It was only after I began to write the introduction that I realized this episode stands as a bookend, of sorts, to the last. If Eric Scott represents the spirit of someone smitten by Alaska, the late Jim Bell represents a composer who fed the more romantic side of the Alaska myth through song and humor.
I’ve always felt Fairbanks is blessed with a higher than average population of gifted actors, writers and musicians. Many of these artists perform in summer shows and concerts mounted for the enjoyment and edification of visitors. More than 30 years ago I was in one of these shows at the Palace Theater and Saloon featuring the songs of Jim Bell. It was called, The Golden Heart Review, and its run at The Palace each summer must rival the decades-long run of Cats on Broadway. I mean to say, it’s still being performed. And if you went to The Palace this summer chances are good you’d see my guest in the cast. Sarah Mitchell grew up, not only with the show (her parents Gianna Drogheo and Steve Mitchell are Palace veterans) but also with the music of Jim Bell. As you’ll hear Jim was her godfather. Sadly Jim passed away a decade ago, but Sarah is releasing a tribute album of Jim’s music. I invited her into the studio to discuss the CD, and her memories of his personality and songs.