Weekend Best Bets

Posted: Friday, March 16, 2001

Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, as the saying goes, but Juneau really does have a generous number of folks of Irish descent. There's a nice selection of St. Patrick's Day activities in store, and many are family oriented.

Irish music and stories will be featured at a St. Patrick's Day Party at noon on Saturday at the Douglas Library. Grace Elliot, Pat McLear and Cindy Boesser will tell stories, and Jeff Brown will provide a bit o' magic. Lis Saya and friends will perform traditional Irish music and provide music for Irish dancing. Green snacks will be served.

Saturday night there will be a St. Patrick's Day Barn Dance, beginning at 7:30 in the Juneau Dance Unlimited studio in Scottish Rite Temple. Kids are also welcome to this event, and the first half hour will be dance instruction. Ellie Sharman, a fine fiddler from Gustavus, will be in town to lead the band, and Tom Paul will be the caller. As always with contradances, beginners are welcome and no dance partner or experience is needed. Admission is $7, $4 students and seniors, and free to Vista, SAGA and Jesuit volunteers.

For many years the group Taku Gaels was Juneau's premiere Irish band, but the band has not been too visible in recent years. All the players have been busy in other configurations. The Gaels will play Irish music from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Alaskan Bar for folks who want to stop in for a stout or ale or the like and hear some fine Irish music.

A variety of Irish musicians will congregate Saturday afternoon and evening at the Hangar on the Wharf. The plan is to have Irish food as well, probably corn beef and cabbage. Festivities will begin about 4 p.m.

Juneau-Douglas Little Theatre is hosting a fund-raising Irish dinner at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Baranof Hotel. The benefit is $50, and the three-course meal will include corn beef and cabbage and a ticket to the final performance of "Dancing at Lughnasa."

Seeing a play set in Ireland about an Irish family is probably one of the most Irish things you could do on St. Patty's Day. This is an enjoyable show, well acted and presented. It's also almost certainly the last show at that will ever be staged at the Palace Theatre. Perhaps Jim Fowler's 12-by-30-foot painting of the Irish countryside, on the back wall behind the stage, will be there for years to come.

The revitalized Palace Theatre was a fine addition to the downtown Juneau arts scene for the past three years and our community has been lucky to have the venue as long as we did.

Saturday is the last day to catch the contemporary art exhibit at the Alaska State Museum. "Deep Song: Attuning to Within," by Anchorage artist Graham Dane, and "From the Outside In," by Ester artist Joan Hornig, will be coming down Monday. This is a nice collection of imaginative paintings. Many are abstract, and others are expressionistic and evocative.

Spring is almost here. Tuesday is the equinox, the official first day of spring. I heard the gym-eacher-whistles of varied thrushes Monday on Basin Road, and the pussywillows are budding out. It's still light after work, too, so spring must be here.

The Juneau Community Charter School presents the Spring for the Arts Gala at 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon in the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium. The fund-raiser for the charter school's music, art and language programs will include a variety of performers from the school and the community. Scenes from Shakespeare's plays and "Candide" will be presented by Theatre in the Rough, charter school actors (under the direction of Perseverance Theatre) and Juneau Lyric Opera. A wind quintet made up of symphony members will also play. There will also be a silent auction and plenty of desserts and food. Admission is $12, $5 for kids.

Another sign-of-spring event is the Juneau-Douglas High School Spring Concert at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, also in the JDHS auditorium. Seven JDHS music groups will perform sets, including the choirs and bands. I am continually impressed by the JDHS music department and musicians, and a free concert highlighting these players is a good bet.

Author and photographer Nick Jans will present a reading and slide show 7:30 to 9 tonight at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.

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