Portugal. The Man back on for ‘hold’ music at State



Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka has reauthorized the the Alaska Music on Hold project, with some new selections.

Concerns raised by Must Read Alaska about a couple of the dark and discordant songs that had been chosen for the State of Alaska’s official “hold” music led the department to put the whole thing on pause. It was that bad.

The former playlist had been approved under the Walker Administration, but at least one song had lyrics relating to self-harm and despair — conditions not wholly appropriate for the official music of Alaska.

“When concerns were validated, project partners made a coordinated effort to ensure they were addressed appropriately. The Arts Council and the Department of Administration then partnered closely to develop a new track of music from Alaskan artists,” the department announced on Friday.

The new playlist includes classical music by Paul Rosenthal, playing variations on the Alaska Flag Song on violin:

“Art is a significant element of Alaska culture and the Alaskan quality of life, Tshibaka said. “It contributes to the health of our communities and economy and brings our people together.

“I greatly appreciate the role the arts play in the lives of Alaskans and am excited for this opportunity to draw attention to a few of Alaska’s exceptional artists. I appreciate their creativity and skill and am glad they are a part of this wonderful project,” she said.

Portugal. The Man had issued a few nasty Twitter messages about the project being paused. The band had supported Mark Begich for governor.

[Read: Walker era ‘hold music’ put on hold. Portugal. The Kneejerk has Twitter tantrum]

The band called “bullshit” on the “conservative blogger” who raised the concerns: “If you listen to anything a blogger says except how to make the best cookies you are a fool,” the tweet-storm continued.

But happily, the band’s very original and upbeat “Feel It Still” song with its staccato lyrics “Rebel just for kicks now” remained in the rotation. The band has Alaska roots but is now based in Portland. (But don’t take it from this blogger — keep watching for cookie recipes here at Must Read Alaska.)

The choice of Paul Rosenthal will resonate well with many Alaskans who support the arts. He and his wife Linda Rosenthal moved to Alaska in 1974 and have travelled the state teaching music to children, and Paul was the longtime artistic director and founder of the Sitka Summer Music Festival. He began learning to play the violin at age three and attended Julliard School in New York.

[Listen to some of the hold music choices here]

Former Commissioner Jonathan Quick had been the one to decide that the project needed another listen, and when Tshibaka became commissioner, she agreed, and directed a collaborative effort to make sure the music doesn’t offend.

“We are proud to sponsor and highlight Alaskan artists included on the track: Paul Rosenthal, Feeding Frenzy, the native Jazz Quartet, and Portugal. The Man,” Tshibaka said. “The Alaska State Council on the Arts, Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, GCI, and the office of Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins have all contributed to the success of the program.”

On Friday at a speech in Kenai, Tshibaka joked with the audience that they should all call the State on Monday and ask to be put on hold, because they’ll really like the music. She made the remark in response to a question from the audience about the hold music.

[Read: State’s ‘on hold’ music: Is it really open for business yet?]


  1. More state money spent on crap music by Portland wannabes while crime soars, and PFDs plummet.

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