Jazz weekend

Ragtime fun is coming to Ester this weekend with barrelhouse blues piano player Ethan Leinwand and early blues and jazz singer Valerie Kirchhoff performing Friday and Saturday at the Malemute Saloon. Courtesy artist management

Hailing from the ragtime capital of St. Louis, Missouri, barrelhouse blues piano player and preservationist Ethan Leinwand and early blues and jazz singer Valerie Kirchhoff will perform at the Malemute Saloon in Ester on Friday, June 24, and Saturday, June 25, from 8-11 pm. Not to be missed, these talented professional musicians will present engaging piano and vocal works from the early 20th century American book of popular music. This is high-energy and soulful music not only for listening but dancing to.

Ethan will also offer two workshops at the Fairbanks Piano Center (3255 Adams Drive) on Thursday, June 23, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, June 25, at 2 p.m.. The first one will focus on the lost traditions of barrelhouse blues piano playing and the second on improvisation in blues and ragtime.

A mainly self-taught pianist, Ethan has performed, taught, and lectured at festivals across the United States and Europe, and is recognized as one of the world’s leading exponents of barrelhouse blues. He was born and raised in Middletown, Connecticut, and has lived in New Orleans and New York City. He moved to St. Louis in 2014 to connect with the city’s deep piano roots and thriving traditional music community.

Valerie (aka “Miss Jubilee”) is a St. Louis-based vocalist and bandleader. She specializes in early blues and jazz, with a focus on the female blues singers of the 1920s and ‘30s. She also champions the early blues of her hometown of St. Louis. Valerie has been performing professionally for over 15 years, and has become a beloved staple of the local music scene. She has performed at jazz and blues festivals across the US and Europe. Together, Ethan and Valerie perform as “The St. Louis Steady Grinders.”

“Ethan and Valerie have a certain brash tenderness that is very much appealing ... and even when they perform songs that are by today’s standards ‘ancient,’ they seem full of emotion and fun,” said Michael Steinman of the website Jazz Lives.

Admission for a Malemute Saloon performance is $10 (per show). Must be 21 years or older to enter.

Admission fee for a workshop is $20 (each). Open to all ages.

As a special offer, a package of all four events (two performances and two workshops) is $40. Ethan and Valerie’s visit is sponsored and organized by the Malemute Saloon Ragtime Club, an informal, local group comprised mainly of piano players but also singers, instrumentalists, music enthusiasts, and dancers. They gather every other Sunday at the Malemute Saloon from 6-8 pm. The rest of the summer dates are June 26, July 10 and 24, and Aug. 7 and 21. Admission to these biweekly gatherings is free and open to those aged 21 years or older.

For more information: email paulrkrejci@gmail.com or call 907-388-6602.

Paul Krejci is a Fairbanks-based musician and performer.

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