Folkapotamus featuring Andrew Heist, Annie Bartholomew, Erin Heist and Nicole Lantz play to a pack house Saturday night at JDHS for the 48th annual Alaska Folk Festival. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Folkapotamus featuring Andrew Heist, Annie Bartholomew, Erin Heist and Nicole Lantz play to a pack house Saturday night at JDHS for the 48th annual Alaska Folk Festival. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Come rain or volcanoes, the show must folk on

48th annaul Alaska Folk Festival wraps up with a bang.

Michael Truax moved to Juneau in 1975 and at that time the Alaska Folk Festival was only four years old. Since then Truax hasn’t missed a chance to play in every subsequent event, participating in 44 of the 48 festivals.

According to Truax, while much has remained the same, the biggest difference he’s seen over the years is the popularity.

“It’s gotten huge,” Truax said. “The Folk Fest is known all over, we get huge crowds, to the point that we have to turn down 45-50 people requesting to play and everybody is really amazed that everything is free. Also, there’s a tremendous amount of talent in this town, the songwriting has gotten so good and has grown tremendously in 40 years. A lot of people that I’ve known since the beginning, I’m just really proud to know them because they’re becoming known names around the state, I’m really glad to call them friends. The thing that’s stayed the same for me is I’m scared to death of getting out on stage.”

Ursa Minor Singers comprised of first through third graders from Montessori Borealis Public School accompanied by teacher Callie open Saturday’s performances at JDHS for this year’s Alaska Folk Festival. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Ursa Minor Singers comprised of first through third graders from Montessori Borealis Public School accompanied by teacher Callie open Saturday’s performances at JDHS for this year’s Alaska Folk Festival. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

The 48th Annual Alaska Folk Festival wrapped up over the weekend, but not without its fair share of challenges. From changing venues midweek due to renovations at Centennial Hall to erupting volcanoes in Russia causing massive flight cancellations, there’s been no shortage of obstacles to overcome for this year’s festival.

[Flight cancellations continue amid volcanic eruption disruptions]

Monday through Thursday performances took place at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center before moving to the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé auditorium for the weekend. Despite the changes in venue, Sheli DeLaney, a member of the board of directors for Folk Fest, said the festival followed the same pattern as it has in years past for the final weekend with performances and workshops taking place simultaneously throughout each day.

Frail Away Ladies consisting of Ellie Sharman, Kate Boesser, Devin Tatro, Katie Henry, Erin Tilly, Heidi Kristenson, Emma Carr, Erin Heist and Annie Bartholomew take to the stage with banjos in hand for Saturday night’s performance at this year’s Folk Fest in the JDHS auditorium. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Frail Away Ladies consisting of Ellie Sharman, Kate Boesser, Devin Tatro, Katie Henry, Erin Tilly, Heidi Kristenson, Emma Carr, Erin Heist and Annie Bartholomew take to the stage with banjos in hand for Saturday night’s performance at this year’s Folk Fest in the JDHS auditorium. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

“The volcano caused a lot of cancellations and caused a lot of changes to our schedule,” DeLaney said. “Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé staff has been incredibly accommodating. Bo Anderson has pretty much committed to being here full time and he’s been really helpful when we have questions, he’s been instrumental (pun intended) in helping us just get the doors open on time for everything.”

The Casey Smith Project of Fairbanks plays as a last minute addition to Saturday’s Folk Fest lineup at JDHS. Many scheduled acts were delayed or canceled this year due to a volcanic eruption in Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

The Casey Smith Project of Fairbanks plays as a last minute addition to Saturday’s Folk Fest lineup at JDHS. Many scheduled acts were delayed or canceled this year due to a volcanic eruption in Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

On a positive note, DeLaney said the festival’s guest artist Lone Piñon managed to arrive safely, and was on schedule for workshops and performances throughout Sunday. DeLaney added much of the credit for filling in gaps to the lineup was due to the quick action of Alaska Folk Fest president Andrew Heist.

The Koski Family Band, Gracie Koski, Ruby Koski, Warren Koski and Travis Koski plays for the early crowd on Saturday at JDHS during this year’s annual Alaska Folk Festival. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

The Koski Family Band, Gracie Koski, Ruby Koski, Warren Koski and Travis Koski plays for the early crowd on Saturday at JDHS during this year’s annual Alaska Folk Festival. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Heist said he was “extremely pleased” with the results despite the amount of canceled flights and uncertainties surrounding venue changes in particular.

“Friday night was our first night here (JDHS) and it was a magical evening,” Heist said. “The sound was amazing, the house was full, and that old Folk Fest spirit was alive and well. The flight cancellations have been an enormous challenge, not just with our guest artist being delayed, but unprecedented numbers of cancellations from the performers that were signed up, so juggling that schedule to keep everything moving along and making sure everybody knows where to be at the right time has been an immense challenge for the board. But it’s been thrilling to see it all come together, I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out given the hand we were dealt.”

Lucy Salazar hosts traditional social dances of New Mexico and Southern Colorado on Saturday at the JACC. Salazar’s dance workshop was one of many scheduled throughout the weekend taking place at both JDHS and the JACC. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Lucy Salazar hosts traditional social dances of New Mexico and Southern Colorado on Saturday at the JACC. Salazar’s dance workshop was one of many scheduled throughout the weekend taking place at both JDHS and the JACC. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Heist added while he’s pleased with the way things worked out at JDHS for weekend performances, he said there are no plans of continuing on with venue changes for next year’s festival as he intends to return to Centennial Hall once renovations are complete.

Taylor Smith hosts an Upright Bass workshop at JDHS on Saturday as just one of the many scheduled workshops for the Folk Fest weekend taking place at the JACC and JDHS. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Taylor Smith hosts an Upright Bass workshop at JDHS on Saturday as just one of the many scheduled workshops for the Folk Fest weekend taking place at the JACC and JDHS. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

“Centennial Hall is our home, it’s a great space where it’s centrally located and there’s a dance venue right next to the main hall,” Heist said. “We’re looking forward to getting back to Centennial Hall where we don’t have to move venues during the week; that’s been the big challenge to shift from the JACC to the high school on Friday. So we’re definitely going back to Centennial Hall next year, we’re looking forward to it.”

Family band The Whirlybirds, (Kathleen Maynard, Marcelo Maiorano, Cecilia Maiorano, Maelle Maiorano and Lucia Maiorano play the second slot of Saturday’s early performances at JDHS for the 48th annual Alaska Folk Fest. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Family band The Whirlybirds, (Kathleen Maynard, Marcelo Maiorano, Cecilia Maiorano, Maelle Maiorano and Lucia Maiorano play the second slot of Saturday’s early performances at JDHS for the 48th annual Alaska Folk Fest. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

New Mexico-based musician Lael Llaverias, who performs under the name Llavz, was one of the many artists affected by delayed flights as a result of the Shiveluch volcano. Llaverias explained that he was enroute for Skagway to work for the White Pass Railroad when he heard about the festival and thought it would be fun to get involved.

Justin Price plays with his band The Empty North (w/Justin Miller and LZ Roxx) to a far from empty crowd on Saturday at JDHS as part of this year’s Alaska Folk Fest lineup. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Justin Price plays with his band The Empty North (w/Justin Miller and LZ Roxx) to a far from empty crowd on Saturday at JDHS as part of this year’s Alaska Folk Fest lineup. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

“I was supposed to have a layover in Skagway for seven hours, that turned into 13 hours, but luckily I made it,” Llaverias said. “It’s cool that Alaska wants people from everywhere to participate, a lot of places will sometimes just keep events as a locals only kind of thing, so it’s a beautiful thing here and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Michael Truax plays his 44th consecutive Alaska Folk Festival on Saturday in the JDHS auditorium to a packed house. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Michael Truax plays his 44th consecutive Alaska Folk Festival on Saturday in the JDHS auditorium to a packed house. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Casey Smith from Fairbanks, who performs as the Casey Smith Project, was one of the last-minute additions asked to fill in for some of the less fortunate musicians whose flights were ultimately canceled. Smith, who has performed for Folk Fests in years past, said this year he and his band were planning on attending as audience members since they were scheduled to be in town for a show at the Crystal Saloon on Thursday night, separate from the festival.

Lael Llaverias “Llavz” plays early on Saturday for this year’s annual Folk Fest despite nearly missing his Skagway connecting flight due to volcanic eruption. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Lael Llaverias “Llavz” plays early on Saturday for this year’s annual Folk Fest despite nearly missing his Skagway connecting flight due to volcanic eruption. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

“We applied and it was just too busy, but then they called us up and wanted us to play,” Smith said. “We actually had some gigs booked already in Juneau so we were going to come down. Our flights got canceled, but we wound up rebooking and came down on Saturday, and we’re really happy to be here and to just be a part of the music scene here, it’s really important to us.”

Gub’munt Cheese from Kodiak, (Tim Borden and Evan Coombs) keeps it cheesy on Saturday for this year’s Folk Festival at the JDHS auditorium. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Gub’munt Cheese from Kodiak, (Tim Borden and Evan Coombs) keeps it cheesy on Saturday for this year’s Folk Festival at the JDHS auditorium. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at jonson.kuhn@juneauempire.com.

A full house watches on as performances take to the stage in the 48th annual Alaska Folk Festival. This year’s event was split between the JACC and JDHS due to renovations being made at the festival’s usual location in Centennial Hall, however, the change in venues didn’t stop folks from showing up big to support the time-honored Alaska tradition. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

A full house watches on as performances take to the stage in the 48th annual Alaska Folk Festival. This year’s event was split between the JACC and JDHS due to renovations being made at the festival’s usual location in Centennial Hall, however, the change in venues didn’t stop folks from showing up big to support the time-honored Alaska tradition. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

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