Salmon Jam: Get ready to rock the hill

Zen Trembles band members, from left, Micah Rawalt, Becky Kotter and Daniel Sipin. The Anchorage band will headline the 2022 Salmon Jam in Cordova. Courtesy photo

Cordova, are you ready to rock the hill!? It’s Salmon Jam time once again! Hard to believe what started out 22 years ago on a rainy evening in the warehouse out at Orca Cannery is now a full-blown festival where participants get to enjoy great life music while taking in local artisan market vendors along with delicious local fare.

Salmon Jam is an event for the entire family and this year it’s happening July 11-16, with live music on Friday night beginning at 6 p.m. and on Saturday beginning at 3 p.m. It won’t disappoint!

We have an exciting line-up for your listening pleasure. Headliners begin each night at 8 p.m., so don’t be late! Special guests are the band Zen Trembles from Anchorage, featuring Becky Kotter playing both evenings as well as a teaser concert at 10 p.m. Thursday at the Reluctant Fisherman Inn.

They’re joined by Denali Cooks’ keyboardist, Jimmy Sandy on Saturday night only. On Friday night, Kaloku Holt with the Ke Kukui Foundation will be back along with another dangerously fascinating performance by fire dancer Zachary Hun!

Cordova’s very own Repeat Offenders, featuring Jason Pallas, Josh Pearson, Ben “BJ” Umayam, and Daniel Pigeon, plus special guests will also take the stage both nights. They are ready to unleash a solid mix of everything rock n roll and then some for you! You can see all of this year’s bands playing on our website or visit our socials.

Get comfortable with your own blankets and chairs and enjoy the music amphitheater style on the Bunny Hill. Stay tuned for who will be cooking us up some delectable local fare and selling handcrafts.

Tickets are available for purchase at salmonjam.org. Attendees are encouraged to purchase tickets ahead of time to limit congestion at the gate. Tickets are also available at festival HQ on Main Street at the Copper River Watershed Project or at the gate the night of the show.

This event will occur rain or shine. There are no refunds. If the weather is awful (ie. high winds and sheets of rain), the event will be moved to the Cordova Jr./Sr. High School gymnasium.

The Salmon Jam is the primary fundraiser which offsets the costs for the local arts council, Cordova Arts & Pageants, to bring in artists from all over the state, country and world. The entire school population and Cordova community benefits from experiencing these artists both in schools and in Cordova’s intimate theater space. At the beginning of COVID, the council granted over 20 local artists with individual COVID Arts Relief Grants. Their art is now being exhibited at the Copper River Gallery and can be viewed until July 30.

COVID, unfortunately, has taken its toll on our small, all volunteer arts council as it has so many aspects of our pre pandemic lives. We are happy to bring Cordova this festival despite diminished numbers on our board. With more community involvement, we’ll be able to bring back the beer garden.

If you love the arts, join our team of community arts enthusiasts now. We are now accepting nominations for board members. Nominate yourself or someone else to the board to keep art programs alive in Cordova. You can reach out to our current board members for more information: Anita Smyke, Mazie Van den Broek, Alyssa Kleissler, Barclay Kopchak, Marita Kleissler, Cathy Renfeldt or Lauren Bien.

Zen Trembles was born in the Fall of 2019, centered around Becky Kotter’s songwriting and unique acoustic guitar style, evolving from her solo work and earlier band, Becky Kotter & Co. Described as alternative rock, this isn’t like any acoustic guitar sound you’ve heard before!

After opening for ’80s pop star Tiffany for three shows when she toured Alaska with members of the LA Guns in 2021, Zen Trembles traveled to Nashville on invitation of her crew, to record at the world-famous Blackbird Studios, where Tiffany stopped by to lend her vocals to one of the tracks! Songs from this session will be released summer 2022, and the complete album later this year.

There are still a few sets left. If you’d like to play this year, contact Alyssa Kleissler at 907-253-3633 or use the online form on salmonjam.org to reserve your spot.

One hundred percent of of Salmon Jam tickets goes towards bringing artists like Patrick Ball, Portland Cello Project, Laura Cortese, plus more community arts programs this fall and next spring! How awesome is that?!

You can learn more about Cordova Arts & Pageants by visiting cdvarts.org.

And, if you want to get more involved with the festival, you can! When you volunteer to set up the tent, sell tickets or help the festival in other myriad ways, you get a discount off your ticket and, you get to enjoy knowing you’re doing your part in ensuring great art continues to reach our town. To sign up to volunteer visit our website salmonjam.org or follow us on Facebook: Copper River Salmon Jam and Instagram: @salmonjam See you on the hill!

Alyssa Kleissler has been a board member of Cordova Arts & Pageants for over 20 years and has been involved with the Salmon Jam since it began 22 years ago.