By Tyler Preston
Beer Hunters. Cavemen. Thundercats. Even Sasquatch. Can I just say how stoked I am for the music at the Southeast Alaska State Fair this year? It's coming up next weekend in Haines, and I am literally counting down the days.
In case you haven't heard, the lineup for the fair is fantastic this year, featuring everything from the Blue Scholars -J Sabzi and MC Geologic and their own brand of homegrown, Northwest Coast hip-hop - to Trampled by Turtles, a four-piece bluegrass and folk group that has received acclaim as being "one of very few bands in America that are hipster-approved but could heave a room of strangers into a hoe-down at any time."
Both will be performing on Friday at the fair; I heard TxT has a two-hour set, so make sure to wear your dancing shoes. I also heard a rumor that TxT will be performing in Juneau before the fair, so make sure you keep an eye on the Empire's events calendar to get a heads up on where that will be. Hopefully the Alaskan, if I have my way.
But I digress - other sure-to-be-crowd pleasers at the fair include the infamous Ray Troll and his Ratfish Wranglers and the Saturday night headliners, Yo Momma's Big Fat Booty Band. Both are large ensembles that will fill the whole stage with their funky grooves and will certainly make a visual impact along with the music. In my opinion, there's nothing better than a stage full of musicians to make a festival set really come alive.
Ray and the Wranglers are a ragtag bunch of brigands hailing from Ketchikan. Reminiscent of the B-52s, their mojo is manufactured by synthesizers and their lyrics informed by biology textbooks, but featuring characters like the legendary Bombastadon instead of the standards that you learned in sixth grade.
The Booty Band, on the other hand, prefers to bring the funk with their horn ensemble and high-energy stage show. The six-piece hails from North Carolina and can only be described as the ultimate backyard party funk band. They've spent a pretty good chunk of June working on their new studio album; their website is a bit short on details right now, but the release is slated for late fall/winter, so be sure to join the mailing list; there's a link on their website.
Also, while at the fair, don't forget to check out The Klondike, a second-stage venue of sorts; many of the artists who are performing at the fair will also play a more intimate set there. It's on the fairgrounds and it's a great place to catch the singer/songwriters and acoustic ensembles like Caleb Aronson and Blvd Park.
Semi-local bands to look out for include Milo Matthews and the Negative Ions, a chilled out, bass-driven group from Homer; Sasquatch Prom Date, a rockabilly-bordering-on-punkabilly quartet of Canucks that will be coming down from Whitehorse and Pamyua, another Alaskan group that combines diverse instrumentation like the djembe and the didgeridoo with haunting Inuit harmonies.
Seriously though, this year's fair is going to be totally epic, and this column isn't long enough to showcase all of the groups that are going to be there, so my recommendation is that you hit www.seakfair.org and check out the 'Entertainment' section. You can get the group names and throw them into Google; most have websites and quite a few actually have free music available for download. There's a schedule and everything so you'll be able to figure out when and where you can catch whomever doing whatever. Rock out, fellow peace and love makers; I hope to see you at the fair!
Tyler Preston is a local guitar slinger and soapbox preacher with his band, the Thundercats, and an avid audio aficionado. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tyler_preston.
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