June 21, 2005
The sun goes in circles on the solstice, not bothering to set. Twenty-four hours of daylight are heady for a bunch of folks who live through the long, dark winter up here. We party and frolic at every chance we get!
My part in the Midnight Sun Festival started weeks before June 21st. The Tanana Highlanders were scheduled to play, necessitating a particular urgency to weekly band practice, the date coming as it did on the heels of the Fairbanks Folk Festival.
One of the nice things about the music portion of the Midnight Sun Festival is that they allow a band to perform for an hour or more, because there are far more hours to fill with music than at the Folk Fest, where acts only get 20 minutes onstage.A twenty-minute set is barely enough time to warm up and then suddenly you are offstage again. Playing for an hour is much more enjoyable. We get warmed up, get to play to the crowd, get to stretch our musical muscles. Yep, got to exercise those hambones!
First and 2nd Avenues, all the interconnecting streets, and Golden Heart Plaza were filled with vendors, entertainers and people, people, people. People and kids, people and dogs, people and food. There was a stage at 2nd and Cushman, 2nd and Noble, and on the plaza. The Tanana Highlanders played at the 2nd and Cushman stage, and were scheduled to play immediately following on the 2nd and Noble stage. As we played our last number, the UAF Steel Drum band was setting up behind us. We grabbed our cases and stands and headed down the street. On a normal day it would be a three-minute walk, max. During the festival it must have taken us fifteen, easy. It was one of those situations where there were so many people that you had to keep shuffling along and apologizing to whomever you poked in the butt with your violin case. Everyone was good-natured, and I figured no one was going to beat up a woman in Scots “wenchware.” Cleavage will get you everywhere.
The jumble of folks who get together every Thursday at the Co-op Building (in the Two Street Station Coffeeshop) for the Celtic Jam had decided along with me that it would be good fun to play onstage at the Midnight Sun Festival. So after I finally squeezed myself past two fat children and a golden retriever (making a nice POP noise) I reached the stage and found my friends ready to play. Unbeknownst to me our set had been increased from an hour to an hour and a half. We had a good old time playing lots of tunes to a very large crowd. We sounded positively orchestral at times. Behind us the rock and roll band scheduled next started unloading drum cases...
Wandering around later I had a huge pulled pork sandwich from Big Daddy’s Barbeque ($5), saw lots of kids with cotton candy, talked to the Red Cross folks, watch a willing victim get dropped into the dunk tank, and as I walked back to my canopy grooved to the sounds of Sweating Honey who were playing under the tent on the plaza stage.
Around midnight we finally started putting things away, and the crowds were persuaded to call an end to a thoroughly energetic and fun day. I didn’t get home until 1:30am, didn’t get to bed for at least an hour later, and still haven’t unloaded the truck. I was good for very little yesterday and I’m still tired today but it’s a good tired.