Best bets: Loving the West End, new music from Zac Bentz, and Sterling plays Elvis


In 2017, Nik Nerburn had an artist residency through the Duluth Art Institute that called for an artistic eye on the transformation of Lincoln Park — though he prefers the neighborhood’s old name, West End.

Nerburn spent a few years documenting the people and the places and has created the collection “The Old West End,” which includes black and white photographs chosen because they offer a poetic, dreaminess that he wanted, and interviews that present like poetry.

"The Old West End" by Nik Nerburn (

“The Old West End” by Nik Nerburn (

His first run of the book sold out in 24 hours, and he’s about to release more copies. (Tune in to his website,, for updates). In his reportage, Nerburn found boxers, unmanned chess matches, groups of kids. He talks to shopkeepers ready to retire, karaoke enthusiasts and the former director of the Esmond Building, which was the Seaway Hotel.

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“I spent a lot of time there,” he said of the neighborhood. “I dedicated a lot of time to making sure I would get to know people in a direct way.”

He has since moved to Minneapolis.

Nerburn described the book’s theme as “not knowing what you have until it’s gone.”

“It’s a story of thinking you’re not going to miss something, and once it’s finally gone, feeling its pull,” he said.

Zac Bentz is releasing his first album under his own name.

Zac Bentz is releasing his first album under his own name.

Zac Bentz, now as Zac Bentz

Zac Bentz, a prolific artist who hasn’t released anything under his own name in 30 years, has a new album, “Love’s Haunted Twin.” He describes it as taking cues from “bite sized sci-fi jingles of Station Ident as well as the massive droning expanse of Dirty Knobs, and hints of the electro pulses of The Electric Witch.”

“I figured it was high time to shed the protection offered by other guises and admit that this is all just me,” he says in the liner notes. Bentz recently launched a vinyl campaign on Bandcamp, which is new to crowdfunding.

Mick Sterling (Image courtesy of West Theatre)

Mick Sterling (Image courtesy of West Theatre)

Mick: Author and The King

Bluesman-nonprofit founder Mick Sterling has been mixing it up for a bit — paying tribute to the artists who have influenced him. For this go-round, which plays 7:30 p.m. March 26 at the West Theatre, he’s performing “For the King, By the King,” a collection of Elvis’ gospel songs. Tickets start at $24.

Sterling is a longtime Twin Cities musician who is a regular at Bayfront Blues Festival, whether he is on stage, making a cameo or visiting with fans and chatting about the 30 Days Foundations, which offers a single grant to Minnesota residents who need a financial boost through a crisis.

He recently released a collection of essays, “And Else,” cutely based on a phrase used by his son when he was little. He will be signing books at the theater (and reading and performing), at 7 p.m. March 25. Free, but registration is required at

DTA electric bus (Bob King / 2015 file / News Tribune)

DTA electric bus (Bob King / 2015 file / News Tribune)

Name that noise

“Simply Superior,” a weekly radio show on KUWS 91.3 FM, is dipping into the game show biz. On this week’s episode, host Robin Washington is challenging transportation expert-slash-UWS prof. Richard Stewart to name that noise. Is it the horn from the Aerial Lift Bridge or the Paul R. Tregurtha, Washington asks. And can you tell the difference between a Tesla and a battery-powered DTA bus?

“Simply Superior” airs at 10 a.m. Friday, March 26. To play along on future episodes, go to or email the host at [email protected], subject line “I have sound judgment.”

Allen Killion-Moore made a movie about "Unweaving," public art by Tia Salmela Keobounpheng. (Clint Austin / 2020 file /

Allen Killion-Moore made a movie about “Unweaving,” public art by Tia Salmela Keobounpheng. (Clint Austin / 2020 file / [email protected])

Back in the gallery

The Joseph Nease Gallery has a group exhibition featuring new and recent work by artists, including ceramicist Liz James, Kathy McTavish, Allen Killian-Moore and Tim White that runs from March 26-June 25.

James’ work includes a new wall installation, and McTavish is debuting “blue atlas,” which combines animation, sound and words — and the poetry of Sheila Packa. Killian-Moore has a film tied to Tia Salmela Keobounphen’s “Unweaving,” a public art installation. And White will project photographs.

The Duluth gallery, 23 W. 1st St., is mostly open by appointment, but there will be times when the artists are in the gallery and available for convos about their work — with a limit to the numbers in the audience. Phone: 218-481-7750. Online:


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