It was an exciting night [the weekend of March 3] at the newly-renovated NorShor Theatre in downtown Duluth. The marquee was up, the curtains drawn, and a buzz of “oooo’s” and “ahhhh’s” filled the revitalized, art-deco space.
“My grandmother used to go to dime movies here on Saturdays,” said one woman to her group of friends huddled around a candlelit table in the lobby.
“Hey, remember when this place was a strip club?” said one teenager to his buddy at the bar.
Folks, this place has a lot of history. NorShor has been out of commission for quite some time–but, it’s making a comeback. Let me give you a rundown of the ups and downs of this historic theatre.
Back in 1910, it was a vaudeville house referred to as the “Orpheum” hosting the likes of icons such as Jack Benny and the Marx Brothers. In 1941, it officially became the “NorShor” and was transformed into a movie theatre of sorts. Then, by the late 90’s, it was revered as a shabby yet trendy music venue where musicians such as Trampled By Turtles and the band Low played back in the day. But, time took a toll, and the place went downhill–a running joke amongst the artists that gathered the night of the music showcase.
But, thanks to the efforts of the community–spearheaded by former mayor Don Ness–the city took on the ambitious task of renovating the theatre.
Here we are, nearly eight years later. The doors are finally open and one of Duluth’s historic gems in the “heart district” has been brought back to life. Throughout the week, I have had the pleasure of talking to several of the artists who performed that night, hearing their unique stories and personal connection to the theatre.
To kick off the evening, we heard from the hauntingly beautiful Gaelynn Lea–showing off one of her latest singles “Bound By A Thread”–joined by Al Church(guitar), Marty Dosh (drums), Dave Mehling (keyboard) and Andrew Foreman(bass).
Gaelynn’s live looping of ethereal violin melodies and her light vibrato voice is truly unique. I’ve seen her a couple times live, but to see this Duluthian up on NorShor’s iconic stage–joined by other local artists and her good friend Alan Sparhawk–was something special.
Click here to read the full concert review at Music in Minnesota, and scroll down to enjoy photos from the concert.
All photography by Kathleen Ambre with Music in Minnesota.