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Arts and Entertainment

24th annual Anchorage Folk Festival set to kick off this week

  • Author: Katie Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published January 17, 2013

The 24th Anchorage Folk Festival, an annual celebration of folk and folk-inspired music, begins Thursday in Alaska's biggest city. The festival runs two weeks until Jan. 27.

The free public event is run by a nonprofit and funded by membership, commercial contributors, advertisement and donations from businesses and private individuals. This Anchorage cultural staple offers shows, educational workshops, contests, classes dancing, open jams and other fun activities that are, more or less, family friendly.

This year, the festival features over 150 acts -- an estimated 500 individual performers -- and two guest artist brought up by the Festival's board of directors to spice things up.

"We were looking for something kind of different for this year; a different kind of folk music," Fomer president of the board, Brett Jokela explains.

The Scandinavian-influenced Boston, Mass., band Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers definitely fit the bill. According to Jokela the band uses a Swedish instrument called the nyckelharpa, a sort of viola meets lap steel-type instrument, that Jokela describes as "having quite an eerie sound."

"I could imagine trolls coming up from under the bridge to this kind of music," Jokela jokes.

Along with Blue Moose, Cahalen Morrison and Eli West of Seattle, Wash., a "new old time bluegrass" duo, will grace the festival stage as the event's second guest performers.

Jokela, who has played in the festival for the last 12 years and still sits as a board member, is adamant about how important volunteers are to the two-week operation.

"Because we're a small volunteer-run organization we don't get a lot of the notice that some of the bigger music organizations, like the symphony, get," he said. "(The folk festival) is probably thee biggest music event in the state, and it pulls a national following ... There are more people involved in this event than just about any other event of its kind in the state, besides probably the State Fair, and that includes volunteers."

Many of the festival's volunteers, as well as performers, are UAA students. "We've been using UAA as a venue for years," Jokela said. "We sort of fell in with the student union activities group, who also puts on shows, and grew from there. Now we're holding some of the events in the dorms!"

The relationship inspires a lot of crossover, allowing UAA students and young music enthusiasts to participate and learn from other folk-inspired musicians. "The community really benefits from this event," Jokela said. "Most people (who play or teach classes during the festival) do it not with an ulterior motive in mind but to boost understanding and appreciation for folk music ... most of them are just doing it for the sake of the music."

You can check out a list of Anchorage Folk Festival events below or visit the Fest's website for more. Most of the event's performances will be held on the "main stage" located in the Wendy Williamson Auditorium on UAA's Campus (Lake Otis Blvd. and 36th Ave).

Find a list of main acts scheduled below, but find out much, much more including times, locations and additional band information on the Anchorage Folk Festival's website. And check out the workshop page for a blue million free musical workshops to polish your skills in everything from musical technique and dance to using a microphone -- even "mando shredding."


Thursday, Jan. 17

Beginning at 7 p.m. in the Wendy Williamson Auditorium at UAA and running until 9:30 p.m., in order of appearance:

  • Alaska Flute Circle
  • Ain't It A Shame
  • Brubaker Family Band
  • Nancy Rubenstein - Solo singer-songwriter on guitar and piano.
  • Grateful Reds
  • Laura Oden – Singer-songwriter.
  • Matt and Jessica - "Two performers, one instrument."
  • Midnight Sun Zombies
  • Doug Briney – the Alaskan Cowboy, ICoMA Nominee for Best New Country Artist and Southern Star Network Nominee for Best Overall Artist.
  • -9:15 Pending

  • Creative Reflections
  • Long and Short of it
  • Friday, Jan. 18

    Beginning round 6:45 with The Board Band, a brief welcome by the AFF Board, followed by bands listed below in order of appearance. Show runs until 10 p.m.

  • Cook Inlet Ceili Band
  • Full Sail
  • Melissa Beck - Singer-Songwriter celebrating her 20th year in Alaska.
  • Steve Durr – Solo vocal and guitar. Original songs with an Alaskan theme.
  • Raggedy Banjos
  • Midtown Revival
  • Robin Hopper - Vocals and guitar, an award-winning songwriter from Chugiak.
  • With the main attraction and GUEST ARTISTS: Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers

    Following the show, and for the late night type, head over to Spenard Roadhouse for an open jam beginning at 11 p.m. and running until 2 a.m. Bring your own instruments (BYOI)!

    Saturday, Jan. 19

    Beginning at Noon in the Wendy Williamson Auditorium. In order of appearance.

  • Alaska Jumping Flea Society
  • Winds of Time
  • First Cov
  • Fiddlers Anonymous - Three young siblings, Maren, Wyatt, and Carson, will play their violins.
  • Emineminem
  • Dawn Berg - A Capella folk singing
  • Andy Baker - Singer-songwriter.
  • Jim Kerr
  • George Reandeau
  • Kjirsten Tornfelt - Acoustic guitar with cello.
  • Tina Hansen - A selection of classic Irish folk music along with some fun fiddle tunes played on the viola.
  • The AS Band
  • Dan “dirty d” Pascucci - Guitar, mandolin, Big Bam Boom synth, and a puppet. Songs about the love of nature, and the nature of love.
  • The Good Cheese
  • The Starling Sisters - Amy Lou Hettinger, Amanda Cash, Tamara McCoy and one guitar. Originals, Lullabies, folk songs, and some bluesy tunes.
  • Alaska City Folk Arts - Multiple performers of many ages - “The Future of The Festival.”
  • GUEST ARTISTS: Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers

    Beginning at 7 p.m. in the Wendy Williamson Auditorium and running until 10 p.m., in order of appearance:

  • Alaska Button Box Gang – Multiple button accordion players, two percussionists, and one piano player play polkas, waltzes, schottishes, swing, and Latin.
  • Rogues & Wenches - Irish and Scottish pub songs, sea shanties, and pirate fare salted with sad love songs and happy war songs.
  • Stephen Hendricks
  • Vocal Point
  • John L Anderson - Acoustic-Electric Guitar,Wide variety of Folk and Pop songs dedicated to the 40-60's Era Intensely influenced by Chet Atkins.
  • Elk de Rouge – Vocals with guitar, bass, mandolin playing bluegrass and some western swing.
  • Lauren Heyano - Voice and guitar. Acoustic folk from a singer-songwriter.
  • Slapdash
  • Patrick McCormick – Guitar and harmonica.
  • Wings To Fly
  • Mary Oudean – Guitar: bluegrass, country and gospel.
  • John Cook - Guitar and vocals.
  • Mountain Echo - Guitar and vocals.
  • 30-Cent Pistol
  • Sourdough Biscuits
  • Moose Mountain Pickers
  • Sunday, Jan. 20

    Beginning at 12:30 p.m. in the Wendy Williamson Auditorium and running until 5 p.m. In order of appearance.

  • Country Gospel Band - Gospel songs.
  • Cagey on the Sax – Saxophone.
  • Rant and Raven Dancers - Traditional English folk dancing.
  • Clam Caravan - Garage-grade Gypsy Jazz with a contemporary twist.
  • Elisa Fleener, Storyteller's Gulid of Anchorage – A one- or two-storyteller event. A story to inspire people to overcome illness with an ending that uplifts!
  • C & H - A brother and sister duo.
  • Steve and Anita Wright
  • Alaska Celtic Pipes and Drums - Traditional Scots-Irish Pipe Band music on the Great Highland Bagpipes.
  • Nick “The Dream” Weaver
  • Selma Jesse Houck - A twelve year-old Alaskan singer-songwriter who got her start playing guitar and writing songs at the Cordova 4H Music Camp.
  • Chris Thompson & Friends
  • Sjofn
  • The St. Mary's Praise Singers - Contemporary, original and traditional songs in an upbeat, heartfelt worship service.
  • Sarah B. & Harry J.
  • Froggie and the Bean
  • Jenny Baker - Vocals and acoustic-electric guitar.
  • AllGood Family Band
  • Swiftwater
  • Beginning at 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.:

  • Folks Tales
  • Three Fish in a Tree
  • Edward San Martin - Solo performance on guitar and mandolin.
  • 2000 Miles Fresher
  • The Skirts
  • Lou Nathanson
  • Crooked Road - Irish Music.
  • Hot Dish
  • The Anna Lynch Band - Singer-songwriter.
  • GUEST ARTISTS: Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers

  • The Festival will break until Thursday Jan. 24 when it'll pick back up again with a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Lecture followed by a Student Showcase. The event, hosted by UAA Student Activities, begins with the lecture at 6:30 p.m. and the showcase at 9 p.m. (Read more.)

    Friday, Jan. 25

    Beginning at 7 p.m. in the Wendy Williamson Auditorium. In order of appearance:

  • Jubilee - Acoustic variety music.
  • Midnight Sun Cloggers - All-female contemporary clog & percussion dance team.
  • Northern Lights Celtic Dancers - Irish Dancers.
  • Amy Lou - Piano and voice.
  • Bootleg Brown
  • Al Koenig - Guitar, perhaps a vocal or two. Original compositions played in an unusual style.
  • Dangertown - Acoustic honky tonk.
  • GUEST ARTISTS: Cahalen and Eli

    Following the show, and for the late night type, head over to Spenard Roadhouse for an open jam beginning at 11 p.m. and running until 2 a.m. Bring your own instruments (BYOI)!

    Saturday, Jan. 26

    Beginning at Noon in the Wendy Williamson Auditorium until 6 p.m. In order of appearance:

  • Wade Hampton Miller
  • Henry Duffel - Guitar and harmonica playing original country music.
  • Mike Cox
  • Roger Fuson – Noodlehead stories
  • KinnickKinnick
  • Terry Kelly - Solo singer-songwriter, guitar songs about love, bears and other wildlife.
  • Flute & Fiddle - Celtic, Gospel, & classical music.
  • J.U.D - Jazz Standards
  • Aunt Rhody's Allstars - Suzuki guitar students of Kevin Cassity playing folk, pop & pirate music
  • Running on Ice - Eclectic (ish).
  • Midnight Sons Chorus - A Capella music. Twenty-five performers sing Barbershop four-part harmony music.
  • Three Sets of Sandals - Three guys wearing sandals. What could be better?
  • Mountain Waxwings - Suzy Crosby and friends.
  • TGB - Four girls who like to play music.
  • The Hopper Family Band
  • Sentimental Journey - A musical mixture of old time tunes and folksy blues.
  • GUEST ARTISTS: Cahalen and Eli

    Beginning at 7 p.m. until 10:15 p.m.:

  • Bowheads – A large ensemble of fiddles, mandos, a guitar, and a bass (maybe) playing waltzes and some jazzy retro numbers.
  • Ski Major
  • The Nuther Brothers - They look like brothers. They sound like brothers. Making music makes them brothers.
  • Julia Nauheim & Friends - Vocals, guitars, violins. Soul-pop and fiddle!
  • Terrence MacLaren - Vocals, recorder. Celtic tunes ranging from Scottish Gaelic puirt a'beula to original instrumentals.
  • Hearts in White Mountain - Original contemporary folk tunes, plus some new music.
  • Rebeqa Rivers and Al Koenig
  • Betty Arnett - Storyteller.
  • Eric and Sean Braendel - Father and son duo performing original folk and blues with two guitars, possibly a cello.
  • Marty Raney - Guitar.
  • Hurricane Dave - Guitar, harmonica, singer-songwriter performing songs about living in Alaska, some funny, some serious. All written from the cock-eyed viewpoint of a relative newcomer.
  • Chugach Mountain Range Cloggers - Precision dancing to formation dances.
  • Mary Schallert and Friends - Vocals, guitar or piano, maybe fiddle, one singer-songwriter teacher and lifelong passions for community music.
  • The Derry Aires
  • Tom and Dom - Acoustic blues.
  • The Twangabillies
  • Super Belfry String Collective - Gypsy-influenced folk.
  • Sunday, Jan. 27

    Beginning at 12:30 p.m. in the Wendy Williamson Auditorium until 5 p.m. In order of appearance:

  • Irish Dance Academy of Alaska – An energetic Irish dance group performing choreographed performance pieces.
  • Sally's Kitchen - Approximately fourteen performers plus cello and guitar.
  • Robbie Beebe and Friends - Country blues.
  • Three For The Road - Close-harmony bluegrass music.
  • Alaska Gypsies - Instrumental Gypsy swing jazz.
  • Destany Hawley – A fun mix of pop, folk, and Irish songs.
  • Hot Sauce - Hot picking and some saucy bluegrass.
  • Gary Stedman - Guitar.
  • Cowboy Church of Anchorage
  • Marrianne Bacon - Solo with guitar and voice playing three original songs.
  • Greater Friendship Church Choir - Gospel Songs
  • 60/40
  • Lauralee and The Jake Legs
  • Pam McDowell Saylor - A traditional tale from the living oral tradition.
  • Paul Paslay
  • Beginning 7 p.m. until 10:30 p.m.:

  • Lindianne
  • F.E.M.
  • Guido's Paddleboat Jam – A large group with guitars, mandolins, ukeleles, fiddles, banjos and bass.
  • The Henry Shavings Family - Lead guitar, maybe more than one rhythm guitar, bass and accordion.
  • Gal Pals
  • Bayou Glacee - Cajun music.
  • Backyard Swing
  • Midnight Starlight - American classic jazz standards, Gershwin, Ellington, Cole Porter
  • John Walsh and Friends: Paddy in the Snow
  • Acoustic Banana - Eclectic folk-pop and vocal harmony.
  • Hot Club of Nunaka
  • GUEST ARTISTS: Cahalen and Eli

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