Hizel and the Jay Birds to appear in Folk Fest and a wedding

It’s a big week for Juneau resident Giselle Stone. The 28-year-old is performing as part of Hizel and the Jay Birds at the Alaska Folk Festival tonight, three days before her wedding.

“Everybody thought we were kind of crazy for doing it the week of the wedding, which right now I kind of also agree with,” Stone said, laughing.

“But it’s been fun. And even though there’s crazy wedding stuff and decorations and to-do lists all over the place, it forces me to play music and go to Folk Festival. I planned this whole wedding to surround Folk Fest, and performing interjects me in there, so I’m not all wedding all week,” Stone said.

On Tuesday afternoon, the group made up of Stone, Stone’s sister Clairen Stone, 26, and friend Christina Vasquez, 30, practiced in the den of the Stone family home on Wickersham Avenue.

Hanging from the staircase behind them were long strands of ribbon, which will be used to decorate outside the ceremony venue. In the adjoining kitchen hung white tissue paper cutout flags that Stone brought back from recent travels in Mexico for the wedding.

Other decorations, like mason jars and candles, were strewn about the house and all three women are in the wedding, but during practice they were focused on the music. Wearing cowgirl boots and dresses, they harmonized perfectly while rehearsing “Emmylou” by First Aid Kit.

Maid of honor Clairen Stone plays guitar, bridesmaid Vasquez is on violin and bride Stone plays both ukulele and mandolin. All three sing.

This is Hizel and the Jay Birds third time appearing in Folk Fest. In the past, the group has been a mix of guys and girls and had up to six members, including a drummer.

This Folk Fest, it’s a “power trio of ladies,” said Clairen Stone. “It’s just fun to have it be women.”

The Stone sisters were born and raised in Juneau, though neither live here year-round. Stone travels in the winter with her fiancé, Clif Miller, and Clairen Stone lives in Bend, Oregon, where she occasionally plays jazz gigs.

Both Stone daughters grew up doing musical theater at Juneau-Douglas High School and were in the Alaska Youth Choir. Vasquez, originally from Montana, has lived in Juneau for a decade. She started playing violin at age 5 and has played throughout her life. She’s currently in the Juneau Symphony.

All three women have day jobs unrelated to music. Hizel and the Jay Birds has only ever performed during Folk Fest.

“We just love Folk Fest a lot, and it’s a good excuse to get musical people together. We don’t necessarily have the time or desire to learn enough music to do full gigs, but enjoy playing together and in the spirit of Folk Fest, push ourselves to pick out a group of songs and weed it down,” Stone said.

The set also includes covers of songs by The Wailin’ Jennys and Dixie Chicks. The fourth song is “Marry Me” by Dolly Parton.

Hizel and the Jay Birds play at Centennial Hall 9:30 tonight, which is the only night that worked with Stone’s hectic schedule. Some family and friends coming in for the wedding will have already arrived by then, and the multi-day wedding starts the following day.

And there’s quite a musical lineup for the many wedding events.

“I wanted a Folk Fest wedding. I wanted all the big people playing in town also playing for me,” Stone said.

Dan Kirkwood’s Juneau band Goldwing is performing during a meet-and-greet. A collaboration of Seattle musician Eli West, Anchorage musician Anna Lynch, and Garren Volper and Amanda Kerr of Anchorage-based High Lonesome Sound will be playing at the wedding ceremony, which is taking place at the Last Chance Mining Museum. Juneau band Rumblefish is performing at the wedding reception at the Red Dog Saloon.

Most of the musicians are playing during Folk Fesk. Goldwing, also made up of Clay Good, Dan Desloover and Ben Higdon, are at Centennial Hall Thursday night at 10. Eli West is playing at the Red Dog Saloon Friday night with The Hannah Yoter Band. Rumblefish is performing at Centennial Hall tonight at 8:15 p.m. and at the Rendezvous Thursday night.

Hizel and the Jay Birds has only been practicing for a week. Jitters among the women are spread between Folk Fest and the wedding.

Stone is more nervous about the wedding. Clairen Stone is nervous about playing Folk Fest, but is most worried about giving the maid of honor toast at the wedding. Vasquez’s nerves are only toward Folk Fest, not the wedding.

“I just have to stand there and look nice. I’m just the supportive role — on both things,” Vasquez said.

Stone has told her 125 wedding guests to dress warm and wear comfortable shoes for dancing. For the ceremony, she’s going to wear something blue on her feet, but for the reception she’ll likely change into what she’ll be wearing on the Folk Fest stage — cowgirl boots.

• Contact reporter Lisa Phu at lisa.phu@juneauempire.com or 523-2246.

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