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National artist does free show for toy drive

Posted: December 25, 2013 - 12:07am
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Chris Taylor Brown of Trapt performs at a Toys for Tots fundraiser at the University of Alaska Southeast Recreation Center on Monday.  Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Chris Taylor Brown of Trapt performs at a Toys for Tots fundraiser at the University of Alaska Southeast Recreation Center on Monday.

After Chris Brown’s first show in Alaska, saying he was impressed would be an understatement.

The lead singer for the nationally famous band Trapt was so inspired by Juneau residents Friday night that he decided he would do a second, free show for locals while raising money for needy children.

“Anything I can do to help the people of Juneau,” Brown said. “They were so nice, so accommodating — they’re really cool people. They had so much energy, and knew the words to every song.”

The scene was a bit different in the dimly lit room at the University of Alaska-Southeast recreation center Monday night with just a couple dozen fans on hand for an acoustic show by Brown and fellow artist Jordan Baron, who goes by the name Harrison B when preforming.

“(The show) seemed like a good opportunity to do something for this town and the kids,” the Nashville, Tenn., performer said. “I’m spending Christmas away from home, so this is really becoming a season of giving for me.”

As students, families, fans and other locals filtered into the small room, there was a jar on a table for donating to the Toys for Tots campaign, a national effort usually put on by the U.S. Marine Corps, but the National Guard led the charge this time in Juneau as there is no marine base here.

“It’s a toy drive around Christmas. It just makes sense,” said Brown, who’s band has more than 520,000 “likes” on Facebook.

Originally Brown and Baron and the team that organized the show hoped to do it around a bonfire at Sandy Beach, but they said the City and Borough of Juneau told them it was not allowed due to noise restrictions.

Because the show was spur of the moment spread mostly by word of mouth and on Facebook, a lot of people did not get the message that the Sandy Beach location had been cancelled, organizers said.

Baron opened for Brown Monday night, just as he had three days prior at the Centennial Hall event. His songs centered on Christmas, faith and love.

“I was raised on stories of Jesus, so when I sing I work them into the songs,” Baron said. “It brings me home to my roots.”

He also preformed “While the birds are gone,” a song he wrote in Juneau about wintering in Alaska. Baron’s music is available on his website harrisonbmusic.com .

After a compilation of three Christmas songs in one, Baron gave the stage to Brown, who pulled up a stool and casually talked with fans as he picked his way through several songs.

“I’ve watched him on YouTube music videos, and then for him to come to Alaska — especially a small town like Juneau — is just really special,” said Zach Hansmann, 18.

Before ending the show and offering to take pictures with anyone in the room, Brown strung up what is perhaps the bands most well-known song: “Headstrong.”

“I’ve always been a fan of ‘Headstrong’ and everything he’s wrote,” Hansmann said. “It was very awesome to see him play ‘Headstrong’ in person in acoustic. It just made my week.”

• Contact reporter Matt Woolbright at 523-2243 or at matthew.woolbright@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reportermatt.

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