Best Bets: From Bluegrass Bands to Chamber Music – Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — Live music is a regular feature of this week’s top bets. Here are six Northland events to look out for:

Twin Ports Music Festival

When the plug had to be pulled this weekend at the Albany Bluegrass Jam in Stearns County, John Miller decided to fight back. Miller, who plays guitar in Feed the Dog, invited his own band and five others from the scrapped lineup to the newly christened Twin Ports Music Festival at the Earth Rider Festival Grounds. Miller said he hopes to revive the event next year with a more musically diverse group of performers, but strings will rule the roost Saturday in Superior. Feed the Dog, Armchair Boogie, Kind Country, Buffalo Galaxy, Dig Deep and the MilBillies will play starting at 4 p.m., with a cover of $25 at the door or $17.50 (plus ticket fee) in advance. For more information, visit

Sayaka Tanikawa, one of the two artistic directors of the Duluth Chamber Music Festival, is photographed at the Dia Beacon in New York.

Submitted / Maria Grazia Facciola Photo

Various string players will sing in Weber Hall at the University of Minnesota Duluth on Thursday as the Duluth Chamber Music Festival presents its first concert on the stage. This is the first year of the festival, which also includes a house show and a performance at Essentia Health. The festival’s two artistic directors, Sayaka Tanikawa and Matt Young, “met as students at the Yale School of Music, but now live on opposite sides of the country,” according to a press release. “Duluth became a central meeting point and retreat” for the two, who decided to share chamber music with the community through a new nonprofit organization. Debussy and Brahms will be on Thursday’s program, along with Amy Beach, Ernst von Donaghy and jazz composer Adam Birnbaum. For tickets ($20 suggested donation), see

Competition of the famous bartender

A bartender in a blue polo shirt pours a red drink into a martini glass garnished with a lime wedge.

Bartender Chris Crocker pours a drink at The Boat Club in Duluth on August 10, 2022.

Jay Gabler / Duluth News Tribune

No, this is not the kind of event where Don Ness and Daniel Durant grab cocktail shakers and run into each other. It’s not about celebrities tending bar, it’s about bartenders who are celebrities for doing their job well. On Thursday, representatives from more than 10 different local establishments, including Vikre Distillery, Apostle Supper Club and Pickwick, will come to The Boat Club bar and mix drinks as a benefit for the Minnesota Ballet. There will also be star judges, but don’t worry, regular ticket buyers will be able to enjoy drinks too. Live music and light refreshments will also be available during each of the two sessions, at 5pm and 7pm. For tickets and information, visit

Art in Bayfront Park.jpg

Brenda and Scott Toft view quilter Diane Podgornik’s work during Art in Bayfront Park in 2016.

File / Duluth News Tribune

You can plan ahead for upcoming birthdays and holidays while enjoying a stroll along the harbor this weekend at Art in Bayfront Park. On Saturday and Sunday, over a hundred juried artists will fill the field with arts and crafts, and food vendors will be on hand to whet your appetite while you watch. Minnesota Made will be selling stylish official art fair shirts featuring artistic interpretations of the local landscape. It’s fitting, since the Stillwater clothing company was first sparked when founder Sarah E. Schroeder went to a Bayfront concert in 2013. “We’ve seen so many Minnesota shirts!” Schroeder wrote about this on her company’s website. “Some of the designs were great, but the quality of the shirts needed help. Then I thought I could do it.” It’s a spirit! For event information, visit

Black and white sign reading THE BACK ALLEY, placed on orange horizontal siding with yellow vertical siding visible below.

Bold signage ensures you know when you find The Back Alley.

Jay Gabler / Duluth News Tribune

Tucked away at the end of a driveway next to Ursa Minor Brewing, The Back Alley is a surf shop in Lincoln Park. But wait: there’s more. It’s also a coffee shop, community hub and music venue with a bright and cozy courtyard. It all happens on Saturday from 11am to 7pm when the store hosts a Punk Rock Flea Market with live music, food and vendors to help you fuel your punk rock lifestyle. Horrible memorabilia! Vintage clothes! Art! There will also be vinyl—maybe the one you play and the one you wear. For event information, go to


A historic photo shows the Olcott Park fountain in action.

File / Duluth News Tribune

At Saturday’s Olcott Park BrewFest, a band called Dang Ol’ Tri’ole will take the stage just one day before the 112th anniversary of the first concert hosted in the Virginia park. Olcott Park has changed a bit since then — the zoo is gone, for example — but the park remains a vibrant public space. In 1937, a colorful electric fountain debuted, showcasing 20th century technology and the work of the WPA. When the fountain failed in 2013, the Olcott Park BrewFest was one of the fundraisers for its restoration. The fountain has been operational since 2019, but BrewFest continues as a community celebration and fundraiser for park improvements and maintenance. For information and tickets, visit

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