Famed blues player Taj Mahal is probably the most requested musical artist ever to come to Homer, a musician whose range of talent spans a global history as much as a rich sound.
Downward Dog producer Michael Hayes said Taj has been to Alaska at least once that he’s known of, and comes to the Kenai Peninsula for fishing trips now and then.
“He’s a big fisherman. He’s probably the most requested artist we’ve ever had in the years we’ve been doing concerts. It isn’t sold out yet, but it’s on its way,” Hayes said. “He’s been around, forever. He even played with Jimmy Hendrix back in the ‘60s.”
“It was a terrible state of affairs,
And all because one greedy old man
Had gathered all the light–
Every single ray–
And locked it away
In a house with no door,
A house by the Nass,
A river that flowed
From mountain to shore.”
Last month, Homer Council on the Arts invited members of the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra to perform on April 20, as part of the gallery concert series.
Concertmaster Sue Biggs, her husband Jack Will, Trina Uvaas, and Aaron Lohmeyer seized the opportunity. The group chose to play as two duos rather than as a quartet; Trina and Aaron prepared duets for guitar and fiddle, while Jack and Sue will plan to perform mostly double fiddle pieces.
“Writing songs is hard, unless you’re surrounded by influences,” says Cindy McKenna, a self taught singer, songwriter and guitarist, who is performing original songs from her CD “Joy of Life” and others at the Homer Council on the Arts building Friday evening.
Although inspired by solo artists, principally — Judy Collins, Kate Wolf, and Joan Baez — McKenna said she “is trying to do more collaborations with other musicians.”
Composer Phil Munger finds inspiration in the most varied of places.
His cantata “The Skies are Weeping” was inspired by Rachel Corrie, who was killed by a bulldozer demolishing a house in the Gaza Strip in 2003. He wrote a ragtime piece in tribute to a conductor friend — and ragtime fan — Gordon Wright, who was found dead on his porch during a cold snap in 2007.
“He was sitting on his porch frozen, sitting on top of this casket he’d made for himself years ago because he was 6-feet, 8-inches (tall)” and he didn’t want to be buried in a casket where they’d have to bend his knees,” Munger said, describing how Wright’s friends wound up putting him in that casket to carry him down the hill his house sat on.
When the devastating earthquake and subsequent nuclear power plant eruption hit earlier this year in Japan, a Kenai Peninsula musician decided to write a song. Called a world-wide “Healing Meditation and Prayer for the Japanese Nuclear Power-Plant Workers,” George Holly Jr., dedicated the song to those who were consciously giving their lives for the sake of all.
“This is an inter-faith effort to send them healing energy and God’s love,” Holly wrote beneath his YouTube posting.
Leading up to major concerts, free music performances at restaurants begin August 1 under the auspices of the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra. Fresh Sourdough Express is the site of Monday’s performance. On Tuesday Rudy Multz performs at the Mermaid Cafe. Wednesday brings Victim with Crime to the Harbor Grill, Don Jose’s is the fun spot Thursday and Two Sister’s Bakery is the music scene Friday.
With many people volunteering their services, this year’s Jazz in the Cove is expected to funnel most of the money raised into the Horn Section, a music education fund established in memory of beloved music teacher Renda Horn.
“Miles of Eva” is Milo Matthews’ sixth solo album, yet the well-known musician considers it his debut.
How can that be, given the definition of debut is to “formally introduce one to the public?”
“I’ve spent the past 20 years on these songs, and some go back to 1989,” Milo said. “It’s a compilation of everything I’ve done, everything I am. This is the first recording I’ve done in this way – no holds barred. I worked on it every day for a year.”
The soulful intimations weaving between the performers Habib Koité, Oliver Mtukudzi, and Afel Bocoum have conspired to form an unlikely testament to the recognition of traditional African custom: Acoustic Africa.