Nome Arts Council Open Mic Night draws big crowd
The Nome Arts Council presented open mike Saturday evening at the Mini Convention Center and drew not only a big crowd of music fans but a crowd of musicians as well. From 7 p.m. until the last notes at just before 11 p.m. the listeners got their money’s worth and more.
“The arts community reflects the soul of the community,” said Mayor Richard Beneville, who acted as impresario for the event. He estimated the crowd to be around 175 persons.
The evening began with the Alaska Flag Song, performed by Spruce Lynch in a pleasant soprano. Following that she sang “Scarborough Fair,” a song familiar to anybody from the 60s. She explained that it was written by a British soldier in 1690.
She was followed by a bluegrass group made up of KNOM news director David Hovey, Jeff Collins and a young drummer named Miles Collins, who appeared to be about three-years-old. Impressed by the performance, particularly Hovey’s clog dancing, the mayor asked Hovey where he was from. “Virginia” was the reply, giving Hovey extra street cred in bluegrass matters.
Next up were Ava Earthman and Maya Coler with a pleasant ballad, which went well with their sweet voices.
The mayor then took advantage of a complicated stage technical setup to recite Robert Service’s poem “The Cremation of Sam McGee.” The mayor’s recitation was followed by school music director Ron Horner doing two songs on the accordion.
“I’m sharing with you my childhood instrument,” he said as he mounted the stage. He first played “Danube Waves,” a song which Wikipedia describes as “The most famous Romanian tune in the world.” It is also known as “The Anniversary Waltz” in the USA. He followed this with “Fascination,” a tune recorded by Nat King Cole, Dinah Shore, and many others.
After Mr. Horner, third grade teacher Barry Kinzel got onstage and performed “Seven Spanish Angels,” which was a hit for Ray Charles and Willie Nelson in 1984. It was Charles’ only recording to hit the top of the country chart. Kinzel then sang Nelson’s “You Were Always on My Mind.” The mayor responded with “I wish I was in the third grade!”
Sarah Hofstetter and Her Gang of Four delivered the first real rock music of the evening and showed some serious musical talent.
Andrew Hafner followed the Gang of Four with Weezer’s hit from 1994 “Buddy Holly.” After that he and the mayor did a duet singing the Dr. Pepper jingle.
Gabe Colombo and the Nome Chorus sang “Silent Night.” Their harmonies were exceptional. The group will be performing at the Lutheran Church on Sunday, December 10 at 2 o’clock.
Then it was time for Devin Tatro and Zoe Grueskin to sing. Their voices are well suited to each other.
Kirk Daniels was introduced by the mayor: “He works for Bering Air.” Daniels responded,“Used to.” It seems he now works for Ryan Air. He is an excellent pianist and played well.
Zoe Grueskin mounted the stage without her helper Devin and performed a song she wrote a year ago.
Flutist Caroline Proulx played a song from “Les Miserables,” accompanied by Gabe Colombo on piano. She followed up with “I Dreamed a Dream.”
Next up was Land Bridge Tollbooth. “They have been around Nome for quite some time,” said the mayor as he introduced them. They performed “The Memory of Your Smile” and a song about a gambling man.
Now it was time for the Bering Straitjackets, featuring Lance Johnson in a kilt. They performed James Brown’s iconic “It’s a Man’s World” in a style, which would have impressed the Godfather of Soul himself, were he still alive. This was followed by a nice bluesy song, which Kameesha Cardenas sang. She has a great blues voice with plenty of power. After they finished the song the mayor exclaimed, “There’s a new set of pipes in town!” Kameesha is more than just a good set of pipes, she can sing!
The Buckleheads took the stage and asked a few questions to the crowd about their recent experiences with musk oxen, then performed “The Oomingmak Song.” This song should be performed also on the steps of the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Jason Chabot sang “Folson Prison Blues.” Another great voice.
Joe Fletcher played guitar and sang, both of which he does very well.
Penny Schaeffer was next with “Jolene” and the Hank Williams chestnut “I’m So Lonesome I Could Die.”
Matt Michels and Krysta Kauer performed well as a duo.
The final musical act included Gabe Colombo, Devin Tatro, Maya Coler and Eva Earthman. They sang John Denver’s timeless song “Country Roads.”
The mayor then stepped up and announced, “We are at the end of our evening. You’ve been a wonderful audience!”
What was best of show? Tough to say, but the amount of good musicians in a town the size of Nome is impressive.
I can’t end this without mentioning the salmon chowder the concession people were selling. I had three cups and it was terrific.