April 2024 Posts

Star Tribune on Homegrown kicking off without the mayor

R. I. P. Florian Chmielewski

Florian Chmielewski, leader of the Chmielewski Funtime Band and a Minnesota state senator from 1971 to 1976, died last week at his home in Sturgeon Lake at the age of 97.

Duluth playwright to celebrate world premiere of ‘Two of Us’

Congratulations to my colleague, Mark Stanfield, on the forthcoming world premiere of his play, Two of Us. It will be performed Sept. 13-21 at the Watford Palace Theatre in England, with a transfer to Home Manchester, and then a national tour in 2025. The play dramatizes a last conversation between Paul McCartney and John Lennon.

More information about the play can be found at the Watford Palace Theatre site.

Homegrown Music Festival 2024 Primer

Every year the Homegrown Music Festival publishes a Field Guide with all the intricate details of the eight-day extravaganza. And every year Perfect Duluth Day kicks out a little rundown of updates, sidebar details and notes about peripheral, unsanctioned or otherwise-related items of interest at party time. This year there is just one official schedule change (so far), but plenty of sidebar updates.

PDD Quiz: April 2024

Test your knowledge of April 2024 headlines and happenings with this current affairs quiz.

You’ll be able to get your hands dirty with the next PDD quiz, which will focus on local gardens, on May 12. Submit question ideas to Alison Moffat [email protected] by May 9.


There is no space up here. Ian needs some room to move, but he’s pulled his drums around him as close as he can. John’s bass tilts up a bit. Looks awkward, but he’ll make it work. Jim’s keyboard takes up a lot of real estate, but it is what it is: he doesn’t own a keytar and I’m not sure he’d use it even if he did. The horns, Dale, Jess and I, are in a line, backs to the side wall, which is a bummer because I love jumping around with my saxophone while we play. Leon’s in the middle of the nest, and though he’s in his fifties, he somehow also brings the energy of the newly hatched, his baby blue Gretsch 2127 an appendage. He taps one of the guitar pedals with the toe of his checkered shoe. His pedal board is a skateboard.

“I dunno,” he says to us, swinging his body around, back to the crowd. “Should we get going?”

“Not much else to do,” I volunteer, and though it’s a bad rejoinder, Leon crows.

“Okay then! ‘Go if You Wanna Go’?” It’s not a question, really. Ian counts us in, and we’re off again, a bunch of middle-aged friends making the people dance.

Adas Israel: A Talk and a Book

During the Twin Ports Festival of History, my friend Phil Sher gave a speech about the history of the Lithuanian Jewish community in Duluth. Phil is the author of a recent book, Adas Israel, available on Amazon, that was a product of a unique partnership between the University of Minnesota Duluth and the community.

Fur Trade Nation: Linking Continents

One of Carl Gawboy’s earliest memories is seeing a muskrat skin hanging on the wall in his house. “My father trapped animals and sold them to a fur buyer,” Gawboy said. “That’s when my fascination with trapping began.” Decades later, that interest became the subject of Gawboy’s latest book, Fur Trade Nation: An Ojibwe’s Graphic History, published by Animikii Mazina’iganan: Thunderbird Press. The release date is April 30.

Selective Focus: Aaron Reichow’s Duluth Music Scene Photos

Self portrait of Aaron Reichow, shot in a mirror at the Blush nightclub in 2022.

Aaron Reichow started taking photos of the Duluth music scene around 2014 when one of his favorite bands, Low, was doing a residency at Fitger’s Brewhouse. The band’s music got him through “a lot of periods of my life,” Reichow said. Low was set to play all of their songs in a random order across several Thursdays around the same time Reichow’s youngest child was starting to sleep through the night. “In my marriage, I did most of the child care, all the bedtimes,” he described. “And when they started to get older, I thought ‘well, I can go out again without feeling guilty.’” A practice in photography helped him reclaim the intention of going out again. And with time, his hobby turned into a professional art form. Read more about his work in the interview below.

Postcard from Superior Street at 15th Avenue West

This undated postcard, published by Odin Ebbesen, shows Superior Street in Duluth’s Lincoln Park neighborhood long before the neighborhood was called Lincoln Park. The church at right is, presumably, the Second Presbyterian Church of Duluth, according to text in an appendix of surveyed properties in the city of Duluth’s Historic Resources Inventory for the Lincoln Park Neighborhood.


Duluth’s NorShor Theatre is a bit of a copyeditor’s headache. People often misspell NorShor as “NorShore” or they fail to render the S as a capital letter. And since its proper name uses the British version of “theatre” and Americans prefer “theater,” we end up with numerous ways to screw up two words.

Apparently NorShor was being spelled wrong right from the start — or “NorShore” might have even been what was planned for the original spelling before someone decided to shorten it up — because an old sketch of the building, shown above, includes an E that never made it to the building’s tower or marquee.

Big Into – “Good as Gold”

From the shores of the Mississippi River, Iron Range natives Curtis Kraft Mattson and Jozef Conaway ask, “If a journey’s reward is the journey itself … then who pays?” Their band Big Into is releasing a music video every month for each new track off their upcoming EP. “Good as Gold” is the sixth in the series.

PDD Geoguessr Challenge #16: Homegrown 2024 Venues

Homegrown Music Festival starts next week with acts performing in venues across Duluth and Superior. You can read a detailed history of the festival on its website. And you can test your knowledge of this year’s festival by taking the PDD Quiz. And here you can test your knowledge of this year’s Homegrown venues by playing one of this week’s three Geoguessr challenges.

North Country Trail in Wisconsin: Backtracking

Seven years ago I began a quest to hike the North Country Trail across Wisconsin. Similar to my 20-year process of completing the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota, things are going slowly on the Sconnie side as well. In 2022 I completed just nine miles.

Despite my established reputation for tortoise-like hiking, I was determined to have a big year in 2023. Then I got busy with other things and ended up with exactly zero miles of NCT hiked that year.

I’ve already got one 2024 trek under my boots, but it kind of doesn’t count in terms of mileage. Which is why this chapter is titled “Backtracking.”

My only hike in 2022 began off Highway 53 on Holly Lucius Road, just south of Solon Springs. The previous chapter of my essay series concluded with a mistaken stroll on Highway 53, so I started my next hike by covering the path I should have taken at the end of my hike the year before. It wasn’t really backtracking, because I hadn’t walked this route yet, but it was a pause in my progression since it meant I would be arriving at Lucius Woods County Park for the second time.

How to prevent bad apples

backyard apple tree

This Duluth apple tree has brought many hours of joy to its owners. (September 2022 photo by Maija Jenson)

There is redemption for bad apples; at least for the apples on your backyard tree. You might have a bad apple tree of your own or just wonder “Are those apples on Skyline good to eat?” A little tree love and your Halloween party guests will be bobbing for apples they can actually eat.