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Arts & Entertainment

The Ketchipoo Traveling Medicine Show
By Bill Hupe


January 26, 2007
Friday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska - The Saxman Tribal House was rockin' 'n' rollin' 'n' stompin' 'n' cheerin' last Saturday night due to Thomas P. Fowler's Traveling Medicine Show performing Live and selling his Possum Oil Elixir to Ketchipooo... er, Ketchikan residents. The Droolers provided the musical accompaniment to the Professor's purveying of his Fine Wares and introduction of the evening's performers.

After the Ketchipoo Borough Sheriff let the evening's festivities continue following a personal donation of a bottle of 90 proof Elixir, the show opened with The Andy Piston Rock 'n' Roll Philharmonic Freak Show, a one-man orchestra, decked out in a bird hat, singing songs about being a bird geek and what happens after having too much to drink whilst camping. Quite humourous, although possibly a little too off-colour for some of the younger audience present.

jpg Hopkins, Graves and Rubin

'Jammin at the Monthly Grind' Jan. 20th
Amos Hopkins, Katie Graves, and David Rubin.
Photograph by Hamilton Gelhar

Madam Marie, the Happy Medium followed, making a variety of predictions that are certain to come true. Madam was quite entertaining, and her jokes were certainly well-done. Grind favourites, Famous Amos Hopkins and Katy Graves along with Dave Rubin, performed their take on "An Elephant Fly" that had the entire gathering participating before they were finished. The introduction of kazoos to their performance was priceless.

The Professor brought Kari Lundgren and Bruce Schwartz to the stage then for the evening's Banjo Smackdown Contest. Bruce was declared the winner after a suitable bribe of... what else? ... but a bottle of Elixir, and fled the stage with the title, leaving Kari to perform a second piece solo. I won't enter the Banjo Brawl other than to say both were excellent players. The Siamese Tripletts quickly followed, and the less said about these oddballs, the better: the puns were bad, but thankfully, they didn't try to sing.

The Medicine Show continued with Clogging Hillary, who thrilled everyone with her cheerful clogging, followed by Bunnie Oakley, Annie's sister, the blind sharp-shooter, who performed to the accompaniment of her dead pianist, who she shot after playing his first note. Obviously, the Borough Sheriff was out enjoying his bottle of Elixir, as he failed to arrest her, allowing her to perform. Strangely enough, after the killer sharpshooter left the stage, the pianist, Matt Perry miraculously returned to life to perform an excellent solo routine.

So much entertainment whetted the audience's appetite for the plethora of desserts that were available at the intermission. Delicious as always, and more than enough had been brought to the Grind, so there was plenty of the tasty delights to go around as well as hot tea and Raven's Brew Coffee. It all went down well with the impending snowstorm outside. Intermission concluded with a presentation from the Patchwork Society and a quilt from the Rainy Day Quilters, to the producers of The Monthly Grind (Peggy Havik, Tom LeCompte, and Cherry Rice), in appreciation of the time and effort they, as well as all the other volunteers, put into this monthly production.

The second half of the show started with Anne Phillips and Bob Kindred (and Matt Perry, apparently fully recovered from his earlier shooting, thanks to some of that marvelous Possum Oil Elixir). Bob is quite good on the saxophone, and was a good match to Anne's voice, performing a pair of Dixieland Jazz tunes. Forrest Townsend (from Kethcikan High School's debating team) was up next in a debate with Professor Fowler's Bilious Thomas Jennings Bryant. You can pretty much guess who won that, even after some courage provided by a bottle of Elixir. Forrest, who had taken second place in the recent debate competition, never stood a chance with the silver-tongued incomprehensible Bilious.

The duet of Keri Lundgren and Sher Schwartz were up next, on banjo and guitar, continuing the string of fine musical performances tonight. They were followed by what has to rank as the oddest trio the Professor subjected us to (along with the Siamese Tripletts): The Seizure Sisters, those delightful sisters whose incomparable good looks are solely a product of ... what else? ... but the Professor's Possum Oil Elxir. (One has to wonder it if will cook your breakfast too? If it would sell a bottle, the professor would most surely swear on a stack of Bibles that it does). Wives grabbed their husbands and hid their eyes as the Sisters dances provocatively to music from various members of The Droolers.

Professor Fowler then brought the lumberjack poet, A J Slagle, on stage where he recited a poetic epic of The Yukon, followed by a humourous short. The evening's entertainment wrapped up with an inspiration and enthusiastic patriotic performance of "Grand Old Flag" by Sara Fitzgerald and a Sing-a-Long to "I'll Fly Away" by everyone who had performed this evening and the audience.

Certainly a little different in flavour to the regular Monthly Grind fare, but a grand and welcome evening, nonetheless, of a mix of music and variety show, Ketchipoo (I mean, Ketchikan) style.


Bill Hupe is a resident of Ketchikan and Faulconbridge NSW, Australia. Most of his writing is with Susan Batho (also a resident of both places). Known by most people as "The Twins", they are a writing and photographic team and specializing in photography of Alaska and Australia. Their website features some of their work, and
they can be reached through
Bill Hupe ©2006

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