PUBLISHED: 7:05 PM on Wednesday, August 27, 2008
High notes: Mountain Music Fest showcases local talent at 1,800 feet
JUNEAU - The highest-elevation music festival around is back. On Sept. 5, the third annual Mountain Music Festival at the Mount Robert's Tramway will feature local musicians at a venue that's hard to top.

"It's a great way to end the season," said festival organizer Elva Bontrager. "Spirits are very high ... and it's a great venue, a great destination."

CCW file photos
  Colette Costa is first on the bill for the annual Mountain Music Festival at the Mount Roberts tram Sept. 5. The $10 admission includes 10 performances and the tram ride.
Locals will pay only $10 for admission to the festival, which includes the tram ride up and down. The festival lasts from 6-10pm and consists of twenty minutes sets by ten groups, pairs and individuals.

Those familiar with the local music scene will recognize many of the performers, Bontrager said, but will also see some new faces.

"All of these performers are crowd pleasers," Bontrager said. "We want to give (the audience) some surefire sets and also introduce them to people they're not aware of."

One notable new performer is Matt Barnes, whom Bontrager describes as "A young man on guitar and on the rise."

The Zahasky Family Band has been playing at the tram all summer, and it was Paul Zahasky who originally suggested the festival to Tramway manager George Reifenstein three years ago. The Zahasky Family Band's new show features photos of Alaskan landscapes and wildlife on a screen behind the performers.

"This show was special," said Bontrager of a recent performance. "It was very Alaskan. It was wild, because of the raw landscape behind them."

Another family name appearing multiple times on the program is Unzicker. John Unzicker will perform alone on the classical guitar, and his son Guy will play in the group College Bound, along with Laura and Quinn Zahasky and Hannah Wilson.

Audiences are encouraged to arrive early. Colette Costa will perform right at 6 pm to kick off the festival. The restaurant will be open all evening, and the music will be piped into the dining area. Martha Stey, who will perform with her husband Jim, will also be the MC.

Listeners can expect a mix of upbeat and contemplative music, from bluegrass to blues.

"I like to have something arousing and then something where you sit back and relax," Bontrager said.

The third annual Mountain Music Festa will take place Friday, Sept. 5 from 6-10pm. The $10 admission for locals includes the tram ride up and down. If you hike up, admission to the festival is still $10. For more information, call Elva Bontrager at 463-5413.

Mountain Music Festival lineup

1. Colette Costa - Tin Pan Alley and more

2. Frank and Julie Delaplane and Steve Wilde - Acoustic guitar, slide guitar, banjo, vocals- and maybe a sax.

3. The Great Alaska Bluegrass Band (formerly known as Bluegrass 101)

4. Pat Henry - A bluesman

5. Martha & Jim Stey - Vocals and some fiddle/mandolin/guitar tunes

6. John Unzicker - Classical guitar

7. Matt Barnes - A young man on guitar and on the rise

8. The Alasky Zahasky Family Band - This is one impressive family!

9. Mike Truax - Mike will surprise you every blessed time.

10. College Bound: Laura and Quinn Zahasky, Guy Unzicker, Hannah Wilson - They're back! And they'll blow you away.