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Homegrown’s all right with me

Homegrown mascot (Duluth News Tribune file photo)

So we’re about to enter a week filled with loud music, oceans of beer and more dancing than you can shake a stick at, although if that’s how you’re dancing, you’re a bit of a menace. Yes, it’s the Homegrown Music Festival.

Homegrown is that special time when everyone in Duluth pretends to be a cool hipster and shakes their moneymaker like there’s no tomorrow. (And with our current White House resident, there may not be.) Multitudes of talented musicians will be playing at venues all around the Twin Ports, so you have no excuse not to take in a show. For example, just picking one performer totally at random here, Kaylee Matuszak will be playing a free, all-ages show at Sir Ben’s 9 p.m. on Friday, May 5. Sounds like a winner to me.

Every year when Homegrown rolls around, I’m reminded of the event’s humble beginnings. Seems a local musician invited some friends to jam with him at his birthday party one year. The next year he invited a few more, then a few more the year after that, and before you could say “Gary Doty’s socks,” Duluth had a week-long celebration of local music that brings in extra revenue for businesses and gives some of us an excuse to try that new craft beer on the menu without having to doff a stocking cap.

I’ve often wondered why we couldn’t do a similar project with other art forms. Imagine a Homegrown Theater Festival where Duluth’s many actors, directors and designers get together to create live theater at venues all over town. Or a Homegrown Writer’s Festival, featuring seven days of completely original poetry, prose and other fancy words being turned loose all over the Twin Ports.

Some of this happens already, but on a much smaller scale. Rubber Chicken Theater, for example, will be staging The Chicken Hat Plays on Saturday, May 20, at Harbor City School. Writers, directors, and a whole bunch of actors from around the region get together for 24 hours and create original one-act plays. I’ve also heard tell of the occasional poetry open mike or staged readings of manuscripts, but certainly nothing on the scale of Homegrown.

It’s amazing that we have so much artistic talent in this region, and I think we can use the success of the Homegrown Music Festival to get the ball rolling on these other endeavors. But someone else will have to head them up. I’m too busy getting ready for The Chicken Hat Plays on May 20 at Harbor City and listening to Kaylee Matuszak on May 5 at Sir Ben’s.

Plus, I’ve got to get my dancing stick sharpened.

Brian is a firm believe in marketing one’s artistic ventures wherever one can. A weekly newspaper column, for example.

Brian Matuszak

Brian Matuszak is the founder of Rubber Chicken Theater and invites you to follow him and his theater company on Twitter at, like them on Facebook at Rubber Chicken Theater and visit their website at