Open Mic Night shows off Nome’s talented musicians
There’s an old bumper sticker that says “Live Music Is Best.” Saturday night at the Nome Mini Convention Center the live music lived up to its billing. A lot of great musicians showed up to perform at the Nome Arts Council’s Open Mic night and the big crowd got its money’s worth for sure. In addition to the music they got to see people they know from around town in totally different roles. The guy who just installed your Toyo stove might have been there playing bluegrass and lamenting his true love’s marriage to another. The nurse who gave your kid her flu shot was perhaps singing beautiful harmonies with the barista who makes your decaf soy non-fat latte with cinnamon every morning. The performers were people we see around Nome.
The night was a celebration of the Nome Art Council’s 45th anniversary. The organization has been enriching the lives of Nomeites by supporting and promoting art and music for nearly half a century.
“When we first started the folk festival and then these associated open mike nights back in 2001,” said Carol Gales, who spent the evening adjusting mikes, helping set up for performers and generally running things. “There really was not an opportunity to perform like this before this. We had the Louis Green Band, we had Landbridge Tollbooth just getting started, but there was no place to play. There was no opportunity unless you got a bar gig.”
The folk fest and the open mikes opened up opportunities for musicians to perform. “And a lot of people who performed here tonight were a little afraid about it, didn’t want to do it, exactly, kind of, and then they did it and they enjoyed it. So hopefully there are people in the audience who are like ‘Yeah, I’m going to try that,’” Gales said.
A silent auction raised money for Arts Council projects as did yummy desserts on sale. A free CD of Nome music was offered to those who attended with two to choose from. The music started just after 7 p.m. and continued until just at 11 p.m.
The Nome Arts Council was incorporated as a non-profit in May of 1973, 45 years ago. Despite Nome’s small size the art scene is vibrant and varied. The Arts Council has done much to support and promote art in the region. “We always try and provide a broad range of arts to the community,” said Josie Stiles, a long-time board member. “There are several things on our agenda that have come into reality. One is the Winter Bear Project, coming up in April, Sidney Huntington of Galena. We’re finally bringing that to Nome.” The Winter Bear is a play, which tells the story of a teenager in Alaska who overcomes a history of trauma to become a leader. It was written by Sidney Huntington of Galena. Last spring the Arts Council presented Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
Over the past year Arts Council presentations include Warbelow Range, a Celtic music ensemble from Fairbanks, several open mike nights, and a benefit concert for Jens Hildreth. The Alappaa Film Festival gives local filmmakers a chance to show their work. It takes place around Iditarod time. There is also a snow sculpting competition and Iditarod Art Show. Last week birder Lynn Eileen Barber of Anchorage talked about her “big year” of birding in Alaska and signed copies of her book “Extreme Birder: One Woman’s Big Year.” In July there was a square dance calling workshop. And opera singer Ariana Horner performed for her hometown fans.