Shana discovered what fun it is to compose at age nine, the year she wrote a song for her summer camp clarinet ensemble. She still enjoys most the challenge of composing pieces with eclectic instrumentation.
She has performed her music, primarily piano based power pop, in Boston, New York, Jacksonville, Florida and Duluth, MN where she currently resides. Shana was selected to perform in the Go Tour Road Show and has been commissioned by both the Jacksonville Film Festival and Theatre Jacksonville. She is also an elementary music educator who includes David Bowie songs in her curriculum whenever possible, and has received a grant from the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra to pilot a children’s Ukulele Ensemble, called The Flea Circus.
Shana received a Bachelor of Music from Berklee College of Music. Her primary course of study was vocal performance, but she dabbled a bit, as she is wont to do, playing bass clarinet, in a Klezmer ensemble, and working as composer and lyricist on “Weight Loss Center of the Damned,” a musical about an obese preteen preparing for her Bat Mitzvah while resisting Satan who is posing, of course, as a nutritionist.
Her first EP, “Terminally Bourgeois,” as Andre Breton declared all music to be, was released in October, 2006 by Shrug Records. It is a 70g white vinyl 7″ that features artwork by local Jacksonville artist and collaborator Ryan Strasser. An MG-1 Mini-Synth (played by Shana) and vocals (also Shana) are, “…nothing short of delightful,” or so said Jacksonville’s Folio Weekly. They also called it “witty,” with lyrics that are “clever as hell,” and referred to the album as, “a super neat collection of short funness,” a phrase that rather aptly describes Shana herself.
Shana has been the director of the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival since 2010.
Shana, I have family in the twin cities and got wind of ya’ll. So Dave and I decided to reach out and have a chat with you about the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival. After doing a little research we discovered that there are some wild and rowdy folks in Duluth – and rock and roll lives in Minnesota – sure enough!
Please tell our readers about the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival, and when it is.
For a city of its size Duluth has a thriving music scene. Just about any night of the week, year round, one can hear local, original music. Homegrown celebrates that by essentially condensing a year’s worth of concerts into eight days at two dozen venues. The festival is run by a volunteer steering committee made up of locals involved in the music scene as performers, engineers, etc. The Festival is on May 1-8, 2011
We read about the genesis of the festival in 1999 and it’s founder Scott Lunt. Give us some history of the festival from the beginning until now.
Scott is a local fixture who decided to throw himself a really kickass 30th birthday party. It was a natural extension for that to turn into an annual event that highlights the musicians in the community. Over the years Homegrown’s made an effort to get a little bigger every year, by adding venues, drawing attention to other artists like photographers and videographers, and including an annual kickball game.
The most fascinating thing we read was that acts performed in numerous locations – multiple stages. That would be difficult to manage without great local support. How that was accomplished would be of interest to those others hoping to do the same in their town. Tell us a bit about the venues and logistics in years past.
The venues we work with are all businesses that host live music year round. To varying degrees, they are already set up to accommodate Homegrown, but we do a lot of gear rental. As director of the festival, one of my major responsibilities is serving as a contact point for both our venues and musicians. I won’t lie, it is in fact a lot to coordinate, but it’s totally worth it to have the festival take over the town.
Because we’ve had thirteen years to earn a reputation, venues are pretty eager to support us, and we’re happy to work with them to recognize their contributions to the music scene all year. The venues have ranged in size, from intimate coffee shop, to theaters with a capacity over 1000, which is really appropriate for the range of bands and audiences.
We noticed from press that most of the bands are local (Homegrown) and musical personalities factor in for the festival-goers. That suggests a strong local fan base for local acts. Do you invite acts from other states to play, or is the festival mostly formed around regional acts?
The festival is ENTIRELY local acts. Unless an out of town band has a strong connection to Duluth there isn’t a reason for them to play Homegrown.
Tell us about the fans. Who comes?
I think the fact that the festival covers so many genres, when combined with the “talent show” atmosphere that an entirely local music festival creates, makes it so that most everyone has a reason to attend.
In the beginning it was Bands and Beer; now the Festival is Big and Beer. Congratulations on your success. Sounds like a great time. How many acts will you have this year?
Last year we had 150 bands play. It’s hard for us to get much bigger unless we add several new venues, which we don’t anticipate.
If someone from California or New York comes to this year’s Duluth Homegrown Music Festival tell us what they could expect.
A big surprise. I’m from New York, I moved to Duluth in 2009. Someone once asked me if I’d heard of the Homegrown Music Festival, before I moved to Duluth and I had to tell them that I hadn’t heard of Duluth, before I moved to Duluth.
People within this region think of Duluth as an “artsy” place, but I don’t think that reputation spreads much past the Iowa border.
We are glad to help remedy that situation. You seem to have great support from city officials. We do have to be fair in that some articles we read paint a picture of hedonistic excess. (For the record, we are for occasional hedonistic excesses as a psychological cleansing device.) All large events, including Football games, and Soccer Matches have rowdy fans, let us know about the positive effects the festival creates for Duluth.
Homegrown marks the beginning of the end of the brutal winters Duluth is known for. I think it’s perfect timing for the relief of cabin fever. People come out of the woodwork and the revelry is pretty impressive to experience.
Hedonistic is a strong word. This is still the Midwest, no one’s going to mistake Duluth for Rio – even during Homegrown. However, there is definitely a lot of public urination, I heard that directly from the Duluth Police Department.
We are “relieved” to hear that. (Groan!) What do you see for the future of the festival?
A lot more questions and interest! As the national profile of the festival is raised I think curious music fans from outside of the region will have their interest piqued.
This year we’re beginning a grant making program. We’ll be offering matching funds, for local bands interested in recording an album. We’d like to help out emerging musicians, but also draw attention to the fact that an album can be recorded, produced and manufactured entirely in Duluth. Along with talented musicians, this region has fantastic engineers, artists, printers, and any resource a band would need to produce an album.
That kind of ‘giving back’ support is unique and wonderful. Give us the name of some acts that readers could look up that you believe need to be heard.
Songwriters are the main focus of our site; tell us about some good local songwriters that might be heard at the event.
Our readers can also go to your site and find the names and web sites of other performers. Are there any CDs available of past performances?
Homegrown has released a couple of Compilation CDs that are now available. They’re a great way to get an idea of the talent in Duluth.
The chicken is our mascot! The original drawing of him is by Chris Monroe, a super awesome local cartoonist. Scott Lunt, who started the festival, told me once that he imagined that we’d have a new barn animal mascot each year, but it appears the chicken stuck.
Well then, ‘Rawk and/or Roll’ it is. Why should a person come to Duluth and be a part of the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival?
There really isn’t anything else like it. Everyone in the community who makes music comes out in force, and songs that have never left the city limits are, like, anthems that everyone sings along with the band. It’s quite a spectacle. The kickball game also gets pretty silly.
There is always a question we forget to ask – what else should we know about the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival?
You should know that it’s worth trying to pull off yourself. I lived in Jacksonville, FL before this and while there was definitely a music scene, no one had the balls to try to do something like this. I think it does a lot to draw positive attention to musicians as a resource for the community.
Dave and I think you are absolutely right and, Shana , we hope others are inspired by you and what you do. Please point us to ticket info, city info, lodging and such…I’m sure that some of our readers will want to come and join the party!
Tickets can be purchased at any venue that’s hosting a paid event or at The Electric Fetus, a record store here in Duluth. We sell super cheap week long passes and also tickets for Friday and Saturday. (I’d post ticket prices here, but we haven’t set our prices for this year… on the off chance they change I don’t wanna misinform).
Songwritersmarketplace.com (c) 2010 all rights reserved.