EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
So, you got stationed in Alaska. You don't know how to field dress a moose and you'd rather die than drive 100 (or more) miles just to fish for salmon. As of now, everything officially "sucks."
The adage, "at least it's not Minot" is wearing thin for you, but it's true. The local area actually has a lot more to offer than meets the eye. The only difference in having fun here, versus at home, is that you have to be proactive about it. But if you honestly look back and think how many times you just sat around at home and complained about how bored you were, you might look at Fairbanks in a much more positive light.
So this is my advice to who I consider to be one of the more "neglected groups"--the 20 somethings who don't want to go line dance, can't stand rap music, think salsa is meant to be eaten, not danced to, or don't enjoy going to clubs where they can't hear people who are standing right next to them. The Airmen I'm talking about would probably rather be fist-first in a mosh pit.
For those music aficionados yearning for a good show close to home, there are actually a lot of really good local bands to go see live. Whether you're into punk, indie, alternative, jam bands, blue grass, folk--whatever, there is something here for you. I've spent roughly a year and a half searching every nook and cranny in the local area and I finally feel comfortable with finding something to do every weekend.
A few local bands you might want to check out are: With Teeth, Paper Scissors, The Scurvies, 3 Chord Ho! and Cold Fusion, whose profiles can all be found on MySpace. There are also frequent shows at a local indoor skate park, Joel's Place. They are always all-ages shows. Check it out at, www.joelsplacealaska.org
More commercially successful bands than you'd expect visit Fairbanks: on June 22 Matisyahu came up; the Indigo Girls came Aug. 4; on Aug. 10, alternative rock band Cake came up; and blues-rock legend, Canned Heat made an appearance Aug. 13.
Although the more known bands don't visit as frequently, you can expect a show like this at least once a year. In 2006, Godsmack and The Shiny Toy Guns came up for a visit, and in 2005, The Misfits came to the Blue Loon. In September, Megadeth is coming to the Carlson Center.
The summer music scene is still alive and well, and servicemembers 21 and over can enjoy the Jerry Garcia Pig Roast Aug. 25 at the Blue Loon, which will feature jam bands the Gangly Moose, Sweating Honey and J.Wail. In September, Particle, a jam band based out of New Orleans will be visiting Fairbanks.
More upcoming Blue Loon events can be found at: www.theblueloon.com
More laid-back bars that regularly host events are the Dog's Bar (punk rock night every Wednesday!) The Marlin, the Howling Dog and The International Bar and Grille (a.k.a. The Big I).
For those of you who enjoy up-and-coming local acts, or humbled, seasoned musicians who just "do it for the music," there are often open mic nights on Thursdays at the College Coffeehouse on College Road and University Avenue. The coffeehouse has blues bands, bluegrass bands and Celtic jam bands booked on a regular basis. To find a list of events, visit, www.collegecoffeehousefairbanks.com
During summer months there are often bluegrass festivals scattered about the local area. To find out about these, a good resource is to pick up a copy of The Fairbanks Square (fbx square), a locally-made newspaper, and turning to the back pages to see a list of events for the weekend. On base, you can find these publications in the dining facility, the foyer of Amber Hall, the shoppette, the commissary and the base exchange.
Some annual events definitely worth "Googling" are: The Great Cover-Up, The Clucking Blossom, The Midnight Sun Festival, The Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, the Tanana Valley State Fair, and the Fairbanks Folk Fest.
Instead of going to see a movie, why not try the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Theater Department? It's a great, original idea for a date. Theater UAF puts on sketch comedy skits, short and long plays, student-directed one-acts and more. To find a list of shows, go to: www.uaf.edu/theatre
, at the bottom of the page, click on the icon that says "season."
However much fun you decide to have or not have, always keep in mind that drinking and driving is not an option. It's always a safe idea to bring a sober friend along with you. If that's not an option, use your safety network. If you're in the North Pole or Salcha area, call Airmen Against Drunk Driving at 377-RIDE for a free, confidential ride home.