With a little more notice and even more women and Natives in the lineup compared to last year's inaugural fundraiser concert, the Water Is Life Festival will return to Duluth's Bayfront Festival Park on Sept. 4 with the Indigo Girls, Ani DiFranco, Low and Allison Russell among its performers.
The festival will again double as a call to arms for environmental causes threatening waterways and American Indian tribal lands in Minnesota and beyond. Activist Winona LaDuke's organization Honor the Earth is the beneficiary and co-organizer of the event, tickets for which go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. for $40 via axs.com.
"This year, we are again honored to feature a fine assortment of artists who support the Indigenous communities of this state who face new threats — and the ongoing threats we all experience as climate rapidly alters due to the burning of fossil fuels," LaDuke said in a statement.
Also among artists for 2022 is a cool array of Native musicians, including returning mainstays Keith Secola, Annie Humphrey and Corey Medina as well as Joe Rainey. A south Minneapolis native and Red Lake Band of Chippewa tribal member, Rainey recently earned an 8.0 rating from Pitchfork for his new album "Niineta" after several collaborations with last year's Water Is Life headliner Bon Iver.
The 2021 installment of Water Is Life came together with only a month's notice and fell on a Wednesday amid lingering COVID fears. Nonetheless, about 4,000 people showed up for a lineup also including Hippo Campus, Adia Victoria, Lissie and Charlie Parr and a central cause in fighting the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline that now runs through northern Minnesota. This year, the focus will broaden to several sites targeted by Honor the Earth, including Huber Mill in the city of Cohasset and Talon Mine in northwestern Minnesota.
Like last year, First Avenue is pitching in to help organize the concert this year along with Minneapolis songwriting troubadour David Huckfelt, who is returning to perform with his all-star band the Unarmed Forces. More names will be added to the lineup in the coming weeks.
Both the Indigo Girls and DiFranco have been longtime supporters of LaDuke and Honor the Earth — as well as longtime favorites among Minnesota music fans. In fact, the Indigos (Amy Ray and Emily Saliers) will be in Minneapolis this weekend for two nearly sold-out concerts with the Minnesota Orchestra at Orchestra Hall. Meanwhile, British soul-rock singer Russell and Duluth's own indie-rock vets Low have each generated a lot of critical buzz over the past year with both their latest albums and subsequent live shows.
Water Is Life adds to the return-to-normal activity this year at Bayfront Festival Park — Minnesota's most scenic amphitheater, with its harborside view of the Aerial Lift Bridge and Lake Superior. Other scheduled concerts there include Trampled by Turtles on July 9, the Bayfront Reggae Fest on July 16 and the Bayfront Blues Fest from Aug. 12-14.