Homer Alaska - Arts

Story last updated at 3:24 PM on Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Seldovia celebrates summer with its annual music festival

Staff Writer


Photo provided

Seldovia Summer Solstice Music Festival headliners Cliff Erberhardt and James Lee Stanley.

Homer has the KBBI Concert on the Lawn and Soldotna its Kenai River Festival, but when it comes to a long weekend of concerts, workshops and jam session, nothing beats the intimate setting of Seldovia with its annual Summer Solstice Music Festival.

Now in its 12th year, the festival, held June 21-24, might feel like a baker's dozen with all that goes on in the town across Kachemak Bay. What makes the solstice music festival different isn't just two nights of concerts with 16 acts. It's not the two days of workshops. From riding the Alaska State Ferry vessel M/V Tustumena on June 21 to a Sunday afternoon gospel music jam, music lovers can meet performers up close.

Seldovia Summer Solstice Music Festival

June 21 to 24


All events at Susan B. English School unless otherwise noted

Website: seldoviamusicfestival.wordpress.com


Friday, June 22

10 a.m., Popular Music of the 49th State, by Suzanne Sommerville. A walk through Alaska's history of song, with a slide presentation of many of early Alaska composers.

1 p.m., Primal Tang, a film Dan Crary, about the 3,500-year history of the guitar.

Saturday, June 23

1 p.m. workshops

Finger Style Guitar Playing, John Cook.

Fiddle and Mandolin Techniques, Martin Stevens.

Morris English Folk Dancing, Rant and Raven Morris Dancers

Music Arranging, James Lee Stanley

2 p.m. workshops

Alaska Songs, Suzanne Sommerville

Family Play Party Dance, Robin Hopper

Flat Picking, Dan Crary.

Ukulele Playing, Tim Quinn, with uke circle meet-up at 2:30 p.m.

3 p.m. workshops

Finger Style Guitar Play, Rick Brooks

Songwriting, Cliff Eberhart and Steve Spurgin

Beginners Irish Gaelic Song Workshop, Dawn Berg

Dance for Two: Learn a Morris Dance Jig, Dan and Serena Coons of the Rant and Raven Morris Dancers

Performer Collaboration, Milo Matthews

"Absolutely wonderful professionals have offered their skills," said Susan Mumma, director of the Seldovia Arts Council, the festival's sponsor. "Something people don't realize about this festival is that emphasis."

Headlining the festival this year are flat picking guitarist and legend Dan Crary and his band, Thunderation, and James Lee Stanley and Cliff Eberhardt teaming up for All Wood and Doors, an acoustic version of The Doors' greatest hits. Also appearing with Crary are Steve Spurgin, a prolific songwriter whose work has been covered by country greats such as Reba McEntire. Martin Stevens, a mandolin whiz-kid, also plays with Spurgin.

A former festival performer, Stanley is back by popular demand, Mumma said.

"He just plays beautifully and he's a nice person," she said.

Eberhardt performed in a Western version of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew," for which he wrote all the music. His partner, Stanley, also was an extra in numerous episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space 9, appearing as a Klingon, Vulcan and Bejoran. As part of Two Man Band, Stanley performed with Peter Tork of the Monkees.

Rounding out the nightly concerts are some of Alaska and Kachemak Bay's top musicians, from Seldovia band Billy Goat to Milo Matthews, Tim Quinn and the Cindy McKenna Band.

A popular feature of the festival are workshops with not just Alaska groups, but the headliners. Learn flat picking guitar with Crary, music arranging with Stanley and songwriting with Eberhardt and Spurgin. Some workshops are for all ages, like the Family Play Party Dance with Robin Hopper. During the day there's lots to do, Mumma said.

"You can be outside wandering around in the beautiful country or you can be jamming somewhere or you can be in the workshops," she said.

The festival is timed around the Tustumena schedule, and starts at noon June 21 with a ferry jam ride on the Tusty, returning on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. after the gospel jam. Or, take one of three local boats shuttling between Homer and Seldovia or fly over with air taxis. Festival passes for adults are $49 for all the concerts and workshops.

"People can come for as long as they want or stay the whole time," Mumma said. "It's a bargain, really."

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.