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Duluth Does Low concert will pay tribute to one of the city’s best-known bands

by Walt Dizzo

December 11, 2013

Fans of Duluth’s Low won’t want to miss a special one-time performance by more than 25 of the band’s friends and neighbors during an event dubbed “Duluth Does Low” this Thursday at the historic Sacred Heart Music Center in Duluth’s central hillside.

This tribute to Low is being organized by Sacred Heart Executive Director and Low’s local go-to studio engineer, Eric Swanson, though the impetus for the show was supplied by Duluth Mayor Don Ness. “The idea for Duluth Does Low has been around for a while,” notes Swanson, “but it was Don that decided he wanted to honor Low for all their contributions to Duluth and its music scene and celebrate their 20 years as a band.” Mayor Ness will serve as the host and emcee of the event.

“Low’s impact on Duluth’s music scene is obvious—it was their success and their commitment to Duluth that helped to inspire a close-knit and supportive music community here. Duluth is a very different city today for young people than it was in 1993 when Low first formed,” remembers Ness. “Now, there are many different factors in that transformation, but I would make the case that Low was an important catalyst for the cultural shift that we’ve seen. Low proved that Duluth can be artistically significant beyond our own borders. Like most Duluthians of my generation, I have many great memories of Low shows and Al’s other projects. Duluth Does Low seems like a great way for our community to pay tribute to this band and let them know how much we appreciate their music and who they are.”

More than 25 local acts will be performing including Southwire, Mary Bue, Haley Bonar, Cars & Trucks, Portrait of a Drowned Man, Toby Thomas Churchill, Lion or Gazelle, Marcus Matthews, Tangier 57, Rich Mattson and Germaine Gemberling, Sarah Krueger and many more (including some special surprises).

Proceeds from ticket sales will be given to the Music Resource Center, an after-school music program helping local kids to become the musical stars of tomorrow. The program is run by the Armory Arts and Music Center and currently operates out of Sacred Heart Music Center. Proceeds from concessions will benefit Sacred Heart and will be put toward much needed repairs to the roof of the 117 year old cathedral.

The “Duluth Does” series began 13 years ago as a tribute to hometown favorite Bob Dylan. The event was organized by local label Spinout Records (Tim Nelson, Tom Fabjance, and Bernie Larsen) and included a Duluth show as well as a performance at St. Paul’s Turf Club, and culminated in the release of the first Duluth Does Dylan record. The “Duluth Does” idea stuck and a series of concerts continued under the guidance of former Sacred Heart Director, Joe Modec, and musician Todd Gremmels who together organized shows such as Duluth Does White, a re-creation of the Beatle’s White Album, as well as tributes to the Grand Ole Opry, Woodstock, Neil Young & Johnny Cash, and the Rolling Stones.

Some of the artists set to perform at Duluth Does Low include:

Sarah Krueger: “I think that this particular show serves as a reminder of the ever transcendent core of love and creative cultivation that we all really feed off up here from each artist to the next, and Low has really done their part in maintaining that, of being a part of Duluth’s artistic community even when they’ve soared above it, and of giving love back when they receive it.” Sarah will be performing a solo version of “When I Go Deaf” from Great Destroyer.

Marcus Matthews: “I’ll be doing an orchestral arrangement of “Murderer” (from Drums and Guns) inspired by the work I did for my most recent solo record…I first heard this song when Al did it at the Norshor Theatre many years ago…It was just him and some dude thumping on a marching bass drum, but it was dramatic and I loved it. The studio version that would come years later is really cool and all, but I still hear that original version of the song in my head. I look forward to the chance to play some cool music with a bunch of my friends to benefit a facility that I love at the behest of a man, Eric Swanson, whom I greatly respect.”

Mary Bue: I have a stack of Low albums that have been intermittent soundtracks to my life over my years in and out of Duluth. I think their music fits the landscape of Duluth for many of our seasons there is a soaring majesty to Al & Mim’s harmonies that is quintessentially theirs. I love that they are such champions of our local scene even in their international stardom. I’ll be performing solo on the ukulele that I bought in Hawaii on my honeymoon this year! I’ll be playing my all-time favorite of theirs—“Like a Forest” from Things We Lost in the Fire.

Duluth Does Low takes place this Thursday, December 12, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. More info here.


Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.