The Plays of 2015

Before we launch PDD’s poll to determine the best play or musical of 2015, we present this list of every play or musical from the past year we could track down, with the hope that you’ll let us know in the comments if we’ve forgotten any.

Avenue Q – The Underground
Banning Around the Christmas Tree, or, The Last Noel of Don Ness – Rubber Chicken Theater
The Barber of Seville – Lyric Opera of the North
Behind the Shining Star – Duluth Playhouse Theatre for Young Audiences
The Birds – Renegade Theater Company
Blithe Spirit – St. Scholastica Theatre

This Week: Cannons, Cowbell and more

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Here’s a bit of what you’ll find on this week’s PDD Calendar:

The 38th Atmore Memorial Ski Race is happening at Spirit Mountain, Dance Attic is at Papa Charlie’s at Lutsen, the Northern Lights Foundation raises money by asking for More Cowbell, the All Black Zine is having a release show at Prove Gallery and a bunch of noisy rock bands are playing to benefit a future festival.

The Duluth Playhouse Children’s Theatre brings James and his giant peach to the stage, Loose Cannons are still loose after all these years, Bayfront Park is the place for fire, hot chocolate and skating, it’s art for and by musicians at Studio 15, rapper Dem Atlas slings the verses at the Red Herring and Guerilla Girls bring their gorilla-masked selves to town.

PDD Quiz: Mayors of Duluth

The Professor

Chris Godsey Saturday Essay“You should be very careful about who else you discuss this with, Chris,” The Professor said. “You should let anyone you’ve told know they can expect to hear from my lawyer.

“You’ve made a very righteous decision that’s putting my job at risk, and you’re using a challenging time for my family as entertainment. I don’t appreciate either of those things.

“How dare you.”

That was early spring almost three years ago. I’m sure those aren’t the exact words he used, but it’s precisely what he said.

A few weeks earlier, The Professor had been arrested for obstructing his wife’s airway. During a school-night discussion, a while after they’d put their four kids to bed, she wouldn’t shut up when he wanted her to and he pinned her body — with his much bigger, stronger one — to their living-room couch and covered her mouth and nose with his hand until he felt like letting her go. Once free, she grabbed a phone while running to the basement, locked herself in a bathroom, and called 911.

Soon after spending two or three days in county jail, he visited me at my then-job, at the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP). “I put my hands on [her],” he said, eyes watery-red, voice quavering.

He used her name; later, affectation dropped, he wouldn’t.

Video Archive: Megadeth in the DECC Auditorium, June 21, 1998


Here it is, an hour and a half of grainy video of Megadeth in Duluth, shot by Ronaldo Rodrigues Paravani.

Selective Focus: Cabin Fever

Aaron Reichow

Aaron Reichow, untitled

While it has been too warm to be stuck inside contracting the negative strain of cabin fever (Winter will no doubt find us), this week we can emphasize the phrase’s positive connotations. Such retreats represent our desires to simplify, to get away from the dissonance and clutter of what we ordinarily deem important. They foreground necessity and diminish the superfluous, and manifest our plainest requirements for dwelling; heat, light, a water source, a welcoming entry, maybe a window to gaze from or peer into.

Inauguration of Duluth Mayor Emily Larson


01:00 – Duluth’s Chief Administrative Officer David Montgomery recognizes outgoing city councilors Sharla Gardner, Jennifer Julsrud and Linda Krug.
04:09 – Sixth District Judge Leslie E. Beiers swears in newly elected councilors Joel Sipress, Gary Anderson, Em Westerlund, Elissa Hansen and Noah Hobbs.
07:40 – Former Duluth Poet Laureate Deborah Cooper reads “We All Wake to the Same Sun.”
11:08 – Outgoing Duluth Mayor Don Ness’ exit speech.
18:22 – Mayor Emily Larson recites the oath of office.
21:35 – Mayor Larson’s speech.

OMC Smokehouse anticipates November opening

Duluth Grill owner Tom Hanson stands in the gutted 1886 structure that will house his next restaurant venture.

Duluth Grill owner Tom Hanson stands in the gutted 1886 structure that will house his next restaurant venture.

If all goes as planned, the nascent commercial stretch of the Lincoln Park neighborhood — home to Bent Paddle Brewing, Damage Boardshop and Frost River Trading — will gain a distinctive new restaurant before the end of 2016.

OMC Smokehouse is Duluth Grill owner Tom Hanson’s latest project. OMC stands for oink, moo, cluck. The aptly named eatery will cater to carnivores with its smoked meats and cured sausages, but Hanson promises there will be menu items aimed at vegetarians, too.

Perfect Duluth Day at the Dump


Video by Frank Sander.

Perfect Album of 2015: Low’s Ones and Sixes

PDDPerfectAlbumAwardLogo2015The latest evidence of the ubiquity of Alan Sparhawk: Not only did his band Low gain the most votes in PDD’s poll to determine the best local album of 2015 for its release Ones and Sixes, Sparhawk also produced the Social Disaster album Dark Side of the Roller Rink, which finished a close second in the voting.

But that’s kind of what we expect from the icon of Duluth’s music scene.

For Low’s 11th studio album — its fourth on the Seattle-based Sub Pop Records label — the band teamed with producer BJ Burton and recorded at April Base Studios in Eau Claire. As usual, Sparhawk handles the guitar work and shares vocals with his wife, drummer Mimi Parker. It’s their third album with bassist Steve Garrington.

Ones and Sixes is perhaps the band’s most spiritual-sounding music yet, though not in a denominational sort of way. The songs are filled with soul and strain. Like every Low album, critics have labeled it a departure, while at the same time noting it’s unmistakably Low. Perhaps therein lies the soul and strain. When music critics have a tough time putting a finger on it, it’s usually a great thing that’s happening in the headphones.

The story of Duluth’s Best Bread: Sourdough in lieu of a PhD


I recently spent a day trying out the role of assistant baker for Duluth’s Best Bread. The amount of time and effort that goes into their scrumptious goodness defies belief. Furthermore, the simple ingredients that go into a traditional sourdough are completely unimpressive. The real feat is accomplished by the wild yeast and lactobacilli that run wild in a symbiotic relationship through Michael Lillegard’s time-tested method of cold fermentation.

Jerry Vandiver – “In Grand Marais”


Every Scratch Tells a StoryNashville recording artist Jerry Vandiver has a special affinity with Grand Marais, which he expressed in this love song from his 2014 album Every Scratch Tells a Story. The recently released video features images by Grand Marais photographer Paul Sundberg.

New owner takes over Superior’s Cedar Lounge

The Cedar Lounge is located just off Tower Avenue at Third Street in Superior's north end.

The Cedar Lounge is located just off Tower Avenue at Third Street in Superior’s North End. The new owner has not announced plans for the property.

The wife of former Fitger’s Brewhouse co-owner Tim Nelson has her name on the recently transferred liquor license of a decades-old Superior tavern.

The Superior City Council granted Cedar Forest LLC a Class B liquor and beer license for the Cedar Lounge, 1715 N. Third St., at its Dec. 15 meeting. The license application lists the sole member of Cedar Forest as Naomi C. Nelson, wife of Duluth micro-brew trailblazer Tim Nelson.

Where in Duluth? Bathroom Edition

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How many of these five Duluth establishments can you identify just from their restroom signs? Hint:  all but one are from restaurants or bars. Click the thumbnails for a closer view.

This Week: inaugurations, exhibitions, festivals and more

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Here’s a bit of what you’ll find on this week’s PDD Calendar:

Mayor-elect Emily Larson becomes Mayor Emily Larson, DJ Walt Dizzo defends his taste in film, Charlie Parr begins his Red Herring residency, Duluth Yoga officially opens its doors and the art of Andrew John Swanson is exhibited.

The Lake Effect Music and Ski Festival goes down at Papa Charlie’s at Lutsen, the multimedia event Cellar Door happens at the Red Herring, Bayfront Park is the place for hot chocolate and a bonfire, the 28th annual Duluth Wedding Show is at the DECC, Floyd J. Phillips brings the funny to Dubh Linn and Crankshaft joins Mary Bue and Vivielle for a gig.