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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: July 21, 2012 - 6:55 pm
As previously reported, a Boston Phoenix writer hijacked Walmart and Pitbull's marketing campaign to send the Miami rapper to whichever of the retailer's stores received the most “likes” on Facebook. The Phoenix writer proposed sending the rapper to the most remote store possible, an idea that went viral online and resulted in more than 70,000 “likes” for the Walmart in Kodiak.
Posted: July 20, 2012 - 12:26 pm
Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria celebrates 16 years of slinging pizzas and suds this weekend, and Brooklyn-based Jack-of-all-trades songwriter Citizen Cope will be performing. Toben Shelby wrote this feature on Cope and the show that takes place 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $35, available at beartooththeatre.net.
This week’s Hot Picks include a block party, an early Christmas celebration and what’s billed as the state’s biggest salsa festival. Be sure to also check Mike Dunham’s Arts Scene picks for more excuses to hit the town, including National Public Radio's Carl Kasell appearing at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium on Monday.
Snow City is throwing its 10th annual West End Block Party Thursday, which will take over Fourth Avenue between K and L streets. Festivities include burgers and hotdogs, face-painting, ska music by Nervis Rex, margarita and beer garden. And what block party is complete without complimentary massages? 4:30-8 p.m., free. Search for the event on Facebook for more info.
Larry and His Flask
Oregon-based band Larry and His Flask take old-fashioned bluegrass and give it a punk-rock makeover. Hear it in action 9 p.m. Tuesday, Humpy’s, free. Visit larryandhisflask.com for info.
Virtuoso guitarist Eric McFadden brings his blues-inspired licks to Alyeska, playing his soulful brand of folk and rock 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sitzmark, Girdwood, $5 (21 and older). Visit alyeskaresort.com for info.
Christmas in July
Quirky local singer-songwriter Hurricane Dave’s annual Christmas concert is earlier than usual this year. Raising funds for Mat-Su Special Santa, Dave will be joined by John Cook, Suzy Crosby, Michael Faubion, Robin Hopper, Hank Roesing, Stu Schulman and others, 7 p.m. Friday, Trinity Barn (Mile 2.2 Palmer-Wasilla Highway, Palmer), free but donations requested.
The Alaska Salsa Festival includes huge banquets with live shows in the Hotel Captain Cook and includes classes taught by world champion instructors. Opening night kicks off 8 p.m. Thursday, with events running through Sunday, July 29. Prices range from $20 to $250. Visit alaskasalsafestival.com for info.
Posted: July 19, 2012 - 11:03 am
Earlier this month we ran a feature about the reissue of Gary Sloan and Clone’s “Harmonitalk.” Sloan, a long-time fixture in the Anchorage blues scene before relocating to Arkansas, was playing Blues Central that week and played the Live After Five concert series last week at Town Square Park.
“Harmonitalk” was an anomaly in the Sloan discography, an experimental foray into synthesizers and vocoders that was originally released in 1980. It’s the sort of curiously strange record that fits right at home on the label Finders Keepers, which specializes in plucking these kinds of records from obscurity.
The album is out now, and a reviewer for Dusted Magazine, a website known for championing strange records, kept coming back to one idea – that this is one weird album.
If a weirder album than Harmonitalk comes out this year, then whatever it is will go down in history as one of the most bonkers records ever. This strange and unfathomable album, dug up by the guys at the ever-wonderful Finders Keepers, is about as peculiar … as they come. It should probably come as no surprise, then, that Harmonitalk was originally released not in 2012, but at the height of the synth-pop craze in 1981, when just about every musical idea conceivable, no matter how absurd, was brought that much closer to reality by virtue of artists having access to cheap and nasty synthesizers. For Gary Sloan and his buddies, that meant electronica backing, um, a harmonica.
Read the full review here.
Below is the title track, and the whole thing is streamable on Spotify.
Posted: July 17, 2012 - 10:53 am
Taco Bell might have made Bethel the focus of a recent advertising campaign, but now it’s Kodiak’s turn. Walmart is sending Miami rapper Pitbull to its store on the largest island in Alaska.
The visit comes after the retailer’s marketing campaign that promised to send the rapper to whichever Walmart store received the most “likes” on Facebook. After a Boston Phoenix writer caught wind of the contest, he urged readers to send Pitbull to the remotest store possible.
Kodiak got the endorsement.
Racking up more than 70,000 “likes,” Kodiak will get the visit even though the U.S. Census says only 13,592 live in the Kodiak Island Borough.
The rapper posted a video announcing his plans to travel to Kodiak, and Walmart confirmed that his visit is planned for sometime near the end of this month.
Posted: July 13, 2012 - 2:30 pm
I mentioned that Chicago’s Netherfriends are touring Alaska this month, but their tourmates recently released a new video. The ramshackle Fairbanks-based folk troupe Feeding Frenzy shot a performance of the song “Whiskey Bottle” in the abandoned Fairbanks City Transit System bus in Denali National Park that became infamous as the one-time home of Chris McCandless and the place where his body was discovered in 1993. The McCandless story is the subject of the movie and film “Into the Wild.”
Posted: July 13, 2012 - 10:26 am
This week singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile returns to Alaska, and Daily News correspondent Paul Flahive spoke with her about her decision to drop out of high school at 16 years old and her rise to prominence. Read the story on the cover of today’s issue of Play magazine.
If you haven’t been to Crow’s Nest atop the Hotel Captain Cook, things have changed in that neck of the woods. For one, former Jack Sprat chef Rebeun Gerber took over as chef de cuisine at the Nest about six months ago. Josh Niva spoke with Gerber about his philosophy to cooking and trying to find the right work/ play balance.
Below are this week’s Hot Picks, and be sure to check Mike Dunham’s Art Scene picks.
Posted: July 12, 2012 - 11:12 am
As the mastermind behind psychedelic indie-pop project Netherfriends, Shawn Rosenblatt has gotten a fair bit of attention over the past couple of years for his 50 Songs, 50 States project. In 2010, he toured through each state, writing and recording a new song in each.
That project has since wrapped, with the first handful of songs released as the “Angry East Coast” EP. I reviewed it last year for a magazine that doesn’t exist anymore and described like this:
The topic Rosenblatt seems most eager to address here is the 50-state project itself. The titles are presumably the places in which the songs were written. On “Washington, DC” he sings, “I can relate to everyone I meet in each state I play,” while Rosenblatt had lady troubles on the brain in Rehoboth Beach, DE – “She is trying to make me a better person/ I will travel the country, sleep on many couches.” While he's gone he knows “she will finish with school and meet a lot of bros.” While the lyrics might be a little surface-y, it’s the sonic layers wrapping them up that add depth. Hard-to-peg washes of sound fill the gaps, while Rosenblatt steers clear of verse/chorus/verse templates. Hopefully the other 46 recording session went just as well.
Now a dozen more tracks from the project are available on the new album “Middle America,” and Netherfriends are gearing up for an Alaska tour this month with Fairbanks band Feeding Frenzy.
Posted: July 10, 2012 - 3:41 pm
Need an excuse to make the drive to Girdwood? The Double Musky is throwing itself a birthday party Monday, with the eatery turning 50 years old. Celebrating a half-century of serving New Orleans-inspired cuisine, the festivities take place 6-10 p.m., with live zydeco music and free food that includes a crawfish boil.
Stay tuned to the Double Musky’s Facebook page for details. The restaurant is at mile 0.3 on Crow Creek Road in Girdwood.
Posted: July 3, 2012 - 12:02 pm
Each year, writers at the Boston Phoenix scour the Internet in search of the 50 best new bands in the U.S., choosing one band or artist from each state. This year they chose Anchorage indie-rockers Historian as Alaska's best, a distinction previously held by Pretty Birds That Kill, The Moon Knights and Stubby’s Crack Co.
While Historian certainly sounds like the band described in the Phoenix’s blurb and the tracks posted on the site are definitely by the Anchorage band, the picture posted on the Phoenix page is of a group from Ohio called Historians (who, for what it’s worth, were not the best new band from that state).
Here’s what the Phoenix had to say about the band pictured above:
Imagine if Nick Cave and Win Butler stepped into one of Jeff Goldblum’s telepods and formed a whole new human being. The music that this ButlerCave would begin to make would sound a lot like the bizarre and beautiful sounds of Historian. One Anchorage Press reviewer describes their sound as something that will make you “want to rob a bank while wearing leopard-print spandex.” But perhaps the best thing about Historian is that they’re able to synthesize so many different influences into something fresh and interesting. Nowhere is that more present than on their first album, Dream Crusher, a six-song ode to the apocalypse. Singer and keyboardist Nate Hurst croons in such a soulful manner that it elevates the more familiar aspects of their sounds into something special. It may not make you want to commit larceny, but it sure as hell will make you want to follow them till the end.
Posted: July 2, 2012 - 5:16 pm
For the past few years, quirky local singer/songwriter Hurricane Dave has organized an annual Christmas concert with other local musicians to raise money for charity. This year the event is taking place July 20.
In a press release, Dave explained the motivation to do a Christmas show in summer was an attempt to raise more money for Mat-Su Special Santa than what would be done in December. “We figured there wouldn’t be quite as many Christmas fundraisers to compete with in July,” he wrote.
Dave will be joined by Suzy Crosby, Hank Roesing, Stu Schulman, the Nuther Brothers, Angela Kositz and members of the Sourdough Biscuits, 7 p.m. Friday, July 20, at Trinity Barn (Mile 2.2 Palmer-Wasilla Highway, Palmer), with performers to be announced. Cover charge is free and donations accepted.
Posted: July 2, 2012 - 3:09 pm
Each year Northwest Cherries selects one restaurant in each state to receive 40 poinds of Rainier cherries, which the restaurant is challenged to create a special menu item featuring the fruit. Those dishes are then offered in the second week of July to coincide with National Rainier Cherry Day on July 11.
For the second straight year, Kincaid Grill will receive the shipment, with the grill's chef de cuisine Drew Johnson preparing a recipe that will make use of the $400 worth of Rainier cherries that will be delivered. Johnson plans to use the cherries for a gastrique that will be used in a duck dish. Look for it on the menu in the coming month.
Posted: June 27, 2012 - 2:17 pm
While the tracks on the "Cold and Loud" compilation should be available soon on iTunes and Amazon, the new single from Ketchikan duo Focal Point, "Broken Hearts and Dreams," was recently made available in both digital stores. (Go here for iTunes and here for Amazon.)
A message band from the band, comprised of brothers Don and Jeff Orr, said that former Klaatu member Dee Long played keyboards and bass and also mixed the track. Klaatu was a ‘70s Canadian prog-rock band perhaps best remembered for rumors that they were secretly the Beatles. That’s fitting since "Broken Hearts" has its fair share of John Lennon-isms.
Posted: June 27, 2012 - 11:43 am
Back in April I posted about "Cold and Loud," a two-disc collection of local indie-pop, metal, punk and ska bands. After clearing a $5,000 Kickstarter fund-raising hurdle with $110 to spare, “Cold and Loud” is now ready for public consumption – the CD release party is 7 p.m. Thursday at the Anchor Pub.
Nine of the 27 bands that recorded songs for the project at Surreal Studios with Kurt Reimann will perform at the Anchor, where the dual album will be available. You can also order it from coldandloud.com for $20 (plus $5 for shipping). The album will eventually be available digitally on iTunes and Amazon.
Below is the list of bands performing the CD release show.
Posted: June 15, 2012 - 4:50 pm
Earlier this year, Moose’s Tooth announced that it was changing the name of its brewery operations to Broken Tooth Brewing. Now comes word of plans to start canning beers, including the Polar Pale Ale, Fairweather IPA and the new Chugach Session. The three should be available at Moose's Tooth by the end of the June.
Posted: June 15, 2012 - 2:29 pm
Maybe you’ve heard about the new menu Burger King rolled out this week. Not surprising, the item getting the most attention is the bacon sundae, which has received reviews ranging from “now I have a tummy ache and I just want to curl up in a little ball and cry” to “it wasn't as bad as I had imagined.”
Naturally, I thought I’d give it a shot.
Posted: June 15, 2012 - 10:55 am
Summer solstice is less than a week away, so this week’s issue of Play is full of events and suggestions on how to spend the long daylight hours. Of course, there’s the annual summer solstice concert at Moose’s Tooth, and this year’s performer is Michael Franti and Spearhead. Daily News contributor Lindsay Kucera wrote a feature about the Franti the musician and Franti the activist that’s on the cover of this week’s issue.
The solstice theme carries over to this week’s dining story as well, where David Harper ranks his favorite outdoor dining spots in town (or just outdoor drinking spots). Weigh with your own choices.
We'll have more info on solstice events next week, like the Downtown Solstice Festival. In the meantime, below are this week’s Hot Picks, which naturally include another solstice event. And be sure to check Mike Dunham’s art picks.
Posted: June 14, 2012 - 3:16 pm
By David Hulen
Anchorage Daily News / adn.com
It’s been a good year for the Soul Rebels. With a well-received new album and non-stop touring that includes some of the biggest music festivals in the United States and Europe (they played the main stage at Bonnaroo last Friday), the band has never had a bigger audience.
They began as a traditional New Orleans brass band, playing classic tunes in a city where brass bands still fill an important role in local culture and community. They’ve evolved over the past two decades to incorporate jazz, pop, funk, R&B, soul, hip-hop – and, lately, metal (really - more on that below). As co-founder and bass drummer Derrick Moss explained in a phone interview earlier this week, the idea all along has been not to stand still.
Posted: June 13, 2012 - 5:40 pm
Do you like when your food bites back? Or when your meal causes you to sweat a little? We here at Play have never met a dish too spicy, so we’re on a mission to find the hottest, most over-the-top spicy menu item in Anchorage. So far that journey has included Thai and Indian dishes and hot wings, all based on reader suggestions from Facebook and Twitter.
The search continues, but in the meantime, you can watch us testing the waters in the video above with the Super Novas from Hood Wings. Reporter Casey Grove has opted out of every taste test since.
And keep the suggestions coming, either at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments.
Posted: June 13, 2012 - 5:18 pm
The Tongass and Chugach National Forests are kicking off a summer-long story and poster series along with a statewide, social-media-driven photo contest highlighting the beauty and diversity of these unique community assets.
Posted: June 13, 2012 - 3:05 pm
Featuring field events, pipe band competitions, a tall tales competition, rugby demonstrations and more, the annual Alaska Scottish Highland Games take place for the 31st time on Saturday, June 30, in Eagle River.
The games are essentially a day-long festival celebrating Celtic and Scottish traditions, complete with a Scotch whisky tasting, beer garden, food vendors and live music that features headliners Albannach, a pipe and drum band from Scotland, and Brother, a self-described “celtic tribal trio” that originally hails from Australia and blends bagpipes and percussion with didgeridoo.
Gates for the games open 8 a.m. at Lions Park, with welcome ceremonies taking place at 11:30 a.m. Albannach and Brother perform 1:45 p.m. and again during the post-games concert at 7 p.m. Check alaskascottish.org for the full schedule of events. Advance tickets are $12.50 for adults, $4 for children ages 4 to 16, available at The Book Shelf in Eagle River and at Celtic Treasures in Anchorage. Tickets at the gate are $15 for adults, $5 for kids.