Homegrown Day 5 opened with an unofficial festival event that’s been happening so long they might as well put it in the field guide next year. SoupB4Supe offered up delicious soups ranging from vegan hot and sour to potato jalapeno and a warm communal feel as Homegrown musicians and fans mingled in the kitchen, on the porch, at the foosball table, or in the backyard of the venue dubbed 2104. Homegrown committee member Erin Naughton-Garrison presented Starfire with a cake in honor of his upcoming 50th birthday. Low Forms was the loudest act of the evening, prompting one fan to check their decibal levels on a phone app (verdict: louder than a lawnmower).
Glensheen got in on the Homegrown action for the first time this year, hosting an unofficial early-evening festival set from the4onthefloor. Fans roasted marshmallows around a bonfire and enjoyed libations from local restaurants as the rowdy rockers shook things up on the grounds of the gracious mansion. Lead singer Gabriel Douglas (who’d performed earlier in the week with Silverback Colony) encouraged the dancing crowd to howl at Lake Superior, while the drummer broke several sticks, and a bottle of Fireball was circulated through the crowd to help them “keep warm.”
Soup Town night, with most shows happening in Superior, commenced at the Spirit Room with Morrow, followed by husband-and-wife folk duo Bill and Kate Isles, accompanied by a young stand-up bassist. While it was hard to see the performers in the packed venue, their lovely harmonies on originals and covers like Gillian Welch’s “Orphan Girl” wafted into the hallway and even outside, where they could be enjoyed even by those waiting for the trolley.
Speaking of the trolley, smartly-dressed old-timey acoustic ensemble Sugar on the Roof entertained festivalgoers traveling between venues with some lively string band tunes. Later, alt-country singer/songwriter Wes Hadrich took over, playing while next to him artist Eris Vafias created live drawings to go with the music.
At the Main Club, Israel Malachi’s latest project, a four-piece simply called Israel, delivered guitar solos for days and great interplay between guitar and organ. "This is our obligatory homegrown Bob Dylan song," said Malachi before launching into “One More Cup of Coffee.”
Robot Rickshaw delivered a visual feast for the audience at Izzy’s. Dressed in silver from the tip of his gas mask to his toes, the experimental musician combined electronic and acoustic sounds with help from his cart of robot musicians. Lights on his rig flashed as the belly dancers from Tribal Alchemie performed in front of him, also dressed in futuristic metallic silver outfits.
The last band at the Spirit Room was Fiasco Brass Co., a spirited group of UMD students who played a joyful, extended set on trombone, sax, clarinet, drums, and a tuba with the band’s name in tape on the horn. The lead singer used a megaphone to whip up the crowd, encouraging them to sing along or hollering “She got that fire!” after a bandmate’s solo. Audience members boogied along to classic brass tunes including “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and a group of mischief makers (led by Tom and Brandi of Four Mile Portage) snuck in behind the band to strut across the back of the stage flapping their “wings” during “I’ll Fly Away.”
We’d love to tell you about Emily Haavik’s set at the Cedar, but this tweet from HGMF Alerts says it all: “Warning! Ceder [sic] Lounge at capacity. Expect a wait.” Homegrown pro tip: save yourself some trouble and follow @dhgmf_alerts.
It’s always fun when one Homegrown artist covers another during their set. Timbre Ghost did just that at the Main Club, slipping in a version of Gaelynn Lea’s “Someday We’ll Linger in the Sun” amongst tunes from his own EP Edger.
Back at Izzy’s, Gavin St. Claire did an energetic indie/folk set with a nice groove provided by drums and standup bass. The trio got a warm reception from the crowd.
We got to the Reef just as Markus J. Dandy & the Complete Lack Thereof was finishing, but we did pick up the tidbit that the band is changing its name to Hardaybra, a Norwegian greeting that translates as something like “Have it good.” There were even helpful buttons to help fans remember the new name.
At the Cedar, young rockers WNDY put on a solid set and the crowd cheered when they said, “Stick around for The Adjustments!”(The two bands share a drummer.) They drew more chuckles from the crowd when they again pumped the next acts at the Cedar: “We looked up Todd Gremmels online. It said a chorus, an orchestra, so.. uh, we don’t know. And The Adjustments!”
Back at the Main Club, everyone’s favorite ginger, Rick McLean, debuted a new tune, “Tonight’s Top Story” on electric guitar backed by his brother Mike on drums and Jacob Swanson on bass. The enthusiastic crowd were shouting out lyrics to his songs, which was helpful considering it was hard to hear McLean’s vocals over the loud guitar riffs in the small venue. Afterwards a comedian jumped up on stage and started roasting the band and fans to a mixed reaction; some laughed, but one attendee tossed a beer can at him.
Rock reigned on both sides of the bridge as the two-piece G’Narwals shredded on drums and guitar at Izzy’s while in Duluth, Portrait of a Drowned Man delivered post-rock, ebb-and-flow guitarscapes to a bustling Reef Bar audience.
Homegrown legend Todd Gremmels took the stage at the Cedar, playing a full-sized electric piano and backed by a bassist and drummer. Before ripping into The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” he pulled out a brand new baseball hat that read “Dope as F**k.” He wrapped up his set of covers with a rousing version of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”, adjusting they lyrics in honor of Homegrown: “It’s a middle-aged wasteland.”
It was a bittersweet show for the Farsights, as bass player Brynn Sias prepares to move to Washington D.C. Drummer Ryan Nelson, last seen sporting a mustard costume at the Children’s Showcase, traded it in for a new white jacket as the rocking trio shared a brand new song called “No News.” "We made this set of songs just for you,” the band told the crowd. “In fact, we've never played most of these songs for anyone." At one point Sias asked if someone was throwing beef jerky on stage. (Turns out it was Phil Jents’ grandma.) They ended their set at Izzy’s with a cover of Patti Smith’s "Because the Night."
Over at the Reef, power trio The Fiasco tore through a heavy, blues-rock set while back in Superior, the Adjustments mixed rock covers and originals, with energetic keyboard and drum solos, ending the evening at the Cedar on a high note.
Plenty of folks stuck around to hear the final act of the night at the Reef, The Bottle Jockeys. The 6-piece played a set of late ‘50s and early ‘60s rock and roll and rockabilly. Lead jokester Chad Lyons asked the crowd, "Did you buy a wristband? it's a lot cheaper to see us the rest of the year......just kidding......we don't play the rest of the year!" Let’s hope his late set doesn’t keep him from fulfilling his duties at the traditional Saturday kickball game.
Schedule changes to be aware of tonight:
9pm Al Church replaces Mel Annala on the trolley
9:30pm Lion or Gazelle replaces Raw Space at Blacklist
9:45pm King J Lar vs. Augustus Pollard replace EddieDition at Red Herring
And, it’s a Homegrown and Hog Damage Collective miracle as Marcus Matthews has flown in from Los Angeles to reunite with Greg “Cougar” Conley and company for a Wino, WI show at the Red Herring at 11:30pm.
Hardy and healthy souls might want to get in on the Rock and Run Saturday morning at 10:30, starting at the Chester Park parking lot. And the weather promises to be ideal for the kickball game at noon, also at Chester.
This Homegrown Week on KUMD is made possible by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.