Her fingers may be hurting, her voice is straining and she is probably questioning her performance, but for Dara Rilatos that is all part of the excitement of performing live music.
Rilatos, 32, formerly of Wrangell and Juneau, said she does not really know how to explain how she prepares for her three-hour-long sets — including one from 9 p.m. to midnight at Rendezvous Wednesday — she just knows how she will feel afterwards.
“I have done three-hour sets for years,” Rilatos said. “I don’t really know how anyone can really prepare for them. I still get really nervous before them. I think it’s half excitement and half sheer terror. But, I know what works for me. After I’m done, it takes me an hour just to calm down.”
Rilatos believes the biggest part in playing at bars or clubs is connecting with the music.
“Probably a lot of the people at the bar are not there for you,” she said. “I have to get emotionally connected to the songs, or I just would not play. I think it’s really more about you.”
Rilatos has been strumming the guitar and writing songs since she was 15. Despite being told for years that she needed to perform live, she was reluctant. A close friend of Rilatos was one of those who encouraged her.
“I didn’t start performing until my late 20s,” Rilatos said. “I had a musician friend from Colorado who always told me I need to get on stage. I used to sing karaoke a lot, but I never did my own songs. Then, my friend died, and I decided I would go up one time and sing the song I had written for him. It was so liberating. I get what he was saying all the time.”
That was five years ago at the Alaskan Bar, and from there, Rilatos continues to hit the stage. Having moved from Juneau to Wisconsin last year, she decided to come back home to perform a fourth time at Folk Fest.
In addition to performing, Rilatos is looking forward to partaking in her favorite part of Folk Fest — checking out the scene.
“My family and friends are here and there are so many incredible musicians who play around here,” Rilatos said. “I get to watch my favorite musicians from all over Alaska. This is the best time of the year to visit.”
Rilatos said describing her music is pretty simple.
“It’s the classic singer/songwriter,” she said. “It’s just me and my guitar. It’s something nice to listen to either before or after you go to the mainstage.”
Besides her show Wednesday, Rilatos will also hit the stage at a show with a group of ladies from all over Alaska affectionately known as “Bad Babes and Bandanas” at Rockwell at 8 p.m. Friday night. She will also hit the main stage at 9 p.m. Saturday at Centennial Hall.
• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at email@example.com or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.