We have officially turned the corner on winter and will begin to gain more daylight as we begin the trek towards an Alaskan summer. Through the pandemic the ability to have live music has been difficult, and there have been none of the loud rock shows that bring out large crowds and create memories for all of those in attendance. In addition to many concerts and live performances being cancelled around town, the Alaska State Fair, Anchorage Pride, the 4th of July celebration, Juneteenth, Live after Five and more were cancelled in the interest of public safety. This has left many musicians and performers struggling and has created a void for their loyal audiences.
It looks that the end of the pandemic is in sight, and people can begin to make plans for this summer. The idea of being able to safely congregate means the return of art, performance, festivals, and live music. A group has come to together to bring back outdoor concerts in a big way, starting with the Humpy’s Great Alaskan Outdoor concert series, sponsored by Scorpion Grass Cannabis Company. Starting on May 22nd, there will be a concert each month featuring bands with a rock edge and a loyal following. After last summer’s Rock in the Last Frontier concert at the Palmer Raceway it was apparent to promoters that between nostalgia and great music, this is the type of concert that people still want to see.
Along with the headlining bands, producers and promoters are hoping to involve local bands as well in an effort to support the music scene that took such a hit in 2020. Each of the concerts will also feature vendor markets and food trucks to support businesses from around the state that were not able to see the normal summer sales that get them through the winter months.
Humpy’s Director of Operations ‘Kiwi’ Mike Middleton is looking forward to not only the headliners but also the experience for Alaskan talent.
“From when I arrived in Alaska over 5 years ago, I became a downtown person,” Middleton said. “Places like Humpy’s and the local music scene and those involved in it, being born and bred Alaskan or here for so long that the distinctions become irrelevant, it is such a close-knit family unit. They look after each other and try to do new, fun, and exciting things. This is an extension of that. I feel like I am family with the singers, guitarists, and drummers, and people like that.”
He sees how much our music scene is dedicated to their craft and knows them on a personal level. “Some of them have day jobs and some of them are professional musicians, but the quality is there,” Middleton said. “The skill level, the dedication, and their commitment to have fun and bring a great time to Humpy’s and anywhere they play. That was an attraction as well, to provide these local Alaskan bands the opportunity to play in front of far bigger crowds than they have ever had the chance to play in front of, and to meet and interact with these bands that are multi-platinum, number one, absolute big-name bands. It’s such a rare opportunity for local home-grown bands to ever get in their lifetime. We are on this little ‘island’ of Alaska. There aren’t big name talent scouts and agents here. I am not saying they will be there for these concerts, but it’s a chance of a lifetime. I can appreciate and be proud of helping to facilitate this experience which they might not have gotten otherwise.”
The four bands that are scheduled for the Humpy’s concert series have hundreds of millions of views on their YouTube channels and countless streams for the hit music they have put out. The first concert in May will feature the headliner Saving Abel. For over 16 years this band from Mississippi has gained a following with songs like ‘Addicted’ and ‘The Sex is Good’. Music Matters magazine wrote of the band, “When you think of rock, Saving Abel is a household name with a killer beat. This band knows no limits when it comes to giving the fans the best show they’ll ever experience!”
This will be the kick off of the series and the June show will also continue the rock vibe.
Puddle of Mudd is best known for the song ‘She Hates Me’, but true fans know that ‘Control’ and ‘Blurry’ are where the rock group really shines. For more than 20 years this band has been putting out post-grunge classics and thrilling audiences around the world. From their debut album ‘Come Clean’ to 2019’s ‘Welcome to Galvania’ the consistent sound is reminiscent of the greats such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam while also remaining relevant and topical while being honest about lead singer Wes Scantlin’s history and journey.
For the July concert, Humpy’s, the sponsors, and the producing team are bringing up two bands for a weekend that will be unforgettable. Red Jumpsuit Apparatus is best known for their song ‘Face Down’ and has continued to make great music for almost two decades. In August of 2020 the band released their newest album which helped many make sense of a year where nothing seemed real. Substream Magazine said of the band, “The Emergency EP, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus’ first new material since The Awakening in 2018, seeks to offer hope to the hopeless in a time of great uncertainty. The title refers not to the current global pandemic, but the loss of humanity’s common decency. We are becoming an increasingly selfish species that is both depressed and lost. The digital age promised to bring us closer, but social media has only produced lies, and each one takes us further and further from the reality of the human condition. We are all we have, and we are all created equal.”
The second band for the July concert is the newest and youngest, however they fit right in with all of the others. Badflower was formed in 2013 and has been gaining fans ever since. With thought-provoking lyrics, a great sound, and artistic videos for songs like ‘Jester’ and ‘Ghost’, anyone who has not experienced them will be a devoted listener after seeing them live. The band had a breakthrough when designer John Varvatos was inspired for his collection and signed them to his label. A Soundboard review said it best: “For once, this is a new hard rock band that actually endeavor to make themselves sound interesting and switched-on, and through a sound that combines a distinctly classic sensibility with the grandeur and theatricality of, of all things… (The video for ‘Jester’) is especially touching with its message about kindness, homelessness, and caring for animals.”
2020 was a challenging year across the globe. Local musicians were not able to be around for their fans and headlining acts were not able to tour. Bars and restaurants were hit especially hard with record losses. Promoters and producers lost money from ticketing apps, and a pandemic took away our ability to congregate safely.
We are now at a point that we can start planning for activities again and the summer concert series from Humpy’s will be one of the first steps to feeling a return to what was normal.
“After almost 27 years, Humpy’s has no live music. We have the vaccine coming, there are other factors, I think that this summer will be a lot safer for everyone,” Middleton said. “It’s an opportunity to kick things back off again. It’s an opportunity to give people something to remember, and a way to have fun. If we can do it safely, which was one of the first things discussed, who better than Humpy’s?”