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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Dallas Wiertella
Dallas Wiertella
Multimedia Editor

Through my experience here at the North Wind I have been able to have the privilege of highlighting students through all forms of multimedia journalism. Whether I'm in front or behind the camera, I aim...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Musicians brave frozen north to perform at Coco’s

The Marquette music scene welcomes Toki Wright and Big Cats with special guest Ashley DuBose from NBC’s “The Voice” at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21 at Coco’s in Marquette.

The event was organized by Jeremy Johnson, who plans out- of-town acts for Coco’s. Johnson has organized many events in the last few years, one of his favorites being the skateboarding parade that set a world record in 2011. He spent a year in Minneapolis, Minn., where he met Toki Wright, a well-known artist in the Minneapolis scene. After learning of some of the events Johnson was putting on, Wright became interested and approached him about performing in Marquette.

Wright is a Minneapolis native who has been in the music scene since high school. He released his first record in 2009 and just released Pangaea in September of 2014 with producer Big Cats. Pangaea is an approach to life that Wright said he is excited to experience and explains through lyrics.

“We used to be one big island, Pangaea, until meteors and ice ages tore it apart. Nonetheless, we came from one central place before we were separated,” Wright said. “But if we talk and share ideas, music, culture, we can learn closeness and open up ourselves up to dialogue.”

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For Wright, as an MC, songwriter, rapper and producer, music is important to him and he continues to grow as time brings him to new places.

“I’ve learned a lot of lessons but most importantly if something is weird, that’s okay with me,” Wright said. “It’s about pushing boundaries and stretching past what we think we know.”

Wright said his music is an experimental mix, a blending group of hip-hop, spoken word, afrobeat and electronic. The mix helps him during live shows to bring out a new energy and light on stage.

Wright will be performing live with Ashley DuBose, a singer, songwriter, actress and application developer, along with him for a few shows. DuBose was featured on “The Voice” where she picked Maroon 5’s Adam Levine as her voice coach. DuBose made it to the “knock-out” round of the show. She still continues to develop her music by booking shows and appearances as an independent artist.

“I am performing a lot around the Twin Cities and hope to venture out into other cities, states and countries,” DuBose said. “My music is online, which expands my audience to a global level so I get a lot of people writing me from all over the world, and I am so grateful.”

Wright said he and DuBose had known each other for a while and really respected her as a musician.

“Ashley really is a phenomenal artist and her style is admirable. I have a deep-rooted respect for her,” Wright said. “She just had to get on a national level for people to give her the respect she deserved.”

Likewise, DuBose said she looked forward to sharing the stage with Toki Wright and Big Cats and that their live set was “awesome.”

“Toki is a deep thinker and puts his philosophies into his music,” DuBose said. “When he reached out to see if I’d like to be a part of his tour, it was something I wanted to do because I really dig his vibe.”

Johnson was excited about the opportunity to book Wright not only for the respect of his music but also for who he is as a person as well and what he has done for the Minneapolis music scene.

“Toki Wright, not sure if he would say this or not, but, personally, first and foremost, he’s an educator. The music scene in Minneapolis right now is crazy interesting,” Johnson said. “People are getting signed to major labels and doing huge things and without Toki Wright, that wouldn’t have been possible.”

Another motivation for Johnson to bring Wright and his partners to the Upper Peninsula, a first for Toki Wright and Big Cats as a duo as well as DuBose, was the fan base already established in Marquette. Johnson said the intersection of punk and hip-hop grabs the attention of a few groups of people around the city.

“He appeals to not just kids into hip-hop but punk as well. They’re very aware of Toki Wright and what he’s doing,” Johnson said. “There’s some sort of connection between the hip-hop and punk crowds. It isn’t all-encompassing, some kids don’t get into it, some do, but there is that cross section.”

Johnson said he hopes to bring Marquette out of its musical isolation in hopes of creating more artistic outlets, something the city currently lacks. The residents have had little exposure to a variety of music and being less restrictive to genres could help, Johnson said.

Tickets are available online for $10 or at the door for $12. In addition to the duo, Toki Wright and Big Cats featuring Ashley DuBose, Marquette duo Petty Tyrants will be opening the show.

Wright said he is very excited to play in the U.P. and can’t wait to show what Minneapolis has to offer and see what Marquette has to offer in return.

Wright said he encourages everyone to come out and have some fun with them.

“It will be phenomenal it’s on a Saturday, no school the next day, no excuses,” Wright said. “Have something early to do on Sunday? Well, you better call in sick now, tell them you have to wash your hair or something because you will have the time of your life.”

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