The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Fern Greenbank
LOG Editor 

Seward Music & Arts Festival 2014

Festival dedicated to late Jessi Nelson


This year’s Music and Arts Festival is dedicated to Jessi Nelson, the former director of music for the festival who died in a plane crash with her boyfriend last August just before the festival opened. The accident stunned the music and arts community in Seward that had grown to depend on Jessi’s enthusiasm and love for all kinds of music.

The person who helped prepare Jessi for her role as music director was Michele Saltz, manager of the Yukon Bar.

“I was the music director and Jessi was the volunteer coordinator at that time,” said Saltz. “She was so wonderful. She grew up here and she had her finger on the pulse of the alternative music scene.”

Saltz said Jessi was generous and humble.

“She took the job and flew with it,” said Saltz. “She was a natural fit. She was a wild child but professional. She had a zest for like and a sense of adventure. The last works she said to me the night before the plane crash were ‘I love you.’”

At first there was a vacuum, but the festival organizers say they knew Jessi would want them to carry on and make music. Taking over the role of music director, Michele Mitchell said she knew she had big shoes to fill.

“I offered my help when Jessi passed because I knew that it was such a big job and everyone already had so much on their plate,” said Mitchell.

General director Burnard felt Jessi’s loss in a big way because she was such a big part of the festival and brought so much excitement with her.

“Jessi was a wonderful person, a great friend full of enthusiasm and creative energy,” said Burnard. “ She took on the role of music director for the festival as a personal challenge and desire. She was so great at networking, always positive and would work through any problem. She was passionate about everything she put her energy into.”

The festival is a community event that brings diverse people together and Jessi helped do just that, bring people together. Jessi grew up in Seward and also went to school and worked in Anchorage.

“Her personality was a perfect fit for SMAF and she will always be remembered as an inspiration,” said Burnard. “ She enjoyed life to the fullest, something we could all do well to remember.”


Friday, Sept. 26

5-5:45 Snow River String Band

6-6:45 The Cremation of Sam McGee

7-7:45 Hanna Yoter

8-8:45 Emma Hill

9-9:45 Green Tara & Her Handsome Gents

10 – 11 Rebel Clef

11:15 Sweetners

12:30- Big Fat Buddha

Saturday, Sept. 27

12-12:30 Dancing Seward Kids

12:45-1:30 Sophia Street

1:45 – 2:30 Anna Lynch

2:45 – 3:30 Gypsy Horizon & Luna Dance Circle

3:45 – 4:30 Tamba Hadzi

4:45 - 5:30 Blaze & Eric

5:45 – 6:30 Blackwater Railroad Company

6:45 – 7:45 Up a Mountain

8:00 - 9:00 ~907~

9:15 The Sociables

10:30 Superfrequency

11:45 – Wasteland Hop

Sunday, Sept. 28

12 – 2:45 Elite 9

1 – 1:45 John Cook

2 – 2:45 Illaskan Assasins

3 – 3:45 Steve Norwood

4 – 4:45 Lulu Small

Fun crafts for kids

Delicious Food

Arts and Craft Vendors

Beer Garden

Wine and cider

Art show

Henna body art

Silent auction

Dancers, circus performers, musicians

Weekend and Family passes available




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