[UPDATE: Twin Cities pop/rock favorites Hippo Campus, South Carolina-raised blues and folk picker Adia Victoria and the Leech Lake Indian Reservation's musical son Keith Secola of "NDN Kars" ("Indian Cars") fame have been added to the lineup since it was first announced.]
A renewed effort to stop construction of Canadian oil company Enbridge's Line 3 in northern Minnesota will bring a pipeline of musicians to Duluth's Bayfront Festival Park for an all-star concert Aug. 18 led by Wisconsin's Grammy-winning indie-rock favorites Bon Iver.
Lissie, Charlie Parr, Low's Alan Sparhawk, David Huckfelt, Mumu Fresh, Larry Long, and Native performers Annie Humphrey, Quiltman, Dorene Day Waubanewquay and Corey Medina will also perform at the show, dubbed the Water Is Life Festival.
The daylong event is a fundraiser for environmental nonprofit Honor the Earth, founded by Line 3 protest leader Winona LaDuke.
Last seen performing in his neighboring state at Xcel Energy Center in 2019, Eau Claire singer-songwriter Justin Vernon and his Bon Iver live band have no other U.S. tour dates at the moment — a fact that could bring fans from across the country to the Duluth waterfront. Vernon's band will reportedly be a stripped-down version including fellow Midwesterners Michael Lewis and S. Carey.
With both Vernon and LaDuke boasting some famous friends, the poster for the concert promises "and more to be announced." Tickets to the event, coproduced by First Avenue, are on sale now for $65 via AXS.com.
Huckfelt, former co-leader of the Pines and a close ally of LaDuke, said the concert is a sign of a renewed effort to stop Line 3 following the recent halt of the similarly targeted Keystone Pipeline and what he called "a daily litany of crimes against Minnesota."
"Enbridge is overdrawing water during a drought and having peaceful protesters arrested on land that isn't theirs," Huckfelt said. "Water is precious in Minnesota, and we need to protect it."
LaDuke herself was arrested two weeks ago at a protest in Hubbard County. A Minnesota district judge subsequently issued a temporary restraining order to stop county officials from blocking access to a property used by protesters.
The current Line 3 project is part of a 1,000-mile replacement pipeline — about 330 miles in northern Minnesota — that would carry tar-sand oil from Edmonton, Alberta, across the Mississippi River and Ojibwe reservation land between Clearbrook and Superior, Wis. Construction in Minnesota began in December after already being completed in Canada and Wisconsin.
Opponents say Line 3 threatens environmental damage to the Mississippi River and Lake Superior. Proponents of the line say it will increase energy resources in America and bring much-needed jobs to northern Minnesota.
In reaction to the concert, Enbridge representatives issued a statement Wednesday that claimed the company has spent more than $250 million on the Line 3 replacement project benefiting "tribal nations, citizens, communities, and contractors."
"We support everyone's right to an opinion about the energy we all use but had hoped everyone would come to accept the multiple approvals of the project based on six years of thorough science-based regulatory study and review by various permitting bodies."
The company denied being involved in the recent arrests of LaDuke and other protesters, saying "police decide when protest is illegal or dangerous." Citing the water usage issue, Enbridge added, "The current drought conditions in Minnesota are concerning to everyone. We are working to conserve and protect water as the project moves forward."
The Water Is Life Festival will likely be the biggest music event held this summer at Bayfront Park, where the namesake blues fest is set to return Aug. 13-15. The grounds can hold about 20,000 people.
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658