by Maddy Siiter
My hometown of Duluth is not known for having very many all-age events, so when local record label Chaperone Records came together with The Red Herring Lounge to put on the all-ages “Super Big Block Party” in downtown Duluth, I wasn’t going to miss it.
The event’s FAQ stressed not to bring your own instruments and I could see why. With so many bands in the lineup, it could be easy to confuse who was actually meant to be up on stage. From St. Paul based R&B band, Heiruspecs to the blues of Duluth folk band, Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank, there was something there for everyone.
Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank started off the afternoon with gritty vocals and bluesy harmonica solos. The duo mixed in a little of everything, including songs like “Over and Back Again” from their newest release, American Shuffle on Chaperone Records. With lyrics like, “I reach out in the open. I thought I saw your face, maybe just a trace”, they got any heartbreak we could have out of our systems and everyone in the spirit of the day right as the sun came out.
Duluth native Toby Thomas Churchill was up next. He took the stage with a large, psychedelic Alice in Wonderland-esque sound, hitting a xylophone and all of the high notes. I really enjoyed it, but the crowd seemed indifferent, but probably just because it was still so early in the afternoon. His lyrics were straightforward much like his personality seemed. The opening lyric to “Bad People” is simply, “Bad people, they need to go” and when a song was over, he’d say, “Well, I thought that was pretty good.”
While I wasn’t a huge fan of Heiruspecs, they gave off great energy and really got the growing crowd fired up. Toddlers were dancing in circles and the adults had their hands in the air the entire set.
Dead Man Winter was definitely my favorite set of the night. “It’s not a good time for me, can’t you see that” Dave Simonett (of Trampled by Turtles) sang, but it was far from the truth. The folk/rock band looked like they were genuinely having a great time and Simonett expressed how glad he was to be back home again. It was easy listening and poetic, but still exciting.
I wasn’t able to stay the whole night, but overall it was a great time. It might have been a wave goodbye to the season, but for a few hours, it made you forget that summer is ending.