Seldovia festival attracts variety of musicians

With the right timing, travelers could land on a ferry across Kachemak Bay alongside a boatload of musicians next week.

The musicians will all cross the bay to Seldovia from Homer at 11 a.m. June 16 on their way to the 16th annual Seldovia Summer Solstice Music Festival, which will take place from June 16 to 19. Residents and visitors can see groups perform casually in a busking format Saturday and in formal concerts in the evenings Friday and Saturday.

The festival will feature 14 performers and groups, with styles ranging from country western to blues to folk. A number of them are from the Kenai and Soldotna area, but others come from as far away as Nashville, Tennessee. The two headlining acts, the pairing of flautist Tomoka Raften and guitarist Armin Abdihodzic and the Anchorage-based band Nervis Rex, are both Alaska acts.

Margie McCord, one of the organizers on the Seldovia Arts Council, said the festival began as a way to promote music for children and has grown to include the entire community.

“The restaurants are very (supportive of the festival),” McCord said. “Often, they’ll have the busking there, and then they’ll have the music after. … People will be up there cleaning and picking up at the school, and people will be mowing the lawns, checking the gardens. We really try to spruce it up.”

Seldovia is a small town where the population swells with the coming of summer. To conserve the hotel rooms, the Seldovia Arts Council usually books the musicians’ rooms in locals’ homes, McCord said.

Thursday evening features an open mic, mostly for locals; Friday, the busking will begin around 11 a.m. and be staggered in 20-minute intervals so attendees do not have to miss any of the acts. Friday’s concerts begin at 6:15 p.m. at Seldovia’s Susan B. English School.

Workshops with the musicians will take place Saturday for the locals as well as festival attendees, with several choices each hour. McCord said the organizers try to include events for Seldovia’s young people because that’s how the festival began — music education. There will be two teenagers from the community performing during the festival, and attendance for children under 12 is free, she said.

“We always have these free workshops both for adults and there’s always one for kids,” McCord said. “A lot of the teenagers don’t want to come, but they will come if they see someone they recognize.”

Expanding from just the music, the festival organizers also encourage artists to come and participate in a part of the festival called “En Plein Air.” The arts council invites artists to come and make art inspired by Seldovia’s environment. The council does not offer travel or financial support for the artists, but it does offer a venue for them to sell their artwork Sunday during a silent auction.

All throughout, there are chances for visitors to enjoy the trails, forests and water around Seldovia, McCord said.

“People hear about it being a unique place, being a little fishing village and probably the tiniest place they’ve ever been to,” McCord said.

Tickets at the door are $49 for an adult festival pass and $16 for teens; children 12 and younger are free. A single night’s performance ticket for an adult is $25 and $8 for teens.

A full list of artists and schedule can be found at http://seldoviaartscouncil.net/seldoviamusicfestival/index.html.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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