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34th Annual Anchorage Folk Festival celebrates return of live performances

Parlor in the Round.jpg
Parlor in the Round on Thursday evening at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium on the UAA Campus, where the main performances and workshops will be held. Parlor in the Round was one of the warm-up events for the Anchorage Folk Festival, where singer-songwriters performed and collaborated on songs. Photo courtesy of the Anchorage Folk Festival.

The Anchorage Folk Festival returns in full force on Friday, after scaling back during the pandemic.

Mile Twelve, a Bluegrass band out of Boston, is the headliner for this weekend.

The group is known for singing fast and picking hard, which the festival’s president, Johnse Ostman says, will help to get things off to a good start.

“They take Bluegrass where sometimes Bluegrass doesn’t go,” said Ostman. “And they’re young and they're energetic.”

But it’s the energy and efforts of the volunteers, Ostman says, that makes the Anchorage Folk Festival what it is. And during the pandemic, a lot of it had to redirected to recorded performances that were shared online.

“We haven’t done this in a long time,” said Ostman. “We’ve worked really hard with our board of directors and volunteers to make sure everyone has a really fun time.”

Bucking Mules, an old-time string band, with roots in Tennessee and North Carolina, is the headliner for Week 2 of the festival. They’re known for their barn dances and will give Alaskans a chance to kick up their heels at the Nave in Spenard on Jan. 28.

The folk festival, though, is best known for showcasing local groups on its main stage at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium on the UAA Campus. There are performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, for both this weekend and the next.

The festival also features jam sessions in the lobby, workshops taught by both locals and guest artists, dances and other community events.