Ken Waldman and the Wild Ones take audience to Alaska without leaving the Bayou Theater
Alaska’s “fiddling poet,” Ken Waldman, will perform along with his bandmates, the Wild Ones, in the Bayou Theater at University of Houston-Clear Lake Wednesday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. And to celebrate National Poetry Month, the group’s matinee on Thursday, April 20 at 10 a.m. is an interactive show aimed at children, who are encouraged to bring paper, pencil as well as their creativity and imagination.
Waldman said their first performance would include the Wild Ones as well as special guests Twisted Pine, a Boston-based bluegrass quartet stopping to join in an evening of music at the Bayou Theater on their way to a festival in Austin.
He said the concert would be a mixture of songs performed with Twisted Pine, as well as configurations of trios, duos and all eight musicians together. “That’s just how ‘wild’ it’s going to be,” he said.
Although Waldman is not a native Alaskan, he describes his artistic identity as deeply rooted in Alaskan culture and history.
“I’m an old-time Appalachian-style fiddle player, and my niche is poetry and Alaska storytelling,” Waldman said. “People say they don’t like poetry, but they like ‘my’ poetry. Some of my stories and poems are about all the space there is in Alaska. It’s over twice the size of Texas, yet the state’s population is only about 750,000.”
What that means, Waldman explained, is that in Alaska, it’s possible to do anything, anywhere. “If you have talent, people embrace you more quickly because there are fewer people in line ahead of you,” he said. “There are a lot of opportunities, but fewer people. You can do what you want more quickly. There’s just so much space in Alaska. This show is like taking a trip to Alaska without leaving the Bayou Theater.”
Children also share his love of storytelling and poetry, and Waldman said that the Wednesday matinee event would allow kids to create their own music, art and poetry. “I want to show them that anyone can write poems,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be fancy or rhyme. It’s just about observing and paying attention. If you have a piece of paper and a pencil, you can write.”
He added that through the storytelling and poetry, he and his bandmates would talk about life in Alaska. “Kids might be interested to know that in the summer, midnights aren’t dark, you can’t get to Alaska’s capital city, Juneau, except by boat or by plane, or that the highest mountain peak in North America is Denali,” he said. “It’s a big world out there. Maybe we can get some adventurous kids to go someday.”
For tickets to see Ken Waldman and the Wild Ones performances, or for more information about upcoming events at the Bayou Theater, go online.