When Lori Neufeld, KUAC’s music director, suggested a “Pre-Tiny Desk” contest for the first time this March, she wasn’t sure what would happen. KUAC announced the contest for original music, tying it to NPR’s national Tiny Desk competition, promising to create professional videos for the top five entries.
In a short time, KUAC received 18 videos, which a panel of judges deliberated over, choosing the five winners. On April 3, the musicians showed up to have their professional videos made by KUAC TV Producer Heather Hinzman and other KUAC staffers. A live audience watched the proceedings.
The winners were Kinky Slinky, the Delta River Woodsheders, Poor Man’s Gun & File, Andre Williams and Ukulele Russ & His One Man Frontier Band.
Mary Beth Leigh, a UAF professor of microbiology, wrote “Bride of Freedom” for her band Kinky Slinky and invited several of her friends to act as brides. “I love Tiny Desk concerts,” Leigh said. “They’re a fabulous way to discover new artists and I appreciate how they allow musicians to be themselves, quirks and all.”
Leigh said she was thrilled to make a video that could not only be entered in the NPR Tiny Desk contest but that she could share with fans and friends. As soon as the Kinky Slinky song was entered with NPR, Kinky Slinky was contacted by an “America’s Got Talent” casting producer who asked her to audition for the show. “It’s probably a long shot for us but we’ll give it a try,” Leigh said. “It’s a nice compliment and a great opportunity.”
Members of the Delta River Woodsheders drove up from Delta Junction to participate. “We like to play,” said Ellie Schneider, the band’s lead guitarist. “When we started doing songs we said we’re going to hear this on the radio someday,” said band member Mike Kingston.
Bobb Lockwood of Poor Man’s Gun & File said, “Sharing music with people is one of our big goals and we hope it makes people happy.”
One winner who didn’t meet the age requirements for the NPR contest was nevertheless excited to have a professional video of his song “Hero.” Andre’ Williams has been writing music since he was a first grader. “The words keep coming to my head from my heart,” he said.
Ukulele Russ & His One Man Frontier Band
Poor Man’s Gun & File