Welcome to Hoonah wins throwdown, to open for EmmyLou Harris at Floydfest

The Salem band, Welcome to Hoonah, reports that it captured the Showdown Throwdown event Saturday June 20 on the hill hollar stage the Floydfest grounds. Now, the band will open for the famed Emmylou Harris at Floydfest in late July.

The Salem band members are Jessica Larsen (songwriter, plays the washboard and sings), Spencer McKenna (guitarist, lead singer and songwriter), Robby Carden (harmonica), and Alex Faught (banjo).  Bassist Chris Eanes is originally from Salem but now lives in Boones Mill. Matt Leonard, the drummer, lives in Roanoke.

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Jessica Larsen contacted the Times-Register to share the big and maybe breakthrough news for the band.  “We were all terribly    excited for the opportunity to compete and even more so when we realized our name had been called as the winners,” Newman said. “We were chosen by the folks in the crowd. It is very heartening to receive that vote of confidence, especially as performers of original material.”

On its website, Welcome to Hoonah says it is “ a fusion of folk, indie and 60’s rock, old country and americana music, with definitive front porch flavor and a touch of urban verve.” The band released a new five-song EP called “Lasso The Sun” in May. Its website is http://welcometohoonah.com/#songs.

“We have been playing our own songs for about four and a half years,” Larsen said. “There is no greater joy than being able to do what you love, and knowing other people love it, too.

So, what about that name, Welcome to Hoonah? Larsen says she and fellow band member, Spencer McKenna, once traveled to Alaska and visited the large island with a city called Hoonah. She says they loved the sound of the name, as well as what it means.

The Hoonah (or Xunaa), Alaska website says the name means: “where the north wind doesn’t blow.”


The site says “The Huna Tlingit people were forced from their village by advancing glacier. They chose to permanently settle in a “village by the cliff.”

And the band named after that village by the cliff is climbing.

So we are strapping in to show up at Floydfest and put on a killer show,” Larsen said. “This could be a fantastic opportunity for us.”

Floydfest is set for July 22-26 in Floyd.



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