A day of dancing, food, storytelling and music

Posted: Friday, November 29, 2002

The Alaska Folk Festival brings a little bit of the annual springtime music event to the Juneau Elk's Lodge on Saturday.

Storyteller Brett Dillingham and musician Martha Stey will be among the entertainers launching Novemberfest with a children's concert Saturday morning, Nov. 30. A chili feed and music workshops will be held in the afternoon, and a concert and dance will be the evening highlights. All events will be in the ballroom upstairs at the Elk's Lodge at 109 South Franklin Street.

A children's concert will kick off the day's events at 11 a.m. In addition to Dillingham and Stey, performers include Clarabella the Clown, musician Teri Tibbett, storyteller Anne Fuller and the Montessori Kids.

Linda Frame, one of the event organizers, called the children's concert a great Thanksgiving weekend event. She said Stey is an energetic and engaging performer with fun original songs. Storyteller Dillingham has a unique talent for bringing characters in stories to life, she said.

"Brett can get little kids excited about stories," Frame said. "He really interacts with them. He's able to look at them and see how they're reacting and gear his stories right to them. He uses his voice really well."

Admission to the children's concert, which ends about 1 p.m., is $5 for an entire family. Hot dogs, juice and treats will be for sale.

A chili and cornbread feed will start at noon, and food will be for sale until 4 p.m. Coffee, soda and juice also will be available throughout the day. In the evening, beer will be for sale during the concert and the dance.

During the afternoon, old-time, bluegrass and Irish music workshops will be taught by Juneau musicians Andy Ferguson, Jack Fontanella and Henry Hopkins from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

The evening concert gets under way at 7 p.m. Guitarist and singer Rainee Godwin will open the show. A series of 20-minute sets will follow. Singer and songwriter John Palmes, the political satire group the Bluescast, Irish musician Henry Hopkins and singer Collette Costa will perform.

The Panhandle Crabgrass Revival Band, featuring bluegrass and old-time music, will start the dance with an opening set, followed by the Sofa Kings.

The Sofa Kings are a relatively new Juneau band and feature Bob Banghart on fiddle, Albert McDonnell on guitar, Patrick Murphy on bass, and Eric Holle of Haines on banjo and mandolin.

Holle, a veteran of professional bluegrass bands, played regionally in the jazz-swing group the Pimentos. Murphy, a local music teacher, plays acoustic bass with the Juneau Symphony and has played electric bass with rock bands in the past. Banghart and McDonnell played together in the 1990s in the Cajun band Port Du Nord Playboys and now also play together in the Bobb Family Band.

Holle said members are influenced by swing, jazz, bluegrass, boogie-woogie and even Latin American musical styles. He called the band's style a mongrel, mixed-breed kind of thing.

"Albert's the main singer," said Holle. "I sing the second-most, but everybody's in on it vocally at some point."

The Alaska Folk Festival is a week-long music festival that's been held every spring in Juneau since 1974. In the mid-1980s, festival organizers began Novemberfest as a fund-raiser and an opportunity to include musicians and music-lovers, such as fishermen, who missed the spring festival because of work.

Novemberfest was discontinued in the late 1990s because attendance was down and the event was not making money, said organizer Rainee Godwin. She led efforts to revive the event this year and rallied the festival board and a cadre of volunteers.

"We need to have something going in the fall, for inspiration musically and to keep us all working on music and practicing," Godwin said. "And to hear our friends play music."

Godwin said the entire seven-member folk festival board is pitching in, as well as Ellen Ferguson, Linda Frame and Linda Pardun, to produce the day-long event.

There are no advance tickets. Admission is $10 at the door for the concert and dance, or $5 for either. The afternoon workshops are free.

Riley Woodford can be reached at

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