on stage at Sacred Heart. She performed spoken word accompanied by piano and covers including "Can't Help Falling In Love."
Things to catch on Day 2
The Homegrown Music Festival Poetry Showcase will have works by Tina Higgins Wussow, Lucas Alan Dietsche, Crystal Detlefsen, Phil Fitzpatrick, Eric Chandler, Esther Marcella Hoffman, Stine Myrah and Liz Minette. Also, Feeding Leroy plays at 8 p.m. on a livestream from 2104.us.