On Endangered Species Day, St. Louis Band Honors ‘Creatures With Whom We Share Our World’
Friday marks the 16th annual Endangered Species Day, which aims to raise awareness about various species whose populations are dwindling in the wild. Local musician Mark Pagano is among those finding distinctive ways to highlight the issue.
Nearly a decade ago, he wrote a song about an endangered animal which nearly went extinct in Missouri: the hellbender, North America’s largest salamander. He was inspired to write the song after visiting the hellbender breeding center at the St. Louis Zoo and recorded it with his band, FIRE DOG.
“It was a big hit for FIRE DOG, and I just kind of took it from there as a sign that maybe people wanted to learn about animals through music,” he said on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air.
After the band released “Hellbender,” which Pagano said is still one of their most requested tunes, he started teaching songwriting workshops in area schools.
“I used that song as kind of my introduction, my lead-in, my example of a song, and we’d deconstruct it from there,” he said.
After becoming a father and creating music for kids, Pagano and the band created a concept album in 2018 called the “Endangered Species Project.”
“Part of my goal is to bring some joy to the experience of learning, but also, that joy and that musicality of it doesn't neglect that these are serious topics. Hopefully, it just encourages us to find ways to honor the creatures with whom we share our world.”
After various workshops across schools, summer camps, libraries and learning centers, Pagano said the kids he’s worked with helped generate enough content for a sequel album.
This Friday, Pagano will host a livestream concert from his home studio to commemorate the internationally recognized Endangered Species Day. The 45-minute show will feature songs from "Endangered Species Project" as well as new works with area youth, to teach people about hellbenders, narwhals, magic rabbits and more.
What: Endangered Species Day virtual concert
When: 4:15 p.m. Friday
Where: FIRE DOG’s Facebook page
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.