Family band delivers Powers-full performance at first Music in the Parks concert

A babbling creek and screeching eagles weren't the only music that could be heard among the swaying trees at Shoemaker Bay.

The first Music in the Parks concert was held at Shoemaker Park last Wednesday evening, with about 200 people listening to the tunes played by artists Kaylauna Churchill-Warren and The Powers.

First Bank and Alaska Marine Lines sponsored the free concert, which was organized by the parks and recreation department. The Wrangell Police Department donated 250 hamburgers and 250 hot dogs, and Chief Tom Radke spent the evening grilling them up for hungry attendees.

Lucy Robinson, of Parks and Recreation, said they want to hold more concerts and not limit it to Shoemaker.

"I think (the series) has the potential to be staged in multiple parks," she said. "Our goal is to host an annual event. I don't want to restrict it to Shoemaker, but it's a fantastic venue."

Robinson said City Park couldn't host such an event since it is in need of repairs, and the turnout at last Wednesday's event proved more space is necessary than at City Park. "Just the set up and parking, we think Shoemaker is where it's at."

The evening opened with Churchill-Warren singing a mix of country, rock and pop songs while playing an acoustic guitar. According to Dan Powers, whose family band took the stage next, it was Churchill-Warren's first concert performance.

For The Powers, which includes Dan, his wife Shelley Powers on vocals and son Cooper, 13, on drums, the event was one of many over the years.

Powers, 39, was born in Wrangell. When he was 2½ years old, his father was transferred by Alaska Airlines to Boise, Idaho. Powers grew up between Spokane, Washington, and Idaho, eventually meeting Shelley and getting married. His music career began when his grandparents, Al and Ruby Taylor, who owned Taylor's Music in Wrangell, asked him if he would like a musical instrument when he was 12.

"My mom called the local school and asked, 'What kind of instruments do you need,'" Powers said. "It happened to be the (school) orchestra director and he said violin and cello. I'd heard of a violin at that point, so that's what I picked. I wish I had said cello. Shortly after that, I started playing bass."

Powers joined his first band at 15, a death-metal Christian band, "screaming about Jesus," he said with a laugh. He then joined Aaron Richner and the Blues Drivers and said that's what stuck with him. He was making money by 16 and stayed with it for a decade. He played with other bands in various musical genres to gain the experience, and finally joined the Kelly Hughes country band in Idaho, playing with them for nine years.

Over the years, Powers has recorded around 30 original songs, and released a couple full-length albums along with singles under The Powers name and solo. Their music can be found on all streaming platforms.

The Powers family has only been in Wrangell since October of last year, having taken advantage of the pandemic to relocate.

"We were full-time musicians down there and then, suddenly (in 2020), we had zero work whatsoever," Powers said. "Sure, we weren't making any money, but all the sudden we could breathe. All the sudden all the strings were cut loose. They call it hustling for a reason."

At the time, the Powers had six children, and they started making plans to scale back the number of gigs and relocate to Wrangell. They eventually made it, with seven children in tow, buying a home.

Along with music engagements, Powers does smaller jobs and they have rentals. The flexible schedule allows them to still book gigs. The first two of the season were Music in the Parks and the Summer Solstice party last Saturday downtown. They will play again on July 4 at the street dance from 8 to 11 p.m.

Those who happen to be arriving on select cruises in Wrangell also have the opportunity to hear The Powers play live, as they have three onboard bookings coming up. "They come into town, we pop on, entertain them, and pop off," Powers said.

There is talk of another Music in the Parks event in August, however nothing is on the calendar as of yet, Robinson said, though having musicians living and playing on the island has been a plus for planning such events. "We're open to different genres and different bands," she said. "We loved working with The Powers. Them being musicians, I think they have a handle on other bands."

Powers said he's thrilled to help out.

"I'm excited to see what the future holds. We love it," he said. "We love seeing people succeed."


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