The popular Alaska folk band, Blackwater Railroad Company, is coming back to Homer, but this time, they’re only playing for a select crowd.
On May 27, the Homer R.E.C. Room will host a teens-only concert with the Seward-based band for ages 12-20 at the Pratt Museum. The concert will help sponsor the R.E.C. Room’s youth music production program Youth on Record Alaska, or YOR AK.
YOR AK got its start in Homer nearly three years ago with the support of founder and current director Cody Davidson. “I originally started the program back in Denver, Colorado, with two close buddies of mine, and then brought a sect of it back to Homer,” said Davidson.
With a long personal history in music, Davidson wanted to find a way to use his passion to give back to the community.
“I had gotten into digital production in the late 90s and early 2000s, when it was starting to take off. My buddies and I were all at-risk youth growing up, and we wanted to find something to do with music that is positive and gives back,” he said.
YOR AK focuses on providing music production classes to local teens every Friday evening, at no cost. Staffed primarily by volunteers, Davidson and manager Mike Hurd, the YOR AK program relies on personal donations for a majority of its operating cost. With this concert, the two are hoping to gain more exposure for the YOR AK mission, and bring in more donation dollars for the year.
This concert isn’t just a pilot project for YOR AK, it’s a first for the Pratt Museum, too, which will act as venue for the event.
Ryjil Christianson, education director for the Pratt, is excited about opening up the museum to the teen demographic.
“We wanted to find the right event to reach out to local teens, because we feel like it’s an underserved group within the community,” said Christianson.
Well known for its programs that cater to a younger and older age demographic, the museum is now hoping to reach out to teens and provide more programming that would be appealing to them.
“It’s a game changer for local teens,for them to view the museum in a different way, for them to see it as a place for them as well,” she said.
Christianson grew up in Homer and remembers what it was like to be a high schooler.
“I know it is tricky to stay busy and it does seem like there are a lot of venues where you aren’t welcome as a teen,” she said.
The Pratt Museum would like to fill that void and offer its building as a place for local teens to gather. According to Christianson, the museum would like to have a large event for local teens twice a year that could possibly include more concerts and poetry slams.
For the Blackwater Railroad Company, this concert is all about giving the youth of Homer a chance for the same musical experience they had growing up.
“We were all young musicians,” said JW Frye, band manager. “It’s imperative to us that we are able to provide the youth of Alaska that same experience.”
Katy Larkin, cellist for Blackwater Railroad Company, started playing music when she was 12 years old. The lead singer for the band sang in his church choir growing up. Andy Zamarripa, bassist, played a wide range of instruments from a young age.
Frye cites a lack of public funding for school music programs as one reason the Blackwater Railroad Company finds it so crucial to play music for and with Alaska teens.
“We started an open jam in Seward to get kids to play with local musicians, because we know that the kids that aren’t being instructed now, won’t be there 20 years down the road making good music,” Frye said.
The May 27 concert starts at 8 p.m. and will be open to teens aged 12-20 for $5. Donations can be made to the Youth On Record Alaska program by contacting the Homer R.E.C Room at www.homerrecroom.org
Aryn Young is a freelance writer for the Homer News.