Photos: Witching Hour delights, informs many during second annual festival

There was plenty to explore during the first day of the Witching Hour. The festival returns in its sophomore year and once again opened with a diverse collection of discussions, including Jason Sole’s From Prison to PhD: A Journey of Pain, Promise, and Protest, in which Sole discussed his path from gang life, through prison, to becoming a community leader.

Discussions continued with former athletes and local residents Leslie Nolte, Nate Kaeding and Shumpei Yamaki speaking about the transitions from their initial athletic careers to other endeavors in First Death at The Mill. The final day-one conversation at the Englert Theatre included Maria Alekhina of feminist punk rock protest group Pussy Riot in conversation with renowned music critic Jessica Hopper.

The live music events were just as eclectic as the conversations, starting with the traditional Guzheng mastery of Wu Fei at Englert and ending with Canadian punk rock quartet White Lung and a high energy performance from Chicago rapper Psalm One. Joining the lineup were indie duo Night Stories and Duluth-based slow core legends Low.

It wasn’t all heady and heavy though. There were plenty of laughs at The Mill during the Super Talent Show with Friends which brought together up-and-coming comedy acts like Super Talent Show and Cleveland Anderson.