Next weekend is the summer solstice. The appropriate audio accompaniment to all that daylight is the Seldovia Summer Solstice Music Festival, slated for June 18-21 in the Kenai Peninsula’s smallest city.
The festival is a chance for residents, visitors and musicians of diverse genres to glory in music, good company, midsummer mirth and one of the world’s most scenic small towns. Now in its 14th year, the festival is the gala event of the year for the Seldovia Arts Council.
From the festival’s beginning, it has attracted musicians from around the world, said Margie McCord, one of the organizers.
“Every year they get such a variety of people that they not only wow the locals, but also get people coming down from Anchorage,” she said.
Headlining this year’s festival is the acclaimed Alaska band Pamyua. Members describe their sound as “tribal funk” and “Inuit world music.” They originally hail from Bethel, Chefornak and Greenland, now live in Anchorage and have been playing professionally since 1995. They have won accolades and prizes – including “Record of the Year” from the Native American Music Awards – and have five albums out.
Pamyua will perform three times — two evening concerts and a set at the Seldovia Village Tribe picnic. Band members also will host a workshop for those attending the festival.
The second feature act is the duo of Yngvil Vatn Guttu, originally from Norway, and Elena Lukina, born in Siberia. The multitalented women have played around the world and offer versatile and vibrant song and instrumental music.
Organizers have top talent from near and far to round out the busy schedule and offer something for everyone. Among the Kenai Peninsula performers will be Food for the Soul and Charmers Daughters from the central peninsula and Seldovia’s own Betsy Scott, who recently released her first CD.
New this year is a fun bit of lit, in the person of fisher poet Clark Whitney from Soldotna. Returning for a second year is an event for visual artists, “En Plein Aire.” Results will be sold at silent auction.
The schedule includes a yoga hour, activities for children and — yes! — a dessert bar.
One of the festival’s unique charms is camaraderie and informality that lets performers and audience members get acquainted and share their love of music. Performers are encouraged to offer workshops during the festival to teach skills and brainstorm ideas. Last year’s workshop on African drumming was a runaway favorite, McCord said.
“The workshops have gotten better every year,” she said. “That’s where it gets really personal.”
Other annual highlights are the song circle jam session Saturday and the gospel sing-along Sunday, she said.
Venues will be all over Seldovia, including the Linwood Bar and Grill, Susan B. English School, outdoors, local businesses and the town’s new pavilion by the harbor.
Last year about 260 people attended the festival. The small community of about 250 turns out, but so do many guests from across the water.
For visitors crossing the bay, the Seldovia Bay Ferry offers transport synchronized with the festival’s start. The ferry departs the Homer Harbor at ramp 7 at 11 a.m. Thursday; passengers will share the voyage with many of the musicians.
Tickets are available for the entire festival or for single night performances. Costs for single performances are $25 for adults and $8 for teens. Passes for the entire festival are $49 for adults and $16 for teens. Children younger than 12 get in free. People buying tickets in person in Seldovia at Thyme on the Boardwalk or the Linwood get discounted prices ($39 adults and teens $15) until 5 p.m., June 17.
More details are available online at seldoviaartscouncil.net or by phoning 907-399-4988.
Seldovia Summer Solstice Music Festival
Thursday, June 18
11 a.m.: Homer Harbor, ramp 7
Seldovia Bay Ferry departs for Seldovia, with performers on board. Seldovia Arts Council members will greet the boat when it reaches the Seldovia Harbor.
5:30 p.m.: Linwood Bar and Grill
“Meet and Greet” with dinner.
8 p.m.: Susan B. English School
“Open mic” for community members, visitors or performers to share a song, poem, story or tune. Sign in at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, June 19
All day: all around town
Performers present short “samplers” to preview the evening concerts.
Noon – Alaska Tribal Cache Building
Seldovia Village Tribe annual picnic, featuring Pamyua.
6:15 p.m. – Susan B. English School
Main concert with the headliners and six of the 11 groups performing. CDs and desserts for sale during intermission.
Saturday, June 20
8:30 a.m. – Seldovia Sea Otter Community Center
10 a.m. – Boardwalk Hotel deck or tent
Song circle, with lattes or breakfast.
1-4 p.m. – various locations
Workshops for all ages.
6:15 p.m. – Susan B. English School
Main concert with the headliners and six of the 11 groups performing.
Sunday, June 21
11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – pavilion by the harbor
Viewing and silent auction of the art works from the “En Plein Aire” workshop; snacks and coffee available.
2 p.m. – pavilion by the harbor
Tickets will be available at the gate. Discounted advance passes are on sale in Seldovia at Thyme on the boardwalk and at the Linwood Bar and Grill. For more information and schedule details go to the website: http://seldoviaartscouncil.net/seldoviamusicfestival/index.html or phone the Seldovia Arts Council at 907-399-4988.