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Best Bets: Water Is Life Festival, William Kent Krueger, 'The Blues Brothers' and more

Find something to do this weekend in the Northland.

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Corey Medina, right, performs at the 2021 Water Is Life Festival.
Steve Kuchera / File / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — It's Pride weekend in the Twin Ports. Here are six more events to consider as you're planning your Labor Day weekend in Duluth and Superior.

Water Is Life Festival

The organization Honor the Earth has been holding concerts to raise funds and awareness since its founding nearly three decades ago, but last year's event in Bayfront Festival Park drew national attention due to the participation of headliner Bon Iver and the impending completion of Enbridge's Line 3 replacement through Minnesota. This year, organizers are hoping to build on that momentum with another high-profile lineup including Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls, Dessa, Tia Wood, Gaelynn Lea, Allison Russell, Annie Humphrey and Joe Rainey, Sr. The Sunday festival will also mark Low's first performance since canceling a string of European shows while founding member Mimi Parker undergoes cancer treatment. Winona LaDuke, who co-founded Honor the Earth with Indigo Girls in 1993, will again host. Tickets are available at axs.com.

'Blues Brothers' at Zeitgeist

Theatrical release poster for "The Blues Brothers," featuring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi in character, wearing dark suits, hats, and sunglasses.
Theatrical release poster for "The Blues Brothers" (1980).
Contributed / Universal Pictures

It's 469 miles to Chicago, you've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark ... and you're wearing sunglasses. Better just stay in Duluth and go to Zeitgeist, which is hosting a one-time screening of the comedy behemoth "The Blues Brothers" on Wednesday. Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi star as the eponymous singers, with a supporting cast including Carrie Fisher alongside music greats like Cab Calloway, James Brown and a scene-stealing Aretha Franklin. The $27.5 million budget (the equivalent of $112 million today) was considered outrageous for a comedy; by comparison, "Caddyshack" was being made at the same time for under $6 million. The investment paid off, though, as audiences made "The Blues Brothers" one of the highest-grossing movies of 1980. Will they still show up 42 years later? That remains to be seen, but if you want to play it safe, you can reserve advance tickets at zeitgeistarts.com.

Rocking the harbor

Cruise boat, "Vista Star," pulls into Duluth Harbor. The city is visible in the background, rising up a hill, as is a white lighthouse at the end of a pier.
The Vista Star pulls into Duluth Harbor.
Contributed / Vista Fleet

Given that a standard 75-minute waterfront tour on the Vista Star runs $27.50, it's hard to argue with $30 for a two-hour live music cruise — and you can even save five bucks if you catch early-bird tickets to the S.S. Rock. That's the name assigned to Thursday evening's party on the water featuring three artists: New Salty Dog, Teague Alexy and the Common Thread, and Damien. The latter is the new dance band featuring Alan Sparhawk (Low), Cyrus Sparhawk (son of Alan, and Mimi Parker), Owen Mahon (New Salty Dog) and Marc Gartman (Glitteratti). Not exactly "yacht rock," but the Vista Fleet describes its boats as "yacht-style vessels," so, you know, close enough. For tickets and information, see eventbrite.com.

I Am My Own Wife

Studio portrait of blonde woman smiling slightly, wearing wide-brimmed black hat and Nightmare Before Christmas blouse.
Alice Schroeder.
File / Duluth News Tribune

Doug Wright's 2003 play "I Am My Own Wife" won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The one-person play explores the life of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf (1928-2002), a German antiquarian and a transgender woman who lived through both Nazi and Communist regimes in East Berlin. From Thursday through Saturday, Zeitgeist will host a new production coinciding with Duluth Superior Pride and starring Zenith City Horror founder Alice Schroeder. "I want the young LGBTQ+ community to see our ZCH logo attached to an event," Schroeder told the News Tribune last year, "and know that they're welcome to join us, they're safe with us, and most importantly, that they're not alone in this world." For information and tickets, see zeitgeistarts.com.

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New William Kent Krueger

Book cover: William Kent Krueger, "Fox Creek." Cover features orange-tinted photo of creek in wilderness, with author name and title overlaid in large print.
"Fox Creek" is the newest novel from St. Paul author William Kent Krueger.
Contributed / Atria Books

Every new book from novelist William Kent Krueger is an event worth noting, and the St. Paul author is coming to Duluth for a few appearances celebrating the publication of "Fox Creek." The thriller, set in the Boundary Waters, is the latest in Krueger's Cork O'Connor mystery series. The new book converted New York Times critic Sarah Weinman, who wasn't previously a Krueger fan, but calls his latest a "genuinely thrilling and atmospheric novel ... my heart leaped into my throat." Between Friday and Saturday, Krueger's doing the full Duluth trifecta: Zenith Bookstore (Friday, 7 p.m.), the Miller Hill Mall Barnes & Noble (Saturday, 10:30 a.m.) and the Bookstore at Fitger's (Saturday, 1 p.m.). For more information, see williamkentkrueger.com.

Domo arigato, DECC

REO Speedwagon members in 1988 included (from left): Neal Doughty, Bruce Hall, Gary Richrath, Kevin Cronin and Alan Gratzer. Promotional photo from the DNT archives
REO Speedwagon, circa 1988.
Contributed / File

"Can't Fight This Feeling." "Keep On Loving You." "Come Sail Away." "Mr. Roboto." "Working for the Weekend"! It'll be like "Totally '80s" live at the Amsoil Arena on Saturday when REO Speedwagon, Styx and Loverboy share a bill. Collectively, the three groups have sold more albums than Nirvana. Be aware that Styx is promoting its 2021 album "Crash of the Crown," so it won't be all oldies. Still, reviewing the tour earlier this summer, the Charlotte Observer called it "nostalgia-drenched" and "intent on bringing the 1980s back for one night." Direct your Commodore 64 to decc.org for information and tickets.

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Find something to do this week in the Northland.