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Best bets

Posted: Friday, August 18, 2000

Rock'n'roll and old-time music are your best bets for the week ahead.

It's an odd coincidence that both visiting groups are made up of classical musicians who have embraced these proletariat genres. The Fairbanks rock group ethos brings its music to the Hangar on the Wharf tonight and Saturday. Stan and Annie Moser, old-time musicians from the Seattle area, perform next Thursday at Cafe Myriad.

ethos vocalist Rebecca Stephens sat in with folk-rockers Yukon Ryder this week at the Hangar, and she definitely draws on her classical voice training to deliver. ethos guitarist Scott Spring is a formally-trained guitarist and taught classical guitar at the University of Alaska Fairbanks music department. He plays electric and acoustic with the band. Keyboardist Neil Krejci has been playing piano since he was 5 and has a masters degree in piano performance.

Krejci said they haven't forsaken their classical roots entirely. He works in the music department at UAF and recently accompanied Stephens in a classical recital. But by night he trades the grand piano for a Hammond organ and an electric keyboard to play rock and the band's original compositions.

Members of ethos said the band has been gigging virtually every weekend for the past year or so in the Fairbanks area. They play dance clubs, bars and coffeeshops, performing everything from Wilson Picketts "In the Midnight Hour" to their own jazz-influenced instrumentals and folk-influenced songs.

The band has recorded one CD, and has written material for a second, which they plan to begin recording when they return to Fairbanks. They have at least two dozen originals incorporated into their set list, alongside tunes by the Ramones, the Surfaris and B.B. King.

They take the stage at the Hangar at 9:30 tonight and Saturday. The cover is $3.

Stan and Annie Moser also started in the classical realm. Stan was a classical guitarist trained in Spain and pursued a career in that field for several years. He switched his emphasis to the banjo, particularly the frailing style that drives old-time music.

Annie was trained as a mezzo-soprano, and although she sang chorale works and classical vocal pieces she said she always loved folk music. The two formed a musical duo a year ago, about the same time they got together as a couple. They got married last week, and their trip to Juneau is both honeymoon and concert tour.

Annie said they both sing lead and harmony, and their repertoire includes instrumentals as well as songs. She said they play bluegrass, but Stan frails the tunes instead of using the Scruggs-style three finger-picking characteristic of bluegrass.

The distinction between bluegrass and old-time may be inconsequential to most people. The down-home Americana feel of both styles is infectious and entertaining. Old-time, along with gospel and the popular music of the 1920s and 1930s, formed the roots of bluegrass, which was invented in the 1940s and 1950s.

Old-time is the front-porch pickin' fiddle and banjo music of the last century, the driving instrumentals that fueled barn dances and hoe downs. Fans of good old-time music have lamented the absence of frailing banjo players in Juneau and should be delighted to have the opportunity to catch the Mosers next week.

They play at 7 p.m. next Thursday at the Cafe Myriad. Cost is $3, or a $2 bill.

The Golden North Salmon Derby kicked off this morning, so there'll be plenty of activity on the inside waters of the area. The harbors are busy and packed with people during the Derby, which can be exciting if you're participating and frustrating if you're trying to park or get just through.

The glorious sun Thursday and today was unpredicted, and perhaps we'll get lucky with more this weekend. The alpine country is in full splendor and this is the best time to get out. If you want to avoid the derby scene, head for the hills.

We also had several nights of northern lights, so keep an eye on the sky if you're out and it's clear.



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