Ketchikan’s Monthly Grind is set to start again on Saturday at the Saxman Tribal House after a three-year hiatus triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Grind is starting fresh with new organizer Lindsay Lamon, and a lineup featuring the local talents of Micah Britt, Clyde Lamon, Leif Sivertsen and Pat Stack.
Long-time Monthly Grind organizer Peggy Hovik shared her history with the Grind events in a phone call on Tuesday.
The Monthly Grind first was held in 1989 at the now-closed Main Street Theatre in downtown Ketchikan, Hovik said. It was quickly obvious that the event needed a larger venue, and the Saxman Tribal House had just been completed, offering a perfect fit.
“Our relationship with Saxman was just extraordinary, right from the beginning,” Hovik said. “They just welcomed us, and liked our idea, supported us any way they could and it continues to this day.”
The predecessor to the Monthly Grind, she said, was called the First City Folk Festival, started by Maggie McQuaid.
Hovik said she became involved with founding the Grind with her musician friends Halli Kenoyer, Eric Hummel and Carolyn Minor when they came together to design the event to showcase the talents of Ketchikan’s community members.
In recent years, Hovik said that she has been working side-by-side with Barbara Morgan to organize the Monthly Grind events.
Other people whom she mentioned as being extraordinarily dedicated to pitching in to make the Grind events happen in the past 10 years included Paul Hovik, Brian Curtis, Terry O’Hara and Andy Pankow, who specialize in sound equipment set up; the Sweetman family and the Lamon family, who have been dedicated to working the coffee table; Penny Pederson and John and Lorna Holt, who have spent years manning the dessert table; and the late Tom LeCompte, whom she noted in a text message was “practically the face of the Monthly Grind for 10 years.”
Hovik also described the heart of what they aimed to create with holding Grind events.
“Our goal for the Grind from the very beginning was just to include all art forms and all ages of people and just to try to reach out into all of the corners of our community, so we were always looking in strange directions,” Hovik said.
An example Hovik gave of Grind performers who came from an unexpected place is a time when a hospital employee inspired several coworkers to get involved.
“We had a whole Grind that was just people from the hospital,” Hovik said.
Local schools also have been involved in the Grind events over the years, with teachers inviting students to volunteer and perform, Hovik added.
She also recalled a Grind event when children from the Filipino community performed a dance as part of a cultural celebration they were having at the time.
Another way that the Grind organizers have reached out to artists has been the hand-designed posters created for the events, Hovik said.
Saturday’s Grind poster was created by local teacher and artist Cameo McRoberts.
The Grind also serves a social purpose, Hovik said.
“I think we all love to see each other,” she said, “I think we like to think that we can come out of the shower where we sing and we can actually perform. Everybody has a dream of performing, if you’re any kind of artist or if you dabble in any artform — that it’s somehow attainable and that it’s worth it for that, and then everybody gets to go and see the people that they see on the street — ordinary people up there performing.”
Hovik said that the last Grind she was involved in organizing was all set for March 2020, then it was shut down at the last minute when the COVID-19 pandemic halted public gatherings.
She concluded, “there are so many people who have given so much, who love the Monthly Grind.”
She emphasized the countless people over the years who have worked as dedicated volunteers, helping to set up, to clean up, to work at the coffee and dessert tables, to judge the dessert contests and to host.
“There’s kind of something for everybody,” she said.
“The dessert table has been kind of a unique thing,” she added, “you can bring a dessert and get in free, and we get different people or kids to be the dessert judges, so there are different people involved in that. Everybody competes to win the dessert prizes, and there are three dessert prizes.”
Hovik then spoke about Lamon’s work as the new head organizer for The Monthly Grind.
“Lindsay is wonderful and she is going to do a fabulous job with that, I feel so happy that she’s going to be the one,” Hovik said.
During a phone call on Monday, Lamon gave an overview of how she became involved with the Monthly Grind, as well as what her involvement now looks like.
Lamon said she and her family first got involved with the Monthly Grind when they moved to the area from southwest Virginia in 2016. She said that she and her family lived on Prince of Wales Island before moving to Ketchikan, and a couple there headed up POW Grind events. The couple later encouraged Lamon to step up as the new organizer for Ketchikan’s Grind.
Lamon said when her family first got involved, “We kind of started taking over the coffee and tea station from Marggie and Dave Sweetman and we just had that job — we just would show up and set up chairs and run the refreshment station and come to every one, and just loved being part of it,” she said.
Lamon’s son Clyde and her husband Brian, who are guitar players, performed at a Grind event in late 2019, she said. Clyde Lamon is slated to perform at Saturday’s Grind as well.
Lamon said her family plays music together at home — she plays guitar as well, in addition to “old-time banjo,” so the Grind is a perfect fit for them.
Her youngest son, who was born in 2017, has been attending the Grind since he was a newborn.
She said they attended the first Grind that was held in September 2016 when they arrived in town, and then attended every one until the pandemic halted the events. They’d been very active in the music scene in their previous home, so were eager to become involved with the Grind.
Lamon said, explaining her motivation to step up as the head Grind organizer, “we wanted to continue that good, positive space for local musicians to showcase themselves … it’s a really safe, encouraging environment for people to get up on the stage.”
She said the performers range from beginning solo musicians to experienced bands, as well as poets, dancers, actors and storytellers. The dessert contest also allows people to showcase their culinary art skills, she added. She also noted that the top-three winning dessert artists win $15 gift cards from local businesses.
The Grind offers other ways to include an array of arts, Lamon said.
In the last year the Grind was held, organizers began a program that allows attendees to bring their own mug and plates to hold their refreshments. Those that bring them can enter their names into a drawing to win a mug created by local pottery artists Leif and Erik Sivertsen, who own Big Foot Pottery. Pottery artist Rachel Walton also donated mugs to the Grind this year, Lamon said.
Lamon summarized, “It’s just a really positive, affordable family fun event that showcases lots of local arts from all the different kinds of arenas, so why did I take this on? I mean, how could you not? It’s such a good, positive event.”
She also mentioned how “amazing” the venue of the Saxman Tribal House is for the Grind events, and echoed Hovik in expressing gratitude for the Saxman community for its support.
Lamon said that as the Monthly Grind starts up again, she will be recruiting people to help fill the volunteer roles that have become open in the time since the previous one was held. She added that she also is looking for performers to sign up for the next Monthly Grind events, which are slated to be held every third Saturday through May.
To sign up for a volunteer or to sign up to perform, Lamon said that people can talk to her at Saturday’s event.
The Monthly Grind is set to start at 7 p.m., Saturday Jan. 21. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available by scanning the QR code on the posters hanging at locations around town, by visiting Tongass Business Center or Soho Coho, or at the door if there are tickets still available.