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This weekend presents plenty of opportunities to go out, have fun and even give something back.
June is Gay Pride Month, and according to organizers Chris Beanes and Jeremy Neldon, Juneau's Second Annual Pride Festival is one of the earliest celebrations in the nation. I didn't attend last year's event because I was in New York City, but according to Riley Woodford, guru of Best Bets, it was good fun nice weather and lots of people. If the weather holds, this year's follow-up festival could be a blast. It runs from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday on Second Street between Seward and Main. The organizers are bringing in some extremely talented local musical acts, including the Glacial Erratics with Kim Barlow of Whitehorse, the Panhandle Crabgrass Revival Band, Rory Merritt Stitt and a portion of the Bobb Family Band.
The festival will also host Chicago singer/songwriter Ripley Caine. I visited her Web site at www.ripleycaine.com and was impressed by the song samples; Caine has an emotionally rich, guitar-driven sound bolstered by an expressive voice. Her performance will likely be a highlight, but there's also plenty of crafts and food to keep passersby entertained.
Also performing at the Pride Festival is the Juneau Pride Chorus, which has a concert of its own on Friday at 7:30 at Northern Light United Church. Sponsored by PFLAG of Juneau, this women's chorus will present favorites from past performances, as well as a number of new selections. The show will also include acts by soloists and small groups performing a cappella harmonies, storytelling and juggling. With song titles like "Power Tools Are a Girl's Best Friend," how can you miss?
The new Juneau Arts and Humanities Council exhibit by Miah Lager and Heidi Reifenstein opens Friday with a reception from 4:30 to 6:30. The two women have different styles, but one's art complements the other's, and they have a clear camaraderie that can only benefit their show. While there's no specific theme for the exhibit, the idea behind much of their art - of looking at society and its influences on individuals - is an intriguing one, and the pieces on display are very well done.
On Sunday, Juneau's artistic community will come together in a benefit concert for George and Jean Rogers at 7 p.m. in the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium. Longtime supporters of art and artists in Juneau, the Rogers lost their home in a fire on April 21. Though the benefit does aim to raise money to help them cover the costs of replacement, organizer Anita Maynard-Losh said its real goal is to show community support.
"I think it's a real tribute to them that so many performers are eager to participate in this," Losh said. "They've really supported everyone who has tried to create work in the arts here."
I have vivid memories of Jean stopping by my elementary school classroom to read from her books and answer our questions about writing. She's been a huge encouragement to me since third grade, and I'm glad I'll have a chance to give some part of that gift back. Even community members who haven't met or worked with George and Jean might be interested in stopping by to watch the great variety of acts being presented. Groups performing include Juneau Lyric Opera, Perseverance Theatre, Alaska Youth Choir and Theatre in the Rough; individual artists such as Joyce Parry Moore, Dave Hunsaker and Kathleen Wayne will also perform. It should be a fantastic evening of community and fun.
It's a little harder to get to, but the Sitka Summer Music Festival also kicks off this weekend with a series of concerts in Sitka. The festival is in its 30th year of existence and is still going strong; this year's performances reunite musicians who have been coming to Southeast to play since the 1970s. Concerts will take place Fridays, Saturdays and Tuesdays during the month of June, with a final performance on June 23. I've gone to concerts put on by the musicians from the festival here in Juneau, and they've never been less than amazing. This year should be particularly memorable.