Homegrown Day 1: Wait. Is this Sunday?

Musicians scheduled for the rest of Homegrown Music Festival have a tough job: Can they match or exceed what happened on Sunday’s kickoff, New Band Night? My iPhone said it was Sunday, but inside Pizza Luce it was more like one of those spring Thursdays in college when you don’t have class on Friday. In other words: Nice turnout, barefoot dancing, music heads blowing bubbles at the stage.

I was reminded last night of what makes Homegrown so great. The Frito Lay snack pack model, where you get to sample just a taste with plenty of variety. And as for the New Band Night name: This was no "Hey, I’ve got a uke and some friends from Craig’s List, lets make a band!" 

I caught the second half of High Volt Rustler, and wowsee-wow-wow that Pauline Russell is so, so cool. She’s got the kind of voice you want to crank up on a rainy day of spring cleaning. She doesn’t sound like Lucinda Williams, per se, but its that same feel. A totally chill band that was just good good good. Bandmates include her husband Allen Klingsporn on guitar, Rich Taylor on bass and Christopher Modec-Halvorson on drums. Their first album "No Longer Blue," was recorded at Sacred Heart and is available at the usual places: iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby. Go to their Web site for links.

When A Winter Downpour started, I was standing in the bar area. "Is this Radiohead?" I asked my partner in New Band Night festivities. We high-tailed it to a spot near the stage. Blurbbed in the HG Field Guide, the band describes its sound as "A force of sad-bastardness," which is probably a clever way to say "Influenced by 80s and 90s shoegazers." Alberto Serrano Rivera has a truly unusual (and awesome) voice. For my own taste (which leans toward the Cure, Smiths, Depeche Mode, and current-wise, toward Swedish pop duos) this band won new band night. I would totally download their MP3s. Other band members include Chris Barnholdt, Jesse Hoheisel and Paul Connolly.

But holy cats, Martha, things really got crazy with Poor Howard — Vincent Cadillac, Howlin’ Andy Hound, Jamie Ness and Matt Livingston. So freakin’ fun. "Finally, some rock and roll," my date said. Totally. The place was nuts. They probably actually won new band night.* HG Field Guide reports that they started as a busking duo before adding Livingston and Ness. These guys are so punk rock that I can’t even find their Web site.

Perfect Duluth Day is reminding Tweeters to tag tweets with #HGMF10. Last year I skipped Friday’s shows and just watched the night unfold on Twitter. That was actually pretty fun. And the recommended tag for Flickr is homegrownmusicfestival2010.

*There isn’t actually a new band night winner. Although at some point later in the week, Bone Appetit will claim to "win" Homegrown, and give themselves a trophy.