Sophie Lager sings during a sound check as keyboardist Craig Millard and drummer Darren Jaeckel back her as they ready for a performance at McGivney's in the Gold Belt Hotel on Thursday. Bassist Alexei Painter completes the local band.

Sophie Lager sings during a sound check as keyboardist Craig Millard and drummer Darren Jaeckel back her as they ready for a performance at McGivney's in the Gold Belt Hotel on Thursday. Bassist Alexei Painter completes the local band.

Folk Fest Q&A: Not too flustered to dance

After playing gigs around town for the past year and a half, Flustered Cluckers is thrilled to be making their Alaska Folk Festival debut Saturday night.

With Juneau residents Sophie Lager on vocals, Alexei Painter on bass, Craig Millard on piano and Darren Jaeckel on drums, the band specializes in blues and rock covers.

I recently caught up with lead singer Lager on the phone to talk about the band, their tongue-twister of a name and Folk Fest expectations.


Q: Tell me about Flustered Cluckers.

A: We do everything from Ray Charles to Danzig. The general idea is we replace all of the guitar parts of songs with the piano, so it spins it in a really different sound. For example, we cover Danzig’s “Mother” and all of those guitar rifts, that’s all done on the keyboard instead, so it makes our sound a little bit different, which is really fun.


Q: What’s the story behind the name?

A: Basically, it came out of a joke. The keyboard player came up with it and was joking at our band practice, and we all thought it was really funny. Because it’s a twist on a saying, it makes it really fun for emcees and radio announcers to say. A lot of them practice it beforehand to make sure they’re going to pronounce it correctly. Our music is a little bit tongue-in-cheek and different, so it’s nice that we also have a name that’s a little bit like that.


Q: I was looking on your Facebook page, and you guys look pretty classy when you’re performing. Is that normally how you perform?

A: Yes, we generally try to dress like the nicest person in the room because you never want to show up for a gig as a performer and be underdressed. That’s my general philosophy. So much of music is sound, but it’s also a visual experience, so we definitely try to have a visual presentation along with that sound.


Q: How do you feel about performing at Folk Fest for the first time as Flustered Cluckers?

A: So excited. We’re scheduled after the contra dances, so hopefully we’ll have people who want to move and are already warmed up for that and that should be pretty fun. It’s past my bedtime, but I’m stoked. I’m stoked that we got a spot and really, really excited to get to be performing on a night when people are definitely already showing up there to dance. We’re going to be playing our most danceable music for this.


Q: Like what?

A: One that is surprising and seems to get people moving is actually “St. James Infirmary.” It’s done many different ways by lots of different groups at all different tempos. Our version starts out really, really slow, and then it picks up quite quickly. So even though it’s a pretty sad blues song about somebody’s sweetheart dying, you really want to boogie to it. It’s a nice juxtaposition.


Q: For people who have never heard you before, what can they expect Saturday night?

A: They can look forward to some new twists on old songs and old twists on new songs. We are not bluegrass. We’re not going to sound like a lot of other people that they’re hearing, and we’re really going to be enjoying what we play because we won’t play anything we don’t want to listen to ourselves. We will be having fun and hopefully that will help them have fun. There will be no “Free Bird.” I can tell you that.

Flustered Cluckers is playing a dance during the Alaska Folk Festival Saturday night from 11:40 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

• Contact reporter Lisa Phu at or 523-2246.

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