Musical Months in Dawson

Dawson City is famous for the Dawson City Music Festival, which covers a long weekend in July. However, if that’s all we had happening here, the town could be considered musically impoverished.

Not to worry, we do our best to bring in talent from elsewhere. And when we can’t do that, we play for ourselves.

You’re reading this a few days after we will have enjoyed the second in our annual series of “Home Routes” concerts, a program we share with other communities along the Alaska and Klondike Highways and as far north as Old Crow, where most of the tours (which comprise 13 gigs) come to an end.

Airline schedules between Dawson and Old Crow often mean the musicians have to spend an extra day or so here, and we make what use of them we can by padding the series with additional events.

We started this season in September with the duo of Troy MacGillivray and Jake Charron, a few weeks before the actual launch of the regular program in October with Romi Mayes and Jay Nowicki. Chris Maclean played here on November 6 (I’m listening to tracks from her MySpace site as I write this column).

In December, we will hear Ed Peekeekoot. February will bring us Colleen Eccleston, followed by the legendary Ian Tamblyn and Andy Cohen in March and April.

Concerts take place in homes – places with big enough livingrooms to crowd seating for about two dozen music lovers, and kitchens where the pot luck dishes and beverages can be spread out for consumption during the intermissions. Much to my distress I have a living room that’s too small.

Dawson City Music Festival and Karen Dubois, the local contact people for these events, speak of using the layover days to schedule a second concert for a second group of people. And they try to fill the empty months when they can. So far it appears Grant Simpson and Kate Weeks will be here in January.

There may be some other goodies that haven’t been announced yet.

Meanwhile, we are making our own music. The first Saturday evening of each month from September through May is the occasion for a Family Coffee House and Open Mic night in the Odd Fellows Hall ballroom. Clive Betts, a local teacher and musician, is organizing events this year, and Peter Menzies is the usual emcee, though Nijen Holland, who started these a few years ago, emceed several similar events at the Front Street Gazebo over the summer.

Local bands, singles acts, instrumentalists, the local orchestra, the school band and others deliver folk music, rock and roll, Broadway melodies, jazz and poetry. Sometimes there is even square dancing.

Admission is by donation. Folks donate concession goods and the money goes to worthy causes such as the Women’s Shelter, the Conservation Klondike Society, famine relief and school music programs.

We do our best to be musical in every month.

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