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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.
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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: June 5, 2012 - 10:02 am
UPDATE: Tickets for Melvins Lite at Bear Tooth go on sale 11 a.m. Friday at beartooththeatre.net, $25 (21 and older). The show is 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5.
Longtime sludge-metal wrecking crew The Melvins announced Tuesday what the band called a Guinness World Record attempt at the fastest tour of the United States ever, hitting all 50 states plus the District of Columbia in 51 days. The tour begins September 5 at Bear Tooth.
The version of the band hitting the road has been dubbed Melvins Lite, which features mainstays Buzz Osbourne and Dale Crover along with ex-Mr. Bungle and current Tomahawk member Trevor Dunn on upright bass. The trio also released the album “Freak Puke” on Tuesday, which is streaming in full for a limited time at AOL.com.
This makes the second Melvins release of the year, with the non-lite version of the band releasing the EP “The Bulls & the Bees” for free in March via Scion A/V. That lineup features Osbourne and Crover with Big Business duo Jared Warren and Coady Willis for the dual-drummer lineup that’s made up the Melvins since 2006.
No word yet on ticket prices for the Bear Tooth show. Below is a video of the Melvins Lite in action last year in Detroit, playing "Eye Flys" from the 1987 album "Gluey Porch Treatments."
Posted: May 31, 2012 - 5:17 pm
Ten years ago, Anchorage metal mainstays 36 Crazyfists released their major label debut, “Bitterness the Star,” originally issued on Roadrunner Records. To mark the occasion, 36 is playing a series of shows in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest where the band will play the album in its entirety.
Below is the tour dates
Aug. 3 Chilkoot Charlie's (21 and older)
Aug. 4 Alyeska Day Lodge, Girdwood
Aug. 10 The Alibi (21 and older), Homer
Aug. 11 Hooligan's (21 and older), Soldotna
Aug. 12 Hell's Kitchen, Tacoma, Wash.
Aug. 18 Ash Street Saloon (21 and older), Portland, Ore.
Stream the full album below.
Posted: May 30, 2012 - 5:31 pm
We reviewed the curiously named Pho King a few months back, and since then, the eatery connected to Jewel Lake Bowl has changed ownership. The establishment was previously owned by Ronnie Lee, who also owns the Ronnie Sushi restaurants in town.
New owner Danh Cong Truong has rechristened the restaurant Pho & Grill and said in an email that diners should expect a more traditional Vietnamese noodle soup from the spot. The rest of the new menu features American and Chinese fare, including burgers and kung pao and lo mein dishes.
Posted: May 23, 2012 - 2:00 pm
“Breathe the Light” is an upcoming documentary by filmmakers Stacy Bloom and Meg McKinney that will document four women on a week-long trek on Kesugi Ridge in the Alaska Range. Each woman is a survivor of sexual assault, and over the course of the journey, each will learn to navigate the terrain, with the filmmakers drawing parallels between their survival in the backcountry and overcoming the ramifications of sexual assault.
The documentary also aims to cast a light on the prevalence of sexual assault and domestic assault in Alaska and the challenges facing victims. The women’s expedition begins June 16, with the film crew and guides.
But before that, McGinley’s Pub downtown is hosting a fundraiser for the project, with performances by singer-songwriter Melissa Mitchell and poet Corinna Delgado. The show starts 6 p.m. Friday, June 1, with donations encouraged. There will also be a silent auction. A garage sale benefitting the film takes place the next morning at the Chugachmiut Parking lot, 1840 Bragaw St.
Posted: May 21, 2012 - 6:11 pm
The lineup for the second annual Salmonstock festival has been announced, with the appropriately named jam band Leftover Salmon sharing top billing with the hip hop-infused Latin group Ozomatli, Greensky Bluegrass, funk combo Robert Randolph and the Family Band and reggae artist Clinton Fearon, who will be returning after performing last year’s festival.
Salmonstock got its start last year when the Renewable Resources Foundation organized the festival as a way to celebrate what the organizers call one of Alaska’s most vital natural resources. It’s also designed to spread awareness to what the group sees as threats to that resource, as the foundation’s executive director Anders Gustafson explained last year, "We wanted to put opposition to the Pebble Mine in a positive light,” referring to the controversial mining proposal in Southwest Alaska.
The fest takes place Aug. 3-5 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, with camping available nearby and a free shuttle running to and from the festival grounds. Early bird tickets are on sale now at salmonstock.org, $95 for a three-day pass. Advanced tickets are available after May 31 for $110, with the price jumping to $130 on Aug. 2. Single-day tickets go on sale June 1: $45 for Friday or Sunday, $55 for Saturday.
Below is the list of performers announced so far for this year’s concert.
Posted: May 21, 2012 - 5:37 pm
A few weeks ago, Four Points Productions in Seward put out the call for songwriters to submit their best work for the production company’s Alaska Song of the Year competition. The awards ceremony took place Saturday at Seward High School, with the best songs chosen in 14 categories.
The panel of judges included John Damberg, leader of the John Damberg Latin Jazz Quintet and an instructor at UAA; vocalist Monica Lettner; Alaskan singer/songwriter Melissa Mitchell and audio engineer Kurt Riemann. Meg Mackey's "Heaven Explodes" took the overall Judges' Choice Award. Below are their choices for best song in each category.
Posted: May 17, 2012 - 5:30 pm
In March, the Alaska State Fair announced eight of this year’s 12 performers, including high-profile acts like ‘90s rock radio staples Creed and ventriloquist/ stand-up comic Jeff Dunham.
Now the fair lineup has been finalized, with the last four performers listed below. Ticket prices do not include fair admission, which is additional. Tickets for all 12 concerts on sale Friday, June 1, on the Alaska State Fair website, with advance tickets now available to fair members.
Big & Rich with special guests Cowboy Troy and Bradley Gaskin
The country combo known for hits like “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” performs Saturday, Aug. 25, $55 reserved standing, $40 general admission.
The ‘80s soft-rock hitmakers topped charts with “All Out of Love” and “Lost in Love.” The band plays Monday, Aug. 27, $35 reserved standing, $20 general admission
Five Finger Death Punch
The hard-rock troupe makes their return with a couple gold records under their belts. Friday, Aug. 31, $50 reserved standing, $35 general admission
The California country music star, with the hits “Her Man” and “Watching Airplanes” plays Sunday, Sept. 2, $35 reserved standing, $35 general admission
Those four join the aforementioned Creed and Jeff Dunham, along with Theory of a Deadman, Styx, Jo Dee Messina, The Avett Brothers, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, and Hot Chelle Rae.
Posted: May 16, 2012 - 4:17 pm
The Bridge restaurant opened to great fanfare a few years ago and then quietly closed. Now owned by local chefs Patrick Hoogerhyde and Al Levinson and rechristened Bridge Seafood, the restaurant that stretches over Ship Creek near C Street is set to reopen Friday.
And once again the space is opening in style: Bridge Seafoods will be among the first to receive the first-of-the-season kings and sockeyes from Alaska-based Copper River Seafoods.
A ceremonial presentation will take place 10 a.m. Friday, and Bridge Seafoods will open for dinner at 4:30 p.m. Dining hours are 4:30-10 p.m. daily through mid-September, with a menu centered on Alaska seafood. Copper River Seafoods will also have a seasonal retail store at the location.
Posted: May 16, 2012 - 3:32 pm
Social media was astir Tuesday with David Arquette sightings in and around Anchorage. The actor – perhaps best known for starring in the “Scream” films and “Never Been Kissed” – tweeted about being in Alaska, uploading the obligatory posing-with-a-stuff-polar-bear photo and a video from his trip to the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer.
So it wasn't just a coincidence that local band The Whipsaws played a set Tuesday at Tap Root that was billed as a film shoot for a new Travel Channel reality TV show.
The as-yet unnamed show is planned for next year, and hosts David Arquette and cohort Mike McGuiness are traveling across the globe, a different destination for each episode. And unless Tuesday night’s shoot ends up on the cutting room floor, look for a scene in the Anchorage episode with the pair taking in a local band at a Spenard watering hole.
Posted: May 15, 2012 - 8:15 pm
The Second Annual Alaska Hoopfest, set for July 21-22, takes it to the streets this year and triples in size. The 3-on-3 basketball tournament will boast 17 outdoor courts between C and H streets on Fourth Avenue. Vendors, sponsor booths, entertainment and an area for kids are also planned.
Hoopfest is for all ages and features women’s, men’s and co-ed teams. There are brackets for grades 3 through high school plus Adult Standard, High School Elite, Adult Elite, 40 and Older, Special Olympics, Create Your Own Team and Media Division. All skill levels are welcome and encouraged to sign up.
Registration is now open. The guaranteed registration period runs through Sunday, July 1. Teams that register after that date through July 6 are accepted pending availability. Prices range, depending on the division, from $50 to $170 per team. Sign up at http://alaskahoopfest.com/the-event, Friend the fest at facebook.com/AlaskaHoopfest.
Posted: May 15, 2012 - 2:34 pm
By now you’ve probably seen an episode of reality TV shot in Alaska. And if you check out local music with any sort of frequency, there’s a good chance you’ve seen The Whipsaws at Tap Root at some point. Those two forces converge Tuesday, as the Anchorage-based Americana rock band performs for a taping of what the band said is an as-yet unnamed new series for the Travel Channel.
Filming begins 7 p.m. at Tap Root, and according to a Facebook event page, a celebrity host will be on hand, though the band also told me they aren’t at liberty to say whom.
Posted: May 15, 2012 - 12:36 pm
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute hosted its inaugural Great Alaska Seafood Cook-Off on Monday, pitting six chefs from across the state against one another in a live cooking competition.
Each chef was given an hour to prepare and plate a dish highlighting Alaska seafood, with a panel of judges selecting the best. The invitation-only event took place at the Bill Sheffield Railroad Depot at Ted Stevens International Airport, with Christopher Vane (Crush Wine Bistro, Anchorage), Aaron Apling-Gilman (Seven Glaciers, Girdwood), Kristi Skaflestad (Chipper Fish, Hoonah), Mary Helms (Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Anchorage), Gil Turturici (The Chart Room, Kodiak) and Kevin Lane (Alaska Culinary Academy, Seward) vying for top honors.
Vane, a James Beard Award semifinalist last year, came away the winner with white "troll" king salmon pinwheels with two cakes and will go on to compete in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off, which takes place later this year.
Check out this photo gallery from the competition.
Posted: May 11, 2012 - 10:28 am
It’s another big week for local music, with a couple of relatively new Anchorage bands playing CD release shows. Play contributor David Harper spoke with The Super Saturated Sugar Strings about the band’s new album, “Harmonic Toast” (see my review here), and plans to tour the Lower 48 this summer.
Then there’s Historian, who will release “Dream Crusher” Saturday at the S Lounge. Check out the details below along with the rest of this week’s Hot Picks, and you can peruse Mike Dunham's Artscene picks over here.
Posted: May 10, 2012 - 5:17 pm
Saxophonist Rick Zelinsky has become arguably the most prominent proponent of jazz in Anchorage recently, with a string of live performances in local venues almost every week. But, in the cellphone age, it can be hard to follow the stream of musical logic in a bar. For “Icy Grooves,” Zelinsky headed to a studio with pianist Tom Bargelski, bass player Dirk Westfall and drummer Brandon Cockburn. The result is 10 clean cuts that respectfully showcase a range of jazz to satisfy discerning aficionados.
The most accessible pieces are covers of Sonny Rollins tunes, “Island Lady” and “Don’t Stop the Carnival,” sprightly, fun, infused with energy. Jazz is commonly associated with introspective late night moods, but “Island Lady” has become my new wake-up morning music; that number — with a cup of coffee and sunrise over the Chugach — just about guarantees the rest of the day will be good. A popping rendition of Daniel Flores party riff “Tequila” (which usually arrests the attention of the bar crowds) is also included. On the calmer side there are Sigmund Romberg’s evergreen “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise” and Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood,” which runs almost nine minutes and finds Zelinsky caressing a long G for all it’s worth at the climax.
Two of Zelinsky’s own compositions are featured, the elegant “Be Like the Sun” and his signature funky romp “Zelydia.” Both are well prepared and presented, but what the studio adds in precision it can lose in spontaneity. I found the more expansive “Zelydia,” previously titled “Delydia,” on Zelinsky’s “Live” album, recorded at the Oasis in Spenard with different colleagues, a lot more lively. For instance, the solo by Cockburn on “Icy Grooves” (he plays on both CDs) felt perfunctory compared with his assertive and adventurous drumming with live listeners in front of him.
We’ll probably hear them both again. Zelinsky is talking about his next album. He says this one will have vocals.
Posted: May 9, 2012 - 11:22 am
The Never Sets Film Festival made its debut last summer, and organizers are soliciting submissions for the festival’s second installment, set to take place Aug. 18 as part of The Institute of the North’s Week of the Arctic series. Last year screenings also took place in Juneau, Barrow and Bethel.
The theme for this year’s festival is “Stories From the North,” and Alaskan filmmakers can submit short films (up to 49 minutes) and screenplays (up to 49 pages) through June 15. Visit neversets.org for full submission guidelines.
Posted: May 3, 2012 - 3:36 pm
Los Angeles hard rock band Buckcherry will headline Chilkoot Charlie’s solstice party June 23.
The outdoor concert, rain or shine, is an all-ages event. The party gets started at 5:45 p.m. Opening bands are TBD. Tickets are $35 and available at koots.com.
Posted: April 26, 2012 - 6:05 pm
The Anchorage Market and Festival returns May 12 to its home downtown at Third Avenue and E Street.
There aren’t many better ways to celebrate the arrival of spring.
What’s so great about the Anchorage Market and Festival? Free admission. Fresh Alaska produce. Free entertainment. Yummy eats from dozens of food vendors. Shop for everything from birch syrup, artwork and woolies to Alaska Grown T-shirts, jewelry, ceramics and fur dolls.
Posted: April 24, 2012 - 3:08 pm
I’ve had a rash of new local CDs find their way to my desk the past couple months, and while each have definitely been worth a listen, staying on top of deadlines and giving each its due diligence has been tough.
At any rate, here are a couple reviews of the local stuff that’s been sent my way as of late, with more to follow in the coming weeks.
Posted: April 23, 2012 - 5:27 pm
This could be some good news for anyone who frequents Jackie’s Place in Spenard: Jackie’s owner Janice Johnson and her brother Jason Johnson have taken over Momma O’s Seafood, which is located in the same building at 2636 Spenard Road.
The change in ownership took place April 1, and Janice said that they’ve been trying to drop the prices on the menu while making a few additions, including flat iron steak, pork chops (fried or grilled), pie and cake. The menu will be online at bestbuttak.com and mommaos.com on May 1. In the meantime, they’re also sprucing up the interior, which Janice said “needs TLC.”
Anyone eaten at Momma O’s in the past month? What did you think?
Posted: April 20, 2012 - 4:31 pm
Radio station KZND just announced that Sublime With Rome will perform June 9 in the parking lot of Chilkoot Charlie’s. Tickets go on sale 2 p.m. Monday, April 30, $35 in advance, $40 at the door.