2014 Seldovia Summer Solstice Music Festival 

| June 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

by Margie McCord

Thursday-Sunday, June 19-22, 2014

The 13th annual Seldovia Arts Council’s Summer Solstice Music Festival presents again in one of the most beautiful settings in all Alaska, just a quick boat or plane ride from Homer. International and national performers mix with Alaskans and local talent to provide a unique potpourri of music, song and dance. If any of the previous Festivals are an indication of what’s to come this year, you won’t want to miss this one! This year a fine arts event, En Plein Air, has been added to our Solstice celebrations. Artists, professionals and hobbyists, are invited to come to Seldovia to create works of art inspired by our gorgeous, unique town.

The “Headliners” include:

OKAIDJA & SHOKOTOOKAIDJA & SHOKOTO, the dance and drumming ensemble from Ghana, provide outreach to youth around the world which combines cultural education, performance arts, and hands-on participation to introduce students to West African culture. Okaidja & Shokoto create innovative music drawing upon their West African roots and the diverse music of the African Diaspora. Okaidja Afroso had extensive training at the University of Ghana’s Institute of African Studies and became a member of the Oregon Arts Commission for Artists in Residency Program. He travels to schools in rural Oregon to help kids discover the richness of Ghanaian culture. In 1994 Okaidja was accepted into the prestigious Ghana Dance Ensemble where he learned to blend the songs of his youth into an expression through dance. Other impressive members of his group include: Charles Mortimer, Mashud Neindow, and Benard Tetteh.

Ashu2ASHU, an internationally renowned saxophonist, will mesmerize both young and old with his phenomenal technique. Ashu has established an extraordinary ability to communicate with audiences around the world through his charismatic and emotive performance style. While his virtuosity continues to thrill listeners, his artistry reaches far beyond this demonstrating a unique personality and musical voice. He is a very engaging player-as much fun to watch as to listen to. He possesses a deep musicality which pours through his playing and hooks the audience. Last summer Ashu was selected as the winner of the prestigious “Audience Award” at the renowned International Musical Olympus Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, competing against the First Prize winners of the world’s foremost violin, piano, and voice competitions. He will be accompanied by Amy Briggs, a renowned classical pianist from Chicago. Briggs was appointed Director of Chamber Music and Lecturer in Music at the University of Chicago in 2009 and is a Steinway Artist.

That’s just for starters! The headliners will appear at both Friday and Saturday evening concerts but you will be equally impressed with the rest of the lineup for the weekend! We have a wonderful variety of performers from Pittsburgh, PA and St. Louis, MO to Alaskans from Fairbanks, Anchorage, Eagle River and the Kenai Peninsula.

GroupOneTakeThere will be a total of 4 bands in this year’s festival in addition to all the other artists with the first being SHOKOTO.  We will also present ONE TAKE from St. Louis, MO now based in Talkeetna, who build on the traditions of Reggae, Americana, Jazz and the Blues; their repertoire blends everything from rock to soul with a heavy dose of Island Music. Members are Brian Corbett, Danielle Asianian, Daryle Keefer, Matt Johnson, and Dennis Ward.

Swing 49In addition, SWING 49 from Anchorage  blends Gypsy jazz and contemporary jazz on their guitars and bass with vocals. Members include: Jacqueline Schafer, Tovi Newman, Arkadi Futerman, and Kevin Worrell.

Billy GoatLast- but-not-least of the bands is Seldovia’s own BILLY GOAT, the pride of the community, with their renditions of Oldtime music.  Long-time members are Kirby Corwin, Kari Hendrich, Chris Lillo, and Jeff Snedgen.

Elliott SussmanTalk about variety! We are pleased to welcome Elliott Sussman from Pittsburgh, PA,  who mixes it up with a bit of Americana, Tin-Pan Alley, Doo-Wop, and Ragtime Blues with his guitar, ukulele, and kazoo!

You also won’t want to miss a mix of Irish, British, Folk, and Gospel from Anchorage’s Wade Hampton Miller who originally hails from Missouri where he learned to play mountain dulcimer, mandolin, banjo and guitar. Wade has lived in AK since 1982 and has taken part teaching in music camps around the state and taught in Bush villages as part of the AK Artists in the Schools program. He has regularly appeared at the Anchorage Folk Festival and the AK State Fair.

Two very popular Kenai performers are Dan Pascucci and George Holly. Dan makes science fun for the youth in and out of the classroom using his mandolin, guitar,and “big barn boom” to educate about respecting wildlife and the environment. He is a regular at the Kenai River Festival and is joined by his wife Amy Lou. George Holly mesmerized the crowds last year with his commanding voice singing of Alaskan Native Culture. He is the recent recipient of the Rasmussen Foundation Artist Fellow award for 2014. He has been writing and performing original music for 20 years using his talents to support the native language revitalization movement in Alaska.

2014SolsticePosterSeems as though the Kenai Peninsula has an abundance of talent with Jon Crocker hailing from Anchor Point whose storytelling and folk singing with the help of his guitar, mandolin and banjo. He will be joined by Trina Uvaas. He has performed at Homer’s Concert on the Lawn, Fairbanks Folk Festival, and in the Southeast. He also plays in a Homer-based Celtic band called Guinness Records.  Johnny B from Homer will be returning playing Boogie Woogie and Neo-Classical pieces on his piano. He graduated from the Berkley College of music and composes most of his music.

Two more Alaskans from Fairbanks and Eagle River round out a large contingent from our great state! Inna Rivkin sings Alaskan Folk on the piano with vivid lyrics and evocative melodies influenced by the old Russian songs of her youth. She also hosts a monthly songwriter showcase in Fairbanks and facilitates songwriting workshops.  Lou Nathanson is a singer songwriter on the guitar and performed for 5 years with Sacred Scriptless Improv, but was fired because he could never memorize his lines! He will be appearing with Kristine Holmes.

Finally, we couldn’t complete our Summer Solstice Festival without a return appearance of our own Songster and Story Teller Betsy Scott who just might have composed a new song or an enactment of a favorite tale!

Now if these short bios haven’t tweaked your attention yet for this year’s festival, let’s tell you about the rest of the happenings at the festival! The festival schedule will surely include something for everyone and many opportunities to interact with the artists. The festivities begin on Thursday around noon with a ferry jam on the Tustumena, the Alaska State Ferry. On the way to Seldovia the performers will share a song or two with the lucky folks on the ship. Once they arrive in Seldovia, they will be hosted by local families. At 6pm join the performers at the Linwood Bar and Grill for a “Meet and Greet” and then attend the OPEN MIC session at the Susan B. English School Commons where the concerts and workshops will be held throughout the weekend. The OPEN MIC at 8pm will be open to any and all who would like to sing, play, tell a story, or recite and is often a fun and impressive evening!

A “must attend” activity which the Festival is being recognized for is the workshops on Friday and Saturday for any and all musically and non-musically inclined who would like to learn more about how artists compose, teach, play, or inspire others of their love of music. There will also be a workshop for the youth! There is a special Friday morning Songwriter’s Workshop from 10:30am-1:30pm  taught by several professional songwriters (Inna Rivkin, Jon Cocker, Kevin Worrell and Lou Nathanson) which features various songwriting angles, including instrumentation and lyrical writing. Even the most talented come to learn something new and we think you will truly be inspired with the many  presentations that will be available. A schedule will be available on the website (www.seldoviamusicfestival.info) and at the SBE School.

Saturday  morning’s 8:30am Yoga class for all ages, at the Sea Otter Community Center ( SOCC) next to the school has become a wonderful way to start the day. The festivities begin with the traditional 10AM  Song Circle, always a great time, and will be held at the former book store on the slough which is now called “Amon’s Coffee Shop”.

For those of us who may include the meaning of “ARTS’ FESTIVAL” with the thought of paints and easels…Friday, Saturday, and Sunday bring a delightful compliment to the Festival with the presentation of EN PLEIN AIR, a variety of artists who have been invited both locally and around Alaska to paint their impressions of beautiful Seldovia at favorite vistas and locations throughout our town. Many of their productions will be available for perusal and purchase. Go for a stroll to see how the artists are doing with their masterpieces.

The Friday and Saturday evening concerts begin at 6:15pm at the SBE School Commons and promise to deliver unforgettable performances until after 11pm. These evening performances are not to be missed for the headliners will each perform again along with the numerous other musicians.

FINALLY… if you haven’t heard it all, there is the ever popular Gospel Sing on Sunday afternoon at 1:00pm at the Dancing Eagles B&B on the slough.

The price for the entire festival is $49.00 at the door. The Earlybird Special is $39.00 for an adult for the entire festival including workshops can be purchased at “Thyme on the Boardwalk” until Wednesday, June 18th by 5pm.  Single night passes are $25.00 (adults), teens (13-19) $8.00 per night, and children (12 and under) are FREE and workshops $5.00 for each day if you don’t have an all Festival pass. Festival passes and one day festival tickets will be available at the door.

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Category: Entertainment

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