Welcome to le beat, Bellingham’s funniest inside joke.
On July 2, I’ll be celebrating a big anniversary: 20 years in Whatcom County. Two decades where I’ve made this wonderful place my home – 20 years of watching the area grow from a sleepy little college town to a vibrant hub of music and art, families and a growing part of the food movement (by no coincidence, three things that interest me the most). It’s pretty funny, you know, because I never meant to stay here (that’s been the going joke, at least). Several times in the past, I had concrete plans to leave town, but something always came up and usually, it was tied to local music and What’s Up!. Every time I was gone, at least emotionally, I was pulled back by the music, the art, the people – so much so that I made this magazine my job.
Time is an arbitrary thing, 20 years is no different than 19, really, but the even number makes a person reflect on the past. I’ve watched Bellingham grow to a fully charged vibrant hub of music, art and the outdoors – a place I can’t realistically imagine leaving. Whatcom County is home, and I love it. And I love getting to do what I do – I know I say that often, but it’s something I think about a lot.
Whatcom County and I have had our tough times, though, it’s not like I’ve always loved being here. There have been plenty of times I was ready to head out, but I stuck through the tough times and my life is better for it.
I guess I’m telling you this because the town (and county) can get tough and it’s only natural to want to leave. Jobs and money are hard to come by – it’s rough. But, the town, the county, rewards those who stick with it. It’s difficult to understand, or explain, but I’ve seen it over and over again – those who stick through the rough times end up with cool jobs and good community. Life opens up and becomes unbelievably awesome.
If you are feeling like I have in the past, feeling the need to leave (especially those of you under 30), but you still love the community – have faith in it. It’ll reward you. Plus, the more good people who stick here, the more of us who stick together, the better this town gets. And I can tell you from experience, there’s a lot more good folks living here now after school and it shows in the town’s character.
On a different note, have you picked up one of the new What’s Up! shirts yet? They are available at Merch Bot on Holly and will be available through our online store sometime the first week of June. Look for a second What’s Up! design, a black and white version of this month’s cover image done by Phil Freytag of Sabbath Tattoo, coming by the end of the month. It’s been way too long since we had some good shirts out. Stoked. We’ll also have stickers as well. Get sexy.
As of press time, Last Band Standing wrapped up its run at the Underground with wild success. Black Beast Revival named the winner! (See the band’s profile in this issue on page 7.) Kowalski, My Dad Bruce and The Bad Tenants also performed on the final night of the event. Congrats to all the bands who participated and put themselves out there. As for us, this was a fun series to be a part of. Everyone I worked with – from Jennifer Meyer and James Book of Ninkasi (the brains behind the operations) to the crew at the Underground and all the bands – I am glad to be part of it. Looking forward to next year’s event.
Triceracorn, one of my favorite local bands, will be releasing their latest on Heaven Noise Recordings, IAME of Sandpeople and Old Dominion’s label. No official word yet on when the album will drop, but if it’s anything like the last one, it’ll blow minds! Amazing Beige on the mic with IG88 on the beats. I love it.
Mike Grigoni has released a new recording (under the name of Line of Sky) and it is breathtaking. Keys, pedal steel and guitar – very stripped down and very special. Mike has been in and out of town for years, and has spent a good amount of time in Austin. You can find out more about him on page 6. Give the new record a listen, it’s damn special.
Human Infest have released a new CD, proving punk is not dead in Bellingham. Not enough weird music, not enough punk rock, that’s what I’m thinking about the town’s music scene. The CD release is at the Make.Shift space on June 2 with Ol’ Doris, Cathoholix and On the Ground. Smash your face on the punk rock.
In all the years we’ve had awards shows, only one band actually had fans singing their lyrics word for word during their set – Lamppost Revival at this year’s show. So, I’ve got some good news – the band is releasing their new album on June 8 and will be celebrating the release at the Wild Buffalo. Annnndddd, I’ve got some bad news: that will be their last show. The band in this form is breaking up with Tyler and crew moving to Portland. Not sure the future of the band, Tyler will obviously continue making music, just in another place and under another name. That sucks.
Shawn Stalberger, drummer for Baltic Cousins, Tearamanapart and Devilry is moving east of the mountains in June, creating a hell of a hole in the badass drummer department. Looks like Devilry and Tearamanapart are both calling it a day while Baltic Cousins will be having Kyle Alumbaugh formerly of The Wastelanders take over the thrown. Devilry and Tearamanapart’s final show will be on June 12 at The Shakedown with a “very special guest,” while Baltic’s last show with Shawn will be on June 2. The band will play Portland, then Walla Walla, where they’ll be dropping him off. Shawn’s been a badass in this town for years, I’m sorry to see him go, though I love that he’s going to eastern Washington, not to the big city. And even if Shawn wasn’t moving, JD is, so Tearamanapart would probably be over either way. He’s moving to Oakland. OAKTOWN. Good luck guys.
The Dt’s have begun playing shows without singer Diana under the name The Dirty Testicle’s (Dt’s – ha!). The project is brand new and I don’t have any official word on what will come of it, but they played an amazing show a month or so back at the Redlight – without Diana they’re more garagey, rougher, less polished. According to Michelle Schutte, they were fantastic.
So, it appears Swayze has called it a day, just as their debut hit the web. BUT, Lupe and “Coach” will continue on as TACOS!, which is possibly the best band name ever. Why in the hell hasn’t anyone ever thought of that as a band name? Genius, genius. Oh yeah, they’ll be touring in July. I can’t wait to see a poster with TACOS! on it.
Chris Nunn, Bruce Shaw and Lupe have formed The Movie, which is the live version of Chris’s great album. So, in case you are keeping track, Lupe is in three totally kick ass bands – The Movie, Sugar Sugar Sugar and TACOS. Three great bands with three great names.
Chambers has grown to a four piece with Sarah Jerns and Matt Curtis on guitar, Jordan Rain on drums and Ben Sokoloff on bass. Sarah describes them as Kinksi esque, which I’m stoked about ‘cuz it’s one more band making weird and interesting music. There’s never enough weird music in town, ya know, so leave it to Jerns to create the awesome. She’s like that, ya know, awesome. Check out their facebook page for demos.
Federation X will be back in full rock mode this fall with a show on September 8 at The Shakedown. So, yeah, that’s cool, right. Oh, what, they’re playing with Red Fang? And they’re going on tour with Big Business after that? Well, hot damn if that’s not one of the coolest things I’ve heard in awhile.
I don’t often talk about non local bands in le beat, but I’ve got to make an exception for Carlton Melton who will be playing on June 23 at The Shakedown. The band includes Andy Duvall and Rich Millman, the former guitarist and drummer for Zen Guerrilla, one of my favorite live bands of all time. Those who saw Zen Guerrilla at the peak of their game saw God in sonic form, it was that good. Unfortunately, that was years ago, but the two have come together with Clint Golden, Brian McDougall, and John Steuernagel to form a space rock quartet (and I love space rock). So, just to recap, you’ve got two guys from one of my all time favorite bands playing my favorite genre of music – that’s heaven for me. Might be for you as well – I can almost guarantee it’ll be an incredible show. Andy Duvall… wow… dude rips.
Electroacoustic Composers of Western are putting on a show on June 8 at the Performing Arts Center room 16 on campus. It’s the group’s annual performance showcasing this year’s student work. Pieces will be performed by Jon Bash, Spencer Bell, Isaac Boekelheide, Kramer Elwell, Nic Keefe, Matt Pollock, and Brian Zimmerman along with the traditional multimedia and sonic awesomeness you’d expect from a Bruce Hamilton event.
Speaking of Bruce (I really dig what he brings to the town), his group Sound Culture kicks off a new series of adventurous music programming with an all-ages show Sunday, June 3 at 8pm at Make.Shift Art Space. Headlining is NYC’s Chris Cochrane, performing with processed guitar and touring for his recent release on John Zorn’s Tzadik label. Also performing are experimental local bands Chambers and Bruce Hamilton’s Mindmeld.
The Jinx Art Space has officially changed its name to the Make.Shift Art Space. They are continuing to do some great work down there with improvements to the art and music rooms as well as an expansion of their zine library, which now include nearly every issue of What’s Up!. If you wanted to know what was in our issue – say in September 2002 – now you can see it! With such an emphasis on digital archives, it’s really cool that these old issues are now available in their original form. You can also see how much we’ve grown… some of those older issues lacked in… ya know… quality.
Well, think that’s about for this month. As always, thanks to everyone that picks up the paper, to the advertisers for advertising and the writers and photographers for contributing. Awesome.
Hugs and kisses,