Mountain Stage in Fairbanks! Part 2
Saturday night’s Mountain Stage show in Fairbanks didn’t quite match the outstanding Friday night event, but it came close. National Public Radio’s Mountain Stage recorded its second Fairbanks show on Saturday night. And once again, the West Virginia-based show featured an incredibly diverse range of music.
Saturday’s show opened with Steve Brown and the Bailers, a popular local band.
The locals did a very nice set, flashing some hot licks and nice harmonies.
Bearfoot is originally from Alaska, but when the local folks made good they moved to Nashville. The reconstituted band still has founding member Angela Oudean and Jason Norris. While you can still hear Bearfoot’s bluegrass roots, to some extent it has moved more to an Americana sound. The harmonies and instrumental work are still as sweet as ever.
Local legends Pat Fitzgerald and Robin Dale Ford (Stir Crazy, The Flyers, The Firewalkers and currently Dang!) did a very nice set, backed for half of their songs by the very good Mountain Stage Band. WC has a soft spot for Robin and Pat: they performed at WC’s and Mrs. WC’s wedding reception.
Long-time Fairbanksan Susan Grace channeled Pete Seeger for a couple of songs, getting the crowd involved in the singing. Susan carries on the true folksinging tradition: songs that teach, songs that protest, and songs that celebrate.
Tift Merritt in a straight-ahead Nashville country western singer. While she is well-known in C & W circles, popular and has decent record sales, she pretty much failed to connect with the audience at Davis Concert Hall. And she knew it, too. They can’t all be winners, and any artist can have a bad night. But WC didn’t come to the show expecting Susan Grace to get more applause than Tift Merritt.
If your eyes aren’t watering from David Lindley‘s wardrobe against the weird backdrop, you must be wearing dark glasses. But the talented multi-instrumentalist wowed the crowd with his performance on an Irish Bouzouki (shown here) and some kind of laptop slide guitar. His set included an excellent cover of the late Warren Zevon’s furious “The Indifference of Heaven.” Lindley’s voice has kind of run down into a Tom Waits-style growl, but when he sang,
Falls on me
All life folds back
Into the sea
We contemplate eternity
Beneath the vast indifference of heaven
you could feel the passion. Lindley is much too good a stage performer to leave his audience depressed, so he closed with the hysterically funny “Little Green Bottle,” a “drug song” about Excedrin Extra-Strength PM. Lindley’s song had even the sound engineers laughing helplessly.
WC has left a lot of the two shows out. Songs by the Mountain Stage Band itself, including a very nice cover of Tom Waits’ “Ol’ 55″ by Julie Adams, and the finale songs both nights.
Altogether, it was something like six hours of good to great music across two nights. Wonderfully eclectic, amazingly talented and terrific fun. Thanks again to UAF’s Summer Sessions for bringing the shows to town, and to Mountain Stage for traveling all the way from Charleston, West Virginia.
Mountain Stage’s shows are available streamed on the internet. NPR puts up one act a day. The streamed versions start to go up after the show is broadcast. Saturday night’s show is set for broadcast the first Saturday in October.