Somewhere in
Alaska: about live music in Alaska

About live music in Alaska in the 80's: there wasn't much.

What there was consisted mostly of acoustic, bluegrass, old-time and such. An electrified band with drums was a big deal, particularly in the small villages and towns, which helps explain why these nice people went to such pains.

As you might expect, most of Alaska does not have the stuff bands need to survive. No, I'm not talking about limousines and bowls of M&M's with the brown ones removed, it's a little more basic: cheap restaurants and squalid motels. There just isn't a surplus of crummy motels in towns with a single paved road and easy-access by the local bear population.

So one of the many logistical challenges involved arranging for places for the six band and two crew members to eat and sleep. The solution in most towns was the good will and hospitality of the friends and employees of the radio station, who agreed (or were coerced) to house us in guest rooms, on couches, floors, etc. It was no small sacrifice: many of our hosts didn't have much room to spare.

the AK Marine Hwy Ferry ships are quite
largeWe had commercial accomodations in some towns. One town, which was supported by a vibrant fishing industry and even a bit of tourism, boasted a number of guest houses. Happy with the prospect of real beds and maybe some privacy, we traveled there the Thursday before our next booking, a Saturday night concert in the local Community Center.

Much of our travel was courtesy of the Alaska Marine Highway ferry line, which agreed to provide our complimentary passage. The ship docked, we drove our van and equipment from within its hull, met our local radio station contact and pulled into town well after dark.

Next: The guest house was owned by a married couple...

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