Tribal funk group to play fundraiser concert Saturday

Tribal funk is coming to Kenai.

Pamyua, an Anchorage-based music and dance collective, will hold a concert at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium inside Kenai Central High School. The group, which was founded nearly 20 years ago, blends traditional Inuit music with contemporary funk and rhythm and blues.

Phillip Blanchett, cofounder of Pamyua, said the music and dances performed by the group are not only entertaining, they are culturally important.

“It shows our identity through music,” Blanchett said. “It reflects our upbringing.”

Pamyua, an Inuit word, has two meanings – “To request an encore of a drumsong or dance,” or “the tail of an animal, object or idea.”

While Pamyua combines many different elements in its performances, Blanchett said that it’s all connected by a common theme.

“It’s pretty varied what we do, but it’s all culturally based from the Yup’ik traditions of music and dance,” Blanchett said.

The group has reached a broad audience in its nearly two-decade-long career. It has been lauded in the Italian edition of Rolling Stone magazine. The group’s album, “Caught in the Act” won Album of the Year at the Native American Music Awards in 2003. Most recently, the group’s music has been featured on Discovery Channel’s “Flying Wild Alaska.”

Before Pamyua takes the stage, Courtney Agnes from the Discovery Channel show “Yukon Men” will give a special presentation. She will speak about the benefits of hard work and being substance free.

The proceeds of the concert will go to help the Kenaitze Indian Tribe’s Yaghanen Youth Program. The program provides youth with safe, positive and culturally based activities.

Michael Bernard, Yaghanen coordinator, said that he was pleased that Pamyua is helping the program.

“I love the music, and definitely love the fact that they’re positive role models for our youth – specifically our native youth,” Bernard said. “They have a good message and we really like the fact that they’ve taken the traditional music and have made it cool.”

Bernard said that because the event is for all ages, it will hopefully bring the community together.

“More families can come out and have a good time that is drug and alcohol free,” Bernard said.

Members of Pamyua said they were happy to help the Kenaitze Indian Tribe programs.

“We definitely support the work that they’re doing,” Blanchett said.

Reach Ian Foley at Ian.foley@peninsulaclarion.com

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