, Duluth News Tribune
Abigail Mlinar was struggling to sleep one night, she said, while the logistics of the first-time festival she created whirred in her mind. FEmn Fest, billed as an “unapologetically feminist festival,” had a lineup of female-identifying musical performers and fem-friendly art and workshops, but no one big-name player.
Later, light on sleep and heavily in need of a plan, an idea was born: There would be no headliner. “Because patriarchy,” according to the festival’s promotional material, which includes the idea that words like “headliner” and “VIP” enforce the hierarchal structures that contribute to inequality.
“It’s so hard to find a (female) headliner because there are so few of them,” Mlinar said. “The whole system has been against women for so long. We’re doing this festival to broadcast the talent women have — so you can find out about new women you haven’t encountered before because (festivals) haven’t focused on women.”
FEmn Fest starts Friday with an opening ceremony at 4:30 p.m. on the main stage at Sacred Heart Music Center, followed by Oshkii Giizhik Singers, Emily Haavik, Black Diary and more. Saturday opens with, “Mindfulness in the Midst of Misogyny: Self-Care for Women Workshop” at Sacred Heart, followed by music by musicians like Christine Hoberg, Haley and Venus DeMars. Sunday, the final day of the festival, starts with a yoga workshop at 11 a.m. at Sacred Heart Music Center and ends with Jerree Small on the main stage.
While settling the headliner was proving tricky, curating a lineup was not. The schedule is a mix of artists the organizers sought out and musicians who solicited the festival, according to Mlinar.
Here’s a bit about some of the acts:
OSHKII GIIZHIK SINGERS
This is a longtime singing, hand-drumming group composed of women from Duluth and the Fond du Lac areas that will “sing loudly when called upon by the community” — including, performances at the Minnesota History Center, the Red Shawl Healing Ceremony, and The Stand — an anti-Dakota Access Pipeline fundraiser for Standing Rock. They perform traditional Native American music and new tunes.
This folk-country singer-songwriter and her band released “You Were the City” in late 2016 — a seven-song, well-written and thoughtful collection. The former Duluth-based artist has since moved, but continues to play Homegrown Music Festival and occasionally on other local stages, including Beaner’s Central.
This is a trio of women — Sasha and Sophie Turk and Rachel Phoenix — who perform rich harmonies, both original songs and covers of, for instance, Lucinda Williams. Occasionally, there is a touch of keys, but Jesse Hoheisel, on guitar, provides the spare instrumentation.
Hoberg, formerly of Superior, spent a spell in Brooklyn and is now in Minneapolis teaching music production to girls and trans/nongender binary youth, working on her fifth album and occasionally playing shows in, like, Los Angeles. She’s got a full and tricky voice and self-describes her style as “vocal chant soul noise pop.” She’s gotten a nod from Spin magazine and is featured on Flight Facilities’ 2014 album “Down to Earth.” The song “Clair de Lune” went Platinum and charted in Australia.
Priscilla Momah is a TC-native who recently returned to the area after living in Hawaii for a few years. She’s got a laid-back voice, airy and big souled, with a hip-hop/spoken word touch. She’s part of the collective Heartbeat Instrumental.
Haley’s most recent album “Impossible Dream,” her seventh, is a pop album for windows open-spring cleaning, summer road trips, fall soup-making and holing up in the winter. It’s full, it’s breathy, it’s filled with enviable lines like “I was impossible when I was beautiful.” Haley, formerly of Duluth, is also in the superfun band, costumes required, Gramma’s Boyfriend.
This TC-and-beyond based post-punk-kinda pop band that leans drone-ish is relatively new and has played just a handful of shows — including a basement show in Rochester and the Kitty Cat Klub in Dinkytown. Lineup includes Kelly Mason (vocals, guitar), Andrew Valentine (drums, vocals, guitar), Spencer Gosewisch (bass) and former Duluthian Amy Abts (guitar, vocals).
Venus DeMars is a Duluth-raised performance glam-punk artist and member of All the Pretty Horses. But she’s also been playing solo acoustic shows for the past few years — which tend to be void of power tools. She’s given some of her old songs make-unders and thrown in a few covers, including some Bowie.
This Duluth-based punk band, featuring Gabe Naughton (guitar, vocals, tambourine), Gabby Hagstrom (bass) and Mike Preston (bass), is exactly what you want to hear coming from your neighbor’s garage at 1 a.m. on a school night.
If you go
• What: FEmn Fest
• When: Sept. 15-17
• Where: Sacred Heart Music Center and Center for American Indian Resources parking lots
• Tickets: $50/day, $100 weekend pass
Subject to change
• 4:30 p.m.: Opening ceremony, main stage
• 4:40 p.m.: Oshkii Giizhik Singers, main stage
• 5:30 p.m.: Language/Sexism workshop, main stage
• 6 p.m.: Emily Haavik, main stage
• 7 p.m.: Community open mic, main stage
• 8 p.m.: The She Shells, main stage
• 9 p.m.: Black Diary, main stage
• 10 p.m.: LASKA acoustic, main stage
• 11 a.m.: Mindfulness in the Midst of Misogyny: Self-Care for Women Workshop, main stage
• 11:45 a.m.: Soul Reflect, outside stage
• Noon: Dear Rosetta, main stage
• 12:15 p.m.: Language/Sexism workshop, outside stage
• 12:45 p.m.: Design(ing) for Social Justice Workshop, main stage
• 12:45 p.m.: Making Waves: A Brief History of Feminist Activism in the Northland Workshop, courtyard
• 1:45 p.m.: Sing! A Women’s Chorus, main stage
• 2 p.m.: Community open mic, outside stage
• 2:25 p.m.: My Naked Self workshop, courtyard
• 3 p.m.: Beats by Girlz, outside stage
• 3:25 p.m.: Beyond the Binary: Embracing Spectrum Identities workshop, balcony
• 4 p.m.: Climate change is a Feminist Issue: Eco-Feminist and Indigenous Perspectives on Climate Change and Tar Sands Pipelines workshop
• 4 p.m.: Christine Hoberg, outside stage
• 4:25 p.m.: Priscilla Momah, main stage
• 5 p.m.: An Intro to Ethical Non-Monogamy Workshop, courtyard
• 5 p.m.: Desdamona, outside stage
• 5:25 p.m.: Gag Me With a Spoon, main stage
• 6 p.m.: LASKA, outside stage
• 7 p.m.: Haley, main stage
• 7:30 p.m.: Glitter Lung, outside stage
• 8 p.m.: Superior Siren, main stage
• 11 a.m.: Yoga workshop, main stage
• 11 a.m.: Missing Peace, outside stage
• 11:55 a.m.: Community open mic, outside stage
• Noon: Hanna Cesario, main stage
• 12:45 p.m.: Language/sexism workshop, main stage
• 12:55 p.m.: Kat Fox, outside stage
• 1:15 p.m.: Kristi Marie, main stage
• 1:50 p.m.: Secret Badass, outside stage
• 2 p.m.: Womxn in Art Panel/workshop, main stage
• 2:45 p.m.: Paper Parlor, outside stage
• 3 p.m.: Adina Burke, main stage
• 3:45 p.m.: Lost in Translation: A Journey Through African Diaspora/Doll-Making workshop, main stage
• 3:45 p.m.: Niki Becker, outside stage
• 4 p.m.: Negotiating Standards and Benefits in the Workplace, courtyard
• 4:35 p.m.: Jerree Small