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Los Angeles, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Rock Indie




"L.A. Dream-Pop Outfit Alyeska Premiere Replacements-Inspired Track 'Motel State of Mind'"

The LA dream pop trio Alyeska is readying its debut EP Crush, a heavenly cluster of songs produced by John Agnello at New York’s legendary Magic Shop studio. On this New Music Friday, we venture out of lower Manhattan into the memories of frontwoman Alaska Reid, to bring you the group's latest single.

"Motel State of Mind” is a swirling cyclone of drums and Reid’s feathery voice, jolted by an unexpected low-end of guitar fuzz. “My mom actually asked me if this song was about 'illicit behavio'” -- like ‘truckers, hookers and cooking meth,’” Reid tells Billboard. “I told her no -- I was just trying to rip off the Replacements.”

Alyeska’s latest was actually the final record recorded at the Magic Shop, capping off a lineage that recently included David Bowie’s Blackstar -- and, further back, LPs from the legendary NY likes of Lou Reed, Sonic Youth and Blondie -- before it was priced out of its SoHo home. Agnello, too, carries an impressive production résumé of indie rock heroes like Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr. and Kurt Vile. But instead of paying homage, the final Magic Shop release pays it forward, giving life to Alyeska’s brand new dreamworld.

Reid does allow: “Maybe a song about all those things [that my mom mentioned] would be more interesting than me incorporating the word ‘linoleum’ into the lyrics, and talking about someone who disappointed me.”

Give “Motel State of Mind” a spin below, and check out Alyeska’s previous offering, a childhood carnival reverie called “Tild-A-Whirl,” over at Stereogum. - Billboard

"Alyeska – “Tilt-A-Whirl”"

There’s an innately youthful feeling on “Tilt-A-Whirl,” the lead single from LA-based band Alyeska’s debut EP Crush — a fresh, untouched quality, like that of newly fallen snow. That’s its only connection to winter, though, as the song is filled with summer imagery bound to cause pangs of nostalgia. A jumpy bassline leads vocalist and guitarist Alaska Reid into a sort of conversation with a boy, telling him to speak now or never if he’s really got a crush. Lightweight guitars and mentions of the county fair and summer sky set the stage for the starry-eyed chorus,”think about me while we’re young.” Reid shared some background on the track:
“Tilt-A-Whirl” is an ode to the small county fair in my town. My friends and I would look forward to going every year, we’d see boys we had crushes on, and scream about the creepy carnies or the way your feet turned black with dirt in your yellow flip flops. We would giggle uncomfortably at the porno posters the carnies hung in their booths and the rotting state of their teeth. And then there were the rides — The Zipper, The Hurricane and my favorite, the Tilt-A-Whirl. The dirt in the midway was pocked with pools of vomit and discarded glow sticks and the carnies would spray you with giant squirt guns, trying to lure you into playing their game.… It was sort of a running joke, that it was your “coming of age” if you got squirted in the chest by the carnies. I just wanted to convey the sparkle and the excitement of when I was young against the neon glow of the county fair as well as the grit and the darkness lurking around the edges.

According to Alyeska’s publicist, it was the last thing recorded at the Magic Shop, the NYC recording studio where David Bowie did Blackstar and Arcade Fire recorded The Suburbs. - STEREOGUM


Story / Monica Wolfe
Photos / Kristy Benjamin
We’re sitting at a red vinyl booth in the back corner of The Prince, a dim and moody Koreatown bar. Alaska Reid and Ben Spear of hard-hitting dream-pop band Alyeska sit across from me, Reid in the Los Angeles uniform black leather jacket, and Spear wearing a flannel shirt and an earring in one ear. They surprise me, though: they aren’t your typical LA band. This clicks for me later when Spear gestures to Reid and says, “This girl eats raw elk in Montana,” and she holds up a large lump of white enamel, an elk tooth strung around her neck, then goes on to tell me about growing up in a town so small that when a classmate brought a cow and a rifle to show-and-tell, it was “no big thing.” Reid orders bitters and soda. Spear orders a whiskey ginger. He fishes a fly out of her drink and wipes it on the red tablecloth as we start talking about their new music.
They’re getting ready to put out an EP, Crush, at the end of March, that they recorded about a year ago with John Agnello at The Magic Shop in New York. Yes, that’s the studio in which Bowie recorded Blackstar, and countless other greats including The Rolling Stones, Lou Reed, Suzanne Vega, and Sonic Youth made music history. Alyeska were the last to record there before the studio shut down, probably to be replaced by “a SoulCycle and a Bloomingdale’s,” Spear jokes, referring to Soho’s extreme gentrification since The Magic Shop’s more humble beginnings in the ‘80s. According to an article last year in The New York Times, individual parking spots across the street from The Magic Shop sell to condo residents for a sweet $1 million. So, the magic may have faded from Soho’s Crosby Street, but not before Alyeska recorded this heart-melting album, the sound of which pays tribute to many of the musical greats who shared those studio walls before them.

Both Reid and Spear’s favorite song on their forthcoming EP is “Motel State of Mind.” Reid writes the lyrics and shapes the skeleton of each song before filling it out with Spear on drums. They have yet to pin down a permanent bass player. Reid says that “Motel State of Mind” drew its breath from her love for an Alex Chilton cover of Loudon Wainwright’s “Motel Blues.” On Alyeska’s motel song, Reid’s vocals float in a wispy falsetto countered with the occasional biting Kathleen Hanna drawl. Spear’s drums follow Reid’s shifting tones with light ‘90s alt-rock percussion turning to quick, blasting beats through the chorus. Reid’s dirty electric guitar drags the genre away from pop and toward the rock and roll that she listened to growing up (and that her father still quizzes her on to make sure she can hold her own in a music conversation—and my God, she can.)

Their song “Coyote” is lined with subtly dark musings offset by the catchy, driving melody of a pop song. “Oh, coyote,” she sings, “you’re alone ‘til you succeed.” I ask her what’s behind it, and she explains, “I’ve been doing this for so long that I feel like I’ve sacrificed a lot of things. I’ve never been to a high school party. I’ve only ever been doing music since I was fourteen. And it is kind of a lonely thing in many ways…it is really fucking lonely.” She isn’t one to wallow, though. She laughs at herself as she admits “I spend a lot of time alone, just practicing guitar in my pajamas…trying not to be crazy and meditating.”

Spear echoes her sentiment and adds, referring to her use of “crazy,” “I think sometimes that word is used for someone who’s a little bit more in touch than they should be—more than their own good. A little bit too aware.”

At first, I can’t decide if Reid is too young to have become cynical yet or if she’s just existing in a space beyond cynicism. She’s talking about her experiences as a woman in the music industry, from sound guys assuming she doesn’t know anything about gear to downright predatory encounters, but her affect isn’t sad; it’s forceful, strong, not wholly optimistic, but aware of the problems that exist and not giving them the time of day. Her biggest fear is her work not being taken seriously: “I really want to try to hone my skills to be the best musician that I can be, because people say, ‘Oh, you’re a great guitar player,’ like ‘for a girl’ is implied. I never want to get congratulated for being good ‘for my gender.’”

Spear adds, “What I’ve noticed is a lot of times people think you don’t know what you’re doing with equipment and guitars, and it’s very bizarre. It happens all the time. I’ve walked into guitar stores with her, and people just start talking to me, and I’m like, ‘Fuck you, dude. I don’t play guitar. Talk to her.’”
We order more drinks. Our conversation lightens. It follows this amusing cycle of me asking a question, then Reid and Spear beginning to answer it before they quickly fall into a laughing back-and-forth banter, recalling old stories like inside jokes between very old friends. At one point, seemingly out of nowhere, Reid begins singing a song, trying to remember the lyrics, and Spear chimes in, filling in the words he remembers. “Grits ain’t groceries,” they sing together, then “Mona Lisa was a man,” and then it devolves into something mumbled and hidden under the loud techno music coming from The Prince’s speakers. The bar’s shitty dance music doesn’t fit the ambiance—the place is mostly empty. It’s oddly charming. Every ten minutes or so, Reid will stop, hit the table, and say, “That’s off the record!” That’s oddly charming, too. When we’re talking about their musical influences, Spear lets slip that he used to listen to ska as a kid. Clearly embarrassed by his confession, Reid shouts, “No! Off the record!” They’re a loopy and endlessly amusing pair, and I’d dare anyone to try not to have a good time around them. Their chemistry bleeds through to their music, and I’d argue that that’s why their music is just so goddamn good. - LADYGUNN

"Alyeska – “EverGlow” (Stereogum Premiere)"

Alyeska is an archaic spelling of Alaska, and it’s the name LA-based Montana native Alaska Reid chose for her band. Reid, Ben Spear, and Enzo Scardapane worked with indie-rock superproducer John Agnello on their forthcoming debut album, and from the sounds of advance single “EverGlow,” it’s gonna be a good one. It’s a dusky, guitar-powered track that pulls heavily from the alternative rock era, Reid’s six-string alternately kicking out eerie feedback squalls and searing high-end fret work as the band kicks up an ominous groove behind her. The vocals take the form of heavyhearted sighs, and the slow-building climax lends them plenty emotional weight. No reinventing the wheel here, just an amazing song that deserves the world’s attention. Listen below. - Stereogum

"Top 10 Songs of the Week"

Fun fact of the day! Alyeska is apparently an archaic Aleut spelling of the word Alaska, which itself translates to “great land.” Alyeska also happens to be the name chosen by LA-based musician Alaska Reid for her retro-leaning indie rock outfit. Together with Ben Spear and Enzo Scardapane, Reid digs up some classic ’90s alt rock sounds, her powerful vocals leading the way. “EverGlow” has been a highlight in live performances for a little while, but it’s no wonder Reid and co. recorded the tune properly, presumably in time for Alyeska’s upcoming debut album, which is expected sometime this summer. –Adam Kivel -

"Stream: Alyeska, 'Medicine River'"

At first under her own name and then fronting the band Alyeska, teenager Alaska Reid has cultivated an earnest, beyond-her-years aesthetic, first with Laurel Canyonesque folk songs and now moving into indie-rock. Her new single “Medicine River,” released Friday, is a revelation; it suggests Laura Marling fronting dialed-back Sunny Day Real Estate. Reid, working with drummer Ben Spear and bassist Emil Amos, recorded the song in New York City during a session with noted indie producer John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Okkervil River, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, the Hold Steady). Reid says she initially contacted Agnello on Facebook and convinced him to work with her. “Medicine River” and its woozy, world-weary vocals embody the vastness of Reid’s home state — she’s a small-town Montana girl, and this single is perfect for long nights under the Big Sky. - BuzzBands.LA

"Untitled Publications: Alyeska" - Untitled Publications

""So Long" Music Video by Alyeska"

Alyeska is a new act fronted by Alaska Reid –a young transplant from rural Montana who now calls Laurel Canyon home. Along with Nico Grossfeld and Ben Spear, the trio spits out raw indie rock unafraid to chew on loud jams and heavy grooves. Here’s “So Long” off their self-titled debut EP which was recorded live to tape: - Free Bike Valet


You wouldn't think that someone named Alaska Reid would need to come up with a band name, or that Alaska would be someone who grew up in Livingston (or someone who currently lives in Los Angeles). But those are the facts. Here are two more: She's the extremely talented frontwoman of indie rock band Alyseka, and they're playing Missoula this week.

The best way to describe Alyeska's music is as a blend: two-thirds classic rock and one-third alternative rock, all mixed into something that is not necessarily groundbreaking, but very satisfying nonetheless. Reid has a perfect classic rock voice, which can coo and croon as well as it can wail and yelp. She's backed by grunge-y guitar and drums, with a bit of vintage keyboard work inserting itself every now and then. The result is something reminiscent of Nirvana or Pavement or the Pixies, possibly covering a lost album by The Rolling Stones or Nick Drake.

While it can be very difficult to ditch my considerable bias for music from the late 1960s and early 1990s when I listen to new music, I'm confident that Alyeska is still universally enjoyable and empirically good, even if you didn't spend your high school years listening to an odd combination of Led Zeppelin and PJ Harvey.

-Sarah Aswell - Missoula Independent


A name like Alaska Reid sounds like a fictional character from a hardscrabble novel rather than a flesh & blood musician. Yet everything about her is genuine from the authenticity of her lyrics to her corporeal vocals that fully inhabit the listening space. “Medicine River” is an attentive narrative concerning the struggle for forgiveness and redemption. The allure here is Reid’s tender voice that soars on the wings of an insistent rhythm and a forthright melody, the emotive message provided with simplicity and grace. - Another Dying Art Form

"Roots Music"

Roots Music
Five years after Alaska Reid’s departure, Montana still inspires the Los Angeles musician.

By A.J. Mangum

Alaska Reid’s 2012 CD Powerlines includes “Livingston,” a mellow, acoustic ode to the Los Angeles-based musician’s Montana hometown. She sings, “This place wouldn’t be as special if I were here to stay, and had never gone away.” Much is packed into that single line: homesickness and nostalgia balanced against the acknowledgement that progression, almost by definition, means putting that which is familiar in the rear-view mirror.

Five years after her move to southern California, Reid, now 18, still owes much to Big Sky Country. She developed a love of music listening to her father’s eclectic collection of CDs during drives to town from their rural home in Paradise Valley. Reid’s roots as a singer and guitarist trace to vocal lessons in Livingston and jam sessions with the town’s “community of older musicians,” who taught her to play. And, it’s her separation from Montana that’s inspired songs on the heavy themes of being out of place and between identities.

“It’s weird when you move from someplace,” Reid says. “You have roots in one place and start putting down roots somewhere else. You don’t know whether you’re totally in one place at all.”

Los Angeles, though, has been good to Reid. With her new band, Alyeska (an Aleut word for “mainland,” and the term from which the 50th state takes its name), she’s released an EP that represents a bold creative progression, courtesy of a sound decidedly more aggressive (“louder and electric,” Reid says) than that found on the tranquil, dreamlike Powerlines – think “Joni Mitchell joins Nirvana.” In addition to performing frequent gigs throughout southern California with Alyeska, Reid still maintains a solo identity, and spent this past summer opening for Lyle Lovett on his 2014 tour.

“Over the course of the past few months, I’ve played constantly,” she says. “That’s the name of the game, though. It keeps you on your toes. You battle through it, and the payoff is there.”

Reid grew up in Montana ranch country, but her identity was forged by Livingston’s art and literary scene. She spent more time around writers than around cowboys. By middle school, she was a guitar-obsessed budding poet joining her first band. Her earliest gigs included performances at “shitty bars” in southwestern Montana. Her family’s move to Los Angeles was painful, but she admits relocation was likely her big break.

“I was completely scared,” she says. “Montana was my home, and I’d grown up with a particular group of kids.” Still, music provided a constant for the transplanted Reid. “My involvement in the L.A. music scene was gradual, but it’s progressed.”

Powerlines has a contemporary country-folk sound, but Reid’s take is unabashedly literary and experimental, leaving her material free of any cliches of the genre. Sweeping, dramatic vocals carry lyrics rich with imagery of lonely, beautiful moments in small towns, and laden with the emotions of protagonists heading into uncertain futures. The material could be interpreted as a bridge between chapters in Reid’s life: the song “Livingston” follows “California,” a plugged-in road-trip number that – even with another title – would fit comfortably in the “California sound” catalog, beside the defining works of artists like Jackson Browne, Neil Young and Gram Parsons.

The Alyeska EP occupies different turf, expanding the universe in which Reid works as a songwriter, and the influences from which she draws. Joni Mitchell and Neil Young and Cowboy Junkies are there, but so are nearly forgotten progenitors of the Seattle grunge scene, bands that early ’90s alternative acts brought back onto the mainstream radar. Gentle, understated verses rise to explosive crescendos, and beautifully raw rhythm guitars are accented by delicate, ethereal keyboards. The record’s energy propels it far outside the country-folk territory of Powerlines, and comfortably into the realm of alt-rock.

Recorded in just two afternoons, with a lineup of musicians that included backing vocalist Kimberly Rose, keyboardist Arlan Oscar, bass player Will Henley Dias, and drummer Ben Spear, the EP possesses the character of a live performance.

“All the instrumentation is live, with no studio tricks,” Reid explains. “It’s an honest EP, very raw, organic.”

Such sincerity in a performance is important to Reid. She cites a wide range of influences, from Peggy Lee to Kurt Cobain; the common thread, she says, is a brand of unapologetic originality. “And,” she adds, “some people are just cool.”

Since the formation of Alyeska, Reid has returned to Montana to play familiar haunts with her new band. A highlight of this past summer: a marathon three-and-a-half-hour gig at Livingston’s Murray Bar.

“There were a ton of people there,” she says, “people I’ve been friends with since I was a kid, and they got to hear the ‘electric band’ sound for the first time. We only had maybe two hours of material, so I switched with the bass player and he began playing guitar – this blues thing – and we just made it up on the fly. This drunk guy in the audience kept offering to buy me a drink, and the bassist was sort of ‘courted’ by this older woman. Livingston is amazing, but also very bizarre that time of year. We got the full dose.”

Such a full-circle experience could be mistaken for the closing of a chapter – a last hurrah in Big Sky Country – but Reid actually returns to the Northern Rockies frequently to perform at benefits, festivals and other venues. Even after five years in California, and a lengthy list of new experiences and collaborations that have reshaped her sound, it’s likely her Montana roots will always be present in her music.

Still, she’s at a stage in her career, and at a stage of life, in which the unwritten future is an overwhelmingly dominant theme. Reid says she wants to “loosen up,” and get more comfortable on stage. She’s changed up her songwriting process, writing lyrics and music simultaneously, rather than locking her lyrical phrasing to the music.

And, she’s content to move forward without the burden of labeling her work as part of any one genre. Such fearless explorations of identity – musings one could expect from a Montanan transitioning into a Californian, or from a country-folk solo performer doubling as an alt-rock band’s lead singer – could make Reid one of Montana’s most intriguing exports.

A.J. Mangum is the editor of Ranch & Reata and the author of the non-fiction collection Undiscovered Country: Dispatches from the American West, available on Learn more about Alaska Reid’s music at - Ranch and Reata Magazine (A.J. Magnum)

"Stream: Alyeska 'Honest'"

Singer-songwriter Alaska Reid has decided to adopt the band name Alyeska, but the teenaged singer-guitarist is still the writer behind the trio’s beyond-their-years folk-rock. Reid, who hails from Livingston, Mont., and is now based in L.A., deals in raw, forthright confessionals that sound like they could have been birthed in a Laurel Canyon backyard back in the day. Notable, though, is Reid’s sense of self-awareness: “Honest, I’m too young to reminisce,” she sings in “Honest.” The new EP “Alyeska,” recorded at Sunset Sound, is more ambitious than the “Powerlines” EP that Reid released under her own name; hers is a developing story well worth following. - See more at: - Buzzbands LA

"24 Hours At Big Sky Songwriters Festival"

24 hours isn’t enough time to spend in Big Sky, Montana. If you visit during the summer there’s Fly Fishing, Mountain Biking, The Big Sky Songwriters Festival, and millions of other activities. I only had time to do one thing, so I decided to attend the festival for a day to find out if I could learn how to write a song.

Friday, August 17th – 9:45

Upon arrival at the Huntley Lodge, I was handed a pamphlet with a schedule of festival events. Everything started on Thursday the 16th and I missed a panel called: Songwriting Dynamics – Getting Started. Everyone knows “getting started” is the most important part of songwriting, so I asked the concierge about Whitewater Rafting. That’s when Dave Goodwin slapped me on the back, “Hola, John!”

Dave introduced himself as the creator of the festival. We had been emailing for a few weeks and over the next 24 hours, I’d get to know mi amigo, Dave pretty well. We left the lobby for a walk outside. I looked around and thought this must have been where that guy filmed a giant double rainbow. “Beautiful country up here, Dave.” “Isn’t it?”

Dave explained that he came up with an idea to start an artist retreat/studio in the Rockies after leaving Nashville for Bozeman in 2000. That idea evolved into the First Annual Big Sky Songwriters Festival.

The cover of my pamphlet read, “More than a dozen hit songwriters are going to teach you what they know in Big Sky, Montana.” I told Dave I wanted to learn how to write a song, but since my time was limited, “Is there someone I could shadow and learn how they learn to write a song?”

“That’s one of our attendees right there,” Dave pointed to Alaska Reid, a sixteen-year-old singer-songwriter originally from Livingston, Montana, but currently living in Los Angeles, California. Alaska (pictured, left) and her friend Zoe were on their way to the first scheduled event of the day.

10 AM – Noon – Morning Topic: Legals 101 & Navigating The Industry – Yellowstone Auditorium – Conference Room

Alaska and Zoe find a seat near the middle of the half-full auditorium, open their computers, get notepads and pens ready. They scribble notes and check Facebook while listening to an entertainment lawyer, a PRO representative, and a musician named Paul Durham talk about music publishing.

Paul has strong feelings against publishers and record labels. He owns his own music and makes a living through the services of placement companies that license his songs to film and television. Paul’s method is DIY. Everyone in the room loves this idea. The other panelists are quick to put things in perspective. Paul has some good points, but in the early stages of a songwriter’s career, somebody has to be responsible for introducing your music to the marketplace. The support of a publisher or label can really make a difference. And the advance they offer doesn’t hurt either. Everyone in the room loves this idea.

Someone blurts out something about, “What if you get a million views on YouTube?” A discussion opens up about collecting royalties from YouTube and placing ads on your videos. Alaska raises her hand, “Do you need permission to cover someone else’s song?” The PRO representative answers, “Once a song is exploited, anyone can record it.” Alaska shoots a quick glance at Zoe. They pack up their stuff and leave the auditorium.

Noon – 1 PM – Lunch Break

I stop by my hotel room. There’s a gift bag on the bed. I dump it out:

1 bottle of wine called “Deuce Juice”

1 lb. bag of coffee from some mountain roasting company

2 “Montana” hats, one khaki, one black (they’re the same style of hat worn by country artist Jared Neiman)

1 “Get Lost – In Montana” stainless steel 16 0z. travel coffee mug

1 “Get Lost – In Montana” BPA-free stainless steel sports bottle

1 “Get Lost – In Montana” magnet

1 “Get Lost – In Montana” beer koozie

1 “Get Lost – In Montana” dog tag necklace

1 SESAC ballpoint pen

1 BMI notepad

Dave scheduled a meeting for me with Alaska during the lunch break, so I take the SESAC pen, BMI notepad, and head out the door to a concession stand at the base of the mountain. Alaska and Zoe are waiting at a picnic table. We get some food and talk about Los Angeles for a bit. Alaska plays shows regularly around town with Zoe and the rest of her band. We discuss an upcoming gig at the Hotel Cafe and the importance of airplay on KCRW.

I ask, “What did you think about all that publishing stuff back at the panel?” Alaska explains to me that she loves to write songs and she wants to make sure she understands how to make a living doing what she loves.

“You asked a question about covering someone else’s songs.” Alaska tells me about a cover she does of “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time” by Lefty Frizzell, “But it’s a lot slower than the way he did it. Would you like to hear it?” I would. Alaska takes her Martin Guitar out of the case. She does her version of the song while Zoe accompanies her on ukulele. The song and the Martin Guitar are both from the early 1950's. Alaska was born in 1996.

1 PM – 2 PM – Pre-Songwriting Hash Session w/ Mentors – Mammoth Room – Mountain Mall, Upper Level

There are 7 mentors:

Rory Feek, Steve Bogard, Kevin Welch, Chas Sandford, Kim Parent, Jon Pousette-Dart, and Kristi Neumann.

After the mentors introduce themselves, the attendees are asked to pair off and begin writing.

2 PM – 5 PM – Songwriting Session - Mammoth Room – Mountain Mall, Upper Level

Alaska and Zoe find a place at a table in the corner of the room. They have an untitled song they’ve been working on since yesterday:

Verse 1
One snake shot that’s all I got
Leaving for New Mexico
Mission stone, twisted bone
Desert heat it’s a lonely drone

I know what you mean
I brush over all the lies
Feeling like a trucker, 1 AM on an August night
I can’t afford these tired eyes
Tired eyes
Tired eyes

One of the mentors stops by to listen as they run through another verse, chorus, bridge, and the chorus again. The girls look to the mentor for feedback and he tells them, “I’m not qualified to critique this, but I can tell you my opinion… I’m in Nashville. I’m a country songwriter. You’re not writing country songs. You’re definitely not singing country songs. And so every once in a while you come across somebody who so distinctly has their own style that it’s almost a little too risky to try and point that in a different direction. Your lyric is not how I would write your lyric. The way you sing and phrase lines is not how I would sing or phrase those lines. But I think it’s pretty unique and special so I don’t think I would change anything. You’re writing things in a way that evidently moves you and feels right to you. I don’t write in the same way so I’m not qualified to tell you, “Here’s how you make what you’re doing even better.” As the girls absorb this he asks, “What would you like to see happen with this song?”

Alaska, “Maybe more of a climax?”

Mentor, “No. I mean happen with the song someday. Is this song for you?”

Alaska, “Yeah, I think it’s probably for me.”

Mentor, “I don’t think myself or someone else [at this festival] should tell you, “You should make it rise a little higher in your bridge,” or something like that. I think that what you’re doing naturally is probably the right choice. If you were trying to write the song to pitch to somebody else… you might look at it in a different way, but I don’t think you should. I think you should write it for yourself and I’m not sure I would change any of that stuff. At these [songwriter festivals] very rarely do [attendees] show up fully formed or fairly formed at 16 with their own unique thing. I think you need to be careful not to steer away from that. For what you’re doing I think it’s best to draw from what everybody’s doing and saying here and just apply what you feel like will make a difference to your own style. The best thing I can do as a mentor is encourage you to continue down the path you’ve taken.”

Alaska and Zoe are very satisfied with this. The mentor goes to visit another group and I check my pamphlet. The next scheduled event is at 8 PM and it’s 4:30 now. I leave the girls to keep working on “Tired Eyes” and walk around to listen in on the other mentoring sessions. I hear songs that sound like they could work on country music radio. I hear mentors giving advice about changing a line and, “make it rise a little higher in your bridge.”

Back in my room, I open up my bottle of “Deuce Juice” wine, pour a glass, and take it outside to the swimming pool. I sit in the hot tub and stare at the mountains for half an hour. When I return to my room there’s a text from Dave, “Hola, John! I’m having the songwriters over to my suite for dinner. Come on by.”

6 PM – Dinner at Dave’s (not listed in the pamphlet’s schedule of events)

All of the mentors and people from the panel and are in Dave’s suite. They spill onto his back patio where I find several pitchers of Margaritas and bottles of Dulce Vida Organic Tequila on the table. I drink a Margarita, a shot of tequila, and help myself to a casserole dish that Dave prepared. He tells me, “There’s elk in there.”

8 PM – Performance – Whiskey Jack’s

8 PM – Opener TBD
9 PM – Texas to Tennessee – Kevin Welch, Walt Wilkins, Dustin Welch
10 PM – Joey + Rory

Joey + Rory play songs that I know and love and are familiar to me from listening to country music radio. Alaska and Zoe are sitting at a table near the stage enjoying the show. After the set, I go over to say hello and introduce myself to Alaska’s dad, Elwood. I thank him for allowing me to spend time with the girls this afternoon, “I’d love to see Alaska play at the Hotel Cafe next time I’m in Los Angeles.” They ask me if I’m going to be around tomorrow night because, “Alaska is going to perform here at Whiskey Jack’s.” I tell them I have to leave tomorrow, but would love to hang out a bit before I go. We agree to meet in the morning.

On the way back to my room, I stop at a bonfire. I meet the Director of Sales and Marketing for Dulce Vida Organic Tequila. I drink a shot of tequila and he offers me a bottle to take home. I traveled with only a carry, so he gives me a Dulce Vida T-shirt and hat instead. I drink another tequila then go back to my room to sleep. The next morning, I pack up my stuff. From the gift bag I take:

1 “Get Lost – In Montana” stainless steel 16 0z. travel coffee mug

1 “Get Lost – In Montana” BPA-free stainless steel sports bottle

1 “Get Lost – In Montana” beer koozie

The rest of my gift bag stays. I grab a coffee from a shop in the lobby and run into Dave. I thank him for everything and we talk about next year’s festival, “We’d love for you to come back, John.” I would love to come back, too. I go meet Alaska near the picnic tables. Zoe and Elwood are there along with a photographer named Audrey Hall. I ask Alaska, “What will you take away from this experience?” She tells me she made a lot of great connections and hopes they will come into play as her career develops.

I have an hour long drive to the airport, so I say goodbye and ask Audrey if she wouldn’t mind sending me some of her photos. I’d love to get a shot of Alaska’s performance at Whiskey Jack’s tonight: - American Songwriter


"Crush" - 2017  The Magic Shop, NYC 

"Alyeska" - 2014 Sunset Sound Studios, Los Angeles 



Alyeska is a three piece band, formed by song writer and guitarist Alaska Reid who moved from a small town in Montana.  Alaska met drummer Ben Spear and guitarist and bassist Enzo Scardapane, and began to further form a dynamic electric sound. Just this year the band recorded three songs with producer John Agnello whose credits include Dinosaur Jr, Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth and Phosphorescent-- all artists that inspire the band. They will be recording an album with John Agnello in NYC this March. The band frequently plays around Los Angeles/the West Coast as well as going back to Montana and the Mountain West to tour clubs in a shitty minivan. 

Band Members