Cosmic Creatures opens 2024 performances with a show at the Kannery

The Cosmic Creatures, a Homer band comprised of John Bushell (Johnny B), Dave Webster, Jim Buncak and Jennifer King, will provide their first jazz performance of 2024 at the Kannery from 8-11 p.m. on Friday.

The four members of the band have been the leaders of popular Homer bands for at least 40 years, Bushell said. He listed the bands as Elders on Fire and Too Fat to Fly, led by Jim Buncak; Ray-jen Cajun, led by Ray Garrity and Jen King; and the Devil’s Club Orchestra, led by Bushell. The Devil’s Club Orchestra opened for the Pink Martini when they came to town five years ago.

In Cosmic Creatures, King plays bass, Buncak is on drums, Dave Webster is on saxophone and Johnny B is on piano. The band started about three years ago as something to do during the COVID pandemic, Bushell said.

“The thing about this band that makes it really special is that we’ve all been in these other bands for 40 years and I feel totally honored to play with them. They all produce other art for the community, too. Jim is an oil portrait painter and he’s incredible. Dave Webster is a playwright and he wrote the final play for Pier One Theatre last season and Jen King is a fabric artist who makes hats that she sells at the Homer Farmers Market all summer long,” Bushell said.

Buncak’s paintings are available to see at AJ’s Steak House.

According to Bushell, Cosmic Creatures is the only band in Homer that primarily plays jazz. “Homer has a strong contingency of folk, folk/rock, John Prine-type music. But ours is instrumental jazz and we play a lot of 1960s jazz like Les McCann and Wesley Lewis and we sneak in some rock hits every once in awhile, like Stevie Wonder.”

Last year the group performed at Alaska’s Salmonfest and Homer’s Concert on the Lawn. They are also scheduled to play at the Down East and Alice’s this summer.

Bushell said the Kannery is excited to promote the idea of jazz and finger food.

“We really don’t play often and we love gigs that are earlier in the day because the older generation really adore music but don’t necessarily want to go out at 10 at night and stay out until 1 a.m. So we’re always looking for something that starts earlier. But, we have packed the Down East in the past, and that’s really fun.”

Bushell got to Homer in 1984 after teaching elementary school in San Francisco and attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

“I took a piano in the back of a van and travelled the country for a couple of years and after playing the piano in 48 states, decided I’d better get up to Alaska.”

He was the music director of the End of the Road radio show with Tom Bodett, a national radio show that was aired on almost 100 radio stations around the country. They were taped live in the Mariner Theatre around 1990. He also taught music in local public schools. “I’ve been doing music forever in Homer, playing music in restaurants, in various bands and all styles of music. I’ve written some music for the Homer Opus kids.”