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Best bets: New music and films, old jokes and pods

This week's top picks in local arts and entertainment.


Superior Siren lets you go

On Friday, Laura Sellner of Superior Siren released “Kill Your Darlings,” a five-song collection that she describes as an “ode to past relationships and how those experiences influenced the relationship with myself.” While her full band offers grand swells of string, this is mostly just Sellner: her gorgeous voice, her guitar and her words — an always unique and empowering take on what it is like to be a human on this day.

Superior Siren's "Kill Your Darlings"

“You held my head in your two hands and tried to not let go,” she sings in “Release.” “And now I release you all.”

She describes the phrase “Kill Your Darlings” as a literary reference to letting go of things that do not serve you. “My intention,” she writes, “is to release this collection and create space for the new.”


Superior Siren’s EP “Kill Your Darlings” is available on all streaming services, and downloads are available through .

Gaelynn Lea (2018 file / News Tribune)

Gaelynn Lea talks creativity and faith on ‘On Being ’

In the winter of this blurry pandemic period, Duluth artist-activist Gaelynn Lea was featured on the soul-smoothing podcast “On Being with Krista Tippett.” The artist talked about the creativity born of different circumstances, the importance of tending to self, loving other humans, aging, inner freedom and the universal lessons of disability. Lea, a world-touring fiddle player, stopped touring in March 2020 — but has adapted to the new homebound life by connecting with other artists on her weekly YouTube channel and writing.

Krista Tippet's interview with Gaelynn Lea is available where you get your podcasts and at .

Chris Kroeze (Photo from NBC)

Chris Kroeze’s ‘Voice’ comes to West Theater

Chris Kroeze, a Barron, Wisconsin, native who was runner-up in Season 15 on the reality TV competition “The Voice,” returns for a concert at 7:30 p.m. on May 13 at The West Theatre , 319 N. Central Ave. In a 2019 interview before playing the tents during Grandma’s Marathon weekend, Kroeze told the News Tribune about finding his way to music via his dad’s old cassettes: AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Johnny Cash and more. This led to his own guitar playing, one of the talents that caught Blake Shelton during the show’s blind audition.


“Your guitar skills,” Shelton said, “That was some Ricky Skaggs type pickin’ right there.”

Mike Scholtz

Get thee to Donnelly, Minn.

Listen. There is a chance that learning this history of Donnelly, Minnesota, isn't necessarily in the upper echelon of your #2021goals, but. To be a fan of the filmmaking of local creator Mike Scholtz is to be interested in where he has cast his gaze this time, be it jigsaw puzzles, Vikings, outlaws or Minnesota history.

Scholtz's recent work is a 30-minute look at the small town near Benson where his relatives settled after leaving Norway. He includes the very pioneer story of how his great-great-grandfather died and ended up with a slough named for his family, and follows with the politician-turned-author Ignatius Donnelly, namesake of the town where some of Scholtz's family still lives.

All of this is done with Scholtz's brand of curiosity-influenced humor and eye for absurdity. Why wouldn't he ask people to carry around a black-and-white cardboard cutout of Ignatius Donnelly? Also: local actor Jody Kujawa is one of the stars of this period piece. "The Life and Times of Ignatius Donnelly" is available for streaming on the pioneerpbs YouTube channel as part of its Postcards series.

Jay Leno shares a movie ad printed in the Duluth News Tribune. (


Did you say Duluth (News Tribune)

We sometimes use this space to talk about our city's name-drops in pop culture, both new and old. Perfect Duluth Day recently posted a video from "The Tonight Show" from the early 1990s in which Jay Leno shows multiple versions of a newspaper ad from the DNT for the movie "White Palace." In the first, star Susan Sarandon, her dress slipping from her frame, and James Spader are shown in a romantic moment. As the weeks progress, the dress becomes higher and higher cut, ultimately ending in something akin to a hoodie.

Check it out at .

Local musician Shaunna Heckman works with student Margot Finnigan on Thursday, March 18, 2021. Heckman is teaching Finnigan and others Beats By Girlz, a non-traditional music technology curriculum focusing on the production side of making music. (Steve Kuchera /

Wild beats

Shaunna Heckman, a local musician and producer, is taking her Beats By Girlz class into the wild with a series of summer camps. She runs a weekly music program specifically for girls, trans and nonbinary youths to learn how to use Ableton Live to create their own work. Three of her summer sessions will include finding sounds in nature to incorporate into compositions. Sessions run June 21-25, July 19-23 and Aug. 9-13. For more info., go to Beats By Girlz Duluth on Facebook.

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