Welcome to the Play Blog, an insider’s guide on everything from music to pop culture, local dining, drinking, art and nightlife. Alaska or Outside, it’s fair game. Who's hot, who's coming to town, who's doing something worth noticing. We're on it.
Reader input is a big part of this blog, so express yourself and post comments. And if you have gig announcements, press kits, news briefings, story ideas, MP3s, CDs and reviews please ship them our way email@example.com.
Pamyua premieres new video for 'Bubble Gum' - 10/23/2012 4:32 pm
Ghosts and ghouls haunting town - 10/19/2012 4:55 pm
More reality TV coming to Alaska - 10/19/2012 11:49 am
REVIEW: Richard Thompson is a master of fine dissonance - 10/17/2012 4:04 pm
Alaska Railroad offers trips on the Alyeska Halloween Train - 10/10/2012 2:32 pm
VIDEO: Flogging Molly's sold-out show at the Egan Center - 10/4/2012 12:12 pm
Call to filmmakers: Make a movie in 2 days - 9/28/2012 2:45 pm
Oktoberfest is coming to Anchorage - 9/27/2012 3:25 pm
Posted: September 6, 2012 - 4:49 pm
The annual Blues Train, a partnership between the Alaska Railroad and Blues Central, is scheduled to depart Anchorage for Seward on Sept. 22, and tickets are available on the railroad's website.
Fare for this year's trip is $269, which includes a round-trip rail pass from Anchorage to Seward, lunch, two drink tickets, a barbecue dinner and a one night stay in a hotel with shuttle service. Of course, there's also live blues music on the train, provided this year by The Rebel Blues.
The train departs Anchorage 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, and returns from Seward 1 p.m. the next day.
Posted: August 31, 2012 - 5:06 pm
The Homer Theatre is gearing up for a film festival at the End of the Road. The ninth annual Homer International Documentary Film Festival takes place Sept. 20-27 and will feature nine films from across the globe.
Each of the previous eight documentary fests have included the eventual Oscar winner in the category, and this year’s selections includes one that was nominated for the award in February (“Pina”). A few of the films have screened in Anchorage (“Marley,” “Bully,” “Pina” and “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”), so a road trip to Homer might be your last chance to catch them on the big screen.
An opening ceremony is planned Thursday, Sept. 20, for those who purchase a full festival pass ($50 for adults, $40 for children, seniors, military and Peace Corps), with food and a screening of “Marley” followed by a live reggae band. Tickets for each individual screening are $8 for adults, $6 for children, seniors, military and Peace Corps. Show times will be posted at homertheatre.com early next week.
Posted: August 30, 2012 - 4:41 pm
The former Play magazine cover stars in the Super Saturate Sugar Strings spent the summer touring the Lower 48 in support of their latest album, “Harmonic Toast.” The band’s tourmate was local singer-songwriter Michael Howard, who’s got a new album of his own ("The Caribou and the Wolf").
Howard, who also performs with a loosely organized group called the Westchester Collective, previously worked on the Fairview Community Council. Before that he was a community activist with the Anchorage Citizens Coalition. On the community council he helped found the annual Fairview Block Party, and he was booking bands at the S Lounge before heading off to tour with the Sugar Strings.
But after returning home, Howard decided he wasn’t finished touring. Below is a list a dates, plus a full album stream of “The Caribou and the Wolf.” Check the Facebook event page for updates on the tour.
Posted: August 22, 2012 - 10:21 am
The popular monthly storytelling series Arctic Entries returns for a fourth season on Sept. 11.
After getting its start at Cyrano's, the event has since relocated to Snow Goose Theater. Each month's installment features community members telling 7-minute stories revolving around a central theme. The theme for this season's first show is "Stories of Rolling the Dice, Going Rogue and Living With the Consequences." Check arcticentries.com for the full schedule, and if you've got a story that fits one of the season's themes, you can email the Arctic Entries organizers or fill out the online form.
Tickets for Arctic Entries are sold the day of each event, with the Snow Goose Theater box office opening 6:30 p.m. The show starts 7:30 p.m. Admission is $10.
Posted: August 15, 2012 - 2:55 pm
Local music publicists Monolith Agency represents such artists as Emma Hill and Lavoy, but the group has also spent the past couple of years booking Alaska tours for bands from the Lower 48. Most of those bands have been of the rustic or roots-y variety, like the aforementioned Tumbledown House, The Devil Whale, Quiet Life, Black Carl, Truckstop Darlin’ and many others.
And continuing a tradition set a year ago, the agency is marking its second birthday with the second annual Monolith Showcase – two days of music at Tap Root featuring 11 acts. The showcase takes place Friday and Saturday, Sept. 14 and 15. Tickets for both days are $15, or you can purchase a $10 for one or the other.
Lineups for each day are below.
Super Saturated Sugar Strings
The Modern Savage
Alex the Lion
Posted: August 15, 2012 - 11:06 am
Tumbledown House make music befitting Old West speakeasies, taking a bar band approach to sultry jazz, and the Montana duo have been no strangers to Alaska in recent years. The pair performed in Anchorage just this past May, but the band returns for its fourth tour of Alaska next month, and this time the twosome will be backed on select dates by Alaskan musicians Corwyn Wilkey (trumpet), Nick Petumenos (bass) and Brandon Cockburn (drums).
Tour dates are below, plus a video of the duo performing “The Ghost of Smokey Joe.”
Posted: August 10, 2012 - 3:43 pm
If you’re looking for an excuse to head out on a road trip this weekend, the second annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival is taking place Saturday in Soldotna.
The participating breweries include Alaskan, Broken Tooth, Denali, Glacier Brew House, Kassik’s Brewery, Kenai River, King Street, Midnight Sun, Silver Gulch, Sleeping Lady and St. Elias Brewing, plus some out-of-state microbreweries. The event also serves as a fundraiser for the Soldotna Rotary Club, which plans to use the funds for a community mural, Rotary Park upkeep, service to the local food bank and other local projects, plus the club’s international service projects, such as the construction of a school in Nicaragua, books in Liberia and medical supplies in Malawi.
The festival takes place 4-11 p.m. Tickets are $20, which includes a commemorative glass and six 4-ounce samples. Tickets can be purchased at St. Elias Brewing, Kassik's Brewery and Kenai River Brewing Co. or at the festival. Additional samples can be purchased: two $3 or 12 for $15. Visit the beer fest’s Facebook page for more info.
Posted: August 10, 2012 - 3:11 pm
Justin Ringle, the mastermind behind the indie-folk band Horse Feathers, spoke with Play about the many lineup changes his band has endured over the years and the success they’ve managed to achieve despite all that. The story is on the cover of this week’s issue, but since the Portland, Ore., band’s show isn’t until Thursday, here are the rest of this week’s Hot Picks to keep you busy.
Calling all cowboys and cowgirls: Rodeo Alaska’s offering a weekend of bull riding, bareback riding, team roping and more. The festivities take place Friday through Sunday at the William Clark Chamberlain Equestrian Center, $10, $8 military, free for children 6 and younger Visit rodeoalaska.com for the full schedule.
Two for one
The Delaney Park Strip should be bustling Saturday. One of five such events around the state organized by the governor’s office, the Anchorage Governor’s Picnic takes place noon-3 p.m., with the free food served near Ninth Avenue and I Street. Across the street is the eighth annual Alaska Renewable Energy Fair, featuring demonstrations on wind and solar energy, information booths, presentations, food and craft vendors, a beer garden, children’s activities and live music by The Sweeteners, Evan Phillips, Tim Easton, Spiff, Rebel Blues and more. The fair is free and takes place between G and I streets, noon-9 p.m.
Borrowing the first part of its name from Django Reinhardt’s old band, Hot Club of Cowtown borrows the Gypsy jazz style of the late guitarist’s Hot Club of France and adds some Western swing and vocal harmonies. Catch the mix when the trio plays 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Snow Goose Theatre, $22. Visit centertix.net for info.
The Blueberry Festival at Alyeska offers more than two dozen arts and crafts booths, plus food vendors with all sorts of blueberry concoctions to try. The fest also includes a homemade blueberry creations contest, beer garden and kids activities such as a hula hoop clinic, pie-eating contest, face-painting and more. Live music includes performances by the band Traveler. The festival takes place noon-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, free. Visit alyeskaresort.com for info.
Also, check out Mike Dunham's Art Scene picks.
Posted: August 9, 2012 - 5:37 pm
There’s a new public-use overnight facility in Chugach State Park. Friends of Eagle River Nature Center have opened the Yukla Yurt, which can sleep up to six people. It’s a 2.5-mile hike from the Eagle River Nature Center, with firewood provided by volunteers. Rental is $65 per night or $55 per night for FERNC members. Visit ernc.org to make a reservation.
Posted: August 8, 2012 - 3:00 pm
Earlier this year, the Never Sets Film Festival put out the call for short film submissions by Alaskans. Public screenings of those submissions have now been scheduled, with two hours of short films being shown nearly simultaneously in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau.
Below is info on where and how to catch the films. Some materials may not be suitable for children.
Anchorage: 7 p.m. Aug. 18 , Wendy Williamson Auditorium. Tickets are $5 for general admission, free for UAA students.
Fairbanks: 8 p.m. Aug. 18, Museum of the North. Tickets are $10.
Juneau: 7 and 9 p.m. Aug. 18, 4 and 7 p.m. Aug. 19, Gold Town Nickelodeon.Tickets are $5.
Visit neversets.org for info.
Posted: August 8, 2012 - 11:39 am
The Delaney Park Strip should be bustling Saturday, as the Governor’s Picnic will take place with the eighth annual Alaska Renewable Energy Fair taking place nearby.
The picnic is one of five such events around the state organized by the governor’s office, with the others taking place in Palmer, Fairbanks, Juneau and Glennallen. The free food in Anchorage will start being served at noon and lasts until 3 p.m. near Ninth and I streets.
Renewable Energy Alaska Project’s fair takes place on the park strip between G and I streets, featuring demonstrations on wind and solar energy, information booths and presentations, plus food and craft vendors, a beer garden, children’s activities and live music.
Megan Palmer, Noon–12:30 p.m.
Nellie Clay, 12:45–1:30 p.m.
Evan Phillips, 1:45–2:30 p.m.
Tim Easton, 2:45–3:45 p.m.
Spiff, 4–4:45 p.m.
Hot Country Meatballs, 5–6 p.m.
Rebel Blues, 6:20–7:30 p.m.
The Sweeteners, 7:45–9 p.m.
Posted: August 3, 2012 - 4:58 pm
You might have noticed a new entry in the Early Warning listings on page 2 of Play. The UAA concert board officially announced today that the Celtic-infused punk band Flogging Molly will play the Egan Center on Sept. 28. Tickets go on sale Friday, Aug. 17 at Ticketmaster and cost $35 advance or $40 at the door for the general public and $25 or $30 for UAA students.
Below is the video for the title track from 2002's "Drunken Lullabies."
Posted: August 3, 2012 - 3:09 pm
Local metal band 36 Crazyfists inked its major-label record deal a decade ago, and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the group’s Roadrunner debut, the band will play “Bitterness the Star in its entirety. Read the feature in this week’s issue of Play to find out where and when to catch it.
While it might not be a good day for driving north, the weather looks nice enough for a drive south. The second annual Salmonstock festival takes place in Ninilchik this weekend. Check out the details over here.
About a month ago the Play staff started asking for recommendations on Twitter and Facebook for the spiciest dish in Anchorage. After about a month of scorching our taste buds, here are the results.
Below are this week’s Hot Picks, and for more options for getting out and about, check Mike Dunham’s Art Scene picks.
Maybe you recognize him from his former gig as a member of the Drive-By Truckers, but these days Alabaman Jason Isbell fronts his own roots-rockin’ outfit. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit will play a three-night stand at Tap Root that kicks off 9 p.m. Thursday and runs through Saturday, Aug. 11. Tickets for each show are $15. Visit taprootalaska.com for info.
Kids these days
About 100 kids ages 6 to 18 spent summer attending the Music Machine song and dance workshop, and you can still witness the fruits of their labor as the final two performances of their musical revue wrap this weekend, with shows 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday, Discovery Theatre, $12-$13. Visit centertix.net for info.
The Anchorage Garden Society hosts its 69th annual flower show Saturday. “Alaska, the Great Land” will highlight the various types of horticulture grown in the area. See the creative designs 1-8 p.m. at the Alaska Botanical Garden, free. Visit alaskagardenclubs.org for info.
The New Orleans-based ensemble G String Orchestra dabbles in traditional Eastern European folk, Gypsy and klezmer music, and the roaming quartet finds its way at Tap Root Saturday, 9 p.m., $5. If you miss it this time, you’ll get another chance when the band returns to Tap Root Aug. 31. Visit taprootalaska.com for info.
Great American Taxi’s latest album of rock-infused Americana, “Paradise Lost,” was produced by like-minded singer-songwriter Todd Snider, and the two co-headline the bill 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Snow Goose Theatre, $32. Visit centertix.net.
Posted: August 1, 2012 - 11:48 am
Reality television’s fixation on Alaska shows no signs of waning, so if you’ve been looking for a chance to get in on the action, a casting company is looking for “experienced outdoorsmen/women who have what it takes to survive an expedition of epic proportions.”
The yet-to-be-titled show will air on National Geographic, also home of “Alaska State Troopers.” The idea is to send teams of two or three people across a journey through the state. Candidates for the show must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen and have “legitimate survival skills and the wherewithal to keep fighting when the odds are against you,” with preference given to Alaskans.
Posted: July 26, 2012 - 2:53 pm
The popular public radio program “Mountain Stage” announced in March that two episodes would be recorded at the Davis Concert Hall in Fairbanks. Now the lineups for those two shows have been announced, including locals like the Whipsaws and out-of-staters like Horse Feathers. Tickets for each date, Aug. 17 and 18, are on sale now for $30 by calling 474-7021 or toll free at 866-404-7021.
The full list of performers is below. Show time for both is 7 p.m.
Hot Club of Cowtown
Steve Brown & the Bailers
Pat Fitzgerald & Robin Dale Ford
Posted: July 25, 2012 - 5:33 pm
Last we heard from Erik Braund, the Alaskan ex-pat had a number projects in the works, and now some of those are coming to fruition.
One of those is a new record from former Anchorage band The Hoons called “Terra Incognito,” which the band – now living in Portland, Ore. – recorded with Braund and funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign. The band will play a CD release show with The Sweeteners and The Young Guns at 8 p.m. Friday at Koot’s.
Braund also launched his record label, Braund Sound, which will release Anchorage-based singer-songwriter Jared Woods’ new album “Bonfire” Thursday. The imprint is also licensing albums by Heros & Zeros from Universal Records in Norway to be releases stateside. You might have caught the band when it toured here last year.
Then there’s Braund Sound Studio, Braund’s new recording studio in Brooklyn. That’s given rise to a live-in-the-studio series called Live at Braund Sound, which has included performances by A Place to Bury Strangers, Heroes & Zeros, The Ghost of Arthur James and others. Braund and his fiance, Chase Mallen, produce the series through their new production company, Stereospectacular. You can catch the performances on “Underground Live,” which airs 1 a.m. Sunday mornings on KYES, channel 5. Or you can stream them here.
Posted: July 25, 2012 - 2:58 pm
In just its second year, the Salmonstock music festival in Ninilchik has grown into maybe the biggest of its kind in the state. More than 30 bands will perform on four stages over the course of three days, including headliners Leftover Salmon, Ozomatli and Robert Randolph and the Family Band.
While the early bird sale has come and gone, there’s still time to get a discount on three-day passes. Right now you can buy a $110 ticket for Aug. 3-5. The price jumps to $130 on Aug. 2. Two-day passes are $90, while single-day tickets for Friday and Sunday are $45. Saturday costs $55. Children 12 and younger admitted free, and the Salmonstock Small Fry Children’s Area offers art activities, face-painting, airbrush tattoos and more for the youngsters.
The festival was started by the Renewable Resources Foundation as a way to promote the protection of commercial, sport and subsistence fisheries, and a press release from the festival organizers said the funds raised by the concert will be used “to protect wild Alaskan salmon habitat from the proposed Pebble Mine and other potential threats.”
Visit the Salmonstock website for the full schedule, ticket info and details on camping at the festival location at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds and surrounding area.
Posted: July 24, 2012 - 4:18 pm
While famous as the home of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field played host this past Sunday to Italy’s AS Roma and Poland’s Zaglebie Lubin as they squared off in a friendly match, which CBS in Chicago reported as the first soccer game played at Wrigley since 1984.
The competition between the Italians and Poles began with a rendition of the American national anthem, with Tyrell Tompkins – member of local indie-pop group Lavoy – singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Catch a camera-phone-turned-the-wrong-way clip of the performance below.
Posted: July 23, 2012 - 4:49 pm
The ninth annual Seward Music and Arts Festival has been scheduled for Friday-Sunday, Sept. 28-30. The festival is indoors at the Alaska Railroad Cruise Ship Terminal and will include a food court, beer garden and art show. As for the music, below is a list of who’s scheduled to perform so far.
Super Saturated Sugar Strings
Tammy Whynot and the Divorcees
The Avery Wolves
Melissa Mitchell with Spiff and Rik
Visit sewardfestival.com for more info and to purchase tickets. Below is the ticket price breakdown.
Senoirs (62 and older)
$5 festival pass
Family (2 adults w/children)
$26 festival pass
Kids under 12 free!
Adult (19 and older)
$15 festival pass
$5 festival pass
$4 family price
$5 festival pass
Posted: July 23, 2012 - 3:36 pm
"The Great Food Truck Race" returns to Food Network for a third season on Aug. 19. The reality series pits specialty food trucks against one another in a competition to outsell the others in each city as the show travels across the country. This year, rather than pit established mobile vendors against each other, the competitors are eight teams of individuals looking to get into the food truck business.
One of those teams is Momma’s Grizzly Grub, operated by Tiffany Seth, Angela Reynolds and Adriane Richey from Wasilla. They take on the competition with a menu of pastas and street tacos as the competition winds its way from Long Beach, Calif., to Maine. The winner will be awarded the truck used in the show plus $50,000 to kick-start their business.
While there's no word on how far the Wasilla team made it in the competition, a promo video on the show's site shows a clip of the Momma's Grizzly Grub team knocking over a light pole.