Some of Arviat’s finest musicians showcased their skills on national television last week thanks to Evano Aggark Jr. and his wife Nuatie, who organized a live broadcast concert for Isuma TV.
“It was a pretty awesome show,” Aggark said the following day. “There were a few people from other provinces and the NWT who watched it on Facebook and TV and they commented, and they are congratulating us.”
During the community’s five-month lockdown, Arviat’s musicians were confined to playing on their own or with family members.
However, since restrictions were lifted last month, Arviat has been opening up the doors of its community hall for musicians to jam seven nights a week.
Although he doesn’t play himself, Aggark, who works as a cameraman for Isuma TV, said he tries to make it out to watch people play almost every night.
On most nights, Aggark will live-stream the shows on his personal Facebook page. One day his live stream caught the eye of his boss at Isuma TV in Montreal.
“My boss saw the live media and I asked if we could go live on TV and she said yes,” Aggark told Kivalliq News.
For the concert, Aggark put together a lineup of local musicians including one of Arviat’s best known accordion players, Johnny Kaviok Sr.
“He’s usually the one who plays the accordion at the square dances. Everyone loves his tunes and his moves. He’s the best in town,” said Aggark.
The town hall may have been absent of sweaty dancers linking arms, but it was still full of energy. The night kicked off with throat singer Lois Suluk-Locke, who received the Diamond Jubilee medal for her work with Inuit Elders and youth in 2012.
Following that, Kaviok and singers Mark Arualak and Mark Nanauk took turns leading a band consisting of local talent, with Paul Otuk Jr. on bass, Rankin Inlet’s Paliak Kapuk on drums and William Bob Issumatarjuak on lead guitar.
“There’s a lot of talented instrumentalists here,” Arualak said the morning after the performance.
Arualak told Kivalliq News that he only had a few sessions to practice with the band before going on live television. He said he’s used to playing Arviat’s Inuumariit Music Festival but this was his first time playing on live TV.
“These guys I played with, they got experience. That helped me a lot last night,” he said.
Arualak moved to Arviat from Whale Cove in 1993. He has been playing guitar since he was a boy but only started singing about 11 years ago.
“I used to play a little bit with Allan Voisey in Whale Cove back in ‘78,” he said.
He released an album with his daughter Kimberly in the early 2000s and he played some of that repertoire at Mark Kalluak Hall last Wednesday night.
One song he played, Ataattaga, is about his love for his father.
“I love my dad because he raised me with love. He’s still showing love towards his kids and his grandchildren and I love him for that,” he said, explaining the lyrics, which he sings in Inuktitut. “I want to be with my dad but I am also a dad now. What he was going through then I am going through now.”
Arualak said he would love to see another cohort of Arviat performers get the chance to play on live TV.
“There’s a lot of talented young people here that can do this too. I know they’ll show up,” he said.
Aggark couldn’t say whether another performance would be broadcast on Isuma TV anytime soon. However, he plans to keep going to Mark Kalluak Hall to live stream Arviat’s late night jam sessions.
“I just go there and hang out. It’s really fun to listen to the tunes.”