Center presents Bearfoot
Alaskan bluegrass band features tight harmonies and musicianship
By Willie Kiernan
The Center for the Arts of Homer welcomes Bearfoot all the way from Anchorage, Alaska at 8 p.m. Saturday May 10. Bearfoot is a fast-rising band making their mark on the Americana/Bluegrass music scene. The band features three part vocal harmony, solid rhythm and soloing on mandolin and guitar, twin fiddles, and acoustic bass. Their repertoire ranges from the band's original contemporary acoustic songs to fast paced instrumentals to arrangements of traditional tunes.
"The members of Bearfoot have never been your typical band. In September of 1999, six teenagers assembled in Anchorage, Alaska to form Bearfoot Bluegrass," said Karen Sager, publicist for the Center for the Arts. "Two months later they were performing for 20,000 people at the National FFA convention in Kentucky. No one was more amazed at their immediate success than the band members themselves."
Originally, the band was a project of Belle Mickelson, director of the Cordova, Alaska Music Camp. Each of the band members, Angela Oudean, Annalisa Tornfelt, Kate Hamre, Malani O'Toole, Jason Norris and Mike Mickelson were selected from the Anchorage and Cordova music campers as musical representatives. Their initial performances as Bearfoot Bluegrass were the living proof of the rapid musical growth that often results from talented musicians being able to gather in 'kids' music camps. With the band parents booking gigs and a multitude of donated mileage tickets, Bearfoot played throughout the Northwest and Alaska promoting their bluegrass music and music camps. That gig to gig struggle all changed with their win at the 2001 Telluride Band Contest.
"From that point on, the members of Bearfoot realized that they had the opportunity to play professionally following in the footsteps of other Telluride band contest alumni like The Dixie Chicks (1991) and Nickel Creek (1995)," Sager said.