ATZ KILCHER BIO
• One of Alaska’s foremost singer/songwriter/recording artists
• Songs used in numerous documentary films in Alaska, Germany, and Switzerland.
• Performed on radio and television
• Four years produced and performed with wife and children in one of Alaska’s most popular tourist dinner shows, “Alaska’s Last Frontier Show”
• Currently recording his fifth record album
• Son of well known state senator and pioneer homesteader, Yule Kilcher, and journalist Ruth Mariott
• Both parents were Swiss immigrants
• Raised on remote wilderness cow ranch to musical family
• Father of world famous pop star “Jewel”
• Great uncle of Q’orianka Kilcher, starring as Pocahontas with Colin Ferrell, in up coming film, “ The New World”
• Performs originals, oldies rock, country, folk, old and classic western, cowboy and blue grass.
• Retired school teacher and social worker
• Viet Nam veteran
• Conducted yodeling and songwriting workshops
• Skis, runs, swims, writes, makes jewelry and baskets, rides, raises and trains horses
• A real Alaskan singing cowboy
Atz Kilcher was born and raised in Homer, Alaska. His father and mother, Yule and Ruth emigrated from Switzerland in the late 1930’s, joining some of Homer’s earliest pioneer/homesteaders.
On the remote homestead, with no road in the early days, wood and coal for heating and cooking, and a Coleman lantern or kerosene lamp for light, the Kilcher family entertained themselves and each other with songs, stories, plays, and poetry, as well as many arts and crafts. Atz’s mother home schooled all of the children until a road was built, allowing the children to attend public school. Teaching creativity was an important part of the curriculum. Ruth was also a trained classical singer, who had great promise herself, before coming to Alaska.
In the 50’s and 60’s, the Kilcher family performed in Alaska and Europe.
All of Atz’s seven siblings are musical. Many of them have recorded original songs, and have performed.
Many of the third, and even fourth generation, are also quite talented as well.
Best known perhaps is Jewel, the singer, who also happens to be Atz’s daughter. His grand niece, Q’orianka, is making her film debut as Pocahontas, starring Colin Farrell, in a film, “The New World, to be released this fall.
Little did Atz’s parents know how far their log cabin emphasis on music, the arts, and creativity would go.
PERFORMING AND RECORDING
Atz has been song writing and performing most of his life. He
and his first wife, Nedra, recorded two L.P.’s in the late seventies, and performed throughout Alaska. It was in their popular, “Alaska’s Last Frontier Show”, a multi media dinner show performed in some of Anchorage’s finest Hotels, where their young children gained their early performing experience.
Atz has recorded two c.d.’s on his own since then, and is currently working on his third solo release.
Atz has performed in the usual wide variety of venues, mostly in Alaska, but has also performed in Germany, Switzerland, and Russia. Many of his songs have been used in Alaskan documentary and tourism films and commercials. His songs also appear in several Alaskan, Swiss, and German documentary films. He has taught yodeling and song writing workshops. His very favorite venue, however, is singing to friends around a campfire, on a horse trip, out in the wilderness.
EDUCATION AND WORK BACKGROUND
Atz served in Viet Nam, in 1967/68, as a cook in the Artillery. He has worked in sawmills, cooked in oil camps, raised cows and horses, built houses, and farmed.
He holds a Masters degree in Social Work, and went back to school to earn an Elementary Education certificate. He did clinical social work with adolescents in residential treatment facilities, and recently retired from teaching elementary general music.
He is now perusing his performing and songwriting full time, as well as other interests and hobbies such as horse training, jewelry, and basketry.
ATZ’S MUSIC AND INFLUENCES
When asked what type of music he writes, Atz always pauses for a while. He still has not found that quick, short answer. His answer will go something like this: “Well, it’s not country western; it’s more like classic country or folk, or cowboy music about people, places and critters. It’s not really blue grass, but it sometimes has that feel. It’s sort of new age campfire music minus the “Kum By Ya” feel. I guess I call it Alaskana campfire outdoor music about nature and love and life. Heck, I don’t know, you tell me.”
As well as doing his originals songs, Atz does a nice mix of oldies rock, country, bluegrass, old and classic western, and folk.
Who are his singer songwriter role models? Bill Staines, Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker, Gordon Lightfoot, Tom Russell,
Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Jimmy Buffet and Neil Young are some of his favorites. He does not try to imitate them, he has always had his own style, but he relates most to their messages and genre of sometimes difficult to describe music... He loves the songs and harmonies of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, as well as the Eagles. He will sometimes joke that he is the Jimmy Buffet of the land, only his horse is his sailboat, and fresh mountain stream water is his margarita.
ATZ’S PERFORMANCES AND SONG WRITING
Through songs, stories, and humor, his shows take you down the fifty eight year journey of his life. You will meet his parents, siblings and children. You will hear of friends, horses, and women he has loved and lost. You will feel as though you were riding with him through the mountains, valleys and rivers that shaped his life, those special places he has been riding to since he was a boy. He will make you believe that you are one of those friends across that campfire from him, You will swear you are hearing the crackling flames, seeing the pulsing embers, beneath the dancing northern lights of early autumn.
He is not afraid to poke some fun at his own inner struggles and human frailties, his search for self and inner peace, his addictions, his relationships, his single parenting years, and his ever so perfectly orchestrated dysfunctional childhood which helped spawn his creativity.
A verse from a song off his current c.d., Spirit Filled Air, sums it up this way.
“ part of me is a cowboy,
part of me is a mountain man,
part of me is a lonely frightened little boy,
I’m part lover learning to be a gentle man.”
A verse from another song says:
“give me a campfire, flames burning low,
and I can sign all night, to the pulsing embers glow,
we’ll listen to the wild wolf howling, mournful sad and long,
he’s the one who taught me, to listen to my heart and sing my song.”
“the last light is going, soft shadows showing
candles keep glowing, warming the night,
shining and shifting, like soft sands sifting,
my love is lifting into the light
reach out your hand, this time I won’t turn away
I’m but a man sometimes I have gone astray
take me in, and and open your sweet door of grace
I’ve waited a lifetime to see the light of your face.”
“Sometimes I think I’m manic depressive,
Sometimes I think I’m compulsive and a little obsessive
Sometimes I don’t know who drives my psychological car
Sometimes I don’t know how on earth I ever made it this far
Sometimes my road is crooked, and my life’s a big glitch
But my music’s always kept me out of the ditch”
An evening with Atz Kilcher is an experience you won’t want to miss. You might laugh; you might shed a tear or two. You will definitely know you have gotten a rare glimpse into someone else’s life, into another time. You will feel as though you have traveled to a far away land, journeyed back to long ago, and visited that inner place we all know and are traveling towards.