Water is Life Concert – let the music move you to make a difference

Thousands of people showed up in Duluth yesterday for the Water is Life Concert to celebrate Winona LaDuke’s birthday with a concert to raise funds, encourage action and raise awareness of the Enbridge Pipeline (Line 3) being “rebuilt” now in Northern Minnesota. They are building on ground that is sacred to Native Americans. They are building on land that we should all care about. They are jeopardizing our water supply today and for generations to come. Incidents of sexual violence has increased along the building of the pipeline in and around “man camps”. (You can visit Stop Line 3 for background.)

What can you do to stop it?

  1. Go up to the Pipeline. They especially need people who are willing to put their bodies on the line to literally lay down in front of drilling equipment and risk arrest but they appreciate all hands on deck. (I have been twice with no intention or fear of being arrested. I just helped other prepare.)
  2. Go to track the pipeline. Take pictures and record what’s happening, when and where with Watch The Line.
  3. Donate to support those who have been arrested and other needs. (There have been at least 700 arrests of people protecting the land and water!)
  4. Contact President Biden, Governor Walz and our Legislators to tell them to Stop Line 3. (Here’s a script that we created during a Call To Action Session last month.)

Yesterday was a day to remember but it was also a day to celebrate and appreciate the work of the frontline warriors and Water Protectors. We gathered at the Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth Minnesota. It was hot with the occasional welcome breeze from Lake Superior. There were vendors, booths and food. The longest line all day long was for the water – ironically or not.

The people were celebratory and in many shapes, sizes, ages and colors. There were two stages and time flew buy trying to catch at least a few minutes of each one; I think I succeeded. (Or you can watch the archive of the livestream.) I’ve included video of what I could get and a few words for each performance – and a nod to Jim Walsh for doing a great job at Emcee…

  • Bon Iver  – The headliner was the only band to play after sundown and honestly it felt like the before (COVID) times. The falsetto tones of Justin Vernon and the echo or the Lake. The saxophone of Mike Lewis and I think I saw a strong duel between Vernon and Jeremy Ylvisaker.
  • Thomas X – A bonus treat, not the lineup I had, was Thomas X, Native rapper. The rapping was awesome but just as awesome was watching him interact with the young dancer on stage. It showed a depth of culture and community and artistry. They both, yet separately, danced in circle formation. They just knew their way and fit together.
  • Hippo Campus – It’s been a hot minute since I’ve seen Hippo Camus and they didn’t play Suicide Saturday for me but in the best way, I wasn’t their target. They brought out the youth. They got the place jumping. They sounded joyous with reverence and they can so some super interesting things with their sound.
  • Jayanthi Kyle– Originally listed as Mumu Fresh and with limited communication at an outdoor show, I’m correcting myself from an earlier mistake. I thought it was her yesterday because I love her gospelly voice but I was tied to the agenda. Her strength with the acapella on an outdoor stage was amazing. And because I have the chance to say it, I miss the Gospel Machine!
    A new artist to me – man that voice acapella was amazing. To hear her song about the Mississippi (from her neck of the woods – Atlanta) was touching. A reminder that the River, the water is bigger than all of us.
  • Lissie – With a voice that clear and engaging, it was fun to see her in an outdoor setting. As she mentioned at the show, a lot of her music is about love but then she writes about stuff she really cares about too. It felt so genuine.
  • I’ve got to tackle Quiltman, Keith Secola and  David Huckfelt together. They played together in different permutations. They have such a nice blend of Native and Native-reverent music. The music tells a story and has a beat that moves along like a road stretched ahead of you – sometimes winding, sometimes not. On stage – and I hope I don’t miss anyone – they played with Liz Draper, Erik Koskinen, JT Bates, Matt Darling, Mike Lewis, Jeremy Ylvisaker and Barbara Jean.
  • Adia Victoria – She was charming, playing with her fiancé and talking about how his being a southern gentleman wasn’t going to change what she said. Somehow she released herself from southern social restraints. I enjoyed her perspective and her very sweet voice singing some very real stories.
  • Charlie Parr – Always delighted to hear Charlie Parr, especially delighted to hear him with the full portal iii band including Liz Draper and Chris Gray – although they kept to the Charlie Parr sound. They play so well together and it doesn’t matter how many times I hear those stories sung, I’ll listen again.
  • Alan Sparhawk – Fun to hear Alan Sparhawk (from Low) two nights in a row. Having seen him in his funk band Derecho the night before I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was thrilled to hear pretty noisy free range music with Native drums. My mind raced for a place at the table for Native singers especially at the next Drone Not Drones.
  • Annie Humphrey  – Last time I saw Annie Humphrey was same place, same reason – Water Proctors concert before COVID. Her stories are powerful. The way she owns everything from her red dress to her age is powerful. Playing keyboard with her voice, the songs ring so true.
  • Larry Long & Friends with Dorene Day Waubanewquay – They opened up the set with a birthday song for Winona LaDuke. They had such a nice way of balancing the music with the message and a real family sound to the music.
  • Superior Siren – Fun to hear about how the band has grown and tough not to get the significance of a band called Superior Siren singing right on the lake. They are so harmonious together.
  • Corey Medina – Like Annie Humphrey, last time I saw Corey Medina was at a previous Water Protector show. He’s always a solid, fun rocking start. It’s the perfect burst of energy and irreverence to get the party started!

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