The new year has begun, winter is heavy upon us and things on the summer-frantic Midcoast are getting just a bit dull. Since 2006, Trekkers has done its part to shake things up with a wild evening of youth-fueled entertainment. The ninth annual Trekkapalooza, set for Saturday, Jan. 25, promises to rock the Strand Theatre stage with an energetic battle of the bands beginning at 7 p.m.

Doors will open 6:30 p.m., but those who wish to go are advised to get their tickets in advance, as the rollicking chem-free event sells out more often than not. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 day-of-show, and can be purchased ahead of time by calling the Trekkers office at 594-5095.

This year’s Trekkapalooza embraces the new: five of the six competitors are fresh to the battle, and one of them is making a performance debut. That group, Hologram, is also the youngest band competing. The Appleton-based trio features Five Town Community School District middle-schoolers Fiona Smith, who plays ukulele and flute; singer and guitarist Lexi Smith; and Ben Owre, who plays piano and trombone and sings.

On the other end of the age spectrum is the one returnee — The Educators, which came in second in 2012. The Connecticut-based outfit gets its Maine connection from a former Trekker who roomed with one of the musicians at Eastern Connecticut State University.

“That Trekker alumnus came back to us as an AmeriCorps volunteer; now he’s in Vermont working on an outdoor leadership degree,” said Trekkers Executive Director Don Carpenter.

Leadership is among the values promoted by Trekkers, a nonprofit, outdoor-based mentoring program that connects caring adults with young people through expeditionary learning, community service and adventure-based education. Originally organized to work with students of the former School Administrative District 50, Trekkers now is focused on seventh through 12th grade students in the communities of Regional School Unit 13.

The other bands in the lineup have connections to that school system and more. Recent Oceanside High School grad Jake Nagy, familiar lead guitarist and occasional vocalist from a number of local combos, is part of the new Drive by Todd, along with drummer Peytonious Maximous; vocalist and bassist Bella Perry; and Georgina Butler on rhythm and vocals. The quartet is often joined by Lisa Stanley-Pearse and Amanda Corey.

SAD 40 alumni form the core of The Partials, now a trio featuring Nick Pooley, Jared Martin and Jacob Johnson. The band, which describes itself as a skate punk outfit, scored a big gig last fall when it opened for Misfits in Nashua, N.H.

Hafsol, which could spotted busking last summer during Rockland’s festival weekends, features Camden Hills Regional High School student siblings Chase and Alex Winn; and their “assumed brother” Brian Wright Jr. from Belfast Area High School. The rock ‘n’ roll power trio also plays acoustic blues, bluegrass and folk.

Coming in from Whitefield will be Random Ideas, a punk trio of triplets who until recently went by the name The LoveDown. Sisters Kinsey Johnson on guitar; Lexi Johnson on bass and vocals; and Meagan Johnson on drums “have known each other from birth” and started making music together a couple of years ago, playing alternative and ‘90s-era tunes. That will come in handy, given this year’s theme. Each band has to play a song that was a No. 1 hit during the 1990s.

“We started doing that last year, with the ‘80s,” said Carpenter. “And this year we made a concentrated effort to get a better gender balance.”

The winner of Trekkapalooza gets a cash prize, as well as being dubbed Bus Band 2014 (Trekkers spend a lot of time aboard the organization’s bus, going to and from outings). The student-driven event is largely planned by a three-member committee and pulled off by student members, staff and community volunteers. This year’s committee is led by OHS senior Raegan Goulet with junior Kaleb Robinson and sophomore Jenny Carter. In addition to picking the bands, they choose the judges; this year’s are RSU 13 teachers Alison Machaiek, Michael King and Dwight Blue; and Oceanside students Kalie McGuirl and Cole Chase.

The committee also gets volunteers on board and lines up business sponsors. Their success at the latter makes a big difference to the event’s outcome, since it is a benefit for the organization itself.

“A lot of our benefit events go towards student fees, but Trekkapalooza and Pedal to the Port go to our general operating budget,” said Carpenter.

The goal is for sponsorships to cover the costs of hosting the event, so ticket sales can be devoted to the budget. Depending on level of sponsorship, the annual event has raised from $3,500 to $5,000. Trekkapalooza also raises awareness of the organization and its goals, as well as of the youthful musical talent all around the Midcoast. For folks of a certain age — and those who love them — Trekkapalooza is the don’t-miss event of the winter. For more information about Trekkers, visit or call the office, located on Buttermilk Drive in Thomaston.