As the year turns to 2020 and a new decade begins, it’s also a new decade for one of the cornerstones of music in South-Central Alaska. Last weekend marked the first or both weekends of the 31st Annual Anchorage Folk Festival. Here’s a quick summary of what you might have missed:
While the folk festival officially kicked off on Wednesday night (January 15), with a shindig at the 49th State Brewing, the festivities really began to kick off the following night as Jontavious Willis, Francesca Erni and Ava Earl took the stage at Wendy Williamson of the UAA. Auditorium, for Parlor in the Round.
A night of soulful songwriters, great energy and a song about cats so catchy that if it had been on the soundtrack, it might have saved the recent theatrical release of a musical about said felines, Parlor in the Round kicked off the main stage festivities as only it can. Friday arrived and with it more local musicians began to hit the stage, from bluegrass to blues, family bands to solo acts. In a way, Friday felt like a taste of the party to come. The evening ended with the performance of the first of the festival‘s guest musicians. Jontavious Willis sang and played the local crowd from a cold night in Alaska to a hot one on the streets of Greenville, Georgia.
Here’s a question for all of you: what do Russian folk dancing, a 17-year-old from Girdwood, half a dozen accordions and twenty ukuleles have in common? They were all on the main stage at the Folk Festival on Saturday. And this is just a small sample of what can be seen at any time during one or another weekend of events on the main stage of the folk festival in any year. As Kevin Worrell (host of Parlor in the Round) said on Thursday night, “Alaska is kind of like the Galapagos Islands of music. Where else would a 17-year-old, nationally touring musician and a former opera singer turned accordionist, do they go on stage together?”
The Anchorage Folk Festival is here. From Green Day parodies to fishing ballads, hurdy-gurdy to mountain dulcimer, bluegrass to Beauty and the Beast, the Anchorage Folk Festival main stage has something for everyone. As one master of ceremonies said, “[Many of] these musicians play regularly all over town, but it takes an event like the Folk Festival to bring them all together in this place and play for all of us.
Together they come. Sunday started with another 15-member band and continued as praise bands, bluegrass musicians and a six-year-old (along with many others) took to the Wendy’s stage, proving that even though the Alaska may have been off the musical map for so many touring artists, we Alaskans are truly blessed with a plethora of local talent. Everywhere from Seward to Fairbanks, Juneau to Nome, whether it’s 70 degrees above or 30 degrees below zero, Alaskan music is being created, shared and enjoyed.
Since it cannot be contained, the music does not just stay on the main stage. If you find yourself in a workshop, backstage, in the lobby, or at an event in town, you’ll find that the music is everywhere during the Anchorage Folk Festival. Best of all, the Anchorage Folk Festival isn’t far from over. Folk Week is just getting started and on Wednesday night the festivities resume on the Wendy Williamson’s main stage. Whether you are a musician, music lover or simply curious to know what is going on, come many (bring your instrument if you have one!), and enjoy all the festivities.
Did I mention coming to Main Stage events is free? We’ll see each other there!
Anchorage Folk Festival Weekend 2 Program
Thursday evening, January 23, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
7:00 p.m. – Guido’s pedal boat jam
7:15 p.m. – We might freak out
7:30 p.m. – Lauren Somers Heyano
7:45 p.m. – Meg and her married men
8:15 p.m. – Keil and Brown
8:45 p.m. – Chris Thompson and friends
9:00 p.m. – Yupiks of the Yukon Delta
9:00 p.m. – Robbie Beebe and Friends
Friday evening, January 24, 7 p.m. — 10 p.m.
7:15 p.m. – Mary Schallert and the New York City Boys
7:45 p.m. – Red Cap and the Cyser Boys
8:30 p.m. – The Nuther brothers
8:45 p.m. – Feufollet guest artists
Saturday afternoon, January 25, 1 p.m.
1:00 p.m. – Ms. Miriah’s group
1:15 p.m. – Cannon Family
1:45 p.m. – The Violinist Brothers
2:15 p.m. – Midnight Starlight
2:30 p.m. – Sadie Paulson
3:00 p.m. – Folk medicine
4:00 p.m. – Stompers moccasins
4:15 p.m. – Tim and Natalie Tucker
4:30 p.m. – Nick the weaver of dreams
4:45 p.m. – Alaska City Folk Arts
Saturday evening, January 25, 7 p.m. — 10 p.m.
Master of Ceremonies: Wade Hampton Miller
7:00 p.m. – Turnagain Blues
7:15 p.m. – Uncle Jim — The East-Side Balladeer
7:30 p.m. – Hurricane Dave
8:15 p.m. – Brubaker family group
8:30 p.m. – Fiona Rose and Tristan Doyle
8:45 p.m. – Not quite Wright
9:15 p.m. – Roland Roberts Trio
9:30 p.m. – Steve Schoonmaker
9:45 p.m. – Ten dollar bet
Sunday afternoon, January 26, 1 p.m.
animators: Rose and Danny Consenstein
1:00 p.m. – Don’t pet the happy monsters
1:15 p.m. – Grin and Baehr It
1:30 p.m. – Mary Anne Green
2:00 PM – Bass Street Noise
2:15 p.m. – Whitney Youngman
2:30 p.m. – Rousted By Bulls
3:00 p.m. – The sound of the Gospel
3:15 p.m. – Steve Waldron
3:30 p.m. – Apple & The Tree – Corral Family Band
3:45 p.m. – This ukulele lady
4:15 p.m. – Rebecca Wolverton and Karl Wilhelmi
4:30 p.m. – The Wexford Rambler
4:45 p.m. – The newcomers
Sunday evening, January 26, 7 p.m. — 10 p.m.
7:15 p.m. – Harrison Sturm
7:30 p.m. – Anchorage Mandolin Orchestra
7:45 p.m. – Alaskan Irish Dance Academy
8:00 p.m. – Midnight Sun Zombies
8:15 p.m. – Light garland
8:30 p.m. – Feufollet guest artists