Camera: Kodak 66; Film: Kodak 120, Ektar 100
Over the weekend, I was asked if I had been affected much by actions for the Coronavirus.
Up until now, I’ve been affected only mildly. I imagine that will change shortly.
I’ve had a project going lately, which has taken me out to a few remote Alaska villages. I’ve basically been doing the two week on, two week off schedule, and the virus really hit the fan when I was out in the Naknek region. I finished my assignment, came back to Fairbanks, and will not be going out again. The project has been put on hiatus, although I suspect it has really been cancelled, at least for the foreseeable future.
I had a construction project already lined up for my return. Materials were on site, the building empty, so I worked on that all week, and will finish probably today or tomorrow. Like most people I know who work construction up here, I have no work projects currently on the horizon.
Normally, this is the time of year when I escape and go Outside, thus avoiding the Interior Alaska Breakup Season. A group of us attend the Frozen Four hockey championships that take place every April, but this year they have been canceled. When in the Lower 48, I would check in on my Dad, as well as other family & friends about now, but traveling anywhere is beyond a bad idea, so I’m staying in Alaska. From up here, airplanes & airports seem like giant petri dishes, but to be honest, my greatest unease with travel right now is the thought that if I leave Alaska, I won’t be able to come back! That’s enough to give any cabin-dweller the shivers.
The shelves at the local grocery stores & Costco are looking pretty sparse, but I’m well-stocked anyway. It’s kind of an Alaskan thing, I suppose. When you live at the end of the road, having enough food to get you through a patch of bad weather, or a closing of the Alaska Highway, or a barge losing its load coming up from Seattle, is just something we do. Especially in the winter months. I have a freezer stocked with salmon, rock fish, halibut and other Alaska morsels, so I’m good to go there. I am a bit low on blueberries, but that’s par for the course this time of year.
A friend wanted me to stop by the other day on my way home from work. I declined the invite, saying I should probably partake in some social distancing. I was informed that this was hardly new for me, and the virus was just a convenient excuse. I had to chuckle, because if left to my own devices, I can be a notorious hermit. I have no problem retreating into my little world at the end of the road, and turning off the phone and computer. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, someone threatened to call out the dog sled teams to hunt for me, when I went off grid for barely a week.
I have books to read, letters to write, and LP’s to spin – inside; trails to walk, lakes to circle on snowshoes, and moose to try to capture on film – outside.
We can’t control the virus; all we can do is try our best not to catch it. I hope, and fully expect, to see all of you on the other side of this.
I was reminded of an Inuit saying when revisiting the documentary “Noatak: Return to the Arctic”.
“I think over again
My small adventures
Those small ones that seemed so big
For all the vital things
I had to get and to reach
And yet there is only one great thing
To live and see the great day that dawns
And the light that fills the world.”
Best wishes from Alaska.
Jazz saxophonist Jimmy Heath passed away this week. Heath performed on over 100 albums, and wrote over 125 compositions.
Heath’s saxophone play, and slim build, earned him the nickname “Little Bird” by the late 1940’s.
Jimmy Heath was 93.
On August 15, 1969, the Woodstock Music Festival got underway near Bethel, NY.
Three days of Peace & Music. Richie Havens took the stage at 5:07 pm as the first act that Friday in 1969.
The Curator and I visited the site in March of 2018, after attending the ECAC Conference Hockey tournament at Lake Placid.
Turn up your CCR and Santana this weekend.
The music world lost another unique voice on Thursday. Dr John, the man who brought the voodoo infused magic of New Orleans music to the world, died “toward the break of day”, of a heart attack. John was 77.
I saw Dr John play live once, when I was in New Orleans during their Jazz Festival. It was pure luck really, but sometimes the train pulls up to the station at just the right moment. It was after Katrina, and there were still a lot of roofs that were covered by blue tarps. Dr John put on quite the show, but this was more than just playing a concert, it was his attempt to use music to help heal his city from a hurricane and apathy.
Dr John simply oozed New Orleans, in all its funky, bluesy, bayou form. I read a review once, where the writer described his voice as a “bullfrog with a hangover”.
Rest in peace, Night Tripper; your bullfrog voice will be missed.
An introduction to Fairbanks and Interior Alaska:
There is no place quite like it.
Tony Joe White passed away suddenly on Thursday of a suspected heart attack. The musician was inspired to pick up a guitar as a teenager when he heard Lightin’ Hopkins for the first time. Known for his “swamp rock” style, White wrote several classics including “Willie and Laura Mae Jones”, “Polk Salad Annie” and “Rainy Night in Georgia”. The latter had been covered by over 100 different artists by the time White turned 30.
In the above video, White performs one of his songs with Johnny Cash. White was 75.
In order to avoid the intense traffic that had already started to build up at 1:30pm, it was suggested that we drive up to Sorel, then take the ferry across the Saint Lawrence River.
The Mini-RV is packed down in that mass of steel somewhere. The ferry run was short and smooth, but it took some of the stress out of the impressive traffic that we had been battling.
The MacDonald Monument at Place du Canada. John A. MacDonald was Canada’s first prime minister. This monument was erected in 1895. There are two cannons flanking the monument, which were used in the Crimean War. Queen Victoria presented the city with the cannons in 1892, to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the founding of Montreal. The Curator found the cannons quite interesting.
A trip to Montreal would not be complete without a visit to a jazz bar. We stopped by The Upstairs Jazz Club. A wonderful club, with a great atmosphere. The Shawn McPherson Blues Band was the night’s act. McPherson plays a decent harmonica, and the band surrounding him was solid. We were treated to some very good music.
We lost another icon of the music world with the passing of Aretha Franklin. Franklin got her start as a child singing gospel at the New Bethel Baptist church in Detroit, where her father was a minister.
Franklin signed on with Columbia Records in 1960 at the age of 18. She found success and acclaim after signing with Atlantic Records in 1967. By the end of the 1960’s Aretha had become the Queen of Soul.
Franklin brings down the house at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015. As a singer, Franklin won’t drop the mic, but she can drop the coat.
I have to add a clip of Aretha’s cameo in “The Blues Brothers”. Matt “Guitar” Murphy is “her man” in the film. Sadly, we lost Murphy earlier this year, as well.
Franklin was a powerful vocalist, who wrenched every bit of emotion out of the lyrics. As Paul McCartney said, she “was the Queen of our souls.”
Aretha Franklin was 76; there will never be another quite like her. Rest in peace.
Who says Fairbanks lacks culture?
The Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival winds down to a close at the end of the weekend. Hopefully, visitors, at the very least, took in some of the free lunch concerts that have been going on at various locations around town. The Festival started in 1980, and has been a boost to summers in Fairbanks ever since.
I saw the Lowboy Cello Band on Alaska Live Wednesday, which prompted this post. One doesn’t often think of Fairbanks as being a cello hotbed, but we seem to be holding our own. The band consists of four members of the Alaska Cello Intensive. The above video is the ACI doing a beautiful, yet more traditional piece. I will follow that up with a video of ACI getting a little loose and funky.
The original piece above, by artist Sara Tabbert, is hand carved and painted on wood. The piece will be auctioned off today at 7:30pm at the Westmark downtown, during the FSAF Orchestra Pops Concert.