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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: August 31, 2011 - 3:13 pm
Several big-name and/or hipness-bolstering shows have been announced in the past couple weeks. There’s Ghostland Observatory making its third two-night stand in two years at Bear Tooth Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 28 and 29. The indie-rock one/two punch of the Antlers and Menomena takes place at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium Monday, Sept. 12. Then there’s the recently announced Andrew Bird show that sent Twitter and Facebook, um, atwitter the other day. The indie-folk violinist and whistle-meister plays Atwood Concert Hall on Nov. 15.
One that’s been a little under the radar is a return visit from Peter Case, who’s playing Vagabond Blues in Palmer on Friday, Sept. 9, and Out North on Saturday, Sept. 10.
Case played in the regrettably easy to overlook, mid-'70s power-pop group The Nerves. That band took ’60s garage rock and mod influences and molded them into taut, hook-laden rock songs (think Big Star, Cheap Trick or the Who’s early years). The group only lasted about three years and left a slim discography, but it did produce one bonafide classic – “Hanging on the Telephone.” But The Nerves’ original probably isn’t the one with which most people are familiar. Most remember it as a hit for Blondie.
Case later started the Plimsouls, which carried on the same power-pop sound, polishing it up a bit with New Wave. In the mid-‘80s, Case emerged as a solo artist, releasing mostly acoustic-guitar-based folk albums. Last year he released the blues-rock record “Wig!” This past May saw the odds-and-ends collection “The Case Files,” which covers Case’s solo career from his debut folky days to his more recent return to rock.
Click here to check out bluesy number “Round Trip Stranger Blues,” the closing track on “The Case Files.”
Tickets are $23 for the Palmer show, $23.50 for the Anchorage one, available at centertix.net.
Posted: August 30, 2011 - 2:49 pm
The web-based program “Alaska Filmmakers” features interviews with individuals working in the Alaska film industry, including filmmakers, directors, production companies and more. The host talks to each about their inspirations and approach to storytelling. The first 12 episodes focused on filmmakers in Anchorage and Eagle River, and the program’s creators are looking to expand the show’s reach.
The plan is to create 16 episodes for the second series, once again featuring interviews with filmmakers in the Anchorage area but also individuals in Fairbanks, Seward, Kenai and Homer. To cover travel expenses and compensate the cast and crew, the program has set up a fundraising page on the website Kickstarter, where a pledge of $1 gets you access to special updates, your name listed on the “Alaska Filmmakers” website and Facebook page and an invitation to any public screenings related to the series, while a pledge of $2000 or more includes executive producer credits and a chance to be including in an “Alaska Filmmakers” episode.
In order for the show to accept those pledges, the Kickstarter account has to reach its $10,000 goal by Sept. 11.
Below is the most recent “Alaska Filmmakers” episode, with host Josh Lowman interviewing Kyle Aramburo and Dan Redfield from Hybrid Color Films.
Posted: August 26, 2011 - 2:57 pm
Mos Def delivered on the excitement leading up to his set Thursday at the Moose’s Tooth’s 15th anniversary concert, but he also let Alaskans in on a little secret.
The rapper is retiring his stage name.
From where I was standing, the between-song banter was a little difficult to discern, but I did catch him saying that the Anchorage show would be one of his last as Mos Def. Instead, Dante Terrell Smith said he’d simply go by Terrell Smith.
At least that’s what I think he said. When someone booed the announcement, Smith said, “Don’t boo. That’s my name. What’s your name? Gary?”
So, based on him saying that it was his real name and that I’m pretty sure he didn’t say Dante, I’m guessing Mos Def is now just Terrell Smith.
Were you there? Post what you heard in the comments.
UPDATE: The name that I didn't hear clearly was likely Yasiin Bey. Last year, Gawker published a letter the rapper wrote to the editor of the New York Observer in which he introduces himself this way: "My name is Yasiin Dante Smith Bey, a.k.a. Mos Def."
Posted: August 24, 2011 - 11:10 am
The 13th annual Native American Music Awards, or Nammys, will be presented at the Seneca Niagara Hotel and Casino in Niagara Falls, N.Y., Oct. 7.
A full list of nominees and categories can be found on the NAMA website, with Alaska-based artists getting nods in a few categories. Among them, Juneau’s Archie Cavanaugh is up for Record of the Year for his album “Alaska Jazz.” Cavanaugh is also nominated for Best Male Artist and Best Song for “I’m So Excited.”
Marc Brown and the Blues Crew are up for Best Duo/Group, and Dawn Avery’s “Our Fire” is nominated for Best Female and features percussion by Steven Alvarez, who also plays in the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Anchorage Opera, Anchorage Concert Chorus and the group Medicine Dream.
Alvarez has also collaborated with Pamyua, who are up for Best Video with this clip for the track “Unugaanga.”
Posted: August 22, 2011 - 3:32 pm
As we mentioned in last week’s issue of Play, the Alaska State Fair kicks off Thursday, with Queensryche performing in the Borealis Theatre. And if you’re looking to avoid driving to Palmer, the Alaska Railroad is once again offering the Alaska State Fair Train.
The train won’t run on opening day, but it will be available Friday through Sunday and again Friday, Sept. 2, through Sunday, Sept. 4. The most expensive tickets are $54 for adults, which include fair admission. The same tickets for kids ages 6 to 12 are $27, while they're $47 for seniors. Tickets for rail only are $45 for adults, $45 for seniors and $22 for children. Fair admission on weekends is $11 for adults, $6 for seniors and youth.
All tickets are roundtrip, and the train makes one trip from Anchorage to Palmer and back on Fridays and Sundays and two trips on Saturdays. Check alaskarailroad.com for the full schedule. You can also make reservations on the site or call 265-2494.
Posted: August 19, 2011 - 11:53 am
The coming week is a big one for concerts around town. On the cover of Play is probably the most noteworthy one: Actor and hip hop icon Mos Def will perform at the Bear Tooth on Thursday. Daily News contributor Toben Shelby penned this profile and preview. The show starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 (21 and older). Check beartooththeatre.net for more info.
Before moving on to this week’s Hot Picks, here’s a show that we didn’t get to include. Lucero is playing tonight and tomorrow at the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood. The Memphis, Tenn., band got its start in the late ‘90s, mixing punk rock with country balladry. I was in school in Murfreesboro, Tenn., around that time, about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Memphis. There was a coffee shop in town called the Red Rose that used to book punk and indie-rock shows, and Lucero played there in 2001 or 2002.
The Red Rose doesn’t exist anymore, but that Lucero show always stuck with me – a tiny room full of tatted-up punks and hardcore kids with arms around each other, swaying back and forth and thrusting PBRs into the air. The band turned our little scene sentimental.
Lucero plays 7 p.m. today and Saturday, Alyeska Resort, $15-$20. Visit alyeskaresort.com for info.
Here are this week’s Hot Picks.
Posted: August 17, 2011 - 1:47 pm
Thursday, Nov. 24, marks the 85th anniversary of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. To celebrate the occasion, the department store is distributing Macy’s Parade Elf dolls across the country, asking participants to decorate the dolls with paints, markers, glitter, stickers, whatever. Then take a picture of the elf, visit Facebook.com/Macys, “like” the page and click the “Submit Your Elf” tab. One selection will be chosen as the design for a giant balloon in the parade, with the designer awarded a trip for four to New York to see it.
The elves are being distributed in thousands of cities across the country, but Anchorage is one of only three participating without a Macy’s store (the other two are Omaha, Neb., and Little Rock, Ark.). The elf dolls will be handed out in an event called Elf-Apalooza on Saturday at Town Square Park next to the Performing Arts Center, noon to 5 p.m. The event also includes giveaways and an elf decorating station, though you can take the elf home to decorate it.
The deadline for submissions is Aug. 24. The top 85 entries will be chosen, then visitors can vote for their favorite on the Macy's Facebook page.
Posted: August 15, 2011 - 3:45 pm
UPDATE, 4:15 p.m. I just got off the phone with Portugal. The Man frontman John Gourley and talked to him about the robbery. He said that the van and trailer were parked in an attended lot with a security guard. Someone was able to get to the van, pop off the casing to the lock and start the van.
Gourley was back in Portland, Ore., when he heard the news. “I wish I had been there to see the reaction of our tour manager,” he joked.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that mechanic Juan Ocampo has been charged by Chicago Police for theft for allegedly purchasing the stolen equipment. He is not charged with stealing the van and trailer.
Gourley didn’t know what items had been recovered and didn’t want to dwell on the things the band might not get back. “That stuff happens. It doesn’t matter where you are,” he said, noting that the van wasn’t parked in a bad neighborhood. “It’s just stuff…We’ll get to try something new. I think it’s best to look at it that way.”
He also noted the outpouring of support the band received. “(The gear) wasn’t found because it was PTM; it’s because people got behind it and said you can’t steal any band’s gear.”
And the coverage the band received after the robbery: “When’s the last time you saw a record promoted on NBC?”
I also asked him about the long-form music video for the songs “Sleep Forever” and “Got It All (This Can’t Be Living Now)” from of the recently released “In the Mountain in the Cloud.” The video was shot behind the singer’s childhood home on Cook Inlet. That boat in it? That belonged to Joe Redington, father of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.
As for the premise, it was one of many ideas Gourley and director Michael Ragen had been bouncing around. The band’s label and manager liked the idea and suggested flying the two to Alaska to film it.
“All we had written was ‘Falls and shoots himself,’ ” Gourley said. “The whole thing was on the fly. There was a storyline, but it’s just the way Mike and I work together.”
Looks like some good news may be on the way from the Portugal. The Man camp. After playing Lollapalooza in Chicago two weekends ago, the band’s van, trailer and gear were stolen. A day later, the van and trailer were found empty. On Saturday, Portugal posted on Twitter that the gear may have been located: “News on equipment next week. Gotta give space to check counts on gear and to the Chicago PD to finish up. May take time but good news.”
After the band took to Twitter to post lists of the gear stolen and ask fans to take those lists to pawn shops, news of the robbery was picked up in publications across the country and across the Web. Hollywood Reporter stated that the equipment was found in a house and that lead singer John Gourley thought the thieves must have felt they’d have to hold on to it for a while rather than sell it because of the media coverage.
Good work, Internet.
UPDATE: The band posted a note on its website explaining how the Chicago Police Department was able to track down most the Portugal's gear and joked about how it took a robbery to make the band a trending topic on Twitter.
Posted: August 12, 2011 - 12:01 pm
The cover story in this week’s issue of Play is about Dark Star Orchestra's show at Bear Tooth on Thursday. The Grateful Dead tribute band devotes itself to covering entire setlists from the Dead’s lengthy live archives. In it the story, Daily News correspondent Paul Flahive makes mention of the Dead’s three-night stand at the West High School auditorium in 1980.
He also tracked down a recording of the June 21, 1980, concert. You can stream the whole show below or download it over here.
Posted: August 10, 2011 - 2:36 pm
Tonight, Bernie’s is hosting a dance party to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The event was originally called the Cowboys and Indians Dance Night, with prizes to be awarded for best costumes.
The party’s theme stoked controversy on the Facebook event page, with some commenters finding the suggestion to dress in Indian costumes to be offensive. That prompted a reaction from Jeff Peterson, a staff member of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, who posted executive director Anne Gillingham’s response to the event.
The name of the event has since been changed to Wild West Dance Night, with an apology posted by the event’s organizer stating that it was never intended that the theme be offensive.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s response, along with many other comments, have since been removed. Below is the statement along with a couple screen shots.
Posted: August 9, 2011 - 2:21 pm
Last week the Dallas Observer posted this interview with Anchorage singer/songwriter Marian Call on its blog. In it, Call talked frequently about “geek culture,” citing TV shows and movies she likes and boosted her geek-cred with mention of a recent trip to San Diego’s Comic-Con. She also talked about what brought her Alaska – her initial reluctance and later embrace.
But here’s the part I wasn’t expecting: She uses a tin containing the remains of a dead cat as a percussion instrument.
Here it is in her words.
That's Zippy. He is my cat. You can hear him on all of my records and he comes on tour with me. I don't always play him at my shows, but you can find him by my side. He's been all over the world.
Marian Call plays Wednesday, Aug. 17, at Sub-Zero with Mike Gorder. Show starts 8 p.m. Free, but $5-$10 donation requested.
Below is the newest single from Call's album "Something Fierce."
Posted: August 8, 2011 - 4:53 pm
The Life section of this past Sunday’s paper included this feature on Portugal. The Man. In it, singer and guitarist John Gourley talked about growing up in Wasilla and his family’s history in Alaska. Now Gourley and his band tour the world, playing large festivals in Europe and headlining shows in U.S.
The band recently released “In the Mountain in the Cloud,” the group’s seventh full-length album and first for major label Atlantic Records. That success landed Portugal on this past weekend’s Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, but instead of celebrating another achievement, the band’s van and gear were stolen after the group's set on Sunday.
The band posted this list of the gear stolen and are asking people to print off the list and take it to pawn shops, where the members hope they’ll find the looted gear.
UPDATE: The band's van and trailer were recovered, but both were empty.
Posted: August 5, 2011 - 10:58 am
Hopefully the rain breaks this weekend, as there’s plenty of reasons to get outside.
For one, the outdoor music festival season is far from over, though it’s coming to a close for good for one of the state’s longest running summer concerts. The 30th Annual Talkeetna Bluegrass Festival will be the last, starting today and running through Sunday. Weekend passes are $35. Meanwhile, Salmonstock makes its debut in Ninilchik. Read about both in the feature in this week’s issue of Play. Salmonstock also runs this entire weekend. Tickets are $110 for the weekend, $40 for Friday or Sunday and $50 for Saturday.
Today is also First Friday, which means the Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage will once again host Bike First Friday. You can read about that over here and get a map of some of the participating galleries over here.
Here are the rest of this week’s Hot Picks. Note: The date printed in today’s issue of Play for Running With the Bulls is incorrect. The correct information is below, and a correction will run in tomorrow’s paper.
Posted: August 3, 2011 - 2:49 pm
“The Real Winning Edge” is a syndicated television program that highlights the stories of young people who've overcome a challenge or hardship. Each week's episode includes a profile of three youths introduced by a celebrity – usually athletes like Matt Hasselbeck, John Smoltz and Jeff Gordon. Past episodes have featured a skier grappling with the loss of a parent and a basketball player overcoming cancer.
This past June, the show's crew finished taping a segment of an episode that will feature Anchorage pianist Micah McKinnis. The 18-year-old was recommended to the show's production company through his involvement in TeenPact Leadership Schools, a faith-based organization designed to promote political engagement at a young age.
McKinnis and his family survived a house fire in May of last year. His grandparents were visiting, but all nine people in the house were able to escape safely. “We all lost nearly everything that we owned, and the house was totally destroyed,” explained McKinnis, who was to perform at the Alaska Piano Competition just a few weeks after the incident.
“Thanks to the offers of many local individuals, my family, and my piano teacher, Svetlana Velichko, I was able to perform for the event,” McKinnis said. He also took first place in the competition.
The show's crew filmed McKinnis performing at UAA 's Recital Hall a year after the fire, with interviews and extra footage filmed around town, including a game of frisbee in Palmer.
McKinnis isn't sure when his episode will air, except that it'll be sometime in the fall. He's also not sure what celebrity will introduce him: “Right now, it looks like I may be introduced by the band Switchfoot.”
“The Real Winning Edge” airs 11 a.m. Saturdays on Fox, channel 4.
Posted: July 29, 2011 - 10:59 am
A couple weeks ago it was announced that modern rockers Godsmack will be playing Anchorage and Fairbanks in September.
That Fairbanks concert, originally slated for Sept. 7 at the Carlson Center, has since been canceled due to a schedule conflict. The Anchorage show at Sullivan Arena is still on, but the date has been changed from Tuesday, Sept. 6, to Wednesday, Sept. 7.
For Anchorage ticketholders, all tickets purchased for the original date will be honored, while refunds are available at the original point of purchase. For Fairbanks ticketholders, phone and Internet purchases will be credited automatically. Purchases made at Ticketmaster box offices or the Carlson Center box office will be refunded at the point of purchase.
Tickets for the Sept. 7 show at the Sullivan Arena are $29.50-$47.50 (fees may apply), available at ticketmaster.com.
Posted: July 25, 2011 - 5:28 pm
Yesterday Bear Tooth announced that Mos Def will perform Thursday, Aug. 25, as part of the Moose’s Tooth’s 15th anniversary party.
Mos Def came to prominence in underground hip hop as one half of Black Star, his collaboration with fellow emcee Talib Kwelli. As a solo artist, Mos Def has maintained that appreciation among independent hip hop fans while reaching larger audiences. As an actor, he starred in "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and "Be Kind Rewind," and made numerous cameos in movies like “Talladega Nights” and regular appearances on Comedy Central’s “Chappelle’s Show.”
Tickets go on sale Wednesday, $35 (21 and older), available at beartooththeatre.net.
UPDATE: Tickets will not go on sale as originally planned. No new date has been set, but you can keep tabs on the Bear Tooth's Facebook page for any new announcements.
UPDATE: Things are back on schedule: Tickets go on sale 5 p.m. today.
Below is the video for "History," featuring Talib Kweli from the 2009 album "The Ecstatic."
Posted: July 21, 2011 - 11:11 am
As mentioned before, the Never Sets Film Festival is another new outlet for local filmmakers to find a wider audience. That festival has since undergone a bit of restructuring, and the deadline has been extended to July 31.
The plan originally included smaller, community-specific screenings all over the state leading up to the finalists’ screening in Anchorage. After difficulties securing venues for those original screenings, the festival organizers have decided to forgo the smaller screenings and instead focus on the Anchorage event on Sept. 8 and 9.
Filmmakers can still submit short films and screenplays at neversets.org.
Posted: July 19, 2011 - 5:26 pm
With the warmer weather and longer days, summertime means food cart time. You can another to your list of options, though this one isn’t on the beaten path downtown: BobCatz Indian Tacos and Fry Bread Creations at 335 Boniface Parkway.
Owner Robert Houle moved to Anchorage last month and is a member of the Chippewa tribe in Wisconsin. He and his wife Catherine (collectively, BobCat) opened the stand just a couple weeks ago. The menu includes a couple different taco options, the Original Indian Taco (ground beef/turkey, lettuce, cheddar cheese, tomato and sour cream, $7) and BobCatz Special Indian Taco (ground beef/turkey, lettuce, cheddar cheese, tomato, salsa, onion, black olive, jalapeno peppers and sour, $9). They also offer pizzas, sausages and hot dogs, ranging from about $7-$10, but what ties it all together is it’s all served on fry bread.
That’s what Bob Houle thinks will separate his stand from the rest of the pack: “We make our bread dough daily from scratch. It's a family recipe passed down from back home,” he wrote in an email to the Daily News.
BobCatz Indian Tacos and Fry Bread Creations
Where: 335 Boniface Parkway
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday, noon-6 p.m. Closed Monday.
Online: Menu available on Facebook.
Posted: July 18, 2011 - 2:51 pm
If you've fill up your tank in the past couple weeks at the Shell station on Debarr Road and Boniface Parkway, maybe you’ve seen a new game show being filmed. You might have even been a contestant.
The show is called “Payout at the Pump,” which is scheduled to air 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Mondays beginning Aug. 1 on KCFT, channel 19 on GCI cable and channel 35 over the air.
Contestants are chosen randomly at the gas pumps, with participants given a chance to answer trivia questions to win gift cards. Follow the show’s Facebook page to find out when and where future filming will take place.
Above is a promo clip for the show.
Posted: July 15, 2011 - 9:39 am
With summer now in full swing, a seasonal staple is returning this weekend. The sixth Summer Meltdown returns this weekend after taking a hiatus last year, but this time it’ll take place indoors. Organizer and AK Soul promoter Kurt Bunde explained the decision in this week’s feature. Brock Lindow, frontman for headliners 36 Crazyfists, also talked about how the fest came about and how his bandmate is lucky to be alive.