It’s Coffee House/Open Mic time at the KIAC Ballroom once again. This is a monthly event that usually takes place on the first Saturday of every month from September through to May. It is one of those things that the community does for itself, as contrasted with all those special events (partly for visitors) that crowd the calendar and the available performance spaces from June to the end of August.
KIAC stands for the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture, and is itself the program arm of the Dawson City Arts Society. (or DCAS.)
Until the last couple of years, the building in which so much happens was called the Odd Fellows Hall, since that’s the name of fraternal organization that built it. After nearly 20 years of DCAS occupancy, it was decided it might be appropriate to refer to it as the KIAC Building.
Last summer a further addition to its name was made when KIAC and the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in came together to add a Han name the structure. After a couple of years of deliberations, the new name chosen was Dënäkär Zho, which means ”a house of mixed colours.” “Zho” in any of the Han names around town means “house.”
The coffee house evenings run about two-and-a-half hours and feature all sorts of homegrown entertainment, plus the sale of coffee, tea, pop and goodies. The entry fee is whatever you can afford and the monies raised go to one of the many non-profits in town. October’s went to the Humane Society.
The October session featured 13 different acts, beginning with some fiddle tunes by Simon Crelli and Peter Menzies. Ian Nyland and Menzies each offered a couple of tunes, Nijen Holland accompanied Stephanie Cayen in a song she wrote with some friend about their hike on the Chilkoot Pass last summer. Nijen was joined by Jim Taggart as a truncated version of their River Bends band. Stephanie came back with Teresa Conkin, to advertise the fledgling community brass band project by playing a pair of flute and trombone numbers.
Jason Biasetti had written the lyrics for a song Jim and Nijen performed, and later on took to the mic to read a poem and a short story. During much of the evening, whenever there was music, young children danced in front of the stage, and that was fine until it got to be more like gymnastics, and then their parents scooped them up.