Weekend Best Bets

Posted: Friday, April 20, 2001

The next few days bring an incredible wealth of entertainment to Juneau.

There will be seven or eight concerts featuring scores of acts, two nights of dancing with more than a dozen bands and 40 free music workshops. There will also be informal jam sessions throughout town offering hours of great music.

But first, a word about Lazer Vaudeville. I watched a video of these three talented performers and I'm impressed. I will sneak away from the Alaska Folk Festival tonight for at least half their show at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium.

They are world-class jugglers, and they've jazzed it up with 21st century elements, such as lasers, blacklights and original music, and taken full advantage of the time-tested vaudeville sensibilities of costumes, comedy and puppetry. It's fancy and funny, but at the core are some pretty amazing acrobatic feats. There's much more than just tossing pins and clubs, it's the artful manipulation of flying, rolling, and spinning objects.

The show starts at 7:30 tonight, and tickets are $16 general, $12 for students and seniors and for a $50 family pass. Lazer Vaudeville is sponsored by the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council.

Another fun family event is the folk festival Family Concert from 10 a.m. to noon at Centennial Hall. Seven acts will perform kid-friendly music. Like all the festival events, it's supported by the membership of the Alaska Folk Festival and there's no admission charge.

The Alaska Folk Festival itself is great for all ages. There will be child care offered from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. tonight and tomorrow in Centennial Hall, thanks to the local Girl Scouts. Festival concerts run 7 to 11 p.m. or so tonight through Sunday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

In addition to the main stage concerts, there's a Songwriter's Showcase from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Backroom at the Silverbow. Jam sessions will be held informally in Centennial Hall and throughout the community all weekend. Sessions will be held after the festival concerts tonight at the Back Room at the Silverbow Inn and Saturday at the Goldbelt Hotel. A late night jam will be held Sunday after the festival at the Hangar on the Wharf in Merchants' Wharf.

Almost 40 music workshops will be offered this weekend. These include voice and singing lessons, dance lessons, introductions and demonstrations for a number of different instruments and musical styles. All the workshops are free of charge.

Most music workshops will be in Centennial Hall, in the Hammond, Hickel and Egan rooms off the small lobby. Some dance workshops will be in the Sheffield ballroom, others will be elsewhere. Pick up a program at the festival membership table at Centennial Hall for a complete list of all the workshops, performers and dances.

The festival also offers dancing tonight and Saturday at the National Guard Armory. Six bands will play tonight beginning with a percussion group called Rhythm Method at 7 p.m. A new Juneau rock band, SMY, with Albert McDonnell, Justin Smith, Jay Caputo and Clay Good, will perform a 10 p.m., followed by Salsa Borealis at 11 p.m. and The Bobb Family Band at midnight.

Saturday night dances opens at 7 p.m. with Ripinski's Ghost, a Klezmer group from Haines, followed by a batch of contra and square dance bands with top-notch callers. The festival guest artists Tom, Brad and Alice, and guest caller Woody Lane play a midnight set Saturday.

The guest artists, old time musicians Tom Sauber, Alice Gerrard and Brad Leftwich, will be featured on the main stage at 9 p.m. Sunday. The hall fills up about an hour before hand, so come early to get a seat.

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