Keller Visits the Last Frontier

Alaska is a whole different country inhabited by cool americans.  Just in case you’re not a slave to the blue F of the facebook, here are a few details from my trip to the land of the midnight sun.  We landed in Anchorage and stopped by a bar called F Street. They had a big block of cheese on the bar for patrons to snack on with their cocktails. Many years ago, a lady from the health department made a big cheesy stink about it.  So…..they put up this sign to shut her up.  It stuck.  They have t-shirts that say, “For display only.  Do not eat.”


The next day I played the Bear Tooth Theatre.  It’s an awesome facility that has a restaurant and brewery.  They don’t do that much music there as their movie business soars.  They show movies for $3.50 and with a full bar, they say they get 700 to 1000 people a night in on the weekend.  The back stage was provided by a limousine bus with a stripper pole. Yes, I swung around on it.  I hope the windows were tinted.  I think they referred  to it as vertical safety bar.  That seems like the type of bus that would require a safe word. I heard rumors of bondage paraphernalia in a closet.  We did not look for it.

The next day, our friends (john and jenny) drove us in the salmon bake van to Healy, which is just north of Denali.  I played the salmon bake the last time I was in town.  This time I played a new place owned by the same folks called the 49th State Brewing Company.  Apparently, the guys got tired of paying so much for gas so they bought a gas station.  The same is true with a liquor store.  Along with the gas station came a camp ground and a big vacant building.  They turned the building into a brewery and restaurant and fenced in a large area out back and built a medium size covered stage.  I was part of the first show out side on that stage.  Also on the bill was a duo from Montana named Tumbledown House. They were smooth and delicious. The Stumble Bum Brass Band was there as well.  I have never seen anything quite like that band.  Tuba, trumpet and drums.  Full on punk rock.  Like electronica, punk rock is not for every body.  It’s not commercial or main stream. Stumble bum brass band proves that punk is not a sound but a state of mind.  I’ve never seen a band with such a “I don’t give a fuck” attitude.  Both horn players were incredible.  The tuba player played a big symphony tuba that looks heavy as hell.  Not the sousaphone that you see in marching bands but the awkward giant kind.  After a nirvana song, he put it down and pulled the mic cable out of the sound hole and said “we only play covers by dead guys” and dropped the mic back into the tuba where it hit the bottom with a “clunk”.  Who’d a thunk that mic in a tuba would sound so good. It takes a lot of air to make that thing sound good.  And he did.  The trumpet player was the front man.  When he wasn’t blowing insane horn lines, he would stagger/stomp/convulse around while singing.  Sometimes through a bullhorn.  He even got naked.  So I’m told.  I’m happy my brain wasn’t tarnished with that image.  It just goes along with that real punk rock attitude.  Not that i’m an expert on naked punk.  It’s just an observation.  Both Stumble Bum Brass Band and Tumbledown House played before me on the outside stage and after me on the inside stage.


Next to the outside stage is the bus from the movie “Into the Wild” about Christopher McCandless, the guy who went into the Alaskan wilderness to live and did not come out alive.  It is becoming a tourist attraction as there isn’t even so much as power lines along most of that highway.  This photo fits in my series of photos taken of me in special places with my pants pulled up real high!   Many years ago, on my first trip to Alaska, I saw the real bus Christopher McCandless lived in, from the air, while flying in a six seater, single prop airplane to this tiny village inside Denali called Kantishna. We landed on a dirt airstrip in a field.


Show number 3 was at The Blue Loon in Fairbanks.  It’s always weird to come off stage at 12:30 am to a bright pre dusk kind of sky. The additional sunlight gave me a youthful type of energy that I liked.  The next day was a travel day to get to Haines.  Flew from Fairbanks to Anchorage then to Juneau.  Once there we got on the ferry that takes 4 and a half hours through beautiful mountainous terrain.  It’s mandatory relaxation time.  That is where I’m currently thumbing this out as drift back to Juneau.  The trip was complete with whale sightings as well as glacier views.  Quite breathtaking as the day was clear. Once in Haines, I was happy to spend time with my friends Scott, Mandy and Lilly Ramsey. I visited their compound 11 years ago when I did 2 nights at The Klondike located in Dalton City, a section in town that was built for the movie “White Fang”.  The folks in Haines liked the movie set, kept it and moved on in.  Mandy has a massage office there called Soul Hands.  Anyway, when I went to Ramseyland 11 years ago, it was but a 10 by 20 shack box with a doorless outhouse.  Today, the building has grown 10 times in size.  Beautifully hand crafted with cherry and bamboo floors.  Interior beams from wood that was milled from the property.  With a fast moving creek on the property, the house gets its water and more electricity than it  can use by way of a hydro power pump house.  It is truly amazing.  The Ramsey’s are my inspiration for going to Haines in the first place.  I thank them for that.  The show was held at the Chilkat Center, which means basket of many fish. It’s a small theater that was seated with designated dancing pockets on either side.  The dancers every now and then would spontaneously break into a silent game of red rover by skipping/dancing across the open area in front of the stage.  It was quite funny as all of the seats were filled in sort of a listening room/theater show.  Then you have the freeks twirling across the front as if it were part of the show.  By the end of the show, the alaskan body funk was thick. This made me proud as it was evidence that folks were gettin’ down. I like that.  I love Alaska.