With big audiences impossible, some of Alaska’s most popular musicians record a virtual concert

Performances recorded this week at the Ship Creek small-boat launch will become the AK4AK festival, to be shown online starting May 1.

Many of Alaska’s most popular musical artists performed Tuesday at the Ship Creek small-boat launch, though no large crowd gathered to see them.

Videos captured there will become the AK4AK virtual music festival, which will debut online starting at 6 p.m. May 1.

Organizers, including Showdown Productions and Anchorage Assembly member Christopher Constant, say the event was inspired by the sacrifices Alaskans made to flatten the curve of new COVID-19 cases and to thank shipping and port workers who keep food and supplies coming into the state.

For musicians it was a welcome chance to play since the coronavirus shutdown has kept them apart and canceled their gigs, even if few people were there other than the production crew. Electronic instruments weren’t amplified on site. They played only into the recorded mix.

James Glaves, keyboardist for popular Anchorage rock band Medium Build, said it was the first time he had played with his bandmates since their last live performance in mid-February.

“This was fun. With or without a crowd, it was just really nice to be together with those guys,” Glaves said.

Phillip Blanchett, a member of Pamyua, said it was unique, even for a band with 25 years of experience performing live. Pamyua played while the sun set behind Mount Susitna and tugboats passed behind them.

Blanchett said Pamyua had several performances planned at festivals in the U.S. this summer and had planned a trip to London. All of that is canceled because of the pandemic, but that’s not what’s most important, he said.

“We’re just happy our family’s safe and that everyone’s been taking it serious with the hunker down and really taking care of each other,” Blanchett said.

The performances will be free to view online at ak4ak.com and at facebook.com/showdownalaska. Organizers encourage viewers to support the Food Bank of Alaska. AK4AK performers also include Blackwater Railroad Company, H3, Sundog, Aural Imago, DJ Gre and Cannon Fire Orange.

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Marc Lester

Marc Lester is a multimedia journalist for Anchorage Daily News. Contact him at mlester@adn.com.