Leigh MichaelThursday,1 August 2013

The Snap:

Portland-based folk band Alameda recently hit the road and headed up to Alaska on tour. Their journey up to the Last Frontier marks a growing trend amongst up-and-coming bands. But what makes this removed state so appealing?

The Download:

Last week, I was listening to Marketplace when a piece about the “little band that could” came on. I had never heard of Alameda before, though I have an inkling that if I lived in Portland, they would be more of a household (edit: apartment) name amongst me and my friends.

The gist of the story, the recording of which you can listen to here, was this: It costs a lot of money to go on tour. And unless you’ve got some serious cash reserves, feel happy about swiping your credit card, or are selling a shitload of band tee shirts, starting musical groups have a tough time breaking out of their local scene.

Such was the case with Alameda. They had really broken out of their shell in Portland — a pretty impressive feat considering the surfeit of artists that hail from that area — but they hadn’t managed to expand beyond their little corner of the Pacific Northwest.

Enter **ALASKA.** A guy named Evan Phillips heads Monolith Agency, an Anchorage-based booking company that gets bands of all shapes and sizes up to the 49th. Alameda frontman Stirling Myles explains, “What attracted me to Alaska is the sense of going somewhere I have no frame of reference to. It’s part of the United States, but it’s something different. And I think everyone thinks it’s, in a strange way, an exotic place to go.

He’s not alone. Monolith Agency has been snagging a bunch of artists from the continental states, pulling them up to this northern gem to play good music and have a fun vacation in the process. The agency provides guaranteed paid gigs — a rarity for newcoming bands — to act as extra incentive. Alaska has a limited “local” music scene, so the situation is a win/win. Cities in Alaska get great music, and musicians get exposure and money.

It’s a cool concept, and I really like the symbiotic relationship that it promotes between bands, agencies, and audiences.

But back to the band – they’re a great, introspective group. Listen to “Swollen Light,” “Summer Dharma,” and “Slow Beginnings,” all of which you can stream for free. I’m looking forward to a full-length album from these guys — but for now, I’m really enjoying the contemplative tracks available on their site. Perfect for quiet nights or rainy days.

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Hat Tips:

Marketplace, Alameda, Facebook, Image Credit: Flickr

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