Folk fest kicks off Monday

The 39th annual Alaska Folk Festival kicks off Monday, April 8, and runs through Sunday, April 14.


This year’s festival features guest artist Si Kahn and guest dance band The Macrae Sisters, as well as a lineup of local musicians and out of town guests. For a list of concerts, see Page C2.

The folk festival is a grassroots, volunteer run festival, and they are still looking for a few volunteers to help make everything run smoothly next week. Positions are still needed for stage crew, monitor board and main sound board. No experience is necessary, as all volunteers will be trained and the schedule is flexible. If you think you can help, visit and fill out a volunteer form.

Read on for more information about this year’s guests.

Si Kahn

This year’s guest artist is North Carolina based folk musician Si Kahn.

Kahn has performed all over the world, sharing the stage with musicians such as Pete Seeger, Kathy Mattea and Ani Di Franco. He writes in the tradition of balladeers Woody Guthrie and Tom Paxton, often focusing on oppressed or marginalized populations.

Born in Massachusetts and raised in Pennsylvania, Kahn became involved in folk music during a visit to the Smithsonian Archive of Folk Music in Washington D.C. while in high school. In college he became involved in he civil rights movement, and by 1970 was writing his own songs.

He has released 15 albums of original material, as well as a collection of traditional folk songs with Pete Seeger and Jane Sapp. The Folk Alliance awarded him the Triple Crown award in 2011, recognizing him as the No. 1 Artist for the previous year based on airplay, and for having had both the No. 1 CD (”Courage”) and the No. 1 song (“Peace Will Rise”) that year.

Other songs include “Aragon Mill,” “Mississippi Summer,” “Gone Gonna Rise Again,” “If I Live,” and “What You Do With What’ve Got.”

In addition to his folk music, Kahn has worked as a lyricist and book writer for musical theater, composing original music for plays, films and videos.

Kahn has also worked for more than four decades as a civil rights organizer, and is the executive director of Grassroots Leadership, a Southern-based national organization that works to oppose privatization and to help labor organizations. One of their recent projects was a campaign to abolish for-profit private prisons.

The official Alaska release of Kahn’s upcoming CD, “Bristol Bay,” which includes songs about the Pebble Mine, will take place during the festival.

For more on Kahn, see

Macrae Sisters

This year’s Guest Dance Band is the Macrae Sisters, a high energy old-time string band. Band members who will perform in Juneau are sisters Gabrielle Macrae (banjo) and Joanna Macrae (guitar), as well as former Caleb Klauder band fiddler Sophie Vitells and bass fiddle player Brian Bagadonis of the Foghorn Stringband. The band plays Appalachian fiddle tunes, ballads and traditional songs, as well as original material.

Raised in Portland, Ore., the band began when sisters Marian and Gabrielle were living in Ashville N.C. They returned to Porland in 2009, adding sister Joanna and fiddler Sophie.

For more on the band, visit their facebook page at


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