Tubby and Friends In The Middle Of Nowhere
In The Middle of Nowhere
Words & Photos / James "Tubby" Storlie
Two hours outside of Fairbanks and four hours outside of Anchorage, sits Denali National Park. Deemed a national landmark by President Woodrow Wilson on February 26, 1917, Denali National Park (formerly known as Mt. McKinley National Park until Aug. 30, 2015) is a tourist hot spot in Alaska during the summer, and people from all over the world gather there for work or for pleasure, mainly to capture the beautiful Alaskan summer wilderness—the park encompasses more than 6 million acres, according to Wikipedia, ha!—and to witness Denali, the highest mountain in North America.
Every summer, for the last several years, I've been going to Denali Park to perform at the center of all the action, The Salmon Bake. The Salmon Bake is a restaurant/bar by day, by night the bar hosts musical acts from around the country who come to perform for the tourists, foreigners who come to work there in the summers and, of course, locals who know Denali Park as the spot to party under the midnight sun.
On July 8, I hosted my 2nd Annual Tubby & Friends Denali Park show and man… that shit was wild! So wild, in fact, that it's taken me a week to finally sit and write this for Crude. My recovery time isn't what it used to be. Every year we've been down there it's gotten bigger and better, and this year I knew it was going to be special, so I called in the big dogs!
We started the event at 10 p.m. with DJ's Gre, Polo and Bad Agenda's own DJ Bee One. They played music for an hour while people started trickling in and getting their drinks situated. At 11 p.m. we started the evening's performances with The Trill Twinz, who just joined the T&F lineup for the first time. Jay Reeder, one half of The Trill Twinz, started the set with his solo record "Everybody Else" and killed it. That performance was followed by his partner and Trill Twinz member Loner Luc, with a standout performance of his smash "Shut It Down," which is pretty much my favorite local joint at the moment.
Next up was Double Dose, another new addition to the T&F roster. I've seen Dose perform at other gigs in the past so I already knew what he was capable of bringing to the table, and he definitely delivered with a solid set that he ended with his recent banger "Fresh." You'll be seeing more of Double Dose in the near future, I'm sure of it.
One song I was anxious to see performed live was Alaska Boi's scorcher of a record, "Some Mo" with DC The Savage. DC spit his classic verse while an animated Alaska Boi hopped into the crowd while spitting his chorus, "I just wanna get some mo! Fuck it up and get some mo!" along with the crowd. Definitely Alaska Boi's best performance yet.
DC The Savage performed his first set ever for T&F and delivered the goods. He smoothly commanded the attention of the audience while performing a few tracks, one of which was dedicated to his cousin Rico G The Mayor who is currently incarcerated. Definitely a standout track. DC has been the camera guy and lead for Frozen Founders, the firm who films my T&F shows, but after this show I'm sure we won't be seeing DC behind the camera anymore, you'll be seeing him on the stage.
One of my favorite local artists and T&F veterans Ben Swann brought his vibrant personality along with his infamous bag of goodies he’s always known for having on him—Ben Swann lighters, condoms and other merch. Ben performed tracks alongside Dose and The Trill Twinz. Another great set, as always, by Eastside Anchorage's own. Ben actually ended up kicking it with me and some of the Blade Gang boys after the show and, needless to say, The Mastadon is absolutely one of my favorite acts on the T&F show!
One of Fairbanks' hottest rap duos, Lee Jones and Tony Taylor, came to Denali to represent my hometown and, along with several friends and associates from Fairbanks, they got the party crackin’. Never ones to do things traditionally, Jones and Taylor started their set from the back of The Salmon Bake, as Tony Taylor made his way towards the stage from the back of the bar, Lee commanded the stage up front. Their set literally utilized the entire space of the bar—they performed in the crowd, in the back of the bar and even on top of dining booths overlooking the crowd. The always animated Muzik Medicine crew brought their A-Game, as I knew they would, and showed why this up and coming group from Fairbanks deserves their spot among the elite.
After Jones and Taylor’s set came another duo which deserves more shine than they've been getting. That group is Inside Out, which consists of Madd Angler and producer Trinity Beats. Angler wasn't originally scheduled to perform at the event, but Fleetwood Malone couldn't make it so at the last minute Angler and Trinity drove all the way down. You would never know they were a last minute addition, they performed several of their tracks effortlessly to an enthusiastic crowd.
Kayco Daily, along with Team Daily, followed next with one of my favorite sets of the night. Dressed in a poncho, casually holding a drink, young Kayco put on an amazing show and with the help of his partner, Easy Daily, got the crowd rockin’ as they delivered an animated twelve minute set with several members of Team Daily dancing in the crowd, reppin’ Daily shirts.
After Kayco and the Daily boys, T&F veteran, and one of Anchorage's biggest hip-hop artists, Darius hopped on stage and performed several tracks off his recently released album "Where To Now," including favorites of mine "Legendarius" and, of course, the performance track of the summer "WRKN4DAWEEKEND."
Fairbanks' own Bishop Slice and Starbuks hit the stage next, and immediately brought the heat with their local hits, "I'm From Fairbanks" and "The North." Slice performed a couple of his solo records and Starbuks performed his bad guy anthem "Razor Ramon" to an amped Fairbanks audience who absolutely held it down for the Golden Heart City.
Probably my personal favorite set of the night came courtesy of Duckman, who arguably has the hottest album right now with "Back 2 Da East." He performed all his standout tracks off the album. Tracks such as "Tapped In" and "No Love," which even with the absence of incarcerated Bag Boy member and the current local hook guy, King Coo, the song got the crowd going crazy as everyone sang along to Coo's chorus and verse. Then, of course, Duck ended his set with "Drill." If you’re tapped in to the local hip-hop scene, you know how big that song is getting. Needless to say, the entire venue chanted along with the hook as we all went crazy. The response to that record is unlike anything I've ever witnessed locally, in a long long time, if ever. "Drill" and Duckman himself are continuing to get bigger and I'm just extremely happy and honored to have contributed to that, even if just a little bit.
I knew as soon as Duck's set was over that it was going to be hard to go up after that one, but if there are two individuals I knew could handle it, it would be Tayy Tarantino and Josh Boots.
Tayy shut it down as expected as he professionally executed his recent bangers "Why We Do It," "Illegal" and "907 On Go," along with his unreleased track with Josh Boots that I've yet to hear the studio version, but after seeing them perform this track a couple of times, I can't wait.
The final performance of the evening came courtesy of Sleeping Lady's baby and, arguably, Alaska's most revered emcee, Josh Boots. Always comfortable on stage and behind the mic, Boots got the set poppin’ from the jump as the beat to "907's Own" dropped to a frenzied audience. The author of the “Cold Weather Survival Guide” then proceeded with "FTW" while transitioning to "Independent Hustle." If that wasn't enough to get the longtime local Josh Boots fans going, he then kicked freestyles to the hammered crowd, which caused enough ruckus that a speaker tower almost came falling down on Boots, myself and Tayy Tarantino. Boots then ended his legendary performance with the timeless party anthem "No Show Socks" to a drunken, crazy audience.
The evening ended with DJ's Gre, Polo and BeeOne spinning music while everyone danced, took shots, laughed and networked. The entire event went off smoothly and without any issues, just like the others before it. The unity and genuine, mutual love for our local hip-hop scene was more evident that night than any night before it. It will truly be one of those nights that the Alaska hip-hop community and its supporters will always remember.
I would tell you about the after party, but I gotta save something for my tell-all autobiography, right? Until the next one…
For more on the Tubby & Friends Salmon Bake show, visit Tubby Blog.