Weekend Best Bets

Posted: Friday, May 25, 2001

This weekend offers plenty of magic and music for Juneau residents.

The Juneau Jazz and Classics festival draws to a close with a number of innovative concerts, including a Saturday performance at the Mendenhall Glacier that integrates hiking, music and an arrival by the musicians in traditional Tlingit canoes. Armen Ksajikian, Gwen Thompson, the Juneau-based Ursa Major Youth Quartet and Rick Trostel, a local trumpet player, will all perform. Rain or shine, this should be a fun opportunity to enjoy excellent music and the beauty of Juneau in the spring. Be sure to bring a chair.

Charlie Hunter will play two slightly smaller - but no less entertaining - sets Saturday night at 7 and 9 p.m. at Mike's Place in Douglas. KTOO and KINY's morning shows have been previewing some of Hunter's music, but it's hard to predict exactly what the jazz guitarist will perform, said Greg Cohen, festival manager.

"One of his great assets is that he refuses to be pinned down into one style or genre," Cohen said. "He's done everything from almost total percussion-based stuff to Latin-influenced to rock-blues influenced to straight-ahead jazz."

Hunter plays an eight-string guitar, which removes the need for a separate bass player in the band. Instead the line-up consists of a drummer, a percussionist, a saxophone player and Hunter himself. As of Monday, about half the tickets for each of the shows were sold out, with the 9 p.m. show selling slightly faster than the 7 p.m., Cohen said. Since Mike's Place is a smaller venue, it's probably best to buy tickets now. They can be purchased at either Hearthside Books location.

Also taking place at 7 p.m. this Saturday is Seneca Harper's magic and clown show in the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium, "Blu Magic." Harper, an eighth-grader at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School, has spent the last six months planning and organizing the show, which features a clown character - Blu - he invented himself.

"My favorite color was blue at the time, and I wanted to make it original and a trademark," Harper said. "I try to keep my theme blue too, with the blue pants and the blue hair."

The show features some difficult illusions, and Harper sounds both enthusiastic and prepared. He's been clowning for four years, despite the fact that he's technically too young to join the Juneau Joeys, Juneau's local clown troop. His interest in magic tricks came about after a visit to a Colorado clown shop with his grandmother.

"It happened to have magic there too," Harper said. "The tricks were really cool and I decided I wanted to learn that."

The show should run 45 minutes to an hour, with a performance by the Joeys at intermission. Tickets are $5 at the door, with proceeds helping offset the cost of putting on the show.

Next week, poetry fans can look forward to a reading by former Juneau resident Christine Marie. Marie, who has lived in Sitka for the last six years, is the latest speaker in the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council "Between the Lines" series. Her reading, which takes place on at 7 p.m. Monday at The Back Room, will include pieces from her published collection of poetry, "Love Song to a Mountain," and newer, unpublished works. Members of the local band Kudzu will perform with Marie, enriching the reading with improvisational jazzy blues.

The focus of the reading will be on ties between spirituality and creativity, Marie said. Born Catholic and now studying to be an Episcopal minister, Marie has seen her spiritual journey manifest itself in her writing.

"Writing poetry is probably my truest form of prayer," she said. "Now that I'm conscious of the fact that poetry is a form of being spiritual, of connecting with God or connecting with the world or connecting even with myself, there's many more dimensions."

In addition to her poems, Marie thinks she'll read one of her sermons as an "example of creative writing." Her other work includes a number of plays and two unpublished novels, both of which are set in Juneau.

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