Five Duluth music acts to seek out on New Year’s Eve

Music fans react to a performance by New Salty Dog at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center in May during the Homegrown Music Festival. (Photo by Paul Lundgren)

Somehow, 2023 is just a few short days away. What better way to bid farewell to auld lang syne and ring in the new year than with some local music? Whether the goal is to turn in early or dance all night, the Duluth music scene has an array of options. Presented here are just a handful.


Part of the Rex Bar at Fitger’s lineup is the Duluth band Àlamode. The group’s music borrows from funk, disco, alternative rock and modern pop to create fresh, danceable grooves. Keyboardist Ned Netzel describes Àlamode’s sound as “groovy, melodramatic, retro-tinged power pop.”

Àlamode’s New Year’s Eve set will feature mostly originals, some familiar covers, and a few surprises. The band promises high energy dance tunes with a handful of slower moments to round out the show.

“We’re closing the night out and handling the changing of the years, so it should be epic and memorable,” said Netzel.

Àlamode will close out the night at the Rex following Big Wave Dave and the Ripples and Fenestra Funk. The music begins at 8:30 p.m. and goes until 1 a.m. with a $10 cover for the night.

The Crunchy Bunch jams out to a DJ set

The Crunchy Bunch

Those looking for a dance party would be wise to head to Earth Rider’s Cedar Lounge where the Crunchy Bunch will be spinning hip hop, house, electro and dance remixes starting at 7 p.m. The Crunchy Bunch is a collective of DJs originating from Duluth, and the New Year’s Eve set will particularly highlight “Privilege” Chris LeBlanc and “Brano” Dan Branovan.

Always experimenting with new sounds, the collective has recently been playing soca/riddim/baile-influenced remixes and originals in addition to the typical Jersey club, house, and hip hop. The New Year’s Eve set will feature a little bit of everything: originals, classics and fresh new music.

“We will likely play some solo sets, but will for sure rock some tag-team sets where we play off of each other’s music selection back and forth,” said Chris LeBlanc. “It’s fun because we don’t plan sets or anything, we’re just playing what feels right in the moment and it’s super fun to play off each others’ tastes like that.”

The set wraps up at 10 p.m., a perfect option for those who don’t want to party all night, or a great starting point for those who do. There is no cover.

New Salty Dog plays at Bent Paddle

Photo by Aaron Reichow

New Salty Dog

The beloved New Salty Dog will be a part of Wussow’s 11th annual all-day New Year’s Eve Bash, playing at 1:30 p.m. The Duluth group describes itself as a “northwoods funk jam band,” ever evolving in its incorporation of new sounds and unafraid of the boundaries of genre.

“For the New Year’s Eve show we will likely be doing all originals, plus maybe some new tunes, but the possibilities are endless,” said guitarist and vocalist Jacob Mahon. “We love going with the flow and feeling the vibes of the crowds, so rarely do we use setlists.”

Mahon said New Salty Dog is excited to be a part of Wussow’s NYE show with 24 local artists, great food and drink, and most importantly — vibes. The music starts at 7 a.m. and goes until midnight.

Shane Nelson plays at Bayfront in Duluth

Shane Nelson

Singer and songwriter Shane Nelson will also be playing at Wussow’s, starting at 3 p.m. Though Nelson does play in a band, his solo shows feature just him and his acoustic guitar, highlighting the storytelling of his music.

Nelson’s New Year’s Eve performance will feature brand new music from his soon to be released album The Music Saved My Life, centering around the affect music has had on his growth as a person. The album will also honor Nelson’s bandmate and best friend, Zack Ross, who recently passed away in a tragic accident.

“This whole album is like an ode to him and the music that we played together and this message of how I need the music to save my life again,” said Nelson. “It’s really gonna be a special project.”

Nelson prides himself in the honesty of his music; he won Wussow’s songwriting competition in 2022 and in years previous. It promises to be an intimate experience.


Featuring Jason Wussow himself, Woodblind will take the stage at Wussow’s Concert Cafe at 3:45 p.m. Originally an “acoustic ska duo” with Wussow on guitar and Vekko Lepisto on upright bass, the band has added friends to the mix, now sometimes playing with a group of seven or more.

Rooted in first-wave 1960s ska, Woodblind takes a folk instrumental edge to the sound. The band’s New Year’s Eve set will feature new music as well as a few covers. It could be the original duo performing, or they may have more of a full band with drums, Latin percussion, violin and lead guitar.

Woodblind is also excited to be a part of the “community hang out” that is Wussow’s New Year’s Eve Bash.

“I like the fact that it goes from folk to jammy to jazz to Americana to punk at the end,” said Wussow. “I like the diversity of it, and you can kinda pick your spot in the day.”

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