The Wooden Sky Kicks Off ALFF

For Yukoners who miss having a music festival in February, the Yukon Film Society has stepped up. This year, the Available Light Film Festival (ALFF) has expanded to include musical performances.

Andrew Connors, ALFF director, explains: “It’s twofold. We realized that the way we configure the Yukon Arts Centre for cinema, we move the screen right to the front of the stage that it leaves the whole stage open so we could do cabaret events. The other is that it’s much more commonplace for live music and cinema to be performed together. At heart, a lot of songwriters and filmmakers are storytellers. For the kickoff concert, we wanted to bring some excitement to the festival audience and have a great music show to kick things off.”

ALFF begins Friday, February 6, with a concert by The Wooden Sky, an alternativecountry/roots group from Toronto, who recently released their fourth album, Let’s Be Ready.

“The Wooden Sky is a great rocking band with some wonderful songs, and we’ve heard some great things about their live show,” says Connors.

Last year, the band released Let’s Be Ready, after some internal turmoil and change: a founding member left, and the band quit its record label and management. Gavin Gardiner, the band’s singer and guitarist, sees this as a re-invention for the group.

“It forces you out of your comfort zone,” Gardiner says. “We couldn’t do things later like we’d done before because it wasn’t even an option. So it was good, we had to re-invent what we did and it forced everyone to take on a new role. “It just felt like either we work our asses off and do something new or we quit. So it felt good to actually dig in and do the work. And that’s where we are right now.”

Film buffs may be interested in checking out their work with director Scott Cudmore. The video for the lead track from the new album is called, “Saturday Night”. It follows two strange characters around a nightclub, while the song plays in the background, at points dropping out entirely.

“At first we were a little bit reluctant and hesitant to do that,” Gardiner explains. “But we really believed in Scott’s vision. His original idea when he pitched it to me was, let’s experience the music through someone else’s eyes and how it affects their life.”

Opening for The Wooden Sky is the Whitehorse band, Old Cabin, with singer-songwriter Jona Barr accompanied by Fiona Solon, Jordy Walker, Micah Smith and Johnnie Rodgers.

“That’s my standard Yukon band,” Barr says. “It’s pretty much the band on my CD. When I tour across Canada playing festivals, I try to have a band made up of friends who are also playing that festival, so there’s a lot of different variations.”

Old Cabin released a self-titled full-length album last year, and followed it up with several months of touring. Barr is currently writing the next album, to be recorded this summer. Member of The Wooden Sky are familiar with Old Cabin’s music, having played with Barr’s brother Jackson Reed in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

“We listened to the album in the van a bunch of times and it’s really good,” says Gardiner. It’s a small little world we’ve got in this country.”

ALFF will also be presenting musical performances by Juno Award nominated Tanya Tagaq with the film, Nanook of the North, as well as Soul Migration, Kevin House, John Southworth and the South Seas, We are the City, and Julie Doiron, and John McKiel. The Wooden Sky/Old Cabin amps up on February 6, at 8 p.m. at the Yukon Arts Centre. Ticks are $26, with a one-buck discount for YFS members. 

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