Salmonfest will host livestream event Sunday with a lineup including Portugal. The Man, Indigo Girls

If there was ever a festival that might be able to make a natural transition from a live event to a stream, it’s Salmonfest.

Like many live events, the annual music festival held in Ninilchik canceled its 2020 edition due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Now organizers have announced that Alaska-rooted, Grammy-award-winning band Portugal. The Man will headline “Salmonfest 2020: Streaming for Bristol Bay,” with the Indigo Girls and Rising Appalachia joining as major acts from the Lower 48. The event is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, streaming on the festival’s Facebook page.

Salmonfest assistant director David Stearns said the livestream is meant not to replace Salmonfest, but rather to reinforce the ethos of conservation awareness and protection of Bristol Bay that the festival was founded on a decade ago. Stearns said organizers feel there’s an urgent need for action after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released an environmental review last week that may pave the way for federal approval of the controversial proposed Pebble mine in Southwest Alaska.

“This isn’t an attempt to have Salmonfest this year,” Stearns said. “This is more of a response to where the process is with the Pebble mine. We’re working together with the same organizations that we have since the inception of the festival. We really wanted to do something to rally everybody and refocus the effort in this crucial time.”

He said Portugal. The Man was a natural fit for the livestream and a group that organizers have been in touch with over the years to play Salmonfest. The Portland-based band’s founding members are from Alaska, and the group won a Grammy in 2018 for the hit “Feel It Still.” They’ve turned their activism up to 11 recently, launching the PTM Foundation earlier this month, which is focused on human rights, environmentalism and issues important to Indigenous communities.

“We’ve been chatting with them over the last few years,” Stearns said. “Obviously it would be a dream of ours to have them on the stage at Salmonfest and hopefully it’ll happen in the future. They were gracious and kind enough to lend their voices to this issue. With their ties to the state, it was a natural fit.”

After what would have been the 10th annual Salmonfest was canceled, Stearns said the livestream event was put together in the last three or four weeks.

Other national acts set to appear are Todd Snider, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades and a number of festival perennials, like Steve Poltz, Tim Easton and Jim Lewin of Great American Taxi.

Sundog, Blackwater Railroad Company and Hope Social Club are among the local favorites who will appear on the stream, which will include a mix of prerecorded sets and livestreamed performances.

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