Light rain and menacing clouds weren’t enough to hinder high spirits on the summer solstice as hundreds gathered Wednesday at Soldotna Creek Park for the third week of the Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series.
Folks still danced on wet grass, and though the numbers were thinner than they may have been on a bright, sunny evening, headliner Connie Brannock’s Tiny House of Funk and openers Wasabi Black brought enough energy to fill the space.
Wasabi Black vocalist Mimi Keonna constantly engaged with the crowd, thanked them for “that woo” and claimed that her drummer, Sarah Felder, was the best in the state “or you can fight me.”
The performance even inspired an attendee to tip the performers — with the cash delivered by a child who ran up the stairs and onto the stage to deliver it.
Connie Brannock and her Tiny House of Funk picked up that same energy. Brannock, a 67-year-old veteran who said last week that she “plays music on my own terms,” was dancing just as much as any member of the crowd — grooving back and forth even as she struck a Peruvian box drum called a cajón, a cymbal and a high hat.
Brannock, who came to Alaska for a brief tour all the way from Tucson, Arizona, last week, said she was stunned to see attendees wearing T-shirts and flip-flops in the rain. She said she took off her jacket and performed on stage in a shirt to prove she was “tough” too.
Ahead of the start of the sound, State Sen. Jesse Bjorkman presented the Kenai Central High School cheerleading team with a legislative citation commending them on their recent season — which saw them claim their third straight state title and perform at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida.
Next week, it will be Todd Grebe & Cold Country headlining the fourth week of the Soldotna Music Series, opened by HWY9.
Grebe said Tuesday that his band has “two versions,” either playing bluegrass or country music — on Wednesday it’s going to be country onstage. He said they’re a five-piece band with electric bass and guitar, drums, acoustic guitar and a fiddle. They play to the crowd. If the vibes are for dancing, they’ll keep people moving, or they can entertain a more laid-back feel.
This will be the Anchorage-based band’s third appearance at the Soldotna Music Series, and Grebe said they were excited to “get out on the road, see some of the state.” He said members of the band have kids and they don’t travel quite as much as they used to.
Soldotna Creek Park has “good sound, good stage and a great crowd,” he said. The band is excited to be part of the production — hoping to see movement, looking to see if anyone’s familiar with their material.
Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series
June 28 — Todd Griebe & Cold Country, opening with HWY9
July 5 — Ava Earl, opening with Appalaskan Jess
July 12 — Diggin Dirt, opening with Ellie Nelson
July 19 — Bunny Swan Band, opening with Ridgeway Rounders
July 26 — Free Creatures, opening with Sam Tenhoff
Aug. 2 — Tom Rigney and Flambeau, opening with Mike Morgan
Aug. 9 — Jackie Venson, opening with Robb Justice Band
Aug. 16 — Pipeline Vocal Project, opening with Luna and Ursus
Aug. 23 — Riverfront Gang, opening with Hot Mess
Aug. 30 — Derek Poppin Band, Opening with Sue Biggs & Jack Will