Art Hounds: Math rock, looping flute and a Duluth music festival

Charlie Parr photographed through the glass at a virtual performance.
Charlie Parr photographed through the glass at Duluth Cider for a virtual performance. He's part of the lineup in this year's Homegrown Music Festival in Duluth, Minn.
Photo by Aaron Reichow

Rich Mattson, of the band Rich Mattson and Northstars, was glad to see that northeastern Minnesota’s Duluth Homegrown Music Festival is running this week. Last year, a very small, virtual version of the festival took place. The in-person events were officially called off the day before the festival’s “Field Guide” went into print. This year, the weeklong event features livestreamed and previously recorded performances, poetry, homemade music videos, a photography exhibit and more.

Music streams live from Studio A on KUMD radio and from Richard Narum’s 2104 studio — aka the living room of his Duluth home. Current and archived performances are available on the Duluth Homegrown YouTube channel. The festival runs through Sunday.

While Mattson loves the energy in downtown Duluth during an in-person festival and looks forward to its return, festival director Melissa La Tour says she anticipates that future events will continue to have some livestreaming elements, so that those who have moved away from the area or cannot otherwise access the festival may still enjoy the event.


Jacob Bases of Triple Falls Productions is a big fan of Onion Bun, a math rock band based in Mankato. Math rock plays with time signatures, counterpoint and rhythmic structures. It’s a music theory-driven style, but Bases says you can enjoy listening without knowing any of that. “It’s music that you can bob along to,” Bases says, but the more closely you listen, the more interesting it gets. Each member of this drum/guitar/bass band has a chance to shine in their arrangements.

Onion Bun released their debut EP, “Giraffodil” in April, which you can find on Bandcamp.


Rolf Erdahl of the duo OboeBass is familiar with the challenges that musicians have faced during the pandemic, and that’s part of the reason why he’s so impressed with the series flutist/composer Julie Johnson has been releasing, called “Looping in my Living Room.”

Looping is an electronic process that allows a musician to record, play back and play over their own audio — essentially to accompany themselves. Each video shows Johnson meticulously building layer upon layer of music as she plays both amplified flute and bass flute and adds distortion and special effects to create one finished piece.

Erdahl says one of his favorite moments comes at the end of her piece “Arkan,” which is based on a Ukrainian folk tune. “And at the very end, Julie has such joy and satisfaction in her face at the completion of a live piece of music, performed without a net in her living room. The joy is utterly contagious.”

Johnson’s fifth video was released this week, with a final due out later this month.

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