Why Duluth?

brianby Bryan Gatten

Since moving to Duluth, many people have asked me, “Why Duluth? How did you end up here?”

Well, it wasn’t a completely random choice. My dad was a professional bass player in Duluth in the late ’70s and early ’80s, before he went to school in the Cities and married my mom. I was born in St. Paul, but my family moved to Connecticut shortly after. In 2007, my family came back to Minnesota for a summer vacation, and it was my dad’s idea to make Duluth our home base while here. I immediately fell in love with the city. The hill, the water, the Bridge all appealed to me. After two weeks, I was sad to leave, and when we got home I began scheming and planning an excuse to eventually come back.

That chance came in 2011, when I brought my then-girlfriend Julie to Duluth and proposed to her (you have to be pretty confident when you propose to someone 1,200 miles away from home). She said yes, and she too fell in love with the city during our short stay here. People we didn’t even know gave us a warm welcome and congratulations. We were amazed by how encouraging people were. I was prepared to set up our homestead anywhere Julie was comfortable, but we decided to come back to Duluth for our honeymoon, which was another great stay. During that stay we started throwing around the idea of moving to Duluth permanently. It made sense for us; yes, it was far away, but we enjoyed the vibe of the city, we loved the scenery, the people were great, and it offered some career opportunities that we didn’t have on the East Coast.

One thing that made me think about moving to Minnesota was the music scene. I knew that if we were going to make the move, Duluth was a great place to get started. As a city it is small enough that it doesn’t feel overwhelming, but big enough that there are things going on to keep us busy. Plus, it already felt like home to us.

I think some people were a little confused by our choice, to be honest. Even local Duluthians, hearing I just moved into town, still ask “so … why?” The short answer is, before we even moved here, I had more gigs and musical opportunities lined up here in two months than I had in Connecticut in two years. I had faith in the music audiences of Duluth and the scene in general.

Julie and I were determined to make the move first, then allow things to fall into place. It is a scary plan for any new couple, but after our first summer here we felt vindicated in our choice. From my very first performance in Duluth, the audiences did not let me down. Plus, the scenery was spectacular, and we enjoyed watching the boats, the Fourth of July fireworks, the beautiful sunsets, and taking walks in the city. The air felt fresh and crisp.

As we were getting ready to move here, I was worried that I had built up an unrealistic view of Duluth. After eight months of living here, though, I’m happy to say my worries were unfounded. The beauty of this place still continues to inspire both me and Julie, and challenges we face are met with support from the people we have grown close to here.

brian-2There are too many excellent experiences to list, but seeing the Tall Ships, going to Bentleyville, visiting Enger Tower, meeting excellent people and enjoying all that Duluth has to offer on a daily basis have given us much to be grateful for. And we are excited to live in a place that is proud of local businesses and supports Duluth-based goods and services.

My original goal was not only to play music, but to play music in Duluth. When I was doing research about the city, I was impressed to see how many places still have live music, of all types. I am grateful to have been able to play my music in so many places, and look forward to more. I don’t think Duluth has reached its full potential as a city quite yet, but it’s getting there, and it’s exciting to be a part of the ride.

Our goal together was never for a life in the easy chair, but instead for a good life. A life in Duluth, Minnesota.

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One comment on “Why Duluth?
  1. Terri Gatten says:

    Excellent post by Bryan James Gatten! I love Duluth too! I am looking forward to my visit in June and hoping I will have the opportunity to experience living in this amazing city someday!!

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