Alaska String BandPhoto – Rebecca Friedlander 

The Brunswick Music Festival, launched by the Brunswick City Council back in 1989, has featured live performances of folk, roots, and blues music, successfully drawing in new and repeat audiences young and old, year after year.

The Festival has showcased Australian artists like The Audreys, Mick Thomas and Fiona Boyes, among many, many more. International artists have also been guests of the Festival, among them Andy Irvine, Vin Garbutt, Chris Smither, and the Alaska String Band, hailing all the way from, as the name implies... Alaska.

I had the privilege and pleasure of attending the Alaska String Band’s concert at the Mechanic’s Institute last night, and like the rest of the attendees I was completely floored by their performance.

Winners of the Fame Awards – Bluegrass Band of the Year, the Alaska String Band’s members are a gifted guitar picking, violin fiddling, dulcimer playing, bass banging, mean banjo jammin’ and cheese grater-a-scraping family of five, who also deliver some sweet angel-like sounding vocals.

As if all of the above was not enough, the eldest daughter Laura, is quite the comedienne, speaking in an intentionally shy/awkward and endearing tone, she had the crowd in stitches. The rest of the family, dad Paul, mum Melissa, brother Quinn and little sister Abigail pitched in between songs, verbally weaving a colourful image of their home town and state so vividly and enticingly that, surely America’s 49th state’s official tourist website must experience huge spikes from online visitors after each “Z-Family” performance.

Originally inspired by the McLain Family Band ( and The Sound of Music, the Zahasky family began performing internationally in 2006, playing some of America’s favourite roots, swing, jazz, pop, original, folk, gospel and Bluegrass music.

Being a huge fan of the close harmony singing group of the swing and boogie-woogie eras, the Andrews Sisters, I was particularly impressed by the group’s rendition of the famous Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and Chattanooga Choo Choo. However, singling out just two songs is a “crime” as all of last night’s performance by the Alaska String Band was exceptional, from beginning to end. When (if) my own family of five become the next big string band, I’ll have to credit the Zahasky family as our inspiration, they are that great!

As the show drew to a close, “Encore!” was heard echoing throughout the packed theatre. After their last piece and final group bow, they were applauded, cheered and awarded with a duly deserved standing ovation. The Alaska String Band is in Australia just a short while longer, I urge you to find them and buy tickets to their show(s), now!

The Alaska String Band

Venue: The Mechanics Institute | 270 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Date: Thursday 13 March 2014
Tickets: $32 – $28

Part of the 2014 Brunswick Music Festival

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