The 9 Best Bands from Alaska

Where you’re from heavily influences your musical taste. Perhaps you’re grooving to The Grateful Dead at a Santa Monica surf shop, or cruising along Florida’s highways with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers as your copilot. But what about Alaska? What music comes from the land of bears, glaciers and mountains? (Besides Jewel, of course.)

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  • The stunning Alaska wilderness and rugged lifestyle inspire musicians of all genres. If you’re considering working a seasonal job in Alaska, your ears are in for a treat. Anchorage and Fairbanks have a bustling local music scene to visit on your nights off. But before you arrive, treat yourself to standout tracks from some of the best bands to come from Alaska. For this list, we focused on bands who are still active within the local and national music scene.

    36 Crazy Fists

    Anchorage natives Brock Lindow, Steve Holt, Mick Whitney and Kyle Baltus have been making heavy metal music for more than 18 years. They’ve played with Alice in Chains and many other household names. The metalcore band is still touring and released its eighth studio album, Lanterns, in September 2017.

    Cousin Curtiss

    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 five 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.

    Divides

    This young band from Anchorage has released three albums, and like many Alaska bands, relocated to Portland. Members Robert Herbert Ferguson, Bryan James Calhoon, CJ Brunke, Corey Rainey and Joe Jackson call their music “melodic post-hardcore.” The band itself is currently on a yearlong hiatus while each member explores their passions.

    Evan Phillips

    Glide Magazine called Evan “Alaska’s one-man music scene,” and his music absolutely proves them right. His music ranges from high-energy radio singles to steel guitar ballads. Phillips is releasing a new album in July 2018, called Cabin Vibes, Volume 01. The grant-supported project is a collection of songs inspired by his family’s cabin in Ninilchik, Alaska.

    Jonathan Bower

    At once old-timey and poignantly modern, Bower’s guitar playing will reverberate in your ears long after the song ends. 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 2018 album, Light Years.

    Michael Howard

    Catch Michael Howard in Alaska while you can. He’s frequently on the road breaking hearts across America with his moving lyrics. He’s on a world tour but often stops back through Anchorage to play at his favorite haunts.

    Orion Donicht

    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. Orion frequently tours throughout Alaska, so catch his performance if you get a chance!

    Portugal. The Man

    Portugal. The Man, burst into the music scene with their debut album, “Waiter: You Vultures!” in 2006. Since then, the band has exploded in popularity. They attribute being brought up in Alaska for much of their creative success. The band’s 2017 album, Woodstock, earned a grammy. You can often see them perform in smaller, intimate theaters or music festivals.

    Seth Boyer

    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 often discovered. When you find a summer job in Alaska, be sure to see who’s playing near your location so you can catch one of these amazing local bands.