I jumped the gun and already started thinking about how sad it's gonna be when my out-of-town friends leave after Folk Fest. There are indeed such things as the post-festival blues and they're not limited to our Alaska Folk Festival, either. They happen after the San Francisco Bluegrass Festival. They happen after the National Fiddler's Festival at Weiser, Idaho. They happen after the Portland Old-Time Gathering, Anderson Country Music Festival, South By Southwest, Wintergrass, and the list goes on and on.
How can this happen? How can we expect to be able to hang out with good friends and play music indefinitely? Where do we get off thinking that we can just drink and dance and sing every day forever? Ha! Fat chance!
As we roll on in to the huge weekend of music that is the Alaska Folk Festival (not to mention the last four evenings of live music EVERY night at Centennial Hall), we should do ourselves a favor by not even thinking about this lonesome topic. And as it does for a lot of things, beer helps out quite a bit. Take Monday off, and just wade on in if you dare.
I do know a few poor souls who board up their windows and leave town during the mayhem of Folk Fest every spring. I can imagine that it might seem like Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale or Mardi Gras in New Orleans or even Hurricane Ike in Bay St. Louis, Ala. to certain un-initiated individuals. The hordes of idle, seemingly un-employed banjo- and bongo-toting visitors can easily unnerve the layman, but it's only a week so we can't feel too bad for them. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em or go to Lucky Me for a week. It'll be fine. The naysayers can come back and revel in the discomfiture of hollow-eyed pickers returning to the 9-to-5, the cacophonous squeal of fiddle tunes resonating through their addled brains.
But alas, the inevitable occurs every year. We try to stretch it out into Monday and even Tuesday after the festival is officially over, but it WILL be over. Faces that you've just gotten used to seeing around town will disappear unannounced in last minute mad-dash cab rides to the airport. We'll get desperate phone calls from people who had to board their flights without coats, guitars, suitcases, one shoe, sunglasses, capos, spouses and microphones that were left at my house, his house, the bar, the hall, the other bar, El Sombrero, Larry's truck...etc. Sudden evacuation of friends and maybe just a little bit of the D.T.'s may jar us locals for a day or two, but the stories and memories of good times will linger and, over the years, blur into the collective mental files of festival lore.
"Wasn't it last year when that guy belly-slid down the steps of the Alaskan discharging a fire extinguisher behind him like a rocket engine?"
"It must've been '06 when some dude from Portland wore a pink dress all day with lipstick and the stubble kissin' all the girls."
"No, Jack had hair then so it must have been in the 90's"
With full knowledge of the post-festival blues, I still wouldn't trade this week in Juneau for anything. Alaskans get around, but this is the single one-time of the year where the Alaskan musical community at large comes together for a week of nothing but fun. No work, no worries; just catching up after a long winter, and trading tunes before the sleepless summer months overtake us once again. Folk Festival week has become one of the things I look forward to the most every single year, and P.F.B.'s be damned, we're gonna have a good time.
~Sean Tracey is a folk nerd victim with punk-rock tendencies. Give him a shout...email@example.com.
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