It’s a bit mind-blowing to see an 11-year-old female lead singer nail everything from Stevie Ray Vaughn to Metallica to the B-52’s “Love Shack” while the 16-year-old female guitarist shreds along.
Judging from social media buzz, this young trio (also including a 13-year-old drummer) is in the running to “win” Homegrown this year after their Clyde Iron Mezzanine performance to kick off day 4 of the festival.
Seeing Stephanie Longstreet (formerly of the Brushstrokes) perform at Homegrown always leaves us wishing she played out more often.Groove-laden backing from bassist George Ellsworth, saxophonist Joseph Anderson, and drummer Jason Wussow enhanced her rich voice and moody tunes as her latest project, Kitchen Shoes, performed to a respectable and attentive crowd at Beaner’s Central.
It’s always a fun homecoming when Gary, Duluth native Dave Mehling returns for Homegrown. His rootsy rock project The Fontanelles was rounded out by special guests including Jordan Taylor (formerly of Two Beat Band) on keys, Emily Haavik and Lisa Wentworth on backing vocals, and one-song spots from Gaelynn Lea (with whom Mehling’s been touring on guitar) and poet Tina Wussow. A guest bongo player added a Santana vibe to some tunes. They wrapped up their set with a feel-good version of “Love’s in Need of Love Today,” sending positive vibes out to the crowd.
Garage rock reigned at Beaner’s as Bella Larson & the Scene Kids took the stage. One band member mostly played cymbal, but also busted out a slide whistle and smashed a cookie tray against his head as percussion, one of the most punk things we’ve seen so far at this year's festival.
It was casual Homegrown Wednesday back at Clyde Iron Works, where Steve and Al of Low wore t-shirts (Al's repped the Harbor City Roller Dames) instead of their usual black stage dress shirts, enhancing the feeling the festival can have of being just a big hangout with friends. Their set at Clyde Iron included several new songs from an album due out sometime later this year as well as old favorites including “No Comprende” and the always-captivating “Amazing Grace.” In honor of Westside Wednesday, Al gave a shoutout to the West End, telling a story of trying find an address to help people he hadn’t met move. He found some folks loading a truck with their stuff and pitched in, but “after about half an hour I realized it was the wrong house. But it was cool. That’s just how the West End is.” Sparhawk’s parting words to the crowd echoed the positive vibes spread earlier by The Fontanelles: “You don’t want to trail off into a sunset of regrets, so please hold each other tight.”
Meanwhile at Beaners, Aimee Tischer crafted a set full of beautiful, slow-building lullabies, armed with a soaring voice, a guitar, and a wide array of pre-recorded sounds and voice effects controlled by foot pedal. “As you can probably tell,” Tischer announced, I'm with child," later adding, "I usually play angry songs, full of angst" but lullabies were better "to keep the baby from kicking." She closed with "Will You" a song about worrying if your lover will still find you beautiful as you grow old.
Despite the image they used to promote the show, no banjos were burned onstage during the Dames’ otherwise scorching performance back at Clyde Iron Works. With drummer Mat Milinkovich sporting an Ire Wolves t-shirt, the trio powered through a loud, cathartic set that included new material that lead singer Tony Bennett announced will be released in the fall. Old favorites were in the mix, too; Bennett introduced “Head of State” by dedicating it to ““Anyone who stands up in any small way to the fascist motherf%@*kers,” and the band closed out its set with “Taiwan.” Despite a recently-ended twelve-year hiatus, the band sounded as tight as it ever did back in the day.
A long line of folks wanting to get into Beaner’s post-Low trailed down the block as the Brothers Burn Mountain worked their wild magic inside. The two-man band raised a blues-rock ruckus with guitar and large drum kit including congas, cowbell, and a washboard. As always, brothers Ryan and Jesse Dermody slipped into an intoxicating extended drum improvisation as part of the set to a packed house.
As Beaner’s filled to capacity, the overflow moved the Kom-on-Inn, which began filling up by 10pm for A Winter Downpour. The band, celebrating 15 years together, had folks digging out the earplugs, and soon the crowd warmed up with some rhythmic head nodding. Paul Connolly rosined up his bow and drew out some erie sounds from his electric guitar which grew into hard rockin’ songs. When ubiquitious scenester Hung, who works at a local Asian eatery, shouted out his patented phrase “I don’t like it, man!” frontman Serrano Rivera jokingly responded, “Well I don’t like your restaurant!” A highlight of their set was “Wake Up Drunk” from their 2017 album Oh This Pleasant Lake.
Over at the Gopher, Resonance played together for the first time in a year and a half, debuting a new tune called “Take it All.” Driven by dusty guitar sounds, the set had a Mad Max feel, with bassist Erik Franklin shielding his face with what resembled a blood-stained bandana and often coming off the stage to perform facing the lead singer and guitarist. Fun fact-band member Dan Munthe’s alter ego is Dan the Monkey Man, who performed earlier in the week for the children’s showcase.
Ever-charming accordian and guitar (and sometimes ukelele or kazoo) duo Dance Attic had the crowd dancing back at the Kom-on-Inn with tunes like “We’re getting Saucy Tonight,” a cover of the Cars’ “Magic,” and a new tune based on the true story of a stolen cupola.
Mr. D’s had a full house for Boku Frequency, but fortunately there was no line to get in, just lines for the bathroom. The veteran soulful rock trio grooved through a crowd-pleasing set up front while farther back in the sprawling venue other patrons kept an eye on the hockey game airing on the overhead televisions.
Fearless Moral Inventory, whose set at the Clyde Ironworks Mezzanine had been pushed back to 11:45pm according to the online Homegrown guide, went ahead and started at their originally-scheduled 11:15pm-with an empty stage, why wait? A modest crowd danced through the set, which included a long jam of their song “Drugs.” With Andrew Stern manhandling the lyrics, these longtime friends/roommates have grown (as has their hair) over the past 10 years, with a sound that’s always progressing. Bassist Stevo (aka Steve Karels) continues to get funkier, and the keyboard player even pulled out a trumpet.
Secret Badass whipped a young crowd into a frenzy back at the Kom-on-Inn with their ear-blasting garage punk. Guitarist/vocalist Amy Hazel invited audience participation, asking the crowd“anyone here like FIDLAR?...Anyone know the words to Cheap Beer?” A woman yelled back,“Yeah!” and, after some encouragement, hopped on the stage and sang the whole song perfectly as audience members thrashed and moshed. “I DRINK CHEAP BEER! SO WHAT? F*** YOU!”
Tonight, although most of the action is in Superior, you have the option of starting and ending the evening in Duluth. The annual unofficial Homegrown event SoupB4Supe happens at 2104 E. Superior Street, and another “secret” show is happening, this time on the grounds of Glensheen where the4onthefloor will stomp through a set starting at 7 (doors open at 6). Over in Superior, the trolley will be circulating between venues with live entertainment on board. Duluth’s Reef bar hosts late-night shows starting at 9:30pm.
This Homegrown Week on KUMD is made possible by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.