Homer Alaska - Arts

Story last updated at 3:20 PM on Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Down East fest brings two days of music to Homer



Photo by Christie Goodwin

Buffy Saint Marie

"Build it and they will come," goes the saying from the movie, "Field of Dreams."

OK, that didn't work out.

When Milo Matthews of LoveLife Music and the Down East Saloon constructed an outside concert stage for a planned performance by Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann, two weeks before the show Kreutzmann cancelled. Matthews just couldn't resist the potential of an outdoor concert at the saloon on East End Road. Talking with Down East owner Kathy McDonough, he pitched the idea of a music festival.

"The stage just stood there for a few years. I said, 'Let's get it back up and running,'" Matthews said. "She said, 'If you can get somebody cool, I'll help with it.'"

This time, musicians will come — big time. The Down East has a bucket load of cool for the two-day Down East Music Festival. On Friday and Saturday, 26 groups perform, headlined by Buffy Saint-Marie, playing Saturday night, with Pamyua opening for Saint-Marie on Saturday and capping off Friday's concert.

A Piaput Cree born in Saskatchewan, Canada, singer songwriter Saint-Marie, now 71, grew up in Massachusetts. Performing in coffee houses, she become known in folk and protest music circles, particularly for her antiwar song, "Universal Soldier."

At the same time she wrote songs about Native American and environmental issues, including "Now That the Buffalo's Gone," "My Country Tis of Thy People You're Dying" and "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee." Nativebeat Magazine called her "Our Elvis and our Madonna, standing at the uppermost peak of stardom and success, and showing children of the world a side of Native people they rarely get to see, as regular folks."

In mainstream music circles, her songs have been covered by decades of talents, including Barbara Streisand, Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, Tracy Chapman, Janis Joplin, Bobby Darin and Donovan. With Jack Nitzsche and Will Jennings, Saint-Marie won an Oscar and Golden Globe for best original song for "Up Where We Belong," for "An Officer and a Gentleman." Saint-Marie also wrote the score for the movie "Spirit of the Wind," also released as "Attla," about legendary Alaska sled dog racing champion George Attla.

With Saint-Marie headlining, it's appropriate that one of Alaska's top Native music groups, Pamyua, opens for her. The Yupik-African American-Greenlandic Inuit group of Ossie Kairaiuak, Phillip Blanchett, Stephen Blanchett and Karina Moeller fuses traditional Yupik dance and Inuit music.

Another rising Alaska Native musician performing is Allison Akkotchook Warden, appearing as Aku-Matu. AKU-MATU wrote and appeared in "Ode to a Polar Bear" and was in "Raven's Radio Hour."

Rounding out the list are local acts including Uplift, Burnt Down House, Yellow Cabin, Barroom Roses, Sunrise, Sally Wills and Caressa.

Matthews said he's heard from people from all over who plan to attend.

"We're hoping for a big turn-out. It's going to be a good international, Native, residents of Alaska crowd," he said.

Some camping for motorhomes, vans and tents is available on and near the Down East property, Matthews said.

The Down East Music Festival

WHERE: Down East Saloon, East End Road

WHEN: Friday, Saturday

Tickets: $35 Friday, $50 Saturday, $65 both days, available at the Down East Saloon or www.inticketing.com

INFO: Visit www.downeastsaloon.com or www.facebook.com/thedowneastmusic fest

Schedule (subject to change)


Noon: Reverend Poor child

12:30 p.m. Tim Heimbold

1:00 p.m. Ivan Knight

1:30 p.m. Karl Finklebinder

2:00 p.m. Heidi Jo

2:30 p.m. Cat and Mouse trio

3:30 p.m. Sally Wills

4:00 p.m. Burnt Down House

5:00 p.m. Caressa

6:30 p.m. Uplift

7:30 p.m. Fire spinners

8:00 p.m. Pamyua

10:00 p.m. Milo Matthews


11:00 a.m. Luke Smith

11:30 a.m. Mike Fairman

Noon Sunrise

12:30 p.m. Hilary Arwen

1:00 p.m. Lindianne

1:30 p.m. AKU-MATU!

2:00 p.m. Yellow Cabin

3:00 p.m. Cindy McKenna

3:30 p.m. Shawn Zuke and Firelight

4:30 p.m. Denali Cooks

5:30 p.m. Barroom Roses

6:30 p.m. Gypsy Horizon

7:00 p.m. Pamyua

8:30 p.m. Buffy Sainte-Marie

10:00 p.m. Superfrequency (indoors)