FOMO: The Super Saturated Sugar Strings

When I met Carlyle Watt, he was living in the basement mother-in-law unit at the house I was renting near downtown Anchorage. I had a two-year-old son and was feeling increasingly cynical about the joys of being a professional musician. Carlyle, on the other hand, was enthusiastic about his future as a musician and was dreaming up schemes daily for touring the globe with his guitar. He was just getting into songwriting and would jam regularly with friends, including cellist Theresa Watt. I would listen to them play from my living room above, missing the days when music felt like a hopeful, energizing and inspiring pursuit.

The group of friends turned into a band and the band slowly got better, gaining more fans and scoring higher profile gigs. The band toured nationally, albums were recorded, Carlyle married Theresa, Lily was born.....

Today, The Super Saturated Sugar Strings is one of Anchorage's most beloved bands with a busy touring schedule and numerous albums. I saw them this past weekend at Momentum Dance Collective's imaginative and abstract Carried Away. It was amazing to see them in a different setting, onstage in costumes and interacting with the dancers. Their music was magical with the choreography.

I love these guys. Their next performance is at Alice's Champagne Palace in Homer this Saturday. Check out their website for all upcoming show dates.

Buy local: Revelate Designs

We wait all winter for this- blue skies, brilliant sun and snow in all directions. That's what Sunday looked like, so my family and I headed out on the Placer River snowmachine trails to explore by bike. Apparently we weren't the only ones with the idea, the trail was a highway filled with bikers enjoying the conditions that made travel into this remote valley possible: hard-packed snow, frozen river, sunshine, minimal wind....

After a rocky start trying to find the trail through some uneven terrain, we stumbled upon the highway and it was smooth sailing. The gloves came off, the jacket was unzipped and the sunglasses were put on.

Fatbiking in Alaska has became a THING. Most Anchorage outdoor enthusiasts have one these days, tricked out with studded tires, poagies and Revelate Designs framebags.

Many years ago- 10? 11? 12? I had a roommate who would hole up in the basement of our downtown duplex and sew. I had a vague understanding of what was happening down there, I think it involved sewing bags for bikes? Or hiking? Or backpacking?

That roommate was Eric Parsons, the founder of the now wildly successful Revelate Designs. Eric revolutionized travel by bike- designing bags that fit perfectly onto your bike's frame. They are now sold at bike dealers all over the country, including REI.

My family owns many of these bags, even my nine-year-old's bike has one strapped on to it. They make hauling gear on long days, long weekends or long bike tours really convenient. They are waterproof, lightweight and fit your frame like a glove. Not only are they awesome products, but they were dreamed up right here in Anchorage.

Support a local company and shop Revelate Designs' products here. And then check the outdoor reports and avalanche report and get outside on your tricked out bike.

FOMO: Spenard Jazz Fest

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I used to play music. A lot. These days- not so much. So I'm always thrilled to work with a music client and have had that joy quite a few times over the past couple years.

2018 is my third year in a row working with Spenard Jazz Fest - a funky, community-driven festival that serves up an eclectic mix of genres ranging from jazz to world to folk. It's more than jazz and it hits more neighborhoods than Spenard. Leading up to the festival's main weekend, house concerts are hosted all over town. As of last year, the festival's main event - the jazz marathon- rocks 49th State Brewing Co. late into the evening. Not to mention the workshops, live performances, jazz hikes, pop-up concerts.....the list goes on.

In many ways, Spenard Jazz Fest is still a hidden gem. If you're a musician and haven't played at it yet, fill out an application here by March 31.

If you're a music-lover and have never attended, 2018 is your year. Follow Spenard Jazz Fest on Facebook for news and updates and check back on the website in a month or so.

Buy local: Pandere Shoes

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Laura Oden has a condition called lymphedema which causes swelling in an arm or leg – and for her, it resulted in really, really hard-to-fit feet. For years, she struggled to find shoes that fit. There was nothing on the market that worked, and she wasn't alone. It's estimated that up to 10 million Americans and hundreds of millions people worldwide have the same condition.

So she had an idea- why not make her own shoe? Something that expanded and could accommodate the changing size of her foot....

Enter Pandere – a shoe company dreamed up in Anchorage that has the potential to greatly improve the lives of millions of people all over the world. Pandere was founded by Laura, along with fellow Anchorage entrepreneurs Celia Crossett and Ayla Rogers. Since starting the company in 2016, they have won a number of awards, including first place in the 2016 Anchorage Start-up Weekend,  third prize in the 2016 Arctic Innovations Competition and first place in the 2016 national One Million Cups competition.

They have broken into the footwear industry's inner circle, meeting with shoe hotshots (such as the founder of Frye boots) and scoring a talented Italian shoe designer. They are really close to introducing their first shoe design and launching a crowdfunding campaign to put their first round of shoes on the market.

Laura, Celia and Ayla are talented, driven Alaskans. Follow them on Instagram and consider supporting them when they launch their crowdfunding campaign this spring.