April 2018 Posts

Old Zelda Theatre gets another makeover

MPPL Financial President Scott Wallschlaeger stands outside 309 W. Superior St., the old Zelda Theatre building.

The NorShor isn’t the only historic theater seeing a new life in downtown Duluth.

MPPL Financial purchased the former Zelda Theatre in December and plans to move its operations from a historic bank building in Proctor to 309 W. Superior St. this summer. Renovations are underway both inside the heavily altered building and outside on Superior Street, where the city of Duluth recently launched a major road reconstruction project.

The building had been home to Peterson Anderson Flowers since the 1980s.

According to the website cinematreasures.org, the Zelda Theatre was constructed in 1914. It was designed by architects Wangenstein and Guliuson for owner W.M. Abrahamson, who named the building after a daughter. A University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library photo shows the building once boasted a marble facade, a grand second story archway and 15-foot high pillars framing the entrance.

“Unfortunately, almost nothing is left of the original building,” said MPPL president Scott Wallschlaeger. “It’s really a shame because the front of the building was amazing.”

According to the Duluth history website zenithcity.com, the theater closed in 1927, becoming the Zelda Inn and later Boyce Drug Store.

Wondering why I didn’t panic

On the day of the Husky Energy oil refinery explosion, fire, ecological disaster in Superior, I didn’t panic. I didn’t even find out until nearly 5 p.m. And when I did, I turned on the TV and let the coverage flow as background noise.

Later, I talked to friends who were anywhere from anxious to panicked. I’ve been thinking about why my response was so different.

Selective Focus: Homegrown 2018 Opening Night

Homegrown Music Festival 2018 Primer

If you’ve been living under a chicken you might not know Duluth’s 20th annual Homegrown Music Festival is upon us. There is a 108-page Homegrown Field Guide available at locations all over town with the details. Updates and peripheral tidbits can be found below.

Homegrown website
Homegrown schedule
Homegrown Facebook page
Homegrown Twitter page
Seasons 1-5 of Seth Langreck’s Duluth Band Profiles

Admission wristbands are $30 for the full eight days of music, but there are also many free-admission events.

PDD Quiz: April 2018 in Review

April (and hopefully winter) is drawing to a close. How many of this month’s headlines do you remember? Test your smarts and quiz on!

The next PDD Quiz, on Duluthians and the movies, will be published on May 13. Email question suggestions to Alison Moffat at [email protected] by May 10.

Lake Superior Brewing takes on cans; brings back Mesabi Red

Lake Superior Brewing is poised to begin distributing its line of craft beers in cans.

“We’re using a mobile canning operation, Lagersmith, that will come and set up right here in our brewery,” the brewery’s co-owner Lisa Blade said in a news release. “Cans are lighter, won’t break and can be crushed for easy pack out — plus, it was a great opportunity to refresh the brand art. The Mesabi Red cans will feature a beautiful laker on Superior.”

The first beers to be in cans will be the brewery’s best seller, Kayak Kölsch, and the return of Mesabi Red Ale, available for the first time in five years.

An event is planned in the brewery’s taproom on May 4 at 4 p.m. where the public can watch the Wild Goose MWC-250 mobile-canning line in action.

Glossary of Music Genres

There’s pretty much no such thing as a rock band anymore. A rock band couldn’t possibly be as cool as a screamocore post-punk dream-rock math band. The proliferation of such terms, however, has created some confusion among casual music fans. “What in the world is grindcore?” some wonder.

That’s why the Homegrown Music Festival steering committee commissioned the handy list of meaningless music-style descriptors with vague definitions that appears below. The glossary was originally compiled for the 2007 Homegrown Field Guide, and appears here as a refresher course.

Obviously it’s not necessary to include well-known genres like rap, soul, techno, country, hip hop, blues and reggae in the list because most people are familiar with those terms.

Also, since the list of music-writer lingo is seemingly endless, and this particular writer is lazy, numerous terms such as trance, electronica, reggaeton and synth pop will have to be left undefined. The goal here is not to be comprehensive, but simply to be helpful.

American roots music is basically folk music, but saying “American roots” or “Americana” instead of “folk” leaves the impression the artist is more like Woody Guthrie than like Joni Mitchell.

Black metal is thrash metal played by people who dislike mainstream culture and religion. The goal is to show contempt for anything conventional by distorting and otherwise mangling song structures while shrieking a lot. You know, get mad at the man, take it out on music in general.

Selective Focus: Random Squares from Aunt Becky

The focus of this Selective Focus series has mostly been current artists and what they’ve been working on, but we also enjoy swerving into the realm of “found art.” This week is one of those times. PDD’s own Paul Lundgren fills us in on this collection.

PL: What we’ve got here is a sampling of old photographs that were temporarily stored at my house while my wife’s Aunt Becky was in the process of moving last year. I don’t know any of the people in the photos, I just pulled some out that I thought had an artistic quality. I asked Aunt Becky about them and she didn’t seem to know much of who was who or what was what in the pictures either. That’s something that naturally happens when you accumulate stuff as your elders die off. Pretty soon half of your photos are of someone’s grandmother’s ex-husband’s third cousin, etc.

Superior evacuation and Duluth advisory lifted

“I am lifting the evacuation order at 6 a.m. this morning,” Superior Mayor Jim Paine wrote on Facebook. “All indications are that the refinery site is safe and stable and the air quality is clean and normal. Welcome home.”

The city of Duluth has lifted last night’s precautionary shelter-in-place advisory for the western neighborhoods.

Superior refinery fire contained; precautionary advisory issued for residents of western Duluth as winds shift

Image via WDIO Eyewitness News

Around 6:45 p.m. the fire at Husky Energy’s oil refinery in Superior was contained. An evacuation of the area was ordered earlier today and remains in place.

Evacuation ordered as Superior refinery burns

At approximately 9:50 a.m. there was an explosion at the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior. The initial fire was extinguished at 11:31 a.m., but a second fire erupted shortly after noon. The Duluth News Tribune reports there have been multiple explosions. An additional tank caught fire at 3:15 p.m.

All refinery personnel and contractors have been accounted for. There are no known fatalities. Conflicting reports indicate somewhere between six and 20 people injured.

Fox 21 News reports: “Five patients were taken to Essentia Health in Superior and five more to Essentia Health in Duluth. Of those five in Duluth, one person suffered a serious blast injury and the others had minor injuries. … Essentia Health–St. Mary’s Hospital in Superior was evacuated as a precaution and all Essentia facilities in Superior are closed because of the explosion.”

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation of the area due to the potential toxic nature of the smoke. Anyone located 10 miles south of the Husky Energy refinery, or three miles east or west, or one mile north, are asked to evacuate. The Duluth Entertainment Convention Center and Four Corners Elementary School are the mustering points for evacuees. Four Corners School is located at 4465 E. County Road B in the Town of Superior.

Duluth Band Profile: Mint Vintage

Mint Vintage began after a chance encounter and a few jam sessions. As the band explains, it’s not about notoriety. It’s about being yourself. Click on the image above to hear the podcast.

Upcoming gig: 

May 5 at Sir Benedict’s Tavern on the Lake during Homegrown Music Festival

Call for Homegrown photo banners

It’s time for our annual call for Homegrown banners for the top of the page. We’re looking for bands, friends, events, or general shenanigans. Keep in mind, the photos get cropped to extreme horizontal proportions. If you want to crop ’em yourself and send them, that’s fantastic, or you can send them uncropped and I’ll do my best to make them fit.

Click here for complete submission guidelines, but the basics are: 1135 pixels wide by 197 pixels high, e-mail them to [email protected]. We’ll get them in the rotation during the Homegrown Music Festival, starting this weekend.

Duluth dances the “Nelken” line

Responding to a worldwide call by the Pina Bausch Foundation, dancers from Duluth made a short video based on Bausch’s “Four Seasons” choreography from the 1982 piece Nelken. With just a few distinct gestures, the dancers describe the four seasons — spring, summer, autumn and winter.

2 Sleepy People – “Backstage”

Bands that were part of the first Homegrown Music Festival in 1999 tended to be long-running acts that played dozens if not hundreds of shows. Some recorded numerous albums, others put out just one album or at least a few scattered singles.

The exception is 2 Sleepy People, a short-lived act that is nonetheless remembered for stealing the show the one time it played Homegrown. Available above is a rare recording of the group, captured at the Shaky Ray Records studio in Duluth’s Hillside, one day before the very first Homegrown. The track was recorded by Mark Lindquist, who supplied it to Perfect Duluth Day for your pre-Homegrown 2018 nostalgia fix.

R.I.P. DJ Baby Judy.