SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikan Arts & Entertainment

Lucy Kaplansky plays Ketchikan
By Chris Wilhelm


January 16, 2006
Monday AM

Ketchikan, Alaska - Ketchikanites were delighted Friday night by singer/songwriter Lucy Kaplansky.  Playing on the first Friday the 13th of the year, under the first full moon of the year (yes, it was visible ­ with a large ring around it!), on the first night of her 2006 tour of the West, Kaplansky regaled about 300 at the Kayhi auditorium with rich stories,  expressive vocals, and flawless guitar work. 

jpg Lucy Kaplansky

Lucy Kaplansky
Singer, songwriter
Photo courtesy

According to KAAHC materials, Lucy started out singing in Chicago bars.  After high school, she moved to New York City, working with other songwriters and performers including Suzanne Vega, John Gorka, and Shawn Colvin.  She later became a 'huge Greg Brown fan'.  Her long involvement with songs and songwriting quickly became evident in the illustrative lyrics of her music.  With descriptive imagery, subtle repetition of phrasing, and soothing, memorable melodies, she steered the audience into her life for a brief but endearing visit.
Several of the songs gave reference to her recent status shift into motherhood.  Together with her husband, she traveled to China in 2003 to adopt her infant daughter, Molly.  Lucy was only half-joking when she said that while on tour to Ketchikan, she is on the cell phone every 5 minutes to home to get an update.  Molly recently turned 3 and enjoys talking on the cell phone, even when there is no connection. 
Kaplansky is a master of fingerpicking accompaniment on the guitar.  The audience was also surprised to hear her accompany herself for two songs on the piano, which was equally well delivered.  Songs from the set ran the gamut from her first album, a 1994 Red House release called "the tide", through the years to her fifth and most recent release, 2004's "The Red Thread".  The set included "Ten Year Night", "Don't Mind Me", "Written on the Back of His Hand", "The Red Thread", and her own version of the Beatles "I've Just Seen a Face". 
One other song she covered was written by her father, Irving Kaplansky, in 1951 while on honeymoon with her mother.  Although a mathematician, Mr Kaplansky dabbled in songwriting from an early age and Lucy says most of his songs came out a little weird.  This one was about a romantic visit to an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter and was so entertaining, especially when one considers the fact that space travel was still many years away, as some of the references in the song were based on 1950's ideas of space travel, prior to man's ascent into orbit.  The song was jazz-based and sung a cappella. 
With her gently delivered guitar style and tone-perfect voice, Lucy Kaplansky revived our imagination and refreshed our spirits Friday night.  Visit the KAAHC website for future happenings at or check the Arts This Week on SitNews.


Chris Wilhelm is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan.
Contact Wilhelm through his web site at

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