Most residents of the lower 48 don’t know much about Alaska musicians beyond Jewel. But the rugged lifestyle and beautiful terrain continue to inspire musicians of all genres. And one of the perks of Alaska jobs is checking out the music scene in your new city. Here are twelve hot Alaskan musicians and bands you haven’t yet heard of that you should get to know before your friends do.
Band mates Brock Lindow, Steve Holt, Mick Whitney and Kyle Baltus have been making heavy metal music for 18 years from their hometown of Anchorage. They’ve played with Alice in Chains and many other greats.
Calling themselves Alaska’s most diverse band, Alaska Thunder Funk spans genres with their unique fusion of rock and hip-hop. Early in 2012 they released The Adventures of Ginsu and Sandman, their second album. If you need further proof of their excellence, they’ve played shows with greats like Snoop Dogg and Sublime.
The energy of Curtiss O’Rorke Stedman’s guitar proves that he’s more than just another crooner. A young’un, he’s already produced two albums of great material. With his folk rock sound, Stedman could easily be mistaken for Dave Matthews’ wild cousin. He can frequently be found playing at Humpy’s in Anchorage.
This young band from Anchorage is working on their debut EP. Members Robert Herbert Ferguson, Bryan James Calhoon, CJ Brunke, Corey Rainey and Joe Jackson call their music “melodic post-hardcore.”
Historian was selected 2012’s best new band in Alaska by The Boston Phoenix and with good reason. With notes of DeVotchKa and Nick Cave, their music is oddly enchanting. Put their latest album Dream Crusher on repeat indefinitely and enjoy.
At once old-timey and poignantly modern, Bower’s guitar playing will reverberate in your ears long after the music is over. Lyrics this thoughtful and haunting could only come from a born writer, so you won’t be surprised to learn he has an MFA in writing. Check out Bower’s website for some examples of what great songwriting sounds like.
This gender bending band has taken their drag act beyond the local gay bars and out into the community. They frequently use their shows to raise money for LGBTQ groups in and around Anchorage.
Catch Michael Howard in Alaska while you can. He’s frequently on the road breaking hearts across America with his moving lyrics. He’s currently promoting The Caribou and the Wolf, his first solo album.
Orion Donicht is a one man show with his guitar (and the occasional kick drum). He’s played with the Spenard Satans and Stubby’s Crack Company but it’s the performance value of his solo gigs that really stand out.
Garage electro pop. That genre has no meaning until you hear the intoxicating sounds of Pretty Birds that Kill. They’ve been touring the continental US until recently but are now safely home in Alaska. Check them out before Seattle or Portland snatches them up.
SJ Stephens hails from the coffeehouses of Anchorage. In fact her first big break was at the Brayton Drive Kaladi Brothers. Her voice will break your heart and then her songwriting will make you smile. Stephens is working on her first album.
Alaska born and raised, Seth Boyer’s clean and beautiful fingerpicking style lends his sweet songs an emotional punch. He’s deeply involved in the community side of music making. His look may be what newbies expect of Alaska, but his music (like that of many of the musicians on this list) might just surprise you.
As you can see, there’s a great music scene in Alaska and more bands are getting discovered every day. When you find a summer job in Alaska, be sure to see who’s playing where so you can catch one of these amazing local bands. And if you have a favorite Alaskan musician or group, be sure to tell us about them in the comments!