The Fairbanks Concert Association’s 72nd year is just around the corner, with entertainment from around the world headed to Fairbanks for the 2019-20 performing season.
The international group We Banjo 3 kicks off events Oct. 4, and season tickets are available now at fairbanksconcert.org or by calling 474-8081. Tickets to individual events are available through AlaskaTix 490-2858.
Here’s a look at what’s coming up this year and some insight about each performer from Anne Biberman, executive director of the concert association.
We Banjo 3
7:30 p.m. Oct. 4, Hering Auditorium
Featuring banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, percussion and beautiful harmonies, We Banjo 3’s music is described as “Celtgrass,” and they are often referred to as “the Irish Punch Brothers.”
The Galway-based quartet comprises two sets of brothers, Enda and Fergal Scahill and Martin and David Howley, who collectively hold over a dozen “All Ireland” titles.
We Banjo 3’s fifth album, “Haven,” released summer 2018, has resulted in a catapulting of a band already surrounded in critical acclaim and renowned for their irrepressible and ever-growing legion of fans. This summer, their new album, “Roots to Rise Live,” debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Bluegrass Music Chart.
From Anne Biberman: “I saw them at the Triple Door in Seattle two years ago. I was all by myself and having a blast, dancing in the aisles. I tried to book them on the spot.”
The Rad Trads
7:30 p.m. Oct. 19, UAF Pub
The gentlemen comprising the Brooklyn-based five-piece The Rad Trads distinguish themselves in ways few bands can. Already drawing lines around the block at home, the globe-trotting group’s singular take on rock n’ roll mixes punk rock energy, horn drenched soul and jazz precision, all with a lighthearted but sincere delivery.
Challenging but humorous, at times The Rad Trads bring to mind Springsteen and his “Big Man” Clarence Clemons, Dylan’s “Blood On The Tracks”-era vocal style and Wilco’s guitar breakdowns.
From Biberman: “It’s been a weird summer for sure. Smoke, fires, budget cuts ... It’s given us time to think though, and we’re convinced that coming together for music and laughter is more important than ever. So we’ve added another opportunity to do that. They’re called the Rad Trads. (We were about to announce a show at the Loon last May when it caught fire.) We figured it wasn’t the worst time to support the University, even in a small way.”
Whose Live Anyway?
7:30 p.m. Nov. 15, Hering Auditorium
The current cast members of the Emmy-nominated TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” are presenting their new improv tour, “Whose Live Anyway?” It’s 90 minutes of improvised comedy and song all based on audience suggestions. Cast members include Greg Proops, Jeff B. Davis, Dave Foley and Joel Murray
From Biberman: “Call me a geek but I have always loved this show and these guys are gods to me.”
International Guitar Night
4 p.m. Jan. 19, Hering Auditorium
Each year, International Guitar Night’s founder Brian Gore invites a new cast of guitar luminaries from around the world for special concert tours of North America showcasing the diverse talent found on the acoustic guitar. For the 20th anniversary tour, GORE invited guest host Mike Dawes of England, Cenk Erdogan of Turkey, jazz virtuoso Olli Soikkeli from Finland and Hawaiian Slack Key master Jim Kimo West.
From Biberman: “This is the 20th anniversary for this tour! Offered by the same person who put together “In the Footsteps of Django,” an FCA performance from 2012, one of only three events getting a perfect five rating from the audience (the others were Tanya Tagaq and Stephan Wolfert’s “Cry Havoc”). An annual event which consistently sells out in Anchorage, we had to wonder: What were we waiting for?”
The Capitol Steps
7:30 p.m. Jan. 31, Hering Auditorium
The Capitol Steps tackle both sides of the political spectrum and all things equally foolish in this comic poke at politics. The Capitol Steps began as a group of Senate staffers who set out to satirize the people and places that employed them. The group was born in December 1981 when some staffers for Sen. Charles Percy were planning entertainment for a Christmas party, and they created song parodies and skits which conveyed a special brand of satirical humor.
From Biberman: “Someone asked recently why we always present them in January. We agree that we need to laugh 12 months a year, but we really need their side-splitting laughter extra when it’s cold and dark and we need a good bi-partisan laugh.”
Wonders at Dusk with Scott Silven
7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 and Feb. 13, 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Feb. 14 and 15, Palace Theatre
Following a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and sold-out runs in New York, magician and illusionist Scott Silven is bringing an experience beyond a magic show, channeling talents in mentalism, psychology and the performing arts for an unforgettable evening of awe-inspiring intrigue. For the event, Palace Theatre will be transformed for an encounter far beyond a magic show. Club-style performances offer limited first-come, first-served seating. Goldie’s will offer full bar service before and after the performance.
From Biberman: “I’ve never loved magic shows. (Showy and superficial, leaving you wondering how they did it because you know it isn’t magic.) So I went to see illusionist Scott Silven with more than a grain of skepticism. Wrong! I found a wonderfully immersive and fun evening conducted with charm by a personable Scotsman. I was convinced.”
7:30 p.m. March 5 and 6, Pioneer Park Civic Center
PUBLIQuartet’s programming lends a fresh perspective to the classical music scene. Dedicated to presenting new works for string quartet, PUBLIQuartet was selected as Concert Artists Guild’s New Music/New Places Ensemble at the 2013 CAG Competition, and then garnered Chamber Music America’s 2015 ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award for outstanding and innovative approaches to contemporary classical, jazz, and world chamber music. PQ’s genre-bending programs range from 20th-century masterworks to newly commissioned pieces, alongside reimaginations of classical themes featuring open-form improvisations that expand the techniques and aesthetic of the traditional string quartet.
From Biberman: “We have a longstanding relationship with Concert Artist Guild. PUBLIQuartet won this prestigious competition in 2013 so we’ve been following them for years. Once I even got to go to this outrageous avant-garde event they did with the Mighty Third Rail. I always knew we’d book them, but they never quite made the roster — that is until we saw their showcase at the Western Arts booking conference last year ... they were on fire! Dynamic, exciting, just so fun to watch. They really brought it all.”
7:30 p.m. March 20, Hering Auditorium
Celtic fiddler Eileen Ivers’ new, energetic, joyous and passionate band, Universal Roots, connect musics, cultures, stories and emotions that tie us together, celebrating the fact that we are more alike than dissimilar. The ensemble, with a broad array of instrumentation, features Matt Mancuso (lead vocals, guitar, trumpet, fiddle), Buddy Connolly (button accordion, whistles, piano, vocals), Lindsey Horner (upright and electric bass, baritone sax, vocals), Dave Barckow (lead vocals, percussion, guitar), together with Eileen on fiddle, mandolin, banjo, bodhran and live looping.
From Biberman: “She’s brilliant. She hasn’t been here in 10 years. We’ve been waiting, wanting, hoping for this opportunity to get her back.”
Ensemble Mik Nawooj
7:30 p.m. April 3, Hering Auditorium
Led by composer/pianist JooWan Kim, Ensemble Mik Nawooj — EMN — is a multi-genre combo of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, drums, bass, opera and profound rhymes from MCs/lyricists Do D.A.T. and Sandman who subverts and smashes expectations with their music. EMN creates awe-inspiring arrangements that have been called “the cutting edge of hip-hop” by Huffington Post.
From Biberman: “We’ve had phenomenal success with another classical/hip hop mash up, Black Violin. We get it Fairbanks: You’re hip to this.”
7:30 p.m. April 24, Hering Auditorium
International siren and comedienne extraordinaire Meow Meow brings her glorious brand of subversive and sublime performance to Alaska. The crowd-surfing queen of song creates an unforgettable evening of exquisite music and mayhem. Named one of the “Top Performers of the Year” by The New Yorker, Meow Meow has hypnotized, inspired and terrified audiences around the globe.
From Biberman: “Last year at APAP (the giant annual booking conference in New York every January), Meow did a show at Joe’s Pub and I. Missed. It. Later, it was all anyone was talking about. She was brilliant. Talented. Funny. Risqué in a fun way. It was amazing. She was the talk of the conference — a conference offering 1,200 showcases. I didn’t have to see her to know: This was a show we wanted here. So when I met with her agent and she asked was I interested the answer was a definite yes.”
Fairbanks Flies with Tomáš Kubínek
7:30 p.m., May 9, Hering Auditorium
Tomáš Kubínek performed in Fairbanks during spring 2011 and is back to fly high again with a community effort. Part vaudeville, part local talent contest, part parade, it’s a celebration of flying with Fairbanks at the center of the production via homemade flying machines shown off in the parking lot of Lathrop High School.
From Biberman: “He told me about an event he had done at the Kohler Center in Sheboygan: The Big Sheboygan Shebang. A great melding of his professional talent with a sort of local talent contest. For some reason, or possibly no reason, I flashed on another Wisconsin event in Madison around 1978 — a flying machine contest around the capitol square. Perfect mash-up for Fairbanks. We should do it.”
Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504 or at twitter.com/FDNMfeatures.