Summer Solstice Music Festival set to sing

Photo courtesy of Wylie Gustafson. Wylie Gustafson and the Wild West will perform twice at the Summer Solstice Music Festival to be held Saturday at the Diamond M Ranch on Kalifornsky Beach Road — 6:25 p.m. and 9:25 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Wylie Gustafson. Wylie Gustafson and the Wild West will perform twice at the Summer Solstice Music Festival to be held Friday at Diamond M Ranch on Kalifornsky Beach Road — 6:25 p.m. and 9:25 p.m.

By Ray Lee

Redoubt Reporter

Country music and wild-western family fun make a comeback in this year’s 13th annual Diamond M Solstice Festival.

Wylie Gustafson and the Wild West band, hailing from Montana, will headline a full schedule of live music at the event, to be held from 4 p.m. to midnight Friday at Diamond M Ranch on Kalifornsky Beach Road. Gustafson’s talents in authentic country singing and songwriting are amplified through his experience as a ranch owner. His Montana quarter horse ranch is prided to be his primary inspiration for the works in his musical performances.

Though cowboy music is occasionally dismissed or disregarded by the Top-40 popular music crowd, its supporters highly respect any who present it with the complexity, emotion and depth the style deserves. Gustafson brings decades of devotion to his music career (25 years with his band), combining cowboy, rockabilly, folk, swing and yodeling in his lineup. Wylie and the Wild West has performed throughout the Americas, Europe, Australia and Asia, at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the National Folk Festival, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, on “A Prairie Home Companion,” more than 50 times on the Grand Ole Opry stage and on the “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” TV show, with Gustafson teaching O’Brien to yodel.

“I believe in creating a song that inspires the listener, either lyrically, melodically or emotionally,” Gustafson states in a band biography. “It is also important that every so often, I offer something to the genre that helps it gracefully evolve into something new and interesting to the younger fans.”

Band members include drummer and backup vocalist Rick Bryceson, bassist Shane Queener, guitarist Sam Platts and guitarist Erik Ray.

“We are a good-time cowboy band that hates to be boring,” Gustafson states. “… Rick, Sam and Shane are among the best players in their field. The fans appreciate their approachability and loyalty to the genre.”

The solstice festival is sponsored by the Kenai Peninsula 4-H Council and will include more than 40 vendor booths, horse rides and other activities, a petting zoo and live music from 4 p.m. to midnight, with the Baked Alaskans at 4 p.m., Joe Ray Skrha at 4:55 p.m., the Meteors at 5:25 p.m., Wylie and the Wild West at 6:25 p.m., the North Road Rizzos at 7:20 p.m., Say Surrender at 8:10 p.m., Wylie and the Wild West at 9:25 p.m. and Off the Cuff at 11:05 p.m.

The petting zoo includes a llama, two foals, a calf, goslings and possibly a litter of Shih Tzu puppies. No outside pets are allowed at the festival.

“No dogs, no cats, no rats, no bats, no parrots no ferrets, no anything other than the petting zoo farm animals and service animals that are clearly identified,” said JoAnne Martin, of Diamond M Ranch.

Admission is free, though donations will be accepted and raffle tickets will be sold by youth organizations 4-H and ROC the Kenai. This is a drug- and alcohol-free, family-friendly event. A tent will be available in case of weather — rainy or a continuation of sun.

“We’ll have the Baptist revival tent again this year. Last year it was so hot we used it so people would sit underneath it and cool off. Hopefully that’s going to be the case again this year,” Martin said.

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Filed under community, music

2 responses to “Summer Solstice Music Festival set to sing

  1. Diana Fields

    Unfortunately with the younger generation I know I shouldn’t bring my family from all the drinking and smoking, this and the frbg is full of drugs and drinking. Might one day turn out like the moose dropping festival.

    • I am sorry to have seen this comment only after the Festival has already occurred. As a 4-H event supported by, “People Promoting Wellness Through Community Action,” the 4-H Summer Solstice Music Festival is a drug and alcohol free event. 4-H does not host a beer garden and does not allow drinking or illegal behavior on the grounds. When the idea of a family-friendly event comes to mind, the 4-H program is working hard to assure this festival is one of the first events to come to peoples’ minds.
      4-H is a Positive Youth Development Program of the Nation’s Cooperative Extension Service and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The program is largely organized and supported by caring adult volunteers and exists primarily through the good-will and support of local businesses and community members. For more information about how you can help 4-H, “Make the Best Better,” Please call 262-5824 and ask to speak with the 4-H Agent. Working together we can assure the continued growth and success of this healthy community event.


      Jason Floyd, 4-H Agent

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