Blues open the soul for Juneau Jazz & Classics

Posted: Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ruthie Foster has a voice that can fill a room. More importantly, she has a voice that can fill your soul.

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Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

As the opening performance for the 24th annual Juneau Jazz & Classics, Ruthie Foster sold out Centennial Hall to standing-room-only capacity, which also meant dancing room only.

"I guess if you are going to stand you may as well dance," she said.

"I am going to bring you a little bit of this and some of that," Foster told the crowd, "with a little bit of Ruthie Foster thrown in there..."

With Tanya Richardson on bass guitar, Samantha Banks on drums and Scottie Miller on keyboards, Foster put together an opening set that showed just why she has been called a "Blues Powerhouse" by Oprah Magazine and was a 2009 Grammy nominee for best contemporary Blues album.

"I have five songs about rain," Foster said with a laugh, as the Centennial Hall crowd thundered with applause. "I will play this one for you and you and you."

Foster is just the tip-of-the-iceberg in the ocean of Juneau Jazz & Classics performances during the coming week. Once again, founder and artistic director Linda Rosenthal and executive director Sandy Fortier have assembled groups worthy of national attention.

"Coordinating all the acts is the hardest part," Fortier said. "The logistics of getting people where they need to be is huge, but worth it. Bringing all these artists from around the country to Juneau, artists who might not get to see Alaska, and then giving locals the opportunity to come and see them makes this a very satisfying venue."

Contact Klas Stolpe at

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