DULUTH – “The more children have access to resources that help them be creative, through music and art,” said Craig Minowa, “the more access they have to one of the most powerful medicines we have. as humans.”
Minowa band Cloud Cult headline a sold-out concert Wednesday at the NorShor Theater, with all proceeds going to support the development of a recording studio in Duluth for young people served by LIFE House, a local non-profit organization. This organization describes its mission as “to reconnect homeless and street youth to their dreams”.
“Imagination is so important, and often something that is stripped from our young people at an early age,” Life House executive director Jordon Johnson said. The new recording studio is part of a showcase space called The Imaginarium that Life House maintains at 16 N. First Ave. W., around the corner from its headquarters at 102 W. First St..
“The focus has been specifically on building (the space) to deepen our work and the healing aspect of working with our youth and young families,” Johnson continued. “We know very well how to do crisis intervention and crisis work, and then how do we create space, and how do we build the space, to really … raise the voices and the stories that our young people have to share ?”
“Even before the pandemic, there was an ever-increasing need for more services for this population,” Arrowhead Health Alliance Director Ric Schafer said of youth mental health. “The last two years (only) have focused on that.”
The Cloud Cult show is the third in a series of mental health action concerts presented by the Arrowhead Health Alliance and LetsTalkMN.com, a website the organization developed in 2018 as a one-stop information source for people in mental health crisis. The first concert, in 2018, featured artists such as Charlie Parr and Gaelynn Lea; the second was in 2019 with Them Coulee Boys, among others.
Cloud Cult was originally announced as the headliner for the third concert in 2020. This show was canceled due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It just so happens that the substance of the band’s new album, “Metamorphosis” (2022), proved suitable for the theme of the rescheduled concert.
“Historically speaking, our benefit shows in Duluth have been for environmental causes,” Minowa said.
“Metamorphosis” also initially took an environmental perspective, but during the pandemic, Minowa explained, “the focus of the album has really shifted to individual change and taking time to look at some critical issues. that can prevent us from making positive change on a larger level, such as addiction, anxiety and depression.”
Singer-songwriter Elsa Lee, who plays ELSKA, will open the show at NorShor. “Mental health is health,” Lee said. “People say that all the time, and I really think it’s true. So if we can get people together and have these conversations about it, it’s time well spent.”
Minowa said he and his comrades were impressed with ELSKA’s lyrics, which also touch on mental health topics. “It’s relatively easy to get on stage trying to look cool,” he said. “It’s a whole other thing to sit down and write lyrics that can maybe change people.”
Although Lee was born and raised in Duluth, the entertainer – who is currently based in Minneapolis – has never played NorShor. “I’m very excited to be able to take the stage there,” she said. “Returning to your hometown is always fun.”
Cloud Cult, which currently operates out of a rural Wisconsin studio, began in Duluth in the 1990s. Originally a solo project by Minowa, the group has grown to encompass other artists, including his wife, Connie , a painter who creates works live on stage during Cloud Cult performances.
“We lived up there with our first son, Kaidin,” Minowa said. Kaidin died in his sleep at the age of 2, in 2002. “He has a bench over there on the Lakewalk which the community was very kind to put up, and his ashes are in the lake over there. “, said Minowa.
“We lived in the outskirts of Duluth, then, for another decade or so,” Minowa continued. “When we felt strong enough to have a family again, we decided to move a little further south, which is closer to both my family and my wife’s family. … But at every time we come to (travel) to Lake Superior feels like coming home and feels like a connection to our son and his spirit.”
Johnson, of Life House, said he hopes the new recording studio will not only allow young people in the community to express themselves musically, but also provide technical skills in music production and engineering. “Once we build this (facility),” Johnson said, “we will invite artists and musicians. I think there are a lot of musicians and artists in the area who would like to help and contribute, by supporting people.”
Schaefer said representatives from the Leadership Duluth program have suggested that the Arrowhead Health Alliance designate recording studio Life House as the recipient of the first concert in the revived benefit series. “Music that supports music,” he said. “It just seemed like a natural fit.”
Tickets for the mental health action concert are no longer available, according to box office NorShor.
For more information about these organizations and their work, see lifehouseduluth.org and arrowheadhealthalliance.org.
For more on the music of the artists referenced here, see cloudcult.com and hielska.com.
For more information about mental health crisis services, see LetsTalkMN.com.
This story was updated at 9:30 a.m. on April 18 to correct an error in the day of the week for Cloud Cult’s concert. It was originally posted at 7:01 a.m. on April 18. The News Tribune regrets the error.