Live music returns to Sacred Heart, fall concerts announced

The Cactus Blossoms performing on the Sacred Heart Music Center altar stage in 2019. (Photo by Michael K. Anderson)

After an 18-month pandemic closure, Sacred Heart Music Center will welcome live audiences back to a full concert schedule beginning in September.

The historic Duluth music venue and event center has 15 concerts, recitals and performances planned through the end of the year. Twin Cities country duo the Cactus Blossoms will launch the 2021 fall season with a performance on Friday, Sept. 10.

Tickets for the Cactus Blossoms will go on sale at at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 12 along with three other concerts: Duluth Does Fleetwood Mac (Sept. 25); Erik Koskinen (Sept. 30) and Rachael Kilgour (Oct. 9).

Sacred Heart will require all concert-goers to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test at the door prior to each show. Phone photos of vaccination cards will be accepted. Further precautions may be taken pending state and county health guidelines.

“The health and safety of our audience, volunteers and performers is very important,” said Sacred Heart Music Center President Arno Kahn. “Taking this extra step will ensure everyone in attendance is protected against the COVID-19 virus.”

Sacred Heart Music Center was forced to cancel shows and close its doors to live audiences at the outset of the pandemic in March, 2020. The Music Resource Center — an after school youth music education program — also suspended its operations at Sacred Heart. The non-profit, volunteer-run venue uses proceeds from live music and wedding events to support programming and maintain its 19th Century building in the Central Hillside of Duluth.

Sacred Heart Music Center has been without live music since February 2020, other than livestream events with limited audiences.

During the closure, the music center suffered a series of break-ins which led to the loss of house speakers, stage monitors and office equipment. The items were replaced through a successful on-line fundraiser. A second winter fundraiser, organized with Ursa Minor Brewing and the rock band One Less Guest, raised money to pay for the music center’s utility bills and support its live stream programming.

“We are so grateful for the community support we received during the pandemic,” said Kahn. “Our local businesses and music fans really stepped up and ensured that we would have enough money to replace stolen equipment and make sure the building survived the winter.”

During the pandemic, Sacred Heart Board of Directors installed a high-definition cable connection, launched a YouTube Channel and streamed monthly live music performances featuring more than a dozen Twin Ports artists. Over the winter, the music center received a Minnesota State Arts Board grant to live stream a music performance and interview series called “Songwriters/Storytellers” highlighting working northland musicians. The music center also recently received a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant from the United States Small Business Administration.

“It’s been a long, hard road but we’re very excited to have live music and a live audience back in our historic building,” said Sacred Heart board member Mark Nicklawske. “There’s no better place to experience a concert than Sacred Heart.”

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