Todd Anders Johnson is a musician on a mission. His goal? To spread his message via music. And with his group, Salem, he's touring Alaska for a fourth year, this time with an eye on the glaciers and an ear out for thoughts on global warming.
"There's been a lot of discussion going on (about) climate change, about glaciers and global warming and what's really going on. We need to be addressing the science behind it and making it understandable for the public," Johnson said.
He said it's through his lyrics and his band's music that he tries to raise social awareness of the various issues affecting people today. For the next three weeks, he'll be playing in various towns around the state. Two nights ago it was Talkeetna. Tonight, with an old school gold rush theme, it's the Alaskan Hotel & Bar.
But his music is about more than just the message. Patrons can expect to hear a little bit of everything.
"It's kinda like a convergence of jazz, funk, hip hop and R&B," Johnson said. "We definitely rock out at times. There's a reggae feel, and little psychedelic trance element as well."
This year, unlike past shows in Alaska, the band has a full crew. Rob Garland is on bass, M. Vincent Miller will be on the keyboard and will be doing some vocals, while Jim Mullett is on guitar.
Johnson said this show will feature music that's oriented around the keyboard. The product?
"A nice rounded out sound. It's a core four-piece for sure," Johnson said.
And that's not all. Charles K. Forest, a filmmaker from Boise, Idaho, is also traveling with the group. He's capturing clips, interviews and moments for a documentary on glacial recession, according to Johnson.
"I'm just looking to get some perspectives from scientists and mountaineers," Johnson said.
The pair plans to do a dual presentation at the Fox Theater in Boulder, Colo. on June 1. In addition, the documentary will be featured on the Columbia Sportswear Web site (www.columbia.com).
Along the way the group has been indulging their other passion - heli-boarding. Salem had a gig in Valdez at a lodge specializing in big backcountry excursions and will head up to Haines after their Juneau show for a bit of big mountain R&R.
But above all, Johnson said he's just glad to be back in Alaska.
"It's really nice to be back, to be part of the local scene," he said.
And when it comes to Juneau, Johnson said he hopes folks come out, dress up and have a good time. After all, The Alaskan is still one of his "favorite bars to play in the whole country."
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