Sunday, May 31, 2015

Local Art Seen: Art Night Out at the Depot

Friday I shared a little about the Adam Swanson opening at The Duluth Aquarium. Concurrent to this was the Duluth Art Institute's event called Art Night Out. I don't recall having attended last year when this event was inaugurated. Essentially it is a family-fun celebration of creativity of all kinds, including imaginative food vendors like Mrs. Delicious and Izakaya, along with The Rambler food truck.

Woodblind (Veikko and Jason) was on center stage having fun making their ska sound. Kinda cool how they found each other. Now they seem to be popping up everywhere.

The Great Hall at the Depot was crawling with liveliness when I arrived after catching Adam's photos and a few riffs from Mary Bue. In the east end of the room Mary Plaster was doing her thing in a large way, and various tables had been set up for other activities. This event was free for members, and fun for families. Kids were assembling towers using marshmallows and toothpicks in a tinker-toy fashion.

Here are some pictures that tell the story better than I am able.

Besides serving ice cream Mrs. Delicious makes balloon art.

Thank you to Annie, Dana, Tyler and the DAI team.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Boy in the Bubble: Our Perilous Postmodern Predicament

Each of us, whether aware of it or not, uses meta-narratives to explain the context of our lives, to give order to our human experience. The songs we listen to, the television shows and movies we watch, the books we read, all contribute to the reinforcing or undermining of our meta-narratives.

The New World Encyclopedia defines meta-narrative in this manner:
Meta-narrative or grand narrative or mater narrative is a term developed by Jean-François Lyotard to mean a theory that tries to give a totalizing, comprehensive account to various historical events, experiences, and social, cultural phenomena based upon the appeal to universal truth or universal values.

The dominant Judeo-Christian meta-narrative of many centuries featured the idea of God at the center of human history, from its beginning to its end. In the last century a new met-narrative emerged, built on the foundation that either God had abandoned us or that God was not relevant. Key ideas in the meta-narrative of Modernism include the idea of progress and the idea of hope of a brighter tomorrow based on human potential, human achievement, human possibility.

The contrarian Postmodern meta-narrative declared that this hope was baseless. It would include the idea of abandonment and the recognition that all these advances have not brought us any closer to the utopian world we dreamt of in our naivete. It is in this sense that Paul Simon nails it in his song "The Boy in the Bubble" which opens his critically acclaimed 1986 album of the year, Graceland.

While listening to this song recently I was struck by the song's construction. Each verse is relatively short while each refrain is relatively long. The first verse deals with a terrorist act, a bomb in a baby carriage shattering a street scene. The second verse speaks of a massive drought and subsequent suffering. The next verses speak of sports heroes, and the miracles of modern medicine, including the boy in the bubble and a baby with a baboon heart transplant, real events that would have been unheard of a century before. Lasers, unimaginable wealth for the elite and other spectacles are all part of this incredible era, which leads to the heart of the song.

As you listen to each verse and chorus you hear news stories and then a narrator trying to comfort someone he loves. "These are the days of miracle and wonder, so don't cry, baby, don't cry."

It's all so weighted with the tragic, the emptiness of it all as the camera just pokes around capturing all this meaningless activity, flashing it before our eyes, including snapshots from distant galaxies... all of it intended to amaze... but leaves us yet more aware of this sham called progress. This world we live in is a very scary place.

What makes the song so incredibly pointed is that the narrator doesn't see it, and the one he's trying to comfort sees it perfectly. She's not only crying because of the brokenness of the world but because the one who seeks to comfort her is so oblivious to it. It's like Graham Greene's The End of the Affair in which the narrator tells the whole story, yet can't see that which is plain to everyone who hears his tale. Listen to it several times and hear the painfulness in his appeal at the end of each verse.

The Boy In The Bubble

It was a slow day
And the sun was beating
On the soldiers by the side of the road
There was a bright light
A shattering of shopwindows
The bomb in the baby carriage
Was wired to the radio

These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long-distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all
The way we look to a distant constellation
That’s dying in a corner of the sky
These are the days of miracle and wonder
And don’t cry baby don’t cry
Don’t cry

It was a dry wind
And it swept across the desert
And it curled into the circle of birth
And the dead sand
Falling on the children
The mothers and the fathers
And the automatic earth

These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long-distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all
The way we look to a distant constellation
That’s dying in the corner of the sky
These are the days of miracle and wonder
And don’t cry baby don’t cry
Don’t cry

It’s a turnaround jump shot
It’s everybody jumpstart
It’s every generation throws a hero up the pop charts
Medicine is magical and magical is art
Thinking of the Boy in the Bubble
And the baby with the baboon heart

And I believe
These are the days of lasers in the jungle
Lasers in the jungle somewhere
Staccato signals of constant information
a loose affiliation of millionaires
And billionaires, and baby

These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long-distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all, oh yeah
The way we look to a distant constellation
That’s dying in a corner of the sky
These are the days of miracle and wonder
And don’t cry baby don’t cry
Don’t cry, don’t cry

© 1986 Words and Music by Paul Simon and Forere Mothoeloa

Friday, May 29, 2015

Local Art Seen: Adam Swanson at the Duluth Aquarium

I first encountered Adam Swanson's paintings in 2010 or thereabouts. His themes frequently involved bicycles, penguins, hot air balloons and wind turbines. The rich colors and the spirit of his work have made his work highly recognizable in the local community, often being displayed in group shows as well as solo events.

Last night I attended the opening of his latest exhibition at the Duluth Aquarium featuring 23 new animal paintings and 4 existing ones. Mary Bue supplied a musical backdrop on the keyboards. The setting is completely complementary to  Swanson's subject matter.

The artist statement on his website explains his approach:
In my work I deconstruct the ideas that are part of our childhood and adult culture. My work also addresses the future, fragility of the human presence, perseverance of nature and underlying threads of danger that underpin societies. There is a deep relationship between art and science. The more we learn about our surroundings, where we came from and who we are, the more likely we will thrive in a universe of endless possibilities.

His paintings are both entertaining and accessible. That is, they don't require a deep art history background in order to be appreciated. They are warm and inviting. And I love the titles.

This show will be on display through June, I believe.

"Life Boat"
Mary Bue on keyboards adds warmth to any occasion.
"I Had A Lot Of Fun"

Next week the DuSu film festival will be showing a documentary about the making of the Adam Swanson mural which now is on display at Spirit Mountain. Even if you can't make it to the film, be sure to find a way to visit the chalet at Spirit Mountain sometime... if not for the mural, then for the spectacular view. 

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Engage it.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Northland Arts Happenings: Thursday and Coming Soon

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
~ Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

There are two very special events taking place tonight in Duluth. The first is the Duluth Art Institute second annual Summer Kickoff and member appreciation party called Art Night Out! If you're a member you already heard about it by mail and email.

There will be a food truck, Mrs. Delicious ice-cream, Bent Paddle Brewing Co beer, live music by acoustic ska duo Woodblind (Jason and Veikko), get-messy art-making tables, a bouncy house for children, a cake walk with delicious baked goods generously donated by the best bakers in the Twin Ports, and a raffle drawing. Free for DAI members and $7 for nonmembers.

I won't be "getting messy" at the art table 'cuz I will be dropping in after work and usually do not paint in my suits. But for sure it looks like a fun event and a nice way for the DAI to say "thanks" for our support.

There is also a raffle taking place that includes a Grand Prize trip to Grand Marais called “An Artful Weekend in Grand Marais.”

For what it's worth, Grand Marais was just named Budget Travel’s “Coolest Small Town 2015” and tomorrow evening (Friday, May 29) is the opening reception for John Heino's show at the Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery in an exhibition titled "Fire and Ice, No Ordinary Landscape." Since his remarkable Northland photography will be on display thru June 21, I recommend that the winner make plans for taking advantage of seeing the Shore and this show.

There will be other prizes, but even if you don't plan to buy a ticket, you still get to be entertained by Woodblind.

Still from "Mountain Mural" featuring artist Adam Swanson

A SECOND EVENT occurring simultaneously (5-7 p.m. tonight) is Adam Swanson's opening reception at the Duluth Aquarium. The Aquarium has become a wonderful environment for displaying art, especially nature-themed works.

The promo for tonight's opening states, "There is a deep relationship between art and science. The more we learn about our surroundings, where we came from and who we are, the more likely we will thrive in a universe of endless possibilities. 23 brand new animal paintings, 4 old ones." Mary Bue will be making music here tonight, which probably is a reason all by itself for attending.

Swanson's name in on the marquis for next week's DuSu film festival which will be showing a documentary about the mural he created for Spirit Mountain this past year. The artist has gained considerable respect for his ongoing output, and the Northland arts community is pleased that he and his family chose to settle here.

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” ― Pablo Picasso


June 1
The Prøve Gallery will be hosting an event with Twin Cities writer and filmmaker Moheb Soliman. Soliman has received a Joyce fellowship to travel around the Great Lakes in order to create a film/installation/performative piece chronicling his travels.

Prove will be his first stop along the way. He'll be doing a meet and greet, informal presentation describing his ambitions and plans for the project on June 1 from 5:30-7:30 PM. The following day, he'll be bringing small groups of volunteers on excursions to actively participate in his filmmaking process. Anyone who's interested in signing up can contact Kathleen Roberts via Facebook or give her a call at 401-474-8627.

June 2
Another Tweevenings at the Tweed. Once again on ceramics, this time focusing on glazing techniques.

June 3-7
DuSu Film Festival, in multiple venues here, including the 10th anniversary screening of North Country in Eveleth.

“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Richard Hansen Shares His Passion for the DuSu Film Festival

Over the past 100 years movies have become a significant art form. One outgrowth of this phenomenon is the emergence of film festivals, which offer an extended presentation of films for the purpose of introducing new work and gaining feedback, or just providing a shared experience around a theme.

When Richard Hansen brought his love of film to the Twin Ports in an effort to give birth to a new film festival I was really unaware of how extensive these festivals were. Nearly everyone is familiar with Cannes and Sundance, but since the emergence of our own festival I have learned of hundreds of others and Wikipedia states that there are more than 3,000 active film festivals worldwide.

Next week will be the sixth year of what is now been tagged as the DuSu Film Festival. Opening night of the four day event is June 3 at Clyde Iron Works. Here's an interview with Richard Hansen, the primary force behind this exceptional event.

EN: How many years have you been conducting the DuSu Film Festival and how has it evolved from its initial vision?

Hero Cove
Richard Hansen: This will be year 6 of the festival. We changed the name between year 3 and 4 as we felt it was a better match for the region. It has really evolved into a much more regionally based festival with many of the titles being shot in and around the region. Much of this has to do with the rebate and incentive program that has allowed filmmakers who produce in MN to get a MN rebate of 20-25% and if you shoot up on the range IRRB adds an additional 20%. These incentives have encouraged producers and directors to make their films in MN...which means DSFF gets a chance to screen these high quality productions at our festival. Filmmaking in MN and particularly The Arrowhead has really blossomed in recent years, and while we cannot take credit for much of that, there are many factors that go into having a great filmmaking community, we can say that we have been a significant factor in helping to profile the great work that is happening around in MN.

EN: I noticed that you’ve included Eveleth in this year’s set of venues. How did that happen?

"Fantastic" is a post-modern riff on Disney's "Fantasia."
RH: Two years ago we implemented a 'Reunion Screening' line of programming for the festival. The great Riki McManus of The Upper MN Film Office suggested that we profile a film that was shot in the region in the past and bring the cast and crew together for a bit of a reunion. That year we screened Iron Will and had star Mackenzie Astin come and be a part of it. Last year it was the 1972 Glensheen Mansion location set You'll Like My Mother with Patty Duke in attendance. This year, because it is the 10 Year Anniversary of North Country, we decided to screen that. We thought it would be neat to expand our operation out to the range, and especially because some scenes in the film were shot at The Eveleth Auditorium, we felt it was apropos to show the film there as our Closing Night Event. IRRB and the City of Eveleth were all very supportive and even excited to have it there so we thought it best to include the range into our programming locations. We will have music, food, and Actor Chris Mulkey (Whiplash, Captain Philips, North Country and television's Twin Peaks) is coming in as our special guest for that screening. We think it will be fun, even with the heavy subject matter of the film.

EN: Why is film such an important medium still today?

Heart of Wilderness
RH: 'Still today' is kind of a funny thing, only because I think film is still in it's infancy. The moving image is the most recent of all the art forms, so I think it's generally considered the new bad boy, least respected, but most popular of the art universe. I think it's fascinating to people on many different levels and it functions in people's lives in a number of different capacities. Movies pervade our existence, as our favorites define our personalities, and because of the massive nature of the industry we are inundated with their presence. But the great thing about that is that there is such an incredibly wide range of options available that we can niche our interests and still have access to just about any level of obscurity we like. From the major studios ...which are some of the largest corporations in the world; to Netflix, Amazon, and a dozen other on demand services; to film festivals big and small; to YouTube and Vimeo; to the guy from your hometown who made a very cool documentary about an artist that you personally know...there is a reason this movie shit is so popular. Something for everybody.

EN: How do you go about choosing the films that will be aired each year?

Wicker Kittens
RH: Something that I figured out pretty recently is that I cannot define what the festival will be from year to year... it always chooses to define itself. We literally have to wait to see what is going to become available and then figure it out from there. We... me, film programmers, hospitality coordinators, volunteer coordinators, event planners, and venue managers, all literally wait to see what opportunities present themselves as the year turns from the last to the next. We wait to see what pops up at Sundance and SXSW, we watch for festival hits, we see what has been shot around the region that is making national and international waves, we see if a local guy we like has got something ready by April, we wait to see if a film we really want is gets a distributor or if it will play Duluth before the is purely a juggling act. We have people all around the country looking at films that they think might work for us. But in the end... it mostly comes down to me and the festival programmer (this year Tyler Johnson at Zinema) picking what we think will work. We are a boutique festival... just 18 feature length films and 15 or so shorts, so we have the benefit of just hand picking what we like and what we can get.

EN: Do you have a personal favorite for 2015?

RH: Oh man... don't make me choose. Cop out answer is that everything is good... and that is no BS. We are a boutique fest so there is not a clunker in the mix. These are all films that have performed well at other festivals around the world and some which will be distributed world wide later down the road. Some have particular regional interest and are entertaining regardless of of what happens after we show it.

The festival director in me tells you that the opening night film What We Do In The Shadows has a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes...can't go wrong there. We are all obviously looking forward to the North Country screening... I've actually never seen it.

What We Do in the Shadows
My film artsy side can't say enough about Tired Moonlight, Metalhead, and Tales of Hoffmann... all incredible works of art.

Every film in competition is outstanding. Six films that all have a special reason to be at DSFF this year and they are all inspiring and compelling to me.

You won't want to miss the message documentaries, Good Things Await, Beyond The Divide, and The Dinkytown Uprising.

Finally, the hometown heroes get outstanding profile in Adam Swanson's Spirit Mountain Mural (Artist Adam Swanson-World Premiere) and Closer Than That (Low) with Superior Elegy will uncover some unseen Duluth music history. Not to be missed.

EN: Where can people find your full schedule for when and where things will air this year?

Tired Moonlight
RH: Check the interwebs and The Twitter-Books. Festival programs will be at Zinema on May 27 (today). You can also see a poster at The Electric Fetus. Plus on TV... and in radio ads. Also billboards. And a banner. Oh, and the trailer plays before every screening at Zinema. MPR and WPR. Did we mention every film screening is free. Maybe just show up early and watch some good films. June 3-7, 2015.

* * * *
You can tell Richard loves what he's doing. And so do we.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

One Too Many Many Mornings

"To love another human being is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks."
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

The most refreshing aspect of Bootleg Series, Volume 9: The Witmark Demos was its reminder of the simple beauty of Dylan's early songwriting, unencumbered by layers of production. It brought me back to those early albums and made me appreciate again the rich wealth of material that preceded Highway 61 Revisited.

"One Too Many Mornings" was not part of this particular bootleg, but is of a similar species. Three verses, another lamentation.

When you look at the Dylan catalog the number of songs about relationships is a large one, perhaps in part because relationships play such a central role in our lives. Relationships are also one of the most challenging facets of our lives. Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, which very few people plan for when proclaiming their vows.

Perhaps it's because there are so many situations that involve negotiations, as well as the difficulties of being objective in those many situations we're immersed in: money, family, time, expectations...

For this reason "One Too Many Mornings" touches a nerve. It's a song about movement... away from a painful present toward an uncertain future. Most people have experienced painful breakups even if not the married kind. Marriage only adds additional complications to the equation.

So the song begins with an evocative description of darkness setting in. Dogs are barking out there somewhere, but even that's going to fade. Nothing happening out there, but there's plenty happening inside his head.

Christopher Ricks, who devotes fifteen pages to this song in Dylan's Visions of Sin, points out that the song begins when it's not dark yet but getting there. Silence doesn't mean absence of sound, as Paul Simon pointed out. Words are formed even when no one listens or hears.

The second verse opens with the narrator gazing out toward a desolate street scene, but he doesn't see it so much as he is only looking in that direction. There's nothing really there, and when he turns to stare back into the room, there's emptiness here as well. So he turns again, looking back to the street, sidewalks, signs, a scene devoid of people, warmth or life.

John Hinchey feels the last two verses fail to live up to the first stanza, but I think it works because once you know the song you can't shake its melancholy effect. The second verse haunts, weighted with emptiness. The third verse plays out the root of it.

The couple had shared a space in time. Now that time was past. The narrator is alone, though it's possible his love is right there in the room when he looks back to the bed where they had lain. Except even if she is present, he is alone. Perhaps that is an even greater aloneness.

This is a very different story from "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" or "It Ain't Me, Babe." It's not all right.

To my surprise I'd already written about this song in 2012. Guess I'd forgotten that. Maybe I will write about it again sometime. Who knows? Tomorrow is such a long time...

Dylan performed the song 240 times in concert from 1966 to 2005.

One Too Many Mornings

Down the street the dogs are barkin’
And the day is a-gettin’ dark
As the night comes in a-fallin’
The dogs’ll lose their bark
An’ the silent night will shatter
From the sounds inside my mind
For I’m one too many mornings
And a thousand miles behind

From the crossroads of my doorstep
My eyes they start to fade
As I turn my head back to the room
Where my love and I have laid
An’ I gaze back to the street
The sidewalk and the sign
And I’m one too many mornings
An’ a thousand miles behind

It’s a restless hungry feeling
That don’t mean no one no good
When ev’rything I’m a-sayin’
You can say it just as good.
You’re right from your side
I’m right from mine
We’re both just one too many mornings
An’ a thousand miles behind

Copyright © 1964, 1966 by Warner Bros. Inc.; 
renewed 1992, 1994 by Special Rider Music

Monday, May 25, 2015

Bison Heart and Other Delights

I feel pity for people who refuse to try something new. We're talking food here, but it could be applied to a wide variety of other experiences. On Memorial Day, a day in which people are often having cookouts and spending time with friends or family, it seemed like a good moment to share my bison heart adventure.

Last week I had a new experience that proved absolutely dazzling for my tongue. My son, who makes a living in the culinary trades, prepared a meal of pan seared bison heart, crab cakes, asparagus and ramp puree and bearnaise, with a salad of jumbo lump crab, asparagus, orange and upland cress with a citrus vinaigrette.

I'll admit I was bit insecure beforehand, but the explosion of flavors that tantalized my taste buds created a sense of sensory awe. Savoring every bite followed.

Just wanted to share it with someone, so I shared it with you.

* * * *
This afternoon, weather permitting, there will be some grilling, though I'm not yet sure what's on the menu as Chef Micah did the shopping yesterday. Meantime, here are some photos from other recent meals.

Preparing the crab cakes.
I always enjoy watching the prep work.
Care for some salad? Yumm. 
How about an appetizer?
English celebrity chef Jamie Oliver said, "What I've enjoyed most, though, is meeting people who have a real interest in food and sharing ideas with them. Good food is a global thing and I find that there is always something new and amazing to learn - I love it!" That seems to be what all the world's chefs seem to be doing these days.

As I see it, what's happening in the culinary field is similar to the Paris fashion scene works. Styles begin on the Runway and filter down to the masses through the Maurice's and Kohl's and Targets. In the same way, the culinary secrets that were once the domain of the elite are being shared with an increasingly broad audience. We're all beneficiaries.

Well, I'd better go make my breakfast. My mouth is watering.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Another Memorable Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan

Duluth Dylan Fest: Day Eight

Mid-day rehearsal.
It's Bob Dylan's birthday today. He's performing in Germany this weekend, so he'll miss the birthday bashes taking place in various parts of the country here. That's O.K. The music will go on.

Last year's Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan here at the Sacred Heart Music Center was so exceptionally received that the Armory Arts and Music Center (AAMC) decided to do it again, only with a twist. This year it would be an Acoustic Salute. And the event was stellar.

The assembled performers included many of last year's cast from the Salute, but also included a number of new names from our Northland region including The Boomchucks (Brad Nelson and Jamie Ness), Gaelynn Lee,  Rob Wheeler, Sam Miltich, Todd Eckart, lliot Silberman and myself. Returning faces (or voices) included Kenny Krona, Jim Hall, Courtney Yasmineh, Barbara Meyer, Billy Hallquist, Gene LaFond and Amy Grillo, Lonnie Knight and headliner Scarlet Rivera.

The show began with a couple of students from the AAMC performing music while the crowd sauntered in. A few minutes before showtime host/MC Marc Percansky introduced a special guest, Mayor Don Ness, who was one of the people who played a central role in bringing Bob Dylan Way to fruition. Mayor Ness was there to make an unexpected Official Proclamation. For her continuous support for our city and its history and the preservation of our resources and future, this day, this Perfect Duluth Day, would be henceforth remembered as Scarlet Rivera Day in Duluth.

This proved to be a really nice touch to make an even great day more special.

Backstage with Todd Eckart
The Boomchucks then kicked in with a pair of songs performed in their inimitable style, I Threw It All Away, and a nine minute version of Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie.

The manner in which the concert was produced proved interesting. Rather than have setups after each performer, the various groups would come out in sets. This would allow a more efficient production. All the sound arrangements had been made during a mid-day rehearsal session.

While The Boomchucks' equipment was being torn down John Bushey, host of KUMD's Highway 61 Revisited, performed a bit of magic... and as always, blew a few minds.

The second set featured Gaelynn Lea, Kenny Krona and Rob Wheeler, Wheeler opening with Dignity. Krona played She Belongs to Me and Gaelynn Lea performed Let It Go. Many of us have been familiar with Ms. Lea's violin work, but the use of looping technologies produced some incredible sounds, especially when she performed a stunning rendition of All the Tired Horses. I think there were people picking their jaws off the floor after that. Kenny Krona also did Someone Let Me In and Rob Wheeler did Dreamer's Waltz in this set.

Scarlet working out her parts with Jim Hall
Jim Hall opened the third set with Tears of Rage (accompanied by Scarlet) and Courtney Y concluded it with one of her own songs, Hang On For The Ride. In between Elliot and I sang One Too Many Mornings. When Courtney was playing You're A Big Girl Now I badly wished to put in that harmonica lick I was hearing in my head, but I didn't know what key she was in. Alas....

As the night wore on the sets kept getting better, if that's at all possible. Set four featured Sam Miltich (Don't Think Twice and Girl from the North Country), Todd Eckart (Lay Lady Lay and My Sweet Friend), and Barbara Meyer (I'll Be Your Baby Tonight and Autumn Leaves.)

Mayor Ness proclaiming this to be Scarlet Rivera Day.
Highlights of the last set for me included Billy Hallquist's tender Tomorrow Is A Long Time, Gene LaFond and Amy Grillo's Born In Time, Lonnie Knight's All Along the Watchtower and Scarlet Rivera's Every Grain of Sand. And of course any time Scarlet performs something from Desire, such as One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below), there's electricity in the air.

So, in short, thank you to everyone involved in this stellar fundraising event for the Armory... too many to name, including sponsors.

Oh, and hats off to Bob Dylan. Happy 74th Birthday. Thank you for what you have inspired in us.

* * * *

A few quick reminders. There's a Bob Dylan Birthday Brunch at Tycoon's Alehouse this morning from 11 a.m. till 2 p.m. and Bob Dylan Birthday Cotillion featuring Scarlet Rivera, Gene LaFond and Amy Grillo tonight at the Clair Nelson Community Center in Finland.

If you're inclined to stay in town, the 19th Annual Battle of the Jugbands is taking place today at Amazing Grace from 1 - 8 p.m.

Music, music everywhere. It's a beautiful thing.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Momerial Day Weekend: Key Numbers

Danny Fox, Grog Time at Tycoon's
It's Saturday and here are some key numbers as we roll into Memorial Day weekend.

Day six of the 2015 Duluth Dylan Fest featured Danny Fox at Tycoon's Restaurant & Alehouse during Grog Time. When I arrived it was a surprisingly quiet and attentive crowd, in contrast to the usual manner in which musicians play in the background while those present enjoy chattering amongst themselves. Fox opened with a set of early Dylan songs that included Hollis Brown, Paths of Victory, Let Me Die In My Footsteps, Lay Down Your Weary Tune, Blowing in the Wind, All I really Want To Do, It Ain't Me Babe, It' All Over Now Baby Blue and many more. Fox has a sense of humor, introducing one song with the line, "This one's going to be a Bob Dylan tune." They were all Bob Dylan tunes.

Addison Israelson of Rochester, warming up backstage.
This is the first time the annual Singer/Songwriter Contest took place in Duluth and the first time it was hosted at The Red Herring. Rumor as it that proprietor Bob Monohan was unsure what kind of crowd this event would collect. I think he was pleasantly surprised.

The number of performers on the slate for the Singer/Songwriter Contest.

The number of songs each person or group sang, one Dylan tune and one of their own.

The hour today (a.m.) when the Dylan Fest Bus Tour is leaving the station (boarding at the Armory Annex.) This is an all day affair that will visit points of interest in both Duluth and Hibbing.

The hour tonight's Acoustic Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan at Sacred Heart Music Center will begin, featuring Twin Cities and local musicians with headliner Scarlet Rivera.

Tomorrow there are a few additional events of note. Amazing Grace down in Canal Park is hosting the 19th Annual Battle of the Jug Bands, which is not Dylan-themed but happens to be happening here and is homespun fun for all. From 1-8 p.m. you can catch it free, if you can get in. If the weather is nice a lot of the musicians will be jamming together outside as well.

Tomorrow will also be the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500.

The number on Jimmy Clark's Lotus Ford when he won the Indy 500 in 1965. Clark, from Scotland, was my favorite driver from the era, remembered as one of the greats. He died in a crash in April 1967 at the age of 32.

Tomorrow Bob Dylan will be somewhere in the world celebrating his 74th birthday, probably.

The number of muscles it takes to smile. Not sure how that works, as it seems so effortless with all the music and good vibes here in the Northland. We've done a lot of it this week.

The number of hours till the show starts tonight at Sacred Heart. Hope to see you there.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Engage it.