New event hopes to turn the tides for ocean health

Students and musicians from around the globe will join together

Students work on recording the first ever Juneau Alaska Music Matters Album. Songwriting students in T.J. Cramer’s songwriting class performed on the album, and they will also perform at the upcoming Ocean Beat event. (Courtesy Photo | T.J. Cramer)

Students work on recording the first ever Juneau Alaska Music Matters Album. Songwriting students in T.J. Cramer’s songwriting class performed on the album, and they will also perform at the upcoming Ocean Beat event. (Courtesy Photo | T.J. Cramer)

Turning the Tides hopes a global effort will combat a worldwide problem.

Ocean Beat, a live music event planned by the Juneau-based and environmental nonprofit, will connect local performers with those in Peru and India for an evening of song and dance. It’s meant to raise awareness of issues including rising temperatures, mercury content and acidification besieging the oceans.

“Music can effect change, and it’s the international language, the language of the heart,” said Dixie Belcher, founder and president for Turning the Tides. “This came about because in my distant past, I spent almost 20 years as the director of a folk rock group (St. Paul Singers) here. It was 65 people, and we went all over the state. … So when I found out how bad of shape we’re in environmentally, I thought, ‘What can we do that’s simple in Juneau?’”

Dr. Carlos Yaipen-Llanos, a marine veterinarian, ocean scientist in Peru, treats an animal. Yaipen-Llanos is on the advisory board for Turning the Tides, a Juneau nonprofit that has an environmental awareness event planned for May 5. (Courtesy Photo | Turning the Tide)

Dr. Carlos Yaipen-Llanos, a marine veterinarian, ocean scientist in Peru, treats an animal. Yaipen-Llanos is on the advisory board for Turning the Tides, a Juneau nonprofit that has an environmental awareness event planned for May 5. (Courtesy Photo | Turning the Tide)

At 6 p.m. May 5 at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, representatives from Juneau schools and guest performers will be joined in performances by students from La Casa de Cartón School, Casuarinas International College and Don Bosco School in India.

The international students will join the proceedings via the internet, but plan to perform in real time with performers in Juneau during an event with an absolutely packed schedule.

“It will be 9’o’clock in Peru and 7:30 the following morning in India,” Belcher said.

The event will start with drums from all three regions, then there will be a rap, Tlingit dancing, a reading of a paper about family, presentations from students in Peru and Juneau, performances from Arias Hoyle and T.J. “Manner” Cramer among others and some group singalongs.

Hoyle said in an interview with the Capital City Weekly that he wrote a new song for the occasion called “Real Indian” that references collaborating with youths from India as well as the label sometimes used to refer to Alaska Native people.

“Given that it’s kind of an ironic term nowadays, I thought it would be kind of fun to add it to the performance,” Hoyle said.

Cramer who raps as Manner will perform with Hoyle and assist in whatever way he can with the event’s other musical elements.

“Wherever I’m needed musically, I’m going to be there,” he said in an interview with the Capital City Weekly.

Cramer is involved with the project because he teaches second grade and songwriting at Riverbend Elementary School. The performance will come two days after his students release an for the first-ever Juneau Alaska Music Matters album release.

JAMM is a tuition-free music program for Juneau students.

“The kids worked really, really hard,” Cramer said of the album, “and there’s 10 official songs, eight of them are on iTunes, two of them are bonus tracks because they’re covers,” Cramer. “It’s all original songs written in my songwriting class.”

The May 5 event will be a follow-up of sorts to a May 3 album release planned for 6 p.m. at Riverbend, May 3.

Cramer said it’s still being determined which of his students will perform at Ocean Beat, but Hoyle and Cramer said there are plenty of talented youngsters to choose from.

Thanks to the internet more than 650 students from India will be part of the Ocean Beat event planned for Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall May 5.(Courtesy Photo | Turning the Tide)

Thanks to the internet more than 650 students from India will be part of the Ocean Beat event planned for Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall May 5.(Courtesy Photo | Turning the Tide)

Hoyle, who has visited the songwriting class, said he went in expecting to have a lot of pointers to share but was surprised by the songwriting chops on display.

“I was taken aback realizing, I think they got the full package before I even arrived,” Hoyle said.

Admission to the ambitious event is $12, and Belcher said it will be used to recoup expenses incurred putting the production together.

““If we have anything left over, it will be used to start scholarships for kids involved in this program to start traveling back and forth,” Belcher said.

If the event is well-attended, Belcher said she already has some ideas for what a second Ocean Beat.

“If it works, we’re going to do it again next year with even more countries,” she said.

Know & Go

What: Ocean Beat

When: 6 p.m., Sunday, May 5

Where: Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, 320 W. Willoughby Ave.

Admission: $12


• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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