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PUBLISHED: 1:47 PM on Wednesday, April 5, 2006
In tune
Variety of talent from across the state take stage at 32nd Alaska Folk Festival
Picking strings, dancing and vocal talent from across the country are just a few things that make up the 32nd annual Alaska Folk Festival in Juneau, which began Monday and goes through Sunday, April 9, in Centennial Hall.

Performers come from across Alaska and beyond for this annual week of partying, music and greeting old and new friends.

Performing Tuesday was Flatlands Frank. Frank Delaplain and his wife Julie, along with daughter Laura O'Brien, all of Juneau, teamed up to enjoy a family pastime.

"He's always been that dad who sang to us and played music every night," O'Brien said of her father.

Frank Delaplain was born and raised in Queens, New York, and bought his first guitar when he was 10 years old. He was at Woodstock and was involved in stage setup.

He then spent several years as a trapper, hunter and guide.

It was about five years ago while living in Skagway that Delaplain dived into writing music.

Delaplain said he was unemployed and used his time to better develop his ability to write and perform music.

"I started playing a lot more, and it was amazing," Delaplain said.

"I had never been able to write a song in my life, and throughout the course I wrote 12."

Delaplain has performed at the Alaska Folk Festival once before and also at the Skagway International Folk Festival, University of Alaska Southeast and the Hangar in Juneau.

He said he immediately took the opportunity to play in the Alaska Folk Festival this year.

"When you get the notice you have to move right away because there are 20 people ready to take your spot," Delaplain said.

"It's just full of people jamming all week long."

With only 15 minutes to perform, Delaplain said he plans on singing two songs, one an original. He said he enjoys the festival because of the comradery between participants.

"It is really amazing the amount of support and the people who show up. It's an opportunity for everyone to step aside of their own views and beliefs and just enjoy one another," Delaplain said. "Everybody gets respect, and it's very healthy."

According to akfolkfest.org, the festival began on a winter night in 1975 when a small group of Juneau folk musicians decided to put on a performance in the Alaska State Museum.

Workshops were formed the following year so that specific skills could be passed on to other musicians, and almost 30 performers were on the program, which was extended to three days.

The show is free to the public and is supported by paid memberships and volunteers.

"We really couldn't do this if it wasn't for great volunteers who provide us with countless energy," said festival committee member Linda Frame.

This year's guest artist is Nancy Griffith, who will perform from 8-8:45 p.m. Thursday, April 6. Griffith has performed an array of music from folk and country to her own brand of "folkabilly."

She has been honored with five Grammy nominations, three as a solo artist and twice for performances on albums by The Chieftains.

For a schedule of performances and events, go online to akfolkfest.org.


Photo by Amanda Gragert
  Frank Delaplain and his daughter Laura O'Brien took the stage Tuesday, April 4, at the Alaska Folk Festival, which continues through Sunday, April 9, at Centennial Hall in Juneau.

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