The latest installment of the Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series will have a distinctly Alaskan feel, and a prestigious one at that.
Week five of the burgeoning summer series spotlights Pamyua, a successful Yup’ik musical group from Anchorage that has become ingrained in the Alaska musical culture over the past 20 years.
Pamyua — pronounced “Bum-You-Ah” — is comprised of four band members: Karina Moller, Ossie Kairaiuak, Phillip Blanchett and Stephen Blanchett. The music they perform is primarily traditional Native Alaskan with a flair of modern sounds.
Self-proclaimed as “tribal funk,” “world music” and “Inuit soul music,” Pamyua is one of the top-flight names to have hit the stage at Soldotna Creek Park, where the show will begin tonight from 6 to 9 p.m.
Soldotna Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shanon Davis said the concert is expected to bring a vibrant Native Alaskan feel to the music series.
“We’re incredibly excited to bring culture to the park,” Davis said. “Their diversity and styles is really important in creating community through music, and I can’t think of a better band to highlight that.”
Davis said the show will feature the four members along with three other musical artists who will join Pamyua.
The group was formed in April 1995 by the Blanchett brothers, who had the idea to blend traditional Inuit sounds with more modern R&B and funk. The group has released five albums since 1998, and have toured much of the country.
Davis said the group represents the indigenous culture while bridging a generational gap, and believes the combination of styles should make for a fun night.
“I think a lot of our community members are going to be blown away,” she said. “They’re incredibly popular on the world stage, but many of us haven’t have the opportunity to experience that. We wanted to bring that experience to Soldotna. It’s just an important component for our community.”
The night’s opening act will feature local musician Bunny Swan, a Soldotna artist who provides an Alaska folk style.
“She has had a lots of albums out, and she has a beautiful voice,” Davis said.
Since the 12-week concert series began in early June, the crowds have been showing up. Nearly 2,000 came out to listen to Blackwater Railroad Company the first week, and Davis said that number hasn’t swayed much in the weeks since. Davis said about 1,400 turned out for The Resonant Rogues in week two, almost 2,000 showed up for Meghan Lindsey in week three and about 1,300 came out for The Forest That Never Sleeps last Wednesday.
Davis said compared to last year’s numbers, a crowd of 1,300 would have blown away expectations.
“Last year, 1,000 was about the maximum we had,” she said. “It’s better than we could ever have imagined.”
Davis credited the financial help of local businesses through sponsorship of the concert series, naming Alaska USA and Kendall Auto Group as the top two supporters, and said the Levitt AMP grant award helped spur the rise in popularity of the weekly concerts.
“It’s just created an opportunity for the community to gather together and rally around a common interest,” Davis said. “Levitt’s mission to fund underused public spaces to transform communities has certainly allowed us to skyrocket into a whole new atmosphere.”