16th International Folk Festival another hit

Nola Lamken of Skagway and Art Johns of Tagish, and the ensemble surrounds Barb Kalen (cap) for the finale, “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.”

Story and Photos by Ardyce Czuchna-Curl

Musicians from Skagway, Juneau, Whitehorse and Haines entertained a full house at the International Folk Festival at the Presbyterian Church here Friday evening April 21.
“This is the largest crowd we’ve had,” said Barbara Kalen, who has coordinated the annual event for the past 16 years. Kalen and her auto harp opened the show with duets of “Little Moses” and “Jericho Road” with Debbie Steidel on guitar.
Dottie Demark entertained with light piano pieces followed by Skagway violinist Nola Lamken and Tagish guitarist Art Johns.
The First Nations elder sang old favorites including” I Overlooked an Orchid While Searching for a Rose.” Deb Jutra of Whitehorse joined him in “I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes.”
Lamken later played an original composition – a pleasing blend of traditional American mountain melodies with oriental harmonies.
Steve Hare of Whitehorse held the audience with several country tearjerkers including pieces about a company store and a midnight train. Pianist Betsy Albecker provided an arrangement of Debussy with “Jesus Loves Me” and the less familiar Scott Joplin’s “Rosebud March.” Juneau guitarist Riley Woodford, who played from his CD “Applehood and Mother Pie,” praised the acoustics of the eight-sided church auditorium, suggesting it was the best place he’d performed.
“Songs on the Wind Choir,” directed by Albecker, involved the audience – even those who don’t usually sing – in the lively freedom song, “Day is a Breakin.”
Juneau fiddler Jerry Fiscus and guitarist Stewart Ely performed together. Then Ely had the audience laughing about a Christian turned Buddhist and another song about a threesome date.
Michael Yee and his banjo teamed with other locals Sidney Shaw on mandolin and Jake Beckwith on fiddle to please the audience. Kid Burfl of Haines with his auto harp, Dan Henry, Station master of KHNS, with his guitar provided a Native American heritage composition that mesmerized with a repetitive percussion beat. Burfl later brought out his trombone for the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
Rainee Godfrey entertained with her vocal and guitar solos. Her sister Molly then came on joined by Henry, Burfl and Fiscus to lead the audience in “The City of New Orleans.” Musicians and audience joined to finish the evening singing the hymn, “Just a Closer Walk With Thee,” in memory of the late Uncle Bob Pavitt.
Many of the musicians had just come from Juneau where they had participated in the week-long Alaska Folk Festival, and some were scheduled to play in Whitehorse the following evening.
Thanks were given to Mile Zero, Sgt Preston’s, Skagway Home Hostel, and the White House for lodging the musicians and to others who provided food for the potluck before the concert. Tony Scott Pearce played dinner music with his squeeze box (concertina) accompanied by Lamken on violine, and he and Daniel Henry recorded the show.

Michael Yee, Jake Beckwith and Sydney Shaw of Skagway, and Kid Burfl and Daniel Henry of Haines.

There they were in corners seemingly muttering to themselves, and if you rode the ferry this winter you couldn’t help but notice them. They may have seemed odd, but all that practice paid off.
Last Saturday night at the Eagles Hall, the Skagway School and Drama, Debate and Forensics team performed some of their award-winning pieces to a small, but attentive crowd.
Joining with the Haines team in a cooperative performance, each team or solo presenter offered a wide range of emotion from rebellion to empathy to ghoulishness.
Coaches Michael Stark (Haines) Skagway School English Teacher Kent Fielding, Haines coach Tim Shields, and local coaches Brandon Demery and Billi Clem began the evening by explaining the types of performances and the benefits of the program to high schoolers&Mac226; self-esteem.
Yasmin Corbi presented an expository piece about her autistic sister that won her first place in region competition. Caroline Botman and Emily Jashiki, in a duet about friends, one of whom is losing a battle with leukemia, was an emotional rollercoaster ride.
Hannah Bochart and Iris Holmes gave a rousing performance of Harlan Ellison’s “Repent Harlequin, Said The TicToc Man,” about bucking the system and the smothering of individual freedom.
Wickedly creepy, Cody Burnham, performed a solo written by Fielding about a man obsessed with cutting off the fingers of the dead. Sordid fare perhaps, but Burnham was able to elevate it to campy horror.
The Skagway team built on its poem on the Columbine shootings, “Judgment Day,” and gave a well-researched piece on the incident that was both unsettling and also enlightening.
But remember, if you missed the performance, there’s always an encore on the ferry. They board next Monday for the trip to Juneau, where they will fly on to State Tournament in Anchorage.

Clean Sweep 2006

Photos by Jeff Brady

Kids and parents head out from the ferry terminal. The most talked about item picked up at this year’s Clean Sweep was a marijuana pipe that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer Boyd Worley found in a ditch north of the Port of Entry. He showed it off at the dinner.

Jake DeLong loads a bag in a truck.

Elaine Furbish tackles debris in Pullen Creek.