Homer Alaska - Arts

Story last updated at 5:30 PM on Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Three-day music festival at Ninilchik fairgrounds mixes music and message about proposed Pebble mine project

By Angelina Skowronski
For the Homer News


Photo by Michael Armstrong

Lisa Krebs, left, talks with Mavis Muller, right, about details on "Fired Up!," the salmon sculpture Doug Schwiesow helped facilitate at his Nordic Metal Works shop.

Tie-dyers and Deadheads aside, live-music junkies regardless, art enthusiasts and conservationists despite, Salmonstock ignites its fire-breathing salmon (literally) to cater to all of Alaska's niches.

With some of the biggest names above the 58th parallel playing and art installations of aerial proportions, the non-stop three-day music and arts festival takes place Friday through Sunday at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik.

Traveling great and short distances, acts such as Grateful Dead's Bill Kreutzmann and the 7 Walkers, rising star Jackie Greene, roots-reggae artist Clinton Fearon, Seattle's Flowmotion and Colorado's rock-bluegrass band Great American Taxi will join the line up of more than 40 local and Outside performers on two stages.

"People come to music festivals for the big names and then end up seeing the smaller acts and enjoying them. So that's what I wanted to do," said Jim Stearns, festival producer.

"I wanted to bring in the big names to gather interest, and then get the smaller, local bands in there for exposure." Stearn's history of working in the music industry and producer for Northern California's High Sierra Music Festival paved a solid road for Salmonstock's freshman-year line-up.

Like multi-day music festivals, Stearn has created a late night atmosphere to ensure wristband-wearers that the party never ends. The fairgrounds' pavilion hall, with a maximum capacity of 500 people, will house the afterhours show for a $4 cover fee. Saturday's pavilion show will host Anchorage-based funk/dance band Superfrequency and Flowmotion for an encore performance. Friday's show is still in the works, but there is talk of jam sessions with some of the weekend's various acts.

An idea in the making for two years, Salmonstock was manifested by the Renewable Resources Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to Alaska's environmental preservation and a key player against Pebble Partnership claims to mine in theBristol Bay watershed.

"Salmonstock is born out of the driving force of corporations exploiting wildlife," said RRC Executive Director Anders Gustafson. "We are here to show that Alaska cares about its wildlife."

Information will be incorporated into the weekend's events with the Education/Action Center tent offering lectures, literature and discussions about the Bristol Bay watershed, home for the world's largest salmon run in the world, and other environmental subjects.

The message behind the event has also garnered attention from the music industry.

"We are surprised at how much positive attention has grown," said Gustafson. "After the first few big bands agreed to play, it got the message out there, and all of a sudden more big bands wanted to join."

In addition, segments from the weekend's soundwaves will be used in the score for Homer's Michael Neece's newest film "Crossroads." The documentary is two years in the making of contemporary footage of Bristol Bay.

"It addresses attitudes about Pebble mine," said Neece. "And whether or not we are willing to sacrifice one thing for another." The film is set for official release in February 2012 with a debut at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Modeled after some of the mainstream festival circuits of the Lower 48, the Salmonstock experience also incorporates arts and theater with the help of Alaska's Church of Flaming Funk, a 10-piece group equipped with acrobatics, stilts and fire. Salmonstock will be one of the Funksters' last stops before performing at Burning Man in Black Rock Desert, Nev.

For those yearning for more than just visual and auditory stimulation, artists Mavis Muller and Ray Troll will be at the event to help create an interactive human mosaic. Festival-goers will form into a massive salmon while an aerial photo is taken via plane.

"This will be an action of art. People will be able to make their statement," said Muller, who also is the energy behind Homer's annual Burning Basket Project and a recent Rasmuson Foundation award-winner along with Troll.

Another art piece with its roots in Homer is "Fired Up!" a flame-throwing, fire-breathing, metal-work salmon sculpture directed by Doug Schwiesow of Nordic Metal Works. Schwiesow's condition with ALS has limited his ability to work, so volunteers are donating their time and skills to weld the structure under Schwiesow's guidance.

Combining music, art and education, festival organizers are working hard to keep it local. All vendors at the festival are home-grown, with a few familiar Homer faces being Mom & Pop Kettle Corn and Cook Inletkeeper. The beer garden also will host a hodgepodge of Alaska's well loved and consumed micro brews.

"This is more than another one of Alaska's music festivals," said Gustafson. "I don't think we even know how big this is going to be. And it's only just the beginning."

Three-day passes ($95 pre-sale, $110 gate) and single-day tickets ($40 pre-sale, $50 gate) are on sale through CenterTix. Children 12 and under are free with an adult ticket purchase. Check Salmonstock's website, www.salmonstock.org, for campground information, including free shuttle services from campgrounds to festival grounds.

Angelina Skowronski is a freelance writer in Homer.


Ocean Stage:

1:45-2:20 - Opening Ceremonies with White Eagle Medicine Woman

2:45-3:30 - Bay Rockers

4:00-5:00 - High Lonesome Sound

6:35-7:00 - New Stuyahok Dancers

7:00-8:15 - Pamyua

8:45-10:15 - Flowmotion

10:45-close - Jackie Greene Band

River Stage:

3:20-4:00 - Seaside Farmers

4:45-5:45 - Dana Lyons

6:15-7:15 - Hot Club of Nunaka

8:00-9:00 - The Hoons

Late Night Show (Indoors):

1:00-1:45 - TBA

2:00-Close - TBA


Ocean Stage:

11:00-11:30 - Milo Salem Project

11:50-12:25 - Dana Lyons

12:45-1:20 - Susan Grace

1:45-2:30 - Tim Easton

3:00-3:45 - Big Dirt

4:10-5:10 - Big Fat Buddha

5:15-5:35 - New Stuyahok Dancers

5:40-6:40 - 907

7:10-8:30 - The Whipsaws

9:00-10:30 - Clinton Fearon

11:00-close - Bill Kreutzmann & 7 Walkers

River Stage:

11:20-11:50 - Ginger Boatwright

12:20-12:50 - Ratfish Wranglers

1:20-1:50 - Uplift

2:20-3:10 - Wolf Electric

3:40-4:40 - Spiff

5:00-6:00 - Josh Olsen & the Eternal Cowboys

6:30-7:30 - Backstrap

Late Night Show (Indoors):

1:00-1:45 - Superfrequency

2:00-Close - Flowmotion


Ocean Stage:

11:00-11:30 - Seaside Farmers

11:50-12:25 - Ginger Boatwright

12:45-1:15 - Ratfish Wranglers

1:45-2:30 - Uplift

3:00-3:45 - Holy Santos

4:15-5:15 - Old Believers

5:45-6:25 - Jim Page

6:50-close - Great American Taxi

River Stage:

12:20-12:50 - Emma Hill

1:20-1:50 - Barroom Roses

2:20-3:00 - Caressa

3:40-4:20 - Susan Grace

5:00-5:40 - Stuck In Reverse