By blind on May 8, 2012 in Music
From the Current / Minnesota Public Radio:
Duluth Homegrown 2012: Highlights from the 14th annual Twin Ports festival
Happy Homegrown! Duluth’s annual music festival showcases a talented, tight-knit community
That guy was standing right in front of me during Portage’s set at the Pagan. I feel quite ambivalent about MPR’s coverage. I really love that Homegrown is a party with people who live here all converging upon various venues to hear great music. I run into people I know at every single place I go during Homegrown. Bayfront Blues used to be like that, until people from the Cities started coming up to party in Duluth that weekend and it lost that neighborly vibe. We don’t go to Blues Fest anymore, it’s too big and we don’t know anyone there anymore.I would hate to see Homegrown become another weekend in which the Cities folk come up and take over the town to party.
Okay, maybe not.
@Claire -- I understand the concerns of gentrification but I absolutely welcome any and all to come to Duluth for HG. Bring it on…or…
Let’s Take The Party To Them!
I’ve always thought that an ongoing Homegrown showcase of Duluth acts playing in Mpls/St.Paul would be a great bridge builder. Once a month a few Duluth acts play at a club down there. A few years ago, Tim Nelson booked a night at the Turf Club and rented a school bus and brought a bunch of Duluth acts down at once. It was a blast and they had lines out the door. Maybe a Current/Homegrown co-production? I’d happily volunteer to assist with this.
I’ll let it go after this, but do you think it is fear of gentrification or is it xenophobia? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
Oh, jesus christ, don’t start that old winge-fest again.
Blind, I don’t think it’s xenophobia, I usually have nothing against people from elsewhere discovering things I love about Duluth. Some of my best friends and family are from elsewhere. It’s probably gentrification — or just not wanting it to get so big that everyone in town avoids it and it loses the ambiance. I love that I’m in line for the first show, and I don’t have enough cash for the weaklong pass and two people I know that I’ve run into offer me money so I don’t have to run to the the ATM and miss anything. I love running into the mayor in Supetown. I love seeing a rock opera at Saratoga, sitting next to a nice woman who turns out to be the sister of a friend of mine, and then seeing my friend Carol Kondrath, playing the violin on stage. I think Homegrown is just the right size right now, and it’s all so intimate, it’s easy to see old friends and make new friends while listening to the music. I guess I don’t want Homegrown to be a victim of its own success like I feel Bayfront Blues is.
I’ll let Claire speak for herself. But I know that part of what has made the Duluth scene what it is, is it’s humility and congeniality. That comes with familiarity and that can be threatened by widening of the circle. That being said, IMHO, I think we could widen the circle significantly before there’s any chance of HG becoming impersonal.
Can we actually physically fit that many more people in though? I had a great time this year, but it seemed like capacity crowds at many venues. To me, and this might just be me, it seemed we reached a carrying capacity for a lot of shows and a lot of venues this year. Bigger is not always better.
1 word = NorShor
The only time I felt claustrophobic this year was at the Pagan, when I had to make my way through the mob to stand against the side wall, it was just too much otherwise. Every other venue was cool, though it was SRO at Zuccone at first during the poetry slam. But the crowd thinned as time went on. I know people — like myself — who avoided Clyde Iron Wednesday night because we kept hearing it’d be an at-capacity crowd. And then it wasn’t after all, so I heard later.
Baci! I was on that bus with … god, Chris McShane and a bunch of other rabblerousers for a Summit brewery tour. Chilly Duluth Women, was it?
The Turf was my old haunt when I lived in St Paul, and I always wondered why that kinda thing only happened once.
I’ve been working in and out of music festivals for about two decades, and can say with a high degree of certainty that Homegrown, as it is, is doing *exactly* what it should for a festival of its size considering that it lacks the large outside financial backers that festivals like 10KLF and Bonnaroo and the like enjoy…which is to its benefit. Homegrown is doing everything right. It’s doing everything that it should. You simply have to accept the fact that Homegrown *is* going to continue to grow. It *has* to grow in order to survive the next decade (at least. we can hope that it lasts that long.). You also have to accept that there are going to be scores of people who come here from other places to attend…which means that running into your neighbor’s sister is going to be less and less common. That’s the breaks of growth. People are naturally drawn to the arts.
How many times have you visited a city *because* of its arts and music scene? Ever stop to consider the feelings of the people there who’ve been there since that particular town’s arts culture genesis? Take Taos, NM for example. HUGE arts community. there are also thousands of people who visit Taos because of that and a good number of permanent resident who wish that the tourists would just go away…did you ever stop to consider *their* feelings?
I don’t mean to come off as crass, really, but I’ve seen it from the inside many, many times. Expecting Homegrown to stay small and intimate is (IMO) selfish and counter to the overall idea of throwing a festival like this in the first place. Them’s the breaks, Claire. Embrace it. Roll with it, and enjoy it with the rest of us.
Claire: How often do you go to shows? Once a week? Once a month? Or only during Homegrown? Because guess what? I’ve been playing music in Duluth for 20 years in a wide range of bands. I’ve played something like 9 or 10 Homesgrown. Attendance at Homegrown is INSANE compared to the rest of the year. To act like Homegrown is some sort of special intimate affair compared to the usual shows around town is RIDICULOUS.
I can assure you that ANY band would LOVE IT if we could get more people from the Cities or surrounding area to show up in Duluth and take us seriously. Having to drive to the Cities just to get a decent gig is a real drag (unless you’re a touring act and are used to it), but playing in Duluth is often much worse. The kind of coverage The Current did this year was really thrilling to see. Validating. The Duluth/Superior music scene is extremely stylistically homogeneous, but The Current actually took the time to dig deep and report that yes, we do in fact have a vibrant scene.
To take a down-home, anti-”gentrification” (really?) stance is EXACTLY the thing that kills creativity and keeps people sitting at home gluing googly-eyes on rocks.
Maybe we shouldn’t pretend that a single story on the Current’s website is going to have people from the Twin Cities crowding shows in Duluth, and maybe we also shouldn’t pretend a comment by Claire is going to keep them away.
Zac hit the nail on the head. If folks came out of the woodwork for shows year-round, Homegrown would continue to grow and we’d see even more attention from out-of-towners. The scene exists all year and there are musicians who want packed houses all the time.
Homegrown is the World Series. But the music season doesn’t end. This time of year the bands and fans are all but ready to stop and get ready for next year. Everyone is feeling the rush, so now is the time to keep going out and to continue supporting the arts. It’s Go Time.
“Maybe we shouldn’t pretend that a single story on the Current’s website is going to have people from the Twin Cities crowding shows in Duluth, and maybe we also shouldn’t pretend a comment by Claire is going to keep them away.”
Oh Paul… just when I was beginning to think I am the Queen of Duluth.
ZacBentz, I’m on your side. Really. I actually go hear bands *a lot* around town, though not as often as I did pre-child. I’d say maybe twice a month, sometimes more often, and there are some venues I prefer over others. I do get that there are groups where no one goes to hear them until Homegrown — like I saw Murder of Crows at Tycoons recently. Despite it being Alan Sparhawk’s new group, there wasn’t a crowd to see them. I agree with you, let’s support artists whatever their passion is throughout the year, not just one week every spring. But let’s not let Homegrown become Bayfront Blues Festival either, which is so big now (and expensive) that people who used to go no longer bother.
I would totally love it if downtown Duluth felt like Homegrown week every fricking night of the year. I would love it if the art galleries were as packed every weekend as they were during the Gallery Hop in late April. And I would love it every author reading was as packed as the Duluth Stories event Renegade sponsored a few months ago.
Claire, my friend, you missed a book launch last Tuesday at Norway Hall that was packed with about 150 people, and you wouldn’t have had to cross the bay to see the Mayor. But you were at some music thing, Miss Midwest Correspondent for Publishers’ Weekly! (Criminies, I mean, it was the one event you did NOT go to--you are at just about everything else).
I kid you, of course.
Just a note on the Bluesfest: I stopped going after year ten: I couldn’t take one more version of “Mustang Sally.” But many, many of those folks from the Cities you are talking about are UMD alumni who return every year--same as a lot of the Grandma’s Marathon fans. They use those events to visit their old college town. I may not care for the events myself, but I think that’s great.
Tony, I hear from our friend Sally Anderson that there’s a second chance for me, you are signing books at Fitgers Bookstore **TONIGHT** 6-8 pm! Fitgers Bookstore! And I don’t have to fight my way past 150 people all trying to grab hot-off-the-presses copies of Lost Duluth!
If you haven’t figured it out by now… I hate crowds.
Thanks, Claire! Now I don’t have to shamelessly plug the signing myself….
Once a book publicist, always a book publicist…
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