Homer Alaska - Arts

Story last updated at 6:57 PM on Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Top Cover returns to Homer

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff writer


Top Cover returns to Homer

The U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific known as "Top Cover" returns to Homer this week, with two student performances at Homer Middle School on Thursday, a clinic with Homer High School musicians Friday morning and a free evening performance for the public at the Mariner Theatre at 7 p.m. Friday.

The band includes drummer Mike Henrie, bass player Philip Runge, keyboardist Shane Spanier, guitarist Benny Pack, vocalists Amber Grimes and Justin Allen, and audio engineer Joshua Deal. Although Top Cover has performed in Homer in two previous years, changing assignments within the Air Force makes this the first time this particular grouping of musicians will be here. Henri and Runge are the newest members of the group, having just joined last week.

Top Cover will entertain Homer audiences, young and old, with a program including music from the 80s, reggae, pop, rock, country and patriotic selections.

Henrie, Runge and Pack will offer their musical talents and know-how at the high school clinic.

The hour-long Friday evening performance "is for anybody that wants to come," said Grimes.

The band's visit to Homer is sponsored by Homer Middle School, with teacher Linda Rourke doing the coordinating and the support of local businesses and individuals. Topping the list is Michael Warburton, owner of Ocean Shores Motel.

"He houses them and that's amazing," said Rourke.

This is the third year Rourke has coordinated the effort to bring Top Cover to local schools and the public.

"It all started when I went to a Wynonna Judd concert and they opened for her at the Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage," said Rourke. "I loved it and said we've got to bring these guys to Homer."

Following Top Cover's first Homer performance, Rourke was motivated to bring them back.

"The thing that's exciting for me is it gets a very diverse section of the community out," said Rourke. "All year I've had people thanking me for bringing them down."

After visiting Homer this week, Top Cover will cross to the east side of the Kenai Peninsula to perform in Seward and then return to the Anchorage area where they are preparing for deployment later this year, destination unknown at this time, according to Grimes.

"But this is our first time to Homer," Grimes said of this specific grouping of musicians. "We're hoping for everybody to like it."

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.