George Kuhar performs at the 43rd annual Alaska Folk Festival at Centennial Hall. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

George Kuhar performs at the 43rd annual Alaska Folk Festival at Centennial Hall. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Juneau singer-songwriter plays 8th annual birthday show

Tradition started with a coincidence

For eight years and counting Goerge Kuhar has celebrated his birthday with a show.

While Sunday’s eighth annual birthday performance at the Rookery was technically a day past Kuhar’s Jan. 5 birthday, the Juneau singer-songwriter and frontman for Playboy Spaceman, did feature in Collette Costa’s Christmas extravaganza Saturday as Dancer the reindeer and received birthday wishes after the show.

[Life, death and sound]

Before his turn under the antlers and playing his annual show at the Rookery, Kuhar took time to talk to the Capital City Weekly about how the tradition got started, his year that was, the year to come and what it’s like to always perform on his birthday.

[Photos: Kuhar and others take the Polar Dip]

How did the tradition get started?

GK: I think kind of by accident. The first year I did it, it was a solo show close to my birthday. I really liked it. I like traditions.

After eight years, almost a decade, has the show changed?

A couple of years ago, I think year No. 6, I noticed how it took on a life of its own because of the energy of the audience. Otherwise it doesn’t change much. I change material, rotate in new songs and covers. I’ve really been heavy into a writing phase. My challenge right now is to pull myself out of the writing phase.

So what’s going to be new this year?

I have some ideas, but I’m not sure if I’m going to do them. I’m not sure I want to say what they are.

Growing up did you miss out of birthday presents having a birthday close to the holidays?

GK: I don’t think so. I think it’s far enough away.

With a birthday near the new year, it seems like a good time to reflect, how was your 2018?

I got my commercial driver’s license this year. I did that so I could drive a bus in the summer. 2018 was definitely a year I started holding myself to a higher standard as a singer and performer.

I understand what that means, but what does it mean more specifically to you?

First and foremost, I consider myself a singer-songwriter. It’s just so fun to make and write music. The intrinsic value of that is enough to do it alone, but part of that intrinsic value becomes polishing it.

What’s 2019 have in store?

I’m not planning. Right now, my main focus is on writing and practicing singing and playing. In 2019, my main priority is writing.

Does it feel like you’re giving up anything by annually playing on your birthday? Are you a big birthday is me-day person?

Maybe when I was a kid.

In a way, it feels selfish to me because I ask everyone to come hear my songs. It’s a party in a way. A lot of familiar faces come every year, and I like them.

Bridget Cross Kuhar and George Kuhar have been together since 2006. Bridget donated one of her kidneys to George, who suffered from hereditary chronic kidney disease. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Bridget Cross Kuhar and George Kuhar have been together since 2006. Bridget donated one of her kidneys to George, who suffered from hereditary chronic kidney disease. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Simon Taylor, left, Jason Messing, Nickolas Wagner, Bridget Cross Kuhar and George Kuhar, right, are Playboy Spaceman. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Simon Taylor, left, Jason Messing, Nickolas Wagner, Bridget Cross Kuhar and George Kuhar, right, are Playboy Spaceman. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Nickolas Wagner, drums, left, George Kuhar, guitar and lead vocals, Jason Messing, drums and Simon Taylor, bass, right, of Playboy Spaceship rehearse Tuesday. Not shown is Bridget Cross Kuhar, keyboards. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Nickolas Wagner, drums, left, George Kuhar, guitar and lead vocals, Jason Messing, drums and Simon Taylor, bass, right, of Playboy Spaceship rehearse Tuesday. Not shown is Bridget Cross Kuhar, keyboards. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

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