Winter has a way of pulling you down, cold and dark like an anchor with its chain frozen to your skin unless, of course, you’ve been to Anchorage City Limits. As a lifelong Alaskan, I’ve tried almost everything to cure the winter blues. From skiing and ice climbing to snow machining, ice racing and all things in between I’ve found many ways to enjoy Alaska for the pristine adventure destination that it is. However, those epic outings are all too brief points of light between lengthy stretches of late sunrises and early sunsets. But there’s a new weapon with which Anchorage can battle winter’s wicked ways, codename: Anchorage City Limits.
Upon the first step through the door of this new venue winter is forgotten. The soothing warmth, soft lights and cozy notes that shape the welcoming atmosphere, immediately cradle you. Hints of fresh bread and homemade soup only coax you further into the gentle embrace. The second step inside puts you right at home as the last chill of snow and ice are brushed away by smiling faces and the feeling of having been gone too long.
After recovering slightly from the initial trance one soon discovers the calm will be morphed into a vibrant and exciting array of live musical talent. Guitars with an obviously rich musical history decorate one wall as you glance through flowing arches toward the main stage. A grand piano is kept company by an assortment of microphones, drums, and sound equipment giving the impression of serious potential for song. Confirming this impression is the resident musical duo Firefly. Made up of the magnificent Chris Snyder and the captivating Nici Peper, Firefly treats guests to an amazing playlist of original songs christened with rich talent and familiar favorites peppered with acoustic flavor.
This super team coupled with regular local artists, weekly open mic nights and an amazing view of Cook Inlet melts perfectly into a formidable tool for building happiness into Alaska’s winter months or between each glorious Alaskan adventure.
Song of The Day: "Ring of Fire" Johnny Cash
You know it's going to be a good day when you hop into the truck for your road trip- in Homer, Alaska, with a cup of coffee, a jug of water, 2 awesome friends, and the love of your life... But you know it's going to be a great day when suddenly, everybody starts hollerin' "Ring of Fire" in 3 part harmony.. A wise man once said "If I were to hear the voice of God, I expect he'd sound like Johnny Cash." It's going to be a great day. The excitement has since died down. My new wonderful friends, Jonathan and his lovely lady, Mellanie, , are reclining and getting some much needed rest in the back seat. My handsome man is driving, eating salami, and looking real fine in his cowboy hat. I am sitting shotgun and feeling quite pleased with the unexpected turn my life has taken. I fell in love.... and now I'm in Alaska. Chris has told me about what it's like to play music up here but, as I'm sure you know, it becomes real when you experience it for yourself. I am blown away by this state. From the incredible mountain ranges to the hearts of its people, everything is huge here. It's the overwhelming sensation that we are small in the scheme of things but important to that scheme and to each other. Today, we have shows #4 and 5- a private party for a prominent jewelry designer in Anchorage is opening her business, and a wine tasting fund raiser for Eagle River's high school soccer team this evening.. No idea what I'm going to wear but I have, hmmmm.. about 3 1/2 more hours to decide... You realize that this is an important decision for a woman. Weighs heavy on the mind! Chris just said to tell the blog he says hi. "Hi." ;) As I look out the window at the snow and the pine trees sliding by, I reflect on the shows we've had already this week. Some serious musical romping fun. If you're ever in Anchorage, definitely try some of the great whiskey at Sub Zero (they even have their own tip jar for musicians!) or the beautiful stage at The Tap Root. Listen to Jonathan Germann and keep an eye out for Devynn Maclure. Try the Outhouse Blend from the masters at Alaska Coffee Roastery (www.akcoffeeroastery.com) and spend a couple days and make that trip down to Homer. I was excited to play the Down East Saloon there last night but didn't realize how AMAZING this bar is- it's a Packer bar!!!!! My grandparents would be so proud. There is something specific, though, that has caught my attention and my heart since the plane trip up here. Playing music is great fun but sometimes, there are things that show us that, A. we are so blessed and B. blessings multiply. It has been brought to my attention that there is a large number of children who are living with very little or are completely homeless here... ( The thought of a homeless kid in this cold makes my stomach hurt.) I'm going to do a little more research about this but I've talked to two amazing women who have dedicated their lives for the future of these kids and all I know is that they need help. If you're reading this and wondering how you can help, contact the superhuman, immensely compassionate Genevieve Valentine in the Office of Children's Services with the State of Alaska, Dept. of Health and Social Services. ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) She is one of my heroes. I know it's cheesy but it's true: together, we can make a difference. Whether it's playing music, giving someone a dinner, or taking in a child without a home, what is present is love in its purest form. Remember that this world needs you. Blessings multiply when you pass them along. The holidays are coming and the time when we can come together and share ourselves. Blessings to you. May you always feel warm and loved. Happy Saturday :) np P.S. if this Alaskan beauty hasn't yet taken your breath away, get your butt up here!!
Song of the day: "Make You Feel My Love", Bob Dylan
This trip has been life changing for me. From armadillo hunting to skinny dipping, Tulsa to Hot Springs, I've found myself in new situations and new country I've never experienced before. Whether my magic carpet has been a 2001 ford escape or a four wheeler, always with my faithful 6 string Yamaha and one incredible man by my side, I've now realized that my life will never be the same. It's like drinking Brian Snyder's cappuccinos.. Once you've tried it, your standards raise. You've tasted the best, the cream of the crop, the best life has to offer.. Mine eyes hath now been opened. Oprah makes thousands of dollars talking about living our best life. Magazines thrive on giving advice about how to do it. Working out a certain way, buying this new pair of shoes, best tactics with which to please our significant other.. We all want to be happy. We all want our best life. In the beautiful, rugged hills of Flint Ridge, Oklahoma, I realized I have found it.. I've never been so happy, so content- and simultaneously wholeheartedly excited about what the future holds. I feel more myself than I ever have.. Being with someone who not only accepts me but loves me completely has given me freedom from the anxiety and loneliness that has always seemed to follow me.. I miss my family and friends like crazy but I know when I do come home, I will be a better friend, daughter, sister, musician, and source of love. It's not a money making idea. In fact, it's a rare and treasured blessing. I know things like this don't come along every day. I'm not working out, just doing fun things, exploring Chris, my heart, and this incredible land. I can't remember the last time I ate ice cream or drank good- I mean, Good- beer without planning on cutting calories the next day. I'm happy in my sundresses and cowgirl boots. He tells me I'm beautiful without makeup and I believe him. Thank you, Chris Snyder, for the gentleness in how you handle my heart. I am humbled and grateful for your friendship, encouragement, and love. I have been in numerous relationships and I tried to fit every one into the box that was my Love Story. I knew it would happen eventually and I was impatient. Although the thought crossed my mind that I wish I would have waited, I now know my path was what it was for a reason. It led me here. Be patient. Know that good will come. May you all feel as blessed as I do. Love, peace, and capos, xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo Nici P.S. Chris says hi :)
Song of the Day: "Time For The Sun to Shine" by: Nici Peper & Chris Snyder
Summer has never been so hot. It's as if all of the moisture is getting pulled from the trees and river day after day. It is a blessing to see a lonely cloud with scant hopes of ever holding enough water to catch a ride back down with gravity. Hurricane Issac tipped his hat and showered the bible belts prayers for rain with a day of rain, but it almost felt like a steam bath once the rain struck the baking pavement. Our home and central command center for our recording sessions and tour across the South sits atop a bluff over looking the Illinois River in Flint Ridge Oklahoma. Most famous for the book written in the area, "Where The Red Fern Grows", this region is also the home of Cherokee Nation, destination of the Trail of Tears.
At night coyotes can be heard in their howling ballads amongst the rolling farmlands below. The hundreds of birds that flock in daylight, take roost by nightfall making way for the nocturnal to forage the old forests. Our headlights catch the gleaming eyes of dear and raccoons leaving the imagination to second guess what is really watching us.Twinkling diamonds shine down on us all in their majestic glory littered with wishes on shooting stars. This is Gods land.
We have set up our connections with a local magazine which covers all live music across Oklahoma and Northwest Arkansas called The Current. They cover musicians from Willie Nelson to up and coming new artists and bands. It is quite the magazine and network for musicians. We hooked up with the editor and accomplished musician, Joe Mack. He invited Nici and I out to Tulsa to open for his 33rd Birthday show at a small but famous venue last week, our first show in Tulsa. We plan on booking some shows as a Trio for this month and December.
Nici and I also cruised down to Little Rock to be a part of the biggest tailgate party in America for the Arkansas Razorbacks, where we set up a stage in the bed of my fathers pickup truck. Tens of thousands of people celebrated their beloved Hogs. We made our way to downtown and enjoyed an evening of conversation and laughter.
On our return voyage to Fayetteville, we stopped in the famous town of Hot Springs to visit the Bath Houses and prospect future venues. Instead of taking the freeway home, we decided on a winding country route that took us through the national forest of the Ozark Mountains. What beauty.
I have never been so in love. Weather we are sitting in perfect silence or writing a song that tugs at the heart strings, I would be no where else but at her side. Nici is my godsend. Our eye beams dance and catch all emotion. It's as if I have known her forever... I keep pinching myself to ensure this is all real. OUCH!..... Yup I'm still here:) Here is to life. Here is to releasing all fear. Hear is to true love. Chris