Carey Seward
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Carey Seward

Antelope, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Antelope, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Americana Folk


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"Singers, songwriters and hot honky tonkin' tunes light up Fairbanks"

FAIRBANKS — A honky tonk queen burning up the Fairbanks music scene is pulling double duty tonight with two performances at two venues while belting out some of the best lovelorn tunes in the city.
Tara Chrisman, who fronts Green Tara’s All-Star Honky Tonk Smorgasbord Band, is performing at the UAF Pub tonight as part of Angry, Young and Poor’s singer/songwriter showcase, then she is jaunting down the hill to headline a gig with her band at The Marlin with opening act The Spank Williams Band. The showcase at the Pub is an annual fundraiser for the nonprofit organization AYP and also features a lineup of Fairbanks musicians.

“I always think it’s great to see performers you normally see with a band stripped down to just the roots of their music,” Chrisman said of the AYP performance at the UAF Pub. “And the Marlin is gonna be too hot to handle and the music won’t stop until the bar calls ‘last call’.”

Chrisman grew up on old country and honky tonk, and as a 5-year-old knew every lyric on the radio but didn’t know what kind of heartbreak the lyrics really meant, she said. “The summer I moved to Alaska I was 9 years old, and my mom gave me a Patsy Cline tape. I couldn’t figure out why she was giving me this old music, but within a couple of days I was hooked and eventually played the tape until it wore out. After that I was hooked on the sound.”

With the returning light and spring warmth growing in Fairbanks, Chrisman says she can tell people are ready to get out of their winter shell. When the crowd is in high spirits, that puts the band in high spirits. “I expect Friday night will be a boot-stompin’ good time with songs to dance all night to. Even the sad ones are swingy.”
The band will play a mix of covers and originals, with the originals written by Chrisman. The covers will be a mix of old including Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, George Jones and Willie Nelson and newer country bands like The Meat Purveyors.

Contact Feature’s Editor Gary Black at 459-7504 or on Twitter: @FDNMfeatures.

If you go

What: Angry, Young & Poor’s annual Singer/Songwriter Showcase
When: 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, Feb. 28
Where: UAF Pub, 505 S. Chandalar
Cost: $3 cover, ages 21 and over

Featuring: Carey Seward , Tara Chrisman, Chuck , Jessica Christenson, Jeremy Harrod, Barry Jensen, Andrew Edward Morris, with host Jesse Bartlett

If you go

What: Green Tara’s All-Star Honky Tonk Smorgasbord Band with opening act The Spank Williams Band
When: 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28
Where: The Marlin, 3412 College Road
Cost: $5 cover, ages 21 and up

FYI: Green Tara’s All-Star Honky Tonk Smorgasbord Band features Alan Bent on electric guitar, Amanda Bent on electric bass, Rachel De Temple on fiddle and Travis Burrows on drums - Fairbanks Daily News Miner

"Review: Love, loss and liquor in "Out There Honky Tonkin' ''"

A table at Mad Myrna's held a sign that said, "Reserved." But there was nothing reserved about the show "Out There Honky Tonkin'," or the small and boisterous audience at the opening of the short Anchorage run on Thursday night.

"Honky Tonkin'" is a raucous, boozy musical chock-full of three-chord country songs written by Riesa Rose Harris, originally of Two Rivers, set in a bar somewhere north of Big Lake. Between saloon fights and sets from the house fiddle band, the heartbreaks flow faster than the bartender can pour the hootch.

Loretta, sung by Tara Chrisman, on the rebound from yet another failed romance, arrives at the bar where she picks up a gig and a man, Hank, sung by Troy Poulsen. She also acquires the enmity of Tammy, sung by Amanda Bent, who co-wrote the show along with Carey Seward. Tammy is Hank’s former girlfriend, who long ago dumped him in Valdez, taking all his beer, and married the bar owner, George, played by Justin Boot Rousseau.

You’d be right in thinking the character names have something to do with the country music theme of the play. Other characters include the hard-luck janitor Conway, who has a thing for barmaid Roseanne, who is going out with the local policeman, Ray. There’s also a Willie, a Waylon and a Dolly.

After much music, Loretta and Hank head for his cabin. But he has to leave for six weeks of work “up north.” Will she stay faithful? We won’t give it away, but country tunes are not known for happy endings. As one of the numbers puts it, “I’m livin’ in a honky-tonk song.”

The storyline runs like a fast-paced soap opera with an ill-advised switch-up every couple of minutes. The only character in the show who can stay true is Audrey, Hank’s beer-fetching dog, a wonderful theater concoction portrayed by Meghan Packee. She’s on stage nearly every minute, usually on her hands and knees, and backs up several of the numbers. Her poignant solo, about being left outside to walk around on a “Cold, Lonely Night,” brought down the house.

Due to muddy electronics, and maybe sloppy diction, the lyrics were often hard to understand. This is a minus, since most of the show is music and much of the music supplies narratives about the character's backgrounds. I recommend getting the CD of the original Fairbanks cast if you want to catch the details. The corny lines border on Nashville poetry: “I knew it was going nowhere when you passed out in the bathroom.” “I drink beer all day when I’m hungry… a liquid diet satisfies me.” “There’s a fence in the place where my swing set used to hang.” "They always leave." There are songs of chain saws, rambling, cheating and never being sober long enough to get a hangover.

The stage action was always crisp and clear on Thursday. The general choreography was good, with several things happening at once most of the time and many of them very funny; watch for how Hank pops his shirt open in “AK Outlaw.” And when real dancing was featured, it invariably drew a big round of cheers. Shay Hancock’s song performed with a hula hoop was especially impressive, as was Russell Dennis’ pas de deux with a mop.

For most of the show, the majority of the cast was on stage, each with something to do. It resembled a painting Norman Rockwell might have executed had he lived, worked and got drunk in Ester.

Tight timing couldn’t correct some of the bogginess of transition scenes, however. Five minutes of savvy cuts could make the 140-minute show (with one intermission) seem half an hour shorter.

As for the resolution of the storyline … well, there really isn’t any. The thing with soap operas is that they're hard to end. There is an attempt to create kind of a closed loop to the tale, but nothing really gets concluded.

The creators may want to think a little harder about that, because there’s enough life in the characters to power a piece that could be as genuinely dramatic as the current show is genuinely funny. And “Out There Honky Tonkin’” is one of the funniest and probably the most musically infectious bit of theater we’ve seen for a long time.

The audience seemed to agree. Surely alcohol wasn’t the only factor in the laughter and squeals I heard. A number of those in attendance must have known the players because they shouted encouragement and taunts -- think “Rocky Horror Show” -- and the players seemed to be expecting it.

This show is restricted to patrons 21 and older. That’s probably a good thing. But adult Alaskans will enjoy it greatly, even without a profound message, or maybe without any message at all. It's just good old get-your-money’s-worth entertainment.

As Willie the homeless drunk (played by Cherle Bowman) tells us, “It ain’t so hard to enjoy the present.”

“Out There Honky Tonkin’” will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday and at 8 and 11 p.m. on Saturday at Mad Myrna’s. Advance tickets are available at - Alaska Dispatch News


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