The weekly Kimball pipe organ concert had a seasonal twist and a special guest Friday.
Juneau drag queen Gigi Monroe donned a sparkly green dress and provided guest vocals while T.J. Duffy, who sported a shimmering green wig, played through some Irish tunes for an early celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.
“We’d been wanting to work together, and T.J. invited me,” Monroe said. “It was a really good opportunity. This organ is a treasure. It’s a regular live music experience in Juneau that a lot of people don’t know about.”
At the State Office Building at noon on Fridays there are regular performances on the organ, which was installed in 1928. It was originally brought to town from Chicago to provide sound to accompany silent movies, Duffy said.
“It’s the only one in Alaska,” Duffy said.
The air-powered organ lent an extra layer of old-time feeling to classic songs, such as “Danny Boy.”
By striking a key, Duffy could add tambourine-like sounds or wood block to the music, and the wavering organ notes easily filled the State Office Building’s atrium.
“It’s got the equivalent of 1928 subwoofers,” Duffy said. “There’s a lot of vibrato, and it makes people sob.”
No one appeared to be crying in the audience, although plenty of folks paused to take in the show.
Andy Mills and his children, 1-year-old Eden and 3-year-old Malcolm, were among them and peered at the pipes.
“We come here pretty much all the time,” Mills said. “He plays ‘Star Wars’ sometimes, which they love. Plus, we’re Irish.”
Duffy, who alternates manning the console for the weekly concerts with J. Allan MacKinnon, said he likes to do something special for Halloween, Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day.
“It’s just such a fun holiday,” he said. “Spring is right around the corner.”
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.