Happy music year

Posted: Thursday, January 06, 2011

N ew Year’s Day is such a better holiday than Christmas. The only traditional purchase to make is alcohol, which for many isn’t different from any other weekend. The only guilt surrounding the holiday is self-imposed on the subject of resolutions, rather than in relation to gift-getting. There are no rules about how the holiday is to be celebrated — anything goes.

“Happy New Year” is a more generous greeting than most Christmas salutations — it’s one phrase to last a whole 365 days. I received many New Year’s wishes in the last week, but my favorite — and in my judgment the most genuine — came from a runner I passed while on a Jan. 1 run of my own.

When I’m on a run, people in my vicinity probably think I’m a huge jerk. I’m often not wearing my glasses, and if I am the lenses usually end up getting fogged up or covered in rain, so my eyes easily miss anyone who may wave to me from more than six feet away. My ears are also usually plugged with earbuds blasting public radio or some music I’ll be reviewing in a future column. The volume is generally low enough to hear a car sneak up on me, but often too high to hear the “hello” of a human voice.

But as I climbed that hill on Saturday, I passed a man as he descended. He was wearing a healthy grin, one of someone who loves to get out and sweat even on the grayest and soggiest of days. He looked as if he might burst into song as he trod along, and we exchanged the appropriate holiday greeting of the day as we passed. His was much more enthusiastic than mine, and his words transferred an energy to me that I carried with me for the following miles.

Now by this point, the new year is old news, and belated greetings are losing their momentum. However, 2011 is young and we have a lot to look forward to.

Locally, a number of musical events are on the horizon with even more to be announced. The Calder Quartet will grace the Thunder Mountain High School auditorium in March. The Alaska Folk Festival will be held April 11-17 and is sure to be a week of good music overload — start preparing yourselves now. The Southeast Alaska State Fair will be held July 28-31 in Haines, and will feature a number of regional and outside acts. The fair towns of Sitka and Ketchikan will hold their Monthly Grinds throughout the summer — not to mention Prince of Wales Island, the residents of which hold great grinds, so I’ve heard — featuring their local talent and whoever happens to be passing through at the time.

If all else fails, you’ll probably receive a handful of phone calls this year from friends, who will say, “There’s this great band playing tonight that I just heard about, do you want to go check them out with me?” Don’t turn them down.

If you’re bringing an outside act to town, or producing a concert for a local artist, be sure to promote the event appropriately. There’s nothing more disappointing — to the artist and to their potential audience — if the word isn’t effectively spread. Kari Groven at the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council has prepared a very helpful document to assist first-timers in promoting local events. View it at www. jahc.org/services/how-to-promote-your-event.

Internationally, there is more music being created than ever before. This year, I’ll welcome reader suggestions for new releases worth investigating, and I resolve to bring you the best of my findings as I did through boxes of CDs and folders of MP3s. Happy listening.

• Contact Libby Sterling at libby.sterling@juneauempire.com.

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