The last time I attended this event was the 34th annual in 1978, a small affair held in the Alaska State Library. I was 22 years old, had recently moved to Juneau and there I was with my guitar sitting in awe at Doc Watson’s feet during a workshop.
Fast forward to the present and my good friend Jean up in Juneau needed a housesitter during Folk Fest week while she headed south to catch some sun in Mexico. She extended an invitation to me and my friend and musical partner, Kelsey, to stay in her house, use her car and enjoy the week’s events. Why not? Kelsey and I bought airline tickets and signed up for a 15-minute slot to perform on the big stage as the Ribbon Ridge Girls, our folk duo. O M G.
The Alaska Folk Festival came about 48 years ago as a way to celebrate Alaska’s musical talent in the folk genre. Musicians converge on Juneau from all over the state and a few beyond its borders like Kelsey and me from Oregon. Most have some previous connection to Alaska. There is a show every night of the week with musicians performing every 15 minutes on the big stage. On Saturday a headliner act performs Saturday night. Add to that are workshops, dances for all ages, a potluck, and music at venues all over town.
A year ago Kelsey and I casually formed the Ribbon Ridge Girls ( Kelsey lives on Ribbon Ridge and I live down the hill) and started tiny performances, a couple of songs here and there in the middle of another band’s set, and at a couple of open mics. We dusted off our dreams of playing guitar and singing when we met in the McMinnville Women’s Choir. I wanted to try something new so at the ripe young age of 66 I started playing the tenor guitar (4 strings, tuned in 5ths). That means learning all new chord forms (a good way to stave off dementia). We shared a guitar lesson slot to get our skills up. Then we started practicing together eventually forming a duo singing mostly Americana and original material in harmony.Continue reading “North to the 2023 Alaska Folk Festival”