Local musicians Taylor Vidic and Zac Pease are applying the sharing is caring philosophy to their latest collaborative music project, the Underground Connection.
According to Vidic and Pease, the mission of the Underground Connection is to create a link between the underground arts, music and cultures scenes of Alaska and the Lower 48 by utilizing partnerships between local businesses and patrons of the arts to nurture and grow connections between artists across the west.
“It’s been fun to find Zac and have him toss his idea at me because I’ve thought very similar things, for instance figuring out a way to bring traveling artists to Juneau and beyond and if it’s even feasible,” Vidic said. “Alaska, and Southeast in particular, has unique challenges when it comes to the financial viability of bringing outside art in and sharing inside art out.”
For their first event, Underground Connection is hosting two nights of concerts with Seattle-based indie-folk cellist, vocalist and songwriter Ollella performing with Anchorage artist Kat Moore as The Forest That Never Sleeps. The first show is all-ages at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Rookery and then 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Crystal Saloon for a 21-and-up show.
With monthly shows taking place on the second Saturday, Underground Connection will be bringing artists from the outside to the Capital City from the Lower 48 and other cities in Alaska to share bills with local performers. These shows will be hosted at the Crystal Saloon through the spring, with the goal of expanding to more found-spaces as the months go on.
“We’re excited to explore different venues around town and find outdoor spaces,” Pease said. “Taylor and I have had many conversations where we’ve talked about how excited we are for the summer shows and exploring the interesting places that Juneau has to offer.”
Pease, who was born and raised in Juneau, said he spent the last nine years working in production and from those vast experiences with festivals, venues, and connecting with musicians and artists all over the West Coast, he started thinking of ways he could share those experiences with Juneau.
“It was time for me to come home and take what I’d learned and bring it back here,” Pease said. “I’ve been all over the world doing production work and that’s what’s really given me the gift of making a lot of connections with a lot of lesser known artists that are super talented. I think it would just be so wonderful to bring them to town and expose Juneau to new art.”
Underground Connection is partnering this month with Mountainside Open Mic, produced by Marian Call at the Rookery, and Alaska Independent Musicians Initiative. Vidic said the long-term goal of the project is to bring various stakeholders together with the common goal of helping to finance more local art in town. Call said having been a touring musician herself, she knows all too well the challenges of costs associated. She said she’s excited to be a part of collaborative efforts to ease tensions for traveling artists.
“I’m really excited when visiting artists can come to town and Juneau can hear something from outside live and in person,” Call said. “And I’m really excited when there’s an all-ages opportunity included. So, I hope some of our families and teens who enjoy music can come out because we do not have many offerings of all ages music right now.”
Aside from the goal of including out of town acts on the lineup, Vidic said another piece of what Underground Connection is trying to do is to avoid being genre specific within its choices. As Vidic and Pease continue booking their programming for the next few months, Vidic said they’ll be bringing hip-hop artists, as well as discussing a classical show, so that the focus remains on diverse quality as opposed to being restricted by any one particular style.
“It’s fun but it’s also a little scary because not every show is going to be for everyone, it’s not going to be the same audience every month. We hope people will be able to follow along and keep an eye out for which shows they are interested in and maybe feel inspired to spend the night taking in a style of music that they otherwise wouldn’t because they will trust that what we are bringing to town and what we’re putting on stage is of a certain calibur,” Vidic said.
Vidic and Pease said they’ve “metaphorically” shook hands on running their new concert series for the entire year, and they’ll reevaluate after 12 months. For now, Vidic said they’re just focusing on one show at a time and are thrilled for the collaborative help they’ve already received.
“It’s really nice because one of the partnerships for this show is AKIMI and we are sharing the cost of bringing Kat (Moore) to town because she’s going to participate in the music summit they’re hosting on Saturday,” Vidic said. “It’s just a great example of partnering with other organizations to help share in the cost of getting artists to town.”
Know & Go
What: Underground Connection with Ollella and Kat Moore
When: 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 13. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14
Where: The Rookery, 111 Seward St., on Friday and the Crystal Saloon, 218 Front St., on Saturday
Admission: $15-50, mountainsidepresents.brownpapertickets.com/
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at firstname.lastname@example.org.