Play Blog

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

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

New record label to highlight artists from Alaska and Norway

Photo by David Pollock: In the studio with producer Erik Braund and Kevin Wohlgemuth, Brandon Boedigheimer and Sean Howland of the HoonsPhoto by David Pollock: In the studio with producer Erik Braund and Kevin Wohlgemuth, Brandon Boedigheimer and Sean Howland of the Hoons

Earlier this year we ran a feature about Erik Braund’s Nordic Hus, a project he called “the Norwegian Music Embassy in America.” Based in New York City, the ex-Alaskan is now venturing into artist management, getting a new record label off the ground and just finished relocating his recording studio from Anchorage to Brooklyn.

Braund recently spent 11 days in an Oregon studio with fellow Alaska ex-pats the Hoons (the band moved to Portland, Ore., to tour more easily). They’ve tracked a 16-song album and have started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to finish the record. Braund said in an email that backers will also get a bonus track from the album – a version of “Feliz Navidad.” He expected lead single “Run Home Jack” to enter the rotation on KZND soon.

While he wasn’t sure if the album was going to be released on his new label Braund Recording Company, the imprint’s first release is slated for the end of this month, an album by Norwegian electronic duo Thelma and Clyde.

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AUDIO: The Builders and the Butchers' Ryan Sollee on the band's origins

The Builders and the ButchersThe Builders and the Butchers

Play hits newsstands on Thursday this week instead of the usual Friday street date. This issue’s cover features The Builders and the Butchers, a band of ex-Alaskans returning for a second First Tap concert at Bear Tooth in a year. Daily News contributor Rosey Robards interviewed singer/guitarist Ryan Sollee for the feature, and below is an excerpt. In it, Sollee talks about the origins of the Builders and offers some info on opening band and side project Turbo Perfecto, who is also playing the S Lounge on Tuesday.

Rosey Robards interviews Ryan Sollee

--Matt Sullivan

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New charity to benefit foster children; pub crawl to benefit charity

Local radio DJ Fatguy from KZND 94.7 FM has organized Pump Up the Kids, a program designed to cross off items on the Christmas wish lists of teenagers in the Alaska foster care system. Last year, Fatguy’s listeners were able to help cross off all the items on 84 kids’ lists. This year the goal is to help 144 teenagers. Check the KZND website for ways you can help, either by “adopting” a list, making a cash donation toward purchasing those items or donating a gift bag item.

Another way to contribute is the upcoming 12 Days of Christmas Pub Crawl, which actually happens on one day: Saturday, Dec. 3. A dozen downtown bars are participating, each representing one of the days of Christmas. Pick up a map and stamp card at any participating location. Turn in the filled stamp card at your final location to be entered into a drawing for 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles. Each location will also be accepting donations and selling event t-shirts throughout December, and a silent auction will be held the day of the event, with all proceeds benefiting Pump Up the Kids.

Below is a list of participating venues.

Twelve Drummers Drumming – Platinum Jaxx
Eleven Pipers Piping – Uncle Joe’s
Ten Lords A-leaping – Pioneer Bar
Nine Ladies Dancing – Anchor Pub
Eight Maids A-milking – Gaslight Lounge
Seven Swans A-swimming – Slippery Salmon
Six Geese A-laying – Darwin’s
Five Golden Rings – Humpy’s
Four Calling Birds – McGinley’s
Three French Hens – Woodshed
Two Turtle Doves – Ginger
A Partridge in a Pear Tree – Avenue Bar

--Matt Sullivan

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Roundup: Tributes, shoutouts and sold-out shows

James McMurtryJames McMurtry

Singer/songwriter James McMurtry hasn’t played in Alaska in more than a decade, but he’s got three sold-out shows coming up. He’s in Talkeetna tonight, Anchorage tomorrow and Palmer on Sunday. In the meantime, here’s the feature from today’s issue of Play. Contributor Toben Shelby talked to the musician – son of “Lonesome Dove” author Larry McMurtry – about being pegged as a political songwriter and his stint playing background music at the Talkeetna Roadhouse.

NOTE: Next week's issue of Play will come out on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 24, rather than the following Friday.

Here are this week’s Hot Picks.

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Sitka artist Silver Jackson releases new album

Silver JacksonSilver Jackson

The last time I posted a blog entry about Sitka artist Nicholas Galanin, it was about the hip-hop-inspired tracks he released as Indian Nick. Today he released more new material under his Silver Jackson moniker.

In the past, Silver Jackson has served as an outlet for Galanin's bluesier, folksier side, but the eclectic collection found on “It’s Glimmering Now” is nearly impossible to peg. There’s a long list of collaborators, which includes Seattle producer Psmoov, Rhymesayer’s Budo, members of Little Wings and Breathe Owl Breathe and many more. The old rustic qualities are still there, but the album takes a lot left-hand turns sonically. There are open and spacey moments, shades of hip-hop, singer/songwriting-leaning numbers and impressionistic washes of sound like the title track.

An exhibit of Galanin’s visual art opens tonight in Toronto, with Silver Jackson playing an album release show as well. He’ll be back in Alaska to play a couple Silver Jackson shows at the Alaskan Hotel in Juneau on Friday and Saturday.

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Lamb of God to play Egan Center

Lamb of GodLamb of God

Richmond, Va., groove-metallers Lamb of God have a tour coming up that includes a string of East Coast dates and a jaunt on the other side of the Pacific before finally ending in Anchorage. Local bands Decepticide, Kallahan, Chased Through the Woods and Dire will open.

The show is at the Egan Center on Friday, March 9. Tickets are $40 in advance, $45 at the door and go on sale 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 2, through Ticketmaster. There's also a special pre-sale for those who pre-order the upcoming Lamb of God album "Resolution." After doing so, you'll get a special code that will allow you to purchase tickets beginning Monday, Nov. 28.

--Matt Sullivan

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Q&A with Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird: Photo by Cameron WittigAndrew Bird: Photo by Cameron Wittig

Andrew Bird is playing Atwood Concert Hall tonight, and we ran this story in Play last Friday. Here’s the full transcript of David Harper’s interview with the songwriter. There’s a few ellipses in places where the recording was unintelligible (Harper thinks the cellphone reception on Bird’s farm might have been spotty).

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Roundup:Trash, tributes and more

Andrew BirdAndrew Bird

Next week, multi-instrumentalist and indie-rock darling Andrew Bird is performing a solo set at the Atwood Concert Hall. Daily News contributor David Harper spoke with Bird about his writing process and got some background on the score he did for the film “Norman” and the songwriter’s upcoming sixth solo album. Read the story over here. The show is 7:30 p.m. Tuesday; tickets are $35, available on

There are a lot of other concerts going on this weekend. Here are the Hot Picks from this week’s print edition of Play.

Just like heaven
Fatguy’s Live and Local Freakshow is a weekly local music showcase, and this week Shy Bones, T.I.A., Turquoise Boy, Glass Halo, The Young Guns and Historian are paying tribute to new wave/goth rock trailblazers The Cure. 9 p.m. today, Koot’s, $5 (21 and older). Visit for info.

Jazz hands
Featuring vibraphone, bass and piano, The New Standards cover tunes by artists like Elvis Costello, The Clash, The Postal Service and The Rolling Stones, reworking them into minimalist jazz numbers. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Discovery Theatre, $32-$37. Visit for info.

More trash
Anchorage Museum hosts more events tied to the “SuperTrash” exhibit. Pulp film “Phantom
of the Paradise” screens 6:30 p.m. Saturday, $5. Later that night is the SuperTrash Bash, with local DJs and faux B-movie posters by local artists. Costumes encouraged. 8 p.m., $25-$30 (21 and older). Visit for info.

Leaving soon
Vocalist and harmonica player Brandon Santini, guitarist Robbie Laws and keyboardist Chris Alexander close their run of shows at Blues Central this weekend. 9 p.m. today and Saturday, $20. Call 272-1341 for info.

Check Mike Dunham’s Artscene roundup for info on the latest from the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra and more.

--Matt Sullivan

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Alaska hip-hop highlighted in California magazine


“Murder Dog” is a hip-hop magazine based out in Vallejo, Calif., and some issues feature a special section that highlights a particular scene. In the latest issue, that section featured the Anchorage scene, focusing specifically on the record label Out Da Cutt and UNDB, aka Up North D Boys.

The ten-page spread includes interviews with label linchpins Wookie and Bay Dilla, plus more with Mannish Da Julla, Dirty Ark Boyz, Duck Man, Peanut and Skitzo Scoe. One theme throughout is the difficulties of breaking big outside of Alaska, but the interviewer was also curious about what sort of sound was being fostered so far off the radar for most in the Lower 48.

Here’s how Young Gutta from the Dirty Ark Boyz described the Alaska hip-hop scene:

A lot of people up here are more close to the West Coast, so Alaska has more of a West Coast flavor than anything. There are a lotta artists up here from the South and from East Coast, but for the most part you get a West Coast sound. We’re more into partying and talking about money. More about money and clubbin and drinkin. We make good club music. It’s the music you can just feel, get you in the mood.

You can read the digital version of that issue over here.

--Matt Sullivan

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Local bands to pay tribute to The Cure

The CureThe Cure

Fatguy’s Live and Local Freakshow is a regular Sunday night fixture at Koot’s. The KZND radio personality organizes the weekly local music showcase and has put together a couple A&R showcases with the hope of drawing the attention of record labels in the Lower 48 to bands in Alaska. Occasionally the Freakshow carries a theme, like the David Bowie tribute back in August.

As mentioned in a previous post, there’s another tribute in the works for this month, and this time local bands will pay homage to new wave/goth rock trailblazers The Cure. Given the number of folks sporting in “Aladdin Sane” flair at the Bowie tribute, I think it’s safe to assume that you’ll find plenty of big hair and messy lipstick at this one. The bands performing are Shy Bones, T.I.A., Turquoise Boy, Glass Halo (can we expect a metal version of “Just Like Heaven”?), The Young Guns and Historian. The show is 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, and tickets are $5 (21 and older).

Here are some of my personal favorites by The Cure. I like "Lovesong" and "Just Like Heaven" as much as the next person, but I’m a little more partial to the “Standing on a Beach” / “Staring at the Sea” singles.

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New track from Historian


Historian is a new indie-rock group in town, and unless you made the effort to attend one of the handful of shows the band has played around town in the past few months, you otherwise wouldn't know what it sounds like -- until now. The band has been working on a record at the Twisted Penguin studio in Spenard, and streaming below is a product of those sessions: "All My Friends Are Extinct."

The band plays Friday, Nov. 11, with T.I.A., Shy Bones, Turquoise Boy, Glass Halo and the Young Guns as part of the Fatguy's Freakshow Tribute to the Cure, and judging by the vocals in this particular song, Robert Smith doesn't sound like much of a stretch.

Historian - All My Friends Are Extinct by Jason Lessard

--Matt Sullivan

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Local music featured in new Kaladi brew

Each month Kaladi Brothers Coffee introduces a special blend, and today the company unveiled its November brew, Pamyua Blend.

A press release explained the role the Inuit world music group played in the blend.

The word pamyua has two common definitions throughout the Inuit language family. The most common refers to the end or tail end of an object. Secondly, pamyua means encore or do it again. Just like both definitions of the word pamyua, the true flavor of the blend arrives at the tail end of each sip. When you reach the end of your cup, you will likely request an encore.

Free samples and discounts are available today. For $14.95, you can purchase a pound of the Pamyua Blend on the Kaladi website.

--Matt Sullivan

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More movies to screen at Alaska Experience Theatre

The Alaska Experience Theatre announced the movies it’ll be screening through the month of November, and a two of them were likely chosen with a couple cast members of “Frozen Ground” in mind. That movie, based on the story of serial killer Robert Hansen, is being filmed in Anchorage and stars Nicolas Cage and John Cusack, and AET has chosen the Coen Brothers film “Raising Arizona,” which stars Cage, and Cameron Crowe’s romantic comedy “Say Anything,” which stars Cusack.

Below is this month’s schedule, with show time to be announced on the AET website later this week. Tickets are $5.

“Pulp Fiction,” Nov. 3-7
“Say Anything,” Nov. 10-14
“Raising Arizona,” Nov. 17-21
“Shaun of the Dead,” Nov. 24-28

--Matt Sullivan

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Alaska-themed video game to be released Tuesday

The Cabela’s video game franchise has a new Alaska-themed title coming out tomorrow for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii. “Cabela’s Survival: Shadows of Katmai” places players in the role of bush pilot Logan James, whose plane has crashed in the middle of the Alaska wilderness. Gamers must guide James to safety, battling predators and the weather along the way.

The game is rated for teens and retails for $39.99. Below is a trailer.

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Roundup: Halloween and hip-hop

Talib KweliTalib Kweli

Halloween is right around the corner, and there are plenty of opportunities to bust out your costume between now and Monday. We compiled many of those events in a special Halloween calendar in this week’s Play, and you can peruse those listings on our online calendar as well.

After Halloween, Bear Tooth’s November First Tap will take place Thursday, with rapper Talib Kweli set to perform with a full band. Along with his solo output, Kweli is also one half of Black Star, which also features fellow underground hip-hop luminary Mos Def, who himself visited Alaska just this past August. Daily News contributor Rosey Robards got in touch with Kweli and talked to him about the upcoming Anchorage performance.

Along with that, Barry Piser has compiled his recommendations on where to go on Sundays for football and food, and one of the places may surprise you – that is, unless you already know which strip club serves breakfast.

Here are this week’s Hot Picks, and be sure to check Mike Dunham’s Artscene.

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Local pianist tells his story on television

A while back I posted about local pianist Micah McKinnis, who was featured in an episode of the syndicated TV show "The Real Winning Edge." The show tells the story of young people who've overcome adversity, and the 18-year-old McKinnis told the story of his family losing their house to a fire last year, just before he was to perform in the Alaska Piano Competition.

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Buffalo Wild Wings is coming to town

The Outside sports bar and grill Buffalo Wild Wings has applied for a liquor license for 3400 C St. The building most recently housed Anchorage Billiards Palace, and before that it was home to Wayne's Original Texas BBQ.

There are currently more than 600 Buffalo Wild Wings locations in 41 states. No word yet on when the restaurant and bar plans to open its expansion into a 42nd state.

Has anyone been to one in the Lower 48? Let us know what you thought in the comments.

--Matt Sullivan

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Film set in Greenland to open Anchorage International Film Festival

Festival poster designed by contest winner Craig UpdegroveFestival poster designed by contest winner Craig Updegrove

The Anchorage International Film Festival has announced this year’s selections, which will screen at various venues around town from Dec. 2 to Dec. 11. Among the highlights is opening night selection “Inuk,” which will screen at Bear Tooth.

The debut feature-length film from French director Mike Magidson, “Inuk” is about a Greenlandic boy from a violent and dysfunctional family. He’s removed to a home for neglected children on an island on the arctic sea ice before eventually setting out on a dogsled journey with a local polar bear hunter. The film is in Greenlandic with English subtitles.

The movie has been making the rounds on the festival circuit this year, and among the distinctions it has garnered have been awards for cinematography at the Woodstock Film Festival and Port Townsend Film Festival and both Best Feature and the Audience Award at the Rhode Island Film Festival.

Both Magidson and actor Ole Jørgen Hammeken will attend the Anchorage premiere.

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New White Spot location opening in Koot's

The White Spot Café has been a downtown fixture for 52 years, and after more than a half-century of business, the Spot is opening a second location. It’s going to be called White Spot X-treme, which will be offering burgers, sandwiches, fries and pizzas at Chilkoot Charlie’s.

That post was once occupied by Geno and Sal’s, which eventually moved to the former South Side Bingo Hall before ending up at Platinum Jaxx. It looks like White Spot X-treme will keep a similar business model, keeping the same business hours as Koot’s.

The new restaurant makes its grand opening Monday.

--Matt Sullivan

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Cancer documentary to air on KAKM

John KaplanJohn Kaplan

At age 48, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist John Kaplan was diagnosed with lymphoma. As a result, the photographer decided to turn the camera on himself and document his fight against cancer. That footage became the video chronicle “Not as I Pictured,” which has been airing on PBS affiliates across the country and will air on KAKM, channel 7, at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, and again at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23.

Kaplan is also giving away 10,000 DVD copies of the film to anyone affected by cancer. As I write this, 5,180 copies are still available. To order a free copy, visit where you can also watch a trailer.

--Matt Sullivan

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