Best Bets: Music, natural history and the supernatural

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2002

Natural history, the supernatural, a blues rock duo and Buddy Tabor offer entertainment and enlightenment this weekend.

Buddy Tabor takes the stage at the Back Room at the Silverbow Inn for a concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 29. He'll be featuring his original music, with a few of his favorites by other writers. Tabor is easily one of Juneau's best songwriters, with four CDs to his credit and another in the works. He'll be joined by bassist Albert McDonnell and mandolinist John Hartle.

Collette Costa will open the concert with a few songs and also will serve as emcee. She is a talented singer with great stage presence and will be a strong addition. Michael Truax will play a half-hour set of songs. Tabor is a big fan of Truax, a Juneau musician who rarely performs.

"Most people have never seen him beyond 15 minutes," Tabor said, referring to Truax' annual Alaska Folk Festival performance. "He's a great collector of songs and sings them in his own style."

A blues rock band featuring Juneau and Skagway musicians performs 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, March 30 and 31, at the Alaskan Bar. Lahna Deering and the Rev. Neil Down, who sing, play guitar and write funky, catchy, bluesy songs, will be spending the weekend in Juneau playing music. They have a couple of fine CDs that I have thoroughly enjoyed. They'll be joined by drummer Clay Good, fiddler Bob Banghart and bassist Adrian Minne.

Deering grew up in a musical family in Port Townsend, Wash.

"We grew up sitting around the living room playing music instead of watching TV," she said. "Or driving around in the truck singing harmonies."

Her mom had a job as a chef on a cruise ship but Deering said she hated it and one day jumped ship in Skagway. Lahna, still a teen-ager, came up for the summer and loved it. She moved to Skagway after she graduated. She's been playing music and singing with the Rev. Down for a couple years, and he worked with her on her recording, "Coupe De Villa."

Hypnotist and mentalist Christopher Carter may not be truly supernatural, but he delves in the realms that generally go beyond our understanding. Carter takes the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday at the University of Alaska Student Activities Center.

If you're the brave sort, experimental and curious, this is your chance to volunteer as one of the hypnotist's subjects. If you've never seen a hypnotist's act, it's definitely something to catch at least once. I watched a show several years ago and it was not what I expected.

Sure, people bark like dogs and do the funky chicken, but there's more going on than good-natured silliness. Hypnotism offers some insights into aspects of psychology and the power of our minds that we don't see in everyday life. Carter has made a career out exploring the human mind - on stage.

Carter also does tricks with extra sensory perception, revealing things about people. He told me before his last performance in Juneau three years ago that some of it is a highly attuned ability to read body language.

"My belief is that when you exercise the parts of your mind that allow you to read people on a conscious level, you also do that on an unconscious level," he said. "I'm convinced there is more in the way we communicate with each other than simple language."

The Alaska State Museum is offering enlightenment on the natural world - and the opportunity to become a museum volunteer.

Every spring the museum sponsors a series of free workshops to train docents, the volunteers who lead tours of the museum. Led by historians, scientists, artists and museum curators, the workshops provide insight into Alaska's cultural and natural history.

The first in the six-part series begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 30, at the museum. Anthropologist Daniel Montieth has found evidence linking traditional Tlingit clan stories to extinct animals and geological events, including some that go back almost 10,000 years. He's dropped down into the deep, nearly vertical caves in southern Southeast and recovered plant and animal remains and archeological evidence that reveals secrets about Alaska's past.

Montieth's presentation, "Parallels between the geologic record and oral history of Alaska Native People" will be the first in the series. Others will include a presentation by photographer Robert Ketchum, who opens an exhibit of his photography in April at the museum; museum curator Steve Henrickson will highlight rare and particularly significant artifacts from the museum's collections and Alaska historian Dee Longenbaugh will speak on little known pivotal events and characters in Russia-Alaska history. Biologist Matt Kirchoff will wrap up the series April 27 with a presentation on deer and wolves. Contact Mary Irvine at the museum at 465-2901 for more information.

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