Fjord Fest: Skagway organizes a 12-hour, end-of-summer blowout

Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2005

For years, people in Haines have been talking about organizing some sort of end-of-summer bash.

"For a number of years that was the Southeast Alaska State Fair, because that was the middle of August," said Dan Henry, program director of KHNS, the public radio station for Haines, Skagway and Klukwan. "But since the Haines fair has moved up to July, there's nothing going on in August in this part of the country."

Enter the first-ever Fjord Fest, a 12-hour outdoor blowout set for 1 p.m.-1 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, at Seven Pastures Field, just north of downtown Skagway.

KHNS, celebrating its 25th anniversary, has organized the party as a fundraiser. The station hopes it evolves into an annual event.

Admission is $25, or $20 for KHNS members. From Haines, $59 buys a ticket and round-trip passage on Chilkat Cruises' Fast Ferry.

Ten percent of the revenue will go to The Heartbeat Walk, Skagway resident Buckwheat Donahue's yearlong walk and paddle from the Florida Keys to Skagway.

"We thought it was a good time to have a big celebration for the end of the season," Henry said. "Skagway has a lot of folks who work in the tourist industry who are getting ready to leave this time of the year. We wanted to have a big send-off to see them off until next spring."

The Flying Other Brothers, an eight-piece Bay Area supergroup that played Aug. 12-13 at the Hangar on the Wharf, will headline.

Lead guitarist Barry Sless has played with Kingfish, Cowboy Jazz and the David Nelson Band and has toured through Southeast Alaska several times. He's been a personal friend of Henry's for 20 years.

Keyboard player Pete Sears played with Rod Stewart, Hot Tuna, the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead and on Jefferson Starship's "Red Octopus" album. Drummer Jimmy Sanchez has played with Boz Skaggs, Dr. John and JJ Cale.

"They love to jam," Henry said. "They'll play for hours. These guys are West Coast session musicians and rock stars in their own right. We wanted someone who had a real positive ring and who loved the area too."

KHNS has also flown up Deering and Down. The band played the Hangar last weekend and has recently relocated to Memphis, where they've recorded at Sun Studios.

Deering and Down will also play 9 p.m.-close, Thursday, Sept. 1, at the Pioneer Bar in Haines, and 9:30 p.m.-close, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 2-3, at the Alaskan Hotel and Bar in Juneau.

"It would have been at least a year before we would have been able to have them back," Henry said. "They're a Haines favorite and a Southeast Alaska favorite."

festival details

for information about fjord fest tickets, call khns radio at 907-766-2020.


•the state ferry kennicott leaves juneau at 8:30 a.m. saturday and arrives in skagway at 3:45 p.m. the fast ferry fairweather leaves juneau at 12:30 p.m. saturday and gets to skagway at 3 p.m.

• the fairweather leaves skagway at 3:30 p.m. sunday and docks in juneau at 6:30 p.m.

fjord fest schedule

1-1:15 p.m. - introduction; 1:15-1:30 - invocation by the skagway traditional council; 1:30-2 - the insanity of vaughn avery; 2-3 -deering and down; 3-3:15 - spirit story dancers; 3:15-4 - flying hominies; 4-4:15 - the insanity of vaughn avery; 4:15-4:30 - spirit story dancers; 4:30-5:30 - deering and down; 5:30-6 - flying hominies; 6-7 - tony scott pearce and the valley of the north wind boys;7-7:15 - spirit story dancers; 7:15-8 - tony scott pearce and the valley of the north wind boys; 8-8:30 - deering and down; 8:30-8:45 - insanity of vaughn avery; 8:45-9 - eternal flame; 9-11 - flying other brothers; 11-11:15 - spirit story dancers; 11:15-1 a.m. - flying other brothers.

Haines artist Tresham Gregg, former KHNS board president and longtime board member, is organizing a group of masked supernatural performers called The Spirit Story Dancers. The group is inspired by his masked-dance work in California, western Canada and Southeast Alaska. It will include a series of freestyle dancing based on themes of Northwest Coast imagery - an eagle mating dance, a mountain goat stomp, the Aurora spirit dance and a performance called "Wild Woman and the Kooshdaakaas."

"We want to make the whole event sort of transcend what I would call a regular music festival where everybody just watches the band and shuffles a little bit," Gregg said. "We're hoping the whole thing becomes more of a psychedelic event."

The other acts:

• Eternal Flame, a group of 20 maiden candle dancers from Haines that opened for Laura Love at this year's Southeast Alaska State Fair.

• The Flying Hominies include Eric Holle, Christy Hays, Lindy Dickson and Eli Jones. Holle's other bands include The Sofa Kings and Lunchmeat and the Pimentos.

• The Insanity of Vaughn Avery, the mime and magician master.

• Tony Scott Pearce and the Valley of the North Wind Boys, a psycho-grass band that has been the house band at Skagway's Red Onion saloon this summer

Bad Radish will not be playing, despite what the poster says.

The city is allowing free overnight camping along the riverbank, a quarter-mile stretch with cottonwood trees.

The festival grounds will include food tents, a beer garden and booths for local artisans.

• Korry Keeker can be reached at

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