While only in its second year, Salmonstock has already become perhaps the biggest musical festival in the state. More than 30 acts will perform on four stages over the course of three days at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik.
That's one more stage than last year, and this year's installment also includes two beer gardens, new artists in residence, a silent auction and something the organizers are calling an "aerial human art mosaic action of art."
The event has also attracted higher profile acts, though most are no strangers to Alaskans. Hip-hop-infused Latin group and Friday night closer Ozomatli played Bear Tooth's First Tap a little over a year ago; bluegrass-loving jam band Great American Taxi played the Sitzmark in February; reggae giant Clinton Fearon performed last year's Salmonstock; and California-based singer-songwriter Tim Easton played Tap Root last week.
Fittingly, top billing goes to Leftover Salmon, as the Colorado jam band closes the main stage Saturday before joining an all-star jam session that will wind late into the night. Funk and soul combo Robert Randolph and the Family Band will close the festival Sunday night, but not before the weekend sees sets by Alaskans like The Whipsaws, Jack River Kings, Sweating Honey, Ghost Hands, The Young Guns, Big Fat Buddha, Meg Mackey, The Sweeteners and many others.
That's the musical part. The political part is something else familiar to Alaskans: the fight over the proposed Pebble mine.
Salmonstock was started by the Renewable Resources Foundation, which touts the festival as a celebration of salmon and the people who depend on it. The mission is also to stop what the group sees as potential threats to those fish, with the organizers focusing their efforts on the Pebble Partnership's proposed mining operation in the Bristol Bay watershed.
Anders Gustafson, the Renewable Resources Foundation's executive director, explained the motivation behind the festival in an interview last year: "We wanted to put opposition to the Pebble mine in a positive light."
When: Noon Friday to 9 p.m. Sunday
Where: Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds, Ninilchik
Tickets: $125 three-day pass, $45 Friday or Sunday, $55 Saturday
By Matt Sullivan
Anchorage Daily News