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Women's Final Four: Powerhouse Teams Match Up

NPR News - Sun, 2014-04-06 09:00

The undefeated Connecticut and Notre Dame could meet in a record-setting final Tuesday, if they can get past Stanford and Maryland, respectively, today. All four programs have won past titles.

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Since Genocide, Rwanda's Women Have Helped Lead The Recovery

NPR News - Sun, 2014-04-06 08:19

Women made up 70 percent of Rwanda's population after the genocide in 1994. They joined politics in unprecedented numbers, helping to form a more equitable society. Still, there's much more to do.

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Double Rock Band to perform at Alaska Folk Festival

Southeast Alaska News - Sun, 2014-04-06 08:00

Double Rock Band practices their set for the Folk Fest in the Sperl living room, April 3. Photo/Angela Denning.

The Alaska Folk Festival in Juneau brings together hundreds of musicians and fans every year to celebrate live music. The musicians come from all over Southeast Alaska and beyond and are of all ages. One of the very youngest groups is from Petersburg–the Double Rock Band–but as Angela Denning reports, although they’re young, they’re not new to the stage.

The Double Rock Band is made up of three Sperl siblings and a friend. The Sperls live on a little family farm about a 20 minute drive south of Petersburg.

When you walk in the front door, three violins are hanging on the wall at eye level. So, not surprisingly, there’s live music coming from within the home. But if you didn’t know better, you might think adults are jamming out…instead of kids ages 11 to 15.

The song that’s playing is about a bear, “Old Slough Foot”, and it’s the band’s favorite to play.

Kelsa Sperl, 15, sings while Erin Pfundt, 14, accompanies her on the bass. Photo/Angela Denning

“That one’s fun,” says Kelsa Sperl, “all of us have a part in it. It’s upbeat and funny.”

At 15, Kelsa is the oldest in the group and kind of the de facto band leader.

“This will be our third time going to Folk Fest,” Kelsa says. “Both with the Fiddle Heads the last two times, so this will be our first time going by ourselves without lots of other people on stage so it’s going to be kind of exciting.”

The Fiddle Heads was another, much larger youth band in Petersburg, which had up to a dozen members.

These four have been playing as Double Rock Band for less than a year, practicing about twice a week. Besides Kelsa, there are her two brothers, Koren who is 13 and Kole who is 11 and they all play with their friend, Erin Pfundt who is 14.

Koren has focused on the guitar since he was six. The other three started out on the violin. Erin has since moved on to the upright bass and Kole, the mandolin.

Kole Sperl, 11, plays mandolin in the Double Rock Band. Photo/Angela Denning

Kole: “I just taught myself the mandolin two years ago I think it was but I started fiddle when I was six and then I started piano a year ago.”
Angela: “So, between the fiddle, the mandolin, and the piano, do you have a specific passion in there or are they all the same to you?”
Kole: “Um, I like the fiddle and mandolin a lot better than piano.”
Angela: “And do you know why that is?”
Kole: “Because they sound better.”

So, with all the musicians under the same roof, where’s the music coming from? I ask their mother, Tausha Sperl.

“You know, we don’t really exactly know where the music’s coming from because it’s not really coming from Donald and I,” Tausha says, laughing.

But these days, the band and the parents agree, they’re pretty committed to music now. Here’s what the band members have to say about why they like to play:

Koren Sperl, 13, plays guitar in Double Rock Band. Photo/Angela Denning

Erin Fundt: “Once you get good enough to play in a band, it gets really easy. Whereas, when I was younger, you have to learn all the songs. Now, though, when I play with the Sperls, I know a lot of the songs so it’s a lot more easy and you can have fun.”
Kelsa Sperl: “It’s nice to hear your instrument make a good sound, once you know how to play it, you know. And then, especially playing with other people and like, my brothers and Erin, it’s cool because we can make so much, like sound, with just four instruments. It’s really fun.
Koren Sperl: “Well, I like it because you can actually make music and it used to be, you know, you just kind of listened to people playing music whether it’s up on stage or in the car or on a CD or something, you know. I guess I always thought when people are playing this music on a CD or whatever that there has to be this big orchestra but just like, I think that maybe Kelsa mentioned that, it’s fun just because even with a little bit of instruments, you know, if you know how to play them you can make things really sound good so I like that.”
Kole Sperl: “Yeah, well, they all kind of took my ideas but one of the things that I like is when I hear a song on the radio or I just remember a song that I heard then I can look it up on a website or something and print out the music and look it up on youtube and listen some more and then I can actually, if it’s an easier song, then I can actually learn it. So that’s really fun to do that. Even if it’s a hard song, then if it doesn’t sound very good with just like plucking then Koren can play the guitar for me while I play it on the mandolin and it sounds really nice like that.”

The Juneau Festival runs April 7-13.

The Double Rock Band plays Friday night at 10:15 p.m.

They will be followed by Petersburg singer songwriter Scott Hursey at 10:45 p.m.

Nicole and Alec McMurren—Mc2 (M-C-squared), also from Petersburg, will perform Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

KRNN in Juneau is audio streaming the entire Folk Fest, and video streaming each evening at krnn.org

It's Kentucky Vs. UConn For NCAA Championship

NPR News - Sun, 2014-04-06 07:22

The NCAA tournament is down to two unlikely but familiar finalists. NPR's Rachel Martin talks with Slate's Mike Pesca for his take on Monday's championship game.

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Atlanta Archbishop Will Sell Mansion Built With Church Money

NPR News - Sun, 2014-04-06 07:18

Months after moving in, Archbishop Wilton Gregory says he'll move out of a $2.2 million mansion. Parishioners had expressed anger over his building a Tudor-style mansion in a pricey neighborhood.

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UConn To Face Kentucky In NCAA Final

NPR News - Sun, 2014-04-06 06:42

The matchup is set for Monday's men's NCAA basketball championship. The Connecticut Huskies will take on the Kentucky Wildcats.

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After Scandal, Barcelona Football Club Banned From Trades

NPR News - Sun, 2014-04-06 06:42

The Barcelona soccer club has been banned from trading for 14 months for signing overseas players under 18 years old, against FIFA rules. NPR's Rachel Martin speaks with soccer reporter Ashish Sharma.

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AP Photographer Killed In Afghanistan Was Full Of Laughter

NPR News - Sun, 2014-04-06 06:42

Anja Niedringhaus was killed last week in an attack by an Afghan police commander. She was in Khost province covering the run-up to Saturday's presidential election.

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Both Sides Dig In Their Heels Over Crimea Crisis

NPR News - Sun, 2014-04-06 06:42

Ukraine shares a long history with Russia, but the latest crisis is driving a wedge between the two countries and reinforcing a sense of national identity among many Ukrainians.

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Fort Hood Shooting Reopened Wounds At Trauma Unit

NPR News - Sun, 2014-04-06 06:42

Fort Hood shooting victims were taken last week to the Scott and White Memorial Hospital, the same one that victims of the 2009 shooting. NPR's Rachel Martin speaks with trauma director Matthew Davis.

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Japan Releases Inmate After Nearly A Half-Century On Death Row

NPR News - Sun, 2014-04-06 06:42

A court in Japan recently released Iwao Hakamada, thought to be the world's longest-serving death row inmate. NPR's Rachel Martin talks with David Johnson, an expert on Japan's legal system.

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Peter Matthiessen, Co-Founder Of The Paris Review, Dies At 86

NPR News - Sun, 2014-04-06 06:33

Matthiessen was a spy, a naturalist, a well-regarded activist and a three-time winner of the National Book Award — for both fiction and nonfiction. He died of acute myeloid leukemia.

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Mudslide Tragedy: Donations Outpace Capacity In Oso

NPR News - Sun, 2014-04-06 06:31

It's been two weeks since a mudslide came down on a tiny mountain community in Washington. The disaster prompted an outpouring of donations; now local officials are asking only for monetary gifts.

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Search For Flight MH370: Ship Detects Pulse Signal Again

NPR News - Sun, 2014-04-06 05:53

Ships and search planes are being sent to investigate a pulse signal that a Chinese patrol ship picked up twice this weekend, says the head of the search effort for a Malaysia Airlines jet.

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Peter Matthiessen Dies At 86; Wrote Of Travels In The Natural World

NPR News - Sun, 2014-04-06 04:26

Author Peter Matthiessen, who used fiction and nonfiction to explore how man relates to nature, has died at 86. The revered naturalist and novelist had been suffering from leukemia.

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Student Debt Weighs Down Women More. Blame The Wage Gap

NPR News - Sun, 2014-04-06 01:18

College costs the same for both genders, but women spend a higher portion of their salaries on paying off debt than men because they make less. It starts as soon as they enter the workforce.

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If A Picture's Worth 1,000 Words, Could It Help You Floss?

NPR News - Sun, 2014-04-06 01:17

It's hard to get people to change their health behaviors for the better. Would putting drawings of simple health truisms on a pack of cards help? One creative tech geek wants to find out.

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Heroin ranks low among health priorities in Alaska

Southeast Alaska News - Sun, 2014-04-06 00:07

ANCHORAGE — Some states, including Alaska, are reporting a rise in heroin use as many addicts shift from more costly and harder-to-get prescription opiates to this cheaper alternative. A look at what’s happening in Alaska:

The problem: Heroin is a relatively small problem in Alaska, falling below issues the state considers public health priorities, including obesity, tobacco use and public water system fluoridation.

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'We're all paying:' Heroin spreads misery in US

Southeast Alaska News - Sun, 2014-04-06 00:07

On a beautiful Sunday last October, Detective Dan Douglas stood in a suburban Minnesota home and looked down at a lifeless 20-year-old — a needle mark in his arm, a syringe in his pocket. It didn’t take long for Douglas to realize that the man, fresh out of treatment, was his second heroin overdose that day.

“You just drive away and go, ‘Well, here we go again,’” says the veteran cop.

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Minimum wage may get booted from ballot

Southeast Alaska News - Sun, 2014-04-06 00:07

Alaska’s minimum wage workers may get a $2 raise over the next two years without having to take a vote. Just don’t expect backers of the August ballot initiative to be happy about it.

Lawmakers in Juneau proposed a bill Friday, HB384, that mimics the intent and much of the language found in the ballot imitative, and the similarity is no mistake.

Under state law, if the Legislature enacts a “substantially similar” piece of legislation to a ballot initiative poised for a vote of the general public, that initiative is removed from the ballot.

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