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

More comedy coming to UAA

In the past year or so UAA has done an impressive job convincing well-known and very funny comedians to pay us a visit. Patton Oswalt, Mike Birbiglia and Seth Meyers are some of the names that jump immediately to mind. Seaton Smith probably isn’t a name you’d include in that list, but maybe you’ve seen his web series.

“Annoy Charlie Smith, Inc.” is a YouTube series in which a shadowy, network is tasked with creating annoying situations for Charlie, played by Smith.

Smith performs standup at UAA’s Student Union Den, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27. Tickets are $10, free for UAA students. There’s also a free preview of the show scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26 in Gorsuch Commons.

--Matt Sullivan

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REVIEW: Latyrx and Blackalicious at Bear Tooth

Photo by Jason Shea: Gift of Gab of hip-hop group Blackalicious performing at Bear Tooth, Oct. 6, 2011Photo by Jason Shea: Gift of Gab of hip-hop group Blackalicious performing at Bear Tooth, Oct. 6, 2011

Last week’s Latyrx and Blackalicious First Tap at the Bear Tooth was also a 10-year anniversary celebration for Heather Prunty of Synapse Presents. The first concert Prunty organized was in June of 2001. Latryx headlined the show, which was a solstice celebration at Hilltop Ski Area.

The show was sparsely attended; Prunty said only 400 people came out. At the time, Latyrx’s Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truth Speaker were well-regarded in hip hop’s burgeoning underground and established emcees in the Bay Area rap scene, but little known in Alaska. That has changed in the last decade. Lyrics Born has made two solo trips to perform in-state, headlining First Taps at the Bear Tooth in 2008 and 2009. Lateef has also been back, accompanying fellow Bay Area stalwarts Blackalicious at another Synapse show at the Egan Center in 2003.

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John Roderick on Alaska's influence on grunge

John Roderick: Photo by Autumn de WildeJohn Roderick: Photo by Autumn de Wilde

John Roderick is the long-time frontman of Seattle band The Long Winters. The singer/songwriter also pens a column for Seattle Weekly, and in last week’s column, Roderick fielded questions about grunge and wrote about what was then “Seattle’s Stalinism.”

Roderick grew up in Anchorage, and a Ketchikan reader asked the columnist's thoughts on grunge’s flannel fetishism and how it turned “into a status symbol for someone other than Kokanee-swilling lumberjacks.”

In his response, Roderick described Seattle before grunge as a city with an inferiority complex.

(N)o one even remotely talented or pretty wanted to be here. In contrast, Alaska never once experienced even a modicum of self-doubt, because Alaska is a completely psychopathic nation-state convinced that it's God's chosen wonderland, and every single Alaskan believes he or she is a special breed of rugged individualist whom no law can contain.

When Seattle kids started dressing like Alaskan fishermen and lumberjacks, they were trying to capture some of that insane aura of invincibility, which is equal parts alcoholism, borderline-personality disorder, monomania, and death wish. Alaskans didn't notice their style had been co-opted because Alaskans were completely unaware they had a style, just as they now have no concept that wearing a T-shirt with a picture of a salmon on it is not appropriate wedding attire.

Read the full column on the Seattle Weekly website.

--Matt Sullivan

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December concerts

Peter Blanchard / Cobra Camanda PublicityPeter Blanchard / Cobra Camanda Publicity

We’ve got a couple concerts coming up in December to tell you about. Today Bear Tooth announced that its last First Tap show of the year will feature the Builders and the Butchers. This will make the second First Tap appearance in a year for the Alaska expats, who also played Bear Tooth this past April.

Opening this time will be Turbo Perfecto, another Portland, Ore., band with Anchorage roots. Check out the riff-ripping trio’s Facebook page for a sampling.

When: 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1
Where: Bear Tooth
Tickets: $23, (21 and older)

The other show that month is Filter, fresh off the release of the new album “The Trouble With Angels.” Below is the video for the track “The Inevitable Relapse.”

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'Aliens' playing at Alaska Experience Theatre

In the summers the Alaska Experience Theatre usually screens films like “The Alaska Earthquake Experience,” “Journey to Alaska” and “Cast Alaska,” but with autumn now in full swing, the theater is beginning to show a wider variety of films.

During the 48-Hour Film Challenge that screened there a couple weeks ago, challenge organizer John Norris said that the theater would soon begin showing classic movies. This month’s selection of films was chosen especially for the Halloween season, with “Aliens” screening tomorrow through Saturday. Showtimes are 4 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. The two later screenings are 21-and-older and will have a bar. Tickets are $5.

The Alaska Experience Theatre website states that the rest of the October schedule is tentative, but below is the plan so far. Showtimes and ticket prices are the same.

Oct. 12-18: “The Shining”
Oct. 19-25: “The Exorcist”
Oct. 26-31: “The Goonies”

--Matt Sullivan

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Portugal. The Man announces Anchorage concert

Portugal. The ManPortugal. The Man

This year has been an eventful one for Portugal. The Man. The psych-rock band's major-label debut "In the Mountain in the Cloud" was released on Atlantic Records, and the higher profile landed the former Wasilla band on big-name festivals like Lollapalooza. Then their stuff was stolen.

The band took to Twitter and eventually got its van and most of the stolen instruments back. The story was picked up in publications around the country, and when I talked to singer John Gourley after the incident, he joked about how it took a robbery for the band to catch everyone's attention: “When’s the last time you saw a record promoted on NBC?"

Now the band has just announced that it's closing this topsy turvy year with a homecoming gig at the Egan Center on Friday, Dec. 16. Presale tickets are available 10 a.m. Thursday for $25 ($31.65 after the Ticketmaster fees).

--Matt Sullivan

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January First Tap announced

Bear Tooth announced the artist performing January’s First Tap: electro-rockers Awolnation, the solo project of Aaron Bruno, formerly of the bands Under the Influence of Giants and Hometown Hero.

When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5
Where: Bear Tooth Theatrepub
Tickets: $30 (21 and older), on sale 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 7,

Below is the video for the video for the single “Sail.”

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Science in the pub

BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News: Tap Root will begin hosting the Anchorage Science Pub in JanuaryBILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News: Tap Root will begin hosting the Anchorage Science Pub in January

The newly formed Anchorage Science Pub plans to offer regular public meetings in which presenters offer informal talks on scientific topics. The first event is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8, at Tap Root and will continue every other Sunday after that.

In the meantime, ASP seeks speakers. Presentations will be 30 minutes, followed by a question-and-answer session. Anyone interested in being a presenter can contact and request a presenter application. Attendees can also contact that address with suggestions for scientific topics.

--Matt Sullivan

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Mountaineering films to screen at Bear Tooth

Courtesy Reel Rock Film TourCourtesy Reel Rock Film Tour

The sixth annual Reel Rock Film Tour screens Friday and Saturday at Bear Tooth, presented by Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking and Alaska Rock Gym. The tour includes six different films with stories centered on mountain climbing. All six screen both days starting at 8 p.m. and includes an intermission. Tickets are $8.

Below are the films included.

Origins: Obe and Ashima
The story of 9 year old Ashima Shiraishi from New York City who’s taking the bouldering world by storm under the tutelage of her coach, Obe Carrion.

Race for the Nose
For 50 years, the best climbers in the world have been one-upping each other on the Nose route of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. In “Race for the Nose,” Dean Potter and Sean Leary attempt to break the record.

American climber Andy Lewis solos the world’s longest high-lines and the hardest aerial tricks, all the while pushing his equipment to the limit.

Ice Revolution
After more than 30 years of ice climbing, Canadian Will Gadd finally climbed the difficult ice on British Columbia’s Helmcken Falls with Tim Emmett, dodging exploding 30-foot icicle bombs and climbing the hardest pure ice climb in the world.

Project Dawn Wall
Tommy Caldwell, a master of big wall free climbing, devoted the last decade of his life to opening free routes on Yosemite's El Capitan. Now he's three seasons deep into his ultimate project, the Dawn Wall. Joined by Kevin Jorgeson, Caldwell makes his first big ground-up push, pulling pitch after pitch of 5.14 first ascents before an epic storm shuts the team down until next year.

Over the past 26 years, 16 expeditions have tried and failed to climb one of Pakistan's 8,000 meter peaks in winter. In February 2011, Simone Moro, Denis Urubko and Corey Richards became the first by summiting Gasherbrum II.

--Matt Sullivan

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Roundup: Lasers and libations

Marc Lester / Anchorage Dailly News: Ghostland Observatory performed a sold-out show at the Bear Tooth Theater on October 7, 2010.Marc Lester / Anchorage Dailly News: Ghostland Observatory performed a sold-out show at the Bear Tooth Theater on October 7, 2010.

Busy week around Anchorage this week, and as we mentioned Wednesday, it’s a busy weekend in Seward, too. Along with the Seward Music and Arts Festival, the Blues Train is also departing for the Kenai Peninsula tomorrow (more info in the Hot Picks).

But we expect the biggest spectacle to be at the Bear Tooth on Wednesday and Thursday when Ghostland Observatory returns for the third time in two years. Check out David Harper’s feature to get an idea of what to expect if you missed them the other two times. Tickets for Thursday are already sold out. Wednesday tickets are $35 (21 and older) Visit for more info.

Below are this week’s Hot Picks.

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Musician talks about time in Alaska

This past summer, Massachusetts songwriter Jay Psaros set out on a 35-date, seat-of-the-pants tour. Picking up extra gigs along the way, Psaros and his girlfriend and tourmate Olivia Brownlee eventually found their way to Alaska, spending about a month here playing gigs that included one at the Tap Root on July 30.

The Patriot Ledger, a daily newspaper in Quincy, Mass., interviewed the troubadour about his time on the road, and he talked a lot about his time in Alaska. He mentioned the high gas prices but also talked about the warm reception they received here.

“Clubs and promoters in Alaska were very good to us, beyond a doubt,” said Psaros. “There are probably fewer musicians living up there than we have in Quincy, so everyone is very grateful to have people touring up there. They would not only pay us very well, they’d also get us a place to stay that night, and feed us. One night in Anchorage we made $600 off the door alone, which is incredible. We also sold a lot of CDs–offering some deals, like a deal for buying mine and hers too. We sold over 400 CDs, which helped a lot.”

Read the entire article on the Patriot Ledger’s website.

--Matt Sullivan

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Roadtrip: Seward Music and Arts Festival

Poster designed by Bethany WaggonerPoster designed by Bethany Waggoner

This week’s issue of Play is going to be packed with options for getting out and about around Anchorage in the coming week, but this is also a big weekend in Seward. The annual Seward Music and Arts Festival at the Alaska Railroad cruise ship terminal begins Friday and runs through Sunday, with food and artists vendors, a beer garden, a kids’ area and 24 performers from around the state taking the stage.

Below is the full schedule of performances.

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Make a movie in 48 hours

Once again the 48-Hour Film Challenge is upon us. Each year the challenge goes out to filmmakers to make a short film in a 48-hour window that contains three prompts that won't be known until the challenge begins.

That's 48 hours to write, shoot and edit. If you think you're up for the challenge, team entry fees are $20. Films can be no longer than 15 minutes. You can register 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Alaska Experience Theatre and learn what prompts to include in your film. Submissions must be received by 7 p.m. Sunday.

The movies will be screened at the Alaska Experience Theatre, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23 and 24, with the audience voting for the winner. Contact for more info.

--Matt Sullivan

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Bear Tooth reopens after plumbing issue

If you stopped by the Bear Tooth last night, you probably noticed a sign saying that it was closed until further notice. The theater and restaurant was forced to close shop after a plumbing leak proved more difficult to plug than expected.

In a phone call this morning, I was told that the restaurant is scheduled to open as usual today and that the movie showtimes will stay the same. So if you had plans to grab a Spicy Bear burrito and catch "Cars 2" or "Larry Crowne," nothing's changed.

--Matt Sullivan

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Vanessa Hudgens to appear in 'Frozen Ground'

Vanessa Hudgens/ AP photoVanessa Hudgens/ AP photo
Movie industry website Deadline reports that "High School Musical" star Vanessa Hudgens will appear in "Frozen Ground," a feature film set to begin shooting in Anchorage next month.

The movie is about serial killer Robert Hansen, who in 1984 admitted to murdering 17 women in Anchorage and the surrounding area. John Cusack is slated to play Hansen, while Nicolas Cage stars as an Alaska State Trooper.

Hudgens will play the role of the teenager who escaped after being abducted by Hansen. In the movie, Cage's character helps Hudgens' character bring Hansen to justice after no one else believes her story.

--Matt Sullivan

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Take your antiques to the museum

This weekend the Anchorage Museum hosts an "Antiques Roadshow"-type event. Appraisers from Bonhams, one of the oldest auction houses in the world, will appraise items in the categories of fine art; furniture, decorative arts and Asian art; Native American artifacts; books and manuscripts; dolls, toys and trains; and jewelry and ladies' watches.

If you think you struck gold at a garage sale or inherited a family heirloom you're curious about, 30 bucks purchases a ticket to this consignment appraisal ($25 for Anchorage Museum members). Advanced tickets required.

Bonhams will be on hand 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-6 p.m. Saturday, noon-2 p.m. and 3-5 p.m. Sunday. For more information and tickets, visit

--Matt Sullivan

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Homer songwriter talks about songwriting

Homer-based singer/songwriter Andrew Vait was recently featured in Seattle Weekly’s “Tell Me About That Song” series on the paper’s blog. In the entry, Vait talks about the writing process behind the track “Paul & Sally’s Mourning Song” from his album “Closer to the Setting Sun.”

I started writing the melody and chord progression to "Paul & Sally's Mournful Song" in the fall of 2008 and finished it later that winter. I wrote the nine songs on Closer to the Setting Sun over a considerable span of time; this one being the oldest by far. It was September and I was driving around Seattle, listening to a Mason Jennings CD when the melody popped into my head. In this case, it was just the line: "Could it be, could it be; she is the one for me." By that time in my writing career, I was pretty sick of writing love songs. I had been experimenting with a few different storytelling techniques and eventually decided to go down that road. I got home and hammered out the guitar part to match the vocal melody. The idea to make it about two fictional characters would come later on.

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Roundup: Bands and brews

The AntlersThe Antlers

A couple fast-rising indie-rock bands are coming this way Monday, and in this week’s Nightlife feature, Daily News correspondent David Harper talks about the Antlers and Menomena playing at the Wendy Williamson and how show featuring fast-rising indie groups are becoming more commonplace in Anchorage.

And while summer might unofficially be over, the weather’s nice and there are a couple good excuses to bask in the sun with a brew this weekend. Those are just two of the events highlighted in this week’s Hot Picks.

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Native Jazz Quartet to tour Alaska

The Native Jazz Quartet plays Tap Root on Tuesday, Sept. 13, which marks the beginning of an Alaska tour that also stops in Fairbanks, Ketchikan, Juneau and Sitka.

The combo is led by Alaska Native drummer Ed Littlefield and European Native Christian Fabian on bass. The band also features Filipino Native Reuel Lubag on piano, and Jason Marsalis, the youngest member of the famous New Orleans jazz family, plays vibraphone.

The group will play selections from Littlefield's album, "Walking Between Worlds," and Fabian's new CD, "West Coast Session."

7 p.m. Tuesday, $20 at the door, $15 for students.

Below are the rest of the quartet's Alaska dates.

Sept. 14, Pioneer Park Civic Center, Fairbanks, AK
Sept. 15, Saxman Tribal House, Ketchikan, AK
Sept. 16, Juneau Arts and Cultural Center, Juneau, AK
Sept. 17, Sitka Performing Arts Center, Sitka AK

Here's a clip of the Native Jazz Quartet playing in Seattle last year.

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'Supertrash' coming to Anchorage Museum

"Supertrash" on display at the Andy Warhol Museum: courtesy of the Andy Warhol Museum"Supertrash" on display at the Andy Warhol Museum: courtesy of the Andy Warhol Museum

The Anchorage Museum has a new exhibit coming in the fall. This one yet again comes courtesy of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, a year after it provided the pieces for the Anchorage Museum’s “Andy Warhol: Manufactured” exhibit.

This one is called “Supertrash,” but it doesn't focus on Warhol's work. It’s a collection of more than 200 pulp film posters from the 1930s through the 1980s.

A press release from the Anchorage Museum's said the exhibit "raise(s) provocative questions about this graphic medium: Is it art or trash or just trashy art?"

Expect some of the posters to be funny, others intense and probably more than a few that are racy. The exhibit includes posters for classic films like “Dirty Harry,” “Blade Runner” and “Carrie” and cult films like “Atomic Age Vampire,” “Scream Blacula Scream” and “The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant.” Projectors will also play reels of original trailers for dozens of films, including “The Maltese Falcon,” “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” and “Harum Sarum.”

The exhibit opens Nov. 4 and runs through Jan. 9, 2012.

-- Matt Sullivan

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