Mark Nicklawske, For the News Tribune
A good street busker can turn a simple song and beat-up acoustic guitar into something strong enough to stop a busy working world for a short listen. Singer/songwriter Martin Sexton has taken this hardscrabble art form to its highest level in a workmanlike 25-year music career. Sexton, who started performing on Boston, Mass., sidewalks, showcased his strong voice, memorable songs and a talent for connecting with a crowd during a mostly solo 18-song, 105-minute performance at the NorShor Theatre in Duluth Saturday night.
It's gotta be difficult for a band to make country music magic after performing thousands of shows together for almost 50 years. But Alabama made one of those heartwarming moments happen at Amsoil Arena in Duluth Wednesday night. Three songs into the show, lead singer Randy Owen stopped the music and signed a poster for an Ontario couple celebrating 40 years of marriage, The couple was escorted on stage and chatted with Owen.
Before actors took their marks and film hit the screen at the Duluth Playhouse Underground Halloween night, Zenith City Horror mastermind Alec Schroeder had half the audience on stage performing different sex positions. Outrageous? Of course! This is how audience "virgins" are introduced to their first live performance of the sexy, irreverent, B-movie send-up called "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
The period-obsessed drama series "Mad Men" used troubled married couples caught up in commercialized 1960s American culture to create award-winning, must-binge-watch television almost 10 years ago. The Lyric Opera of the North uses a similar swinging 60s approach to stage two heavy operas in one groovy show. That's right: The words "groovy" and "opera" were just used in the same sentence.
It's been eight years since The Avett Brothers brought their amped up Carolina country roots rock to Lake Superior, playing under the canvas at Big Top Chautauqua in Wisconsin. Saturday night the pair got a little closer to the water and turned an aging Duluth hockey barn filled with 5,500 people into a 21st century tent revival. That it all worked is no surprise. Seth and Scott Avett have spent 20 years climbing the musical mountain the old fashioned way with relentless touring, sharp songwriting and a stage show that wonderfully weaves heartbreak and high energy.
Shawn Callahan had quit his mechanical engineering job in the Twin Cities and just returned from a backpacking trip in South America when he visited his sister on the Iron Range and heard about an abandoned Slovenian farmstead near Biwabik. The 13-acre site had been part of a long-lost mining town now overrun by the northern Minnesota wilderness. It was 2002, and the place was for sale.
Maybe a sharp radio executive should start programming a Duluth station that features both hip-hop and country music. It’s never been done before, but it just might sell.
Tim "Rocket" Folsted loved to ride motorcycles for a long time and always enjoyed sharing the experience with others, but he felt more could be done with two wheels and a leather jacket. Then he learned about the Twin Ports chapter of the faith-based Seed of Abraham Motorcycle Club. While attending Hillside Community Church in downtown Duluth, Folsted met "the biggest cheerleader this club ever had" and saw how the born-again community used motorcycle fellowship to reach people in need.
The Aerial Lift Bridge was covered in fog and temperatures dropped nearly 20 degrees an hour before showtime but that didn't stop '90s hitmakers Sugar Ray from rocking through songs about sunshine, beaches and summertime parties Friday night. A crowd of about 500 marathon fans, most dressed in sweatshirts and jeans, cheered like they were preparing for a volleyball match in Malibu the next day instead of a 26-mile run along a frigid lake.
Classic rocker Pat Benatar was the second artist and first woman to have a video aired on the wildly popular 1980s cable network MTV, but she never performed for its “Unplugged” live concert series. So now the powerhouse singer is staging her own version of Unplugged in concert halls around the country.