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Posted: Friday, September 29, 2000

The final weekend of September brings some good music to Juneau and heralds the start of a season filled with good entertainment.

Next weekend is the first concert of the fall by the Juneau Symphony, an Irish music concert, a presentation by Alaska mystery writer John Straley and the opening of the Alaska Positive statewide photography exhibition.

This week is a good time to see "Wit" at Perseverance Theatre. For the budget conscious, next Wednesday, Oct. 4, is the pay-as-you-can night.

This weekend is the last chance to catch the Seattle-based rhythm and blues group Septimus at Marlintini's Lounge. The band features good players with real stage presence and a repertoire that includes rock, reggae, blues and R'n'B. Septimus plays 9:30 p.m. to closing tonight and Saturday. There's a $4 cover, which you don't pay if you come before 9 p.m.

Although the members of Septimus are top-notch musicians, they realize it takes more than virtuosity to connect with an audience. It takes eye contact, smiling at people, a little banter, working the crowd and engaging them. They go so far as to walk out into the audience and serenade the folks at the tables, and they provoke hecklers and joke with them. It's showmanship we don't see often from bands in Juneau, but then these guys have been professional musicians and entertainers for decades.

I appreciate that they truly seem to love music and playing together. It shows. The songs sound fresh. Some groups, even with good musicians, often seem to be playing the same song at the same time, instead of playing together. There's no chemistry there to make the sum greater than the parts. They look bored on stage, and it's the kiss of death.

People would rather hear a fun band that's not tight than a tight band that's not fun.

Fortunately, you can have both.

Septimus is not the only out-of-town act performing this weekend. The University of Alaska Southeast is sponsoring a concert Saturday with pianist David Lanz.

Lanz is a fine musician and composer who is blessed and cursed with his tag as a New Age artist. It's a label he's embraced, but it's not entirely accurate.

It's a curse because folks who would likely enjoy his music might not give him a chance, imagining the boring air pudding that typifies the genre. Lanz will not be washing the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium with synthesizer tones Saturday night. He is a talented, melodic pianist with a jazz background, and his concert Saturday would probably appeal to piano-philes and fans of classical music.

His most recent CD includes a six-part suite with an orchestra, as well as lively compositions with a six-piece band. He'll be playing solo Saturday, and because of his skills as a pianist I'm confident that it won't sound sparse.

Lanz deserves to take all the mileage he can get from his status as a New Age music pioneer. Obviously, his fans know who he is. For those who don't -- when Billboard magazine first created a New Age chart to monitor the sales of music in the new genre, Lanz' 1988 recording, "Christofori's Dream" went to No. 1 and sat there for 27 weeks. He's had eight top-10 albums, and several No. 1 singles, including "Behind the Waterfall," probably his best-selling composition.

David Lanz performs at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium. Tickets are $15 in advance at Hearthside Books and $18 at the door.

If you're a parent, tonight's a good time to take your kids out for live entertainment. Storyteller Margie Hamburger and the musical group The Funny Bones perform from 6:30-7:30 at McPhetres Hall. This should be a fun family show. The Funny Bones are Adrian Minne, Jeff Brown and Julie Pigott, parents of young children and musicians who know how to have a good time. The event is a benefit for the Juneau Coop Preschool, and tickets are $5 or $10 for a family. Snacks will also be available.

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