The Wisconsin town where I grew up, about 70 miles south of Duluth, was small. Think “under-900-people-in-the-whole-town” small. The local music scene consisted of a handful of bands cobbled together from kids living in surrounding towns, who somehow seemed to find the same influential bands despite the nearest record store being 50 miles away and few of us having the internet at home. And playing shows meant putting up your own money to rent out a local VFW, while hoping to attract enough new faces to be able to give gas money to the touring band that needed the cash just to get to their next gig. With any luck, your band would get asked to play someone’s basement. That was success. Playing shows at real venues were far-off dreams.
When I was younger, the older guys in school talked about going up north, and the opportunities to see music there. All-ages venues like Duluth’s Recyclabell and Le Petit in Superior were something our small town just didn’t have—not to mention that they had universities there. Kids that looked like they should be on MTV hung out there. I had to check it out.
After some post-high school detours playing music and attending school further south, I soon found myself enrolled in college in Superior. I was of legal drinking age and I was ready to see what the town really had to offer. I remember feeling overwhelmed and had no clue where to start. I attended a lot of memorable shows those early years, including my first time seeing Low (I think just before they released Trust) as they opened for one of my favorite bands, Pedro the Lion, who I couldn’t believe were making a tour stop in Duluth. Having little clue as to what the venue would be like, I went to the Amazing Grace, expecting a café with a theater attached. I pictured something epic and worthy of a band with national success. Instead I found an intimate coffee shop where I felt like the bands were playing specifically for me. I realized Duluth was something special.
I soon got involved with my college radio station, KUWS, and it didn’t take long until I was hosting a weekly program that included interviews and in-studio performances with many of the active musicians in my new city. My interest in local music continued as I worked at finishing school, and I eventually found my calling as a volunteer with the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival.
Currently, I’m the Director of the Homegrown Music Festival, an eight-day music and arts festival that celebrates the creative talent of over 180 Duluth musical acts staged at 30 Twin Ports venues. I’m proud to be able to work with an awesome community of talented and unique artists in the Duluth area, and I’m so excited to be able to share the music of Duluth with a wider audience, courtesy of the new Duluth Local Show on the Local Current stream.
Each week, I’ll be playing tracks from the talented artists that make up our distinct Duluth landscape. From the Iron Range to the South Shore of Lake Superior, I’ll be sharing songs from the bands active on the scene today, as well as music that represents the impressive back catalog of Duluth. My backyard is the current home to some of Minnesota’s most popular acts, including Charlie Parr, Low, and Trampled By Turtles, and I’ll of course be playing selections from these artists. But I’ll also be showcasing acts that haven’t made it big just yet, and certainly have the potential to do so. We have a fantastically diverse scene in Duluth, and I’m excited to give these bands a bigger stage. Some highlights of the Duluth Local Show will include interviews and live performances from Duluth musicians, notes from the concert calendar, and broadcasts that I’ll be doing from unique Duluth destinations.
With the Duluth Local Show, I look forward to sharing this music I love with you. If you like what you hear on the show or have suggestions for future Duluth Local playlists, please let me know! Also, if you’re a Duluth area band and you want me to hear your music, please get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let me be your guide on your weekly trip to the North, courtesy of the Duluth Local Show!
The Duluth Local Show debuts tomorrow, Wednesday, March 27, at noon, and will be re-broadcast on Thursdays at 11 p.m. and Saturdays at 6 p.m. on the Local Current stream. You can listen to the Local Current stream at thecurrent.org/local, on HD radio in the Twin Cities at 89.3 HD2, and via the MPR Radio app, which is available for iPhones and Androids.