Q & A with KSKA: Kevin Barnett

When Eagle River composer and pianist, Kevin Barnett wrote Lead Dog, he knew he was writing a theme song. Subtitled Kaya’s Theme for his dog Kaya, Lead Dog is also the new official theme song for KSKA’s weekly call-in show, Hometown, Alaska.

Off the album Alpenglow, which includes songs titled, Termination Dust, Fresh Snow, Hot Chocolate, Snow Angels at Solstice, Dancing Huskies, Death by Icicle, Permafrost and Cabin Fever, we wanted to find out more about Barnett’s latest album Alpenglow, the song Lead Dog, and how living in Alaska influences his music.

Kevin Barnett, Pianist and Composer, Eagle River, AK

How did the album Alpenglow come about?

After a show one night for Arctic Siren’s Production “First Friday” at the Snow Goose, producer, Peggy Monaghanand my wife Regina were giving me a hard time for having done a lot of work for hire writing and recording for several other people without ever doing a solo album of my own. Regina reminded me my Dad had been after me since I was in high school. I had studied film scoring so they challenged me to write songs to names of title / themes.

What inspired the song ‘Lead Dog?’

I have had Husky dog’s growing up. About the time I was working on the Album this was on, we had gotten a new dog “Kaya” (pictured left) that is Husky and Saluki mix. When walking with her I am always reminded how I can’t go fast enough; they want to take the lead. One day I clocked her in my truck doing about 35 miles per hour. I thought she dissevered her own song. The sub title to Lead Dog is “Kaya’s Theme”

What led you to Alaska?

I was transferred up here to the Air Force Band of the Pacific. I move up March 17, 1997.

When did you start playing the piano and composing music?

I started as a very little boy, my mom and great aunt would show me things on the piano. I started formal piano lessons between 6 1/2 and 7. I continued studying piano all the way through college.

Do you ever play any live shows in Alaska?

I am a freelance musician and composer. I play with these groups: Chill Factor, Kevin Barnett quartet for Arctic Siren Cabaret ( Snow Goose Show), back up Cat Coward, Snapping Turtle Big Band, Occasionally for Bill Tull’s Band in the valley. I am booked at a solo, or duo’s, trio’s and quartets. I also play at Sullivans on Tuesday night. I slide in and play keyboards for shows too. I am a music director / coordinator at St Elizabeth Ann Seton church in Anchorage.

What is your favorite part of winter in Alaska?

There are so many aspects of winter that I like that I would have to write a book. For a few things: I like the cold when I’m walking in the snow and is sounds like you’re walking on styra foam. I also like it when the moon light shines on the snow at night. Or like a day today when the sun is beating on the snow.

Anything else you would like to add….?

I have about half of the material written for my next solo album. I get a lot of my ideas from observing life around me. I can be doing something non musical and all of a sudden something pop’s in my head.

All photos courtesy of Kevin Barnett.

Haven’t heard the new Hometown, Alaska theme song yet? Tune in Wednesdays at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm. Or listen to past shows online.