FAIRBANKS - Truly local and truly free, Saturday’s 22nd annual Fairbanks Winter Folk Festival is pulling together a record number of acts, ranging from longtime local favorites like Steve Brown and the Bailers to newer acts like the Simple Tones and the Frosty Bottom Boys from Denali.
“No one makes any money off of it, but it’s a great time,” said local musician and event organizer Ken Brown, who usually performs with New Cut Road and the Porch dogs but is not playing the festival this year.
From folk music, to family-style newgrass and alternative country to clawhammer dueling banjos, and even a little punk inspired by the Grateful Dead, the festival has lined up an impressive variety of artists.
“Fairbanks has a really healthy music scene and that’s exactly what this festival is all about,” Brown said. “We’re all about honoring the local musicians this weekend.”
Saturday’s festival kicks off at 2 p.m. in the Pioneer Park Civic Center with Tetrafiddles & Cattails and includes almost 40 acts on two stages. Festival coordinators have given each act just 20 minutes of stage time to make room for the unprecedented turnout of local musicians.
“We’re a loose-knit group of people,” Brown said of the Folk Festival’s board of directors and coordinators. “The entire festival manages to come together every year even though our first meeting wasn’t until December.”
There is no particular theme to the Fairbanks festival other than to have a good time, enjoy a wide variety of local music, and do it all on your own time.
“The old favorites always draw a good crowd, but this year there’s a lot to look forward to with a long list of some up and coming groups,” Brown said.
On that list is the Xtra-Tuffs with Ryan Bowers, son of local musician Pete Bowers.
“These guys are really breaking out of the box with some interesting music,” Brown said of the young band. “It’s always great to see folks experiment a little with bluegrass. It can go in so many different directions.”
The Xtra-Tuffs go on stage at 8:40 p.m., right between two well-known bands, Fiddlehead Express, formerly known as Fiddlehead Red, and Steve Brown and the Bailers, who offer some Fairbanks “folk prowess mixed with rockabilly wrecklessness,” according to the Folk Fest’s Web site.
Karl Monetti will set the crowd at ease with his smooth sounding slide guitars and Hawaiian music just before newcomers Nate Montgomery and the Transfer Site take the stage at 10:20.
“There’s so much variety,” Brown said. “So if you don’t like the style of music, just wait a few minutes.”
A full lineup of both the main stage and the open-mic stage is available at www.alaskasbest.com/fairbanksfolkfest/winterfolkfest.htm.
Contact staff writer Rebecca George at 459-7504.
If you go:
What: Fairbanks Winter Folk Fest
When: 2-11 p.m. Saturday
Where: Pioneer Park Theater