Hollie Huthman, owner of The Shakedown, has a rich history with Bellingham’s music scene. “I was a bass-player in high school and I played in bands that came to Bellingham,” she remembers, “I fell in love with the 3B, just like a lot of people did.”
Huthman graduated from Western Washington University in 2003 with a degree in Sociology, to which she accredits much of her organizational behavior. “I have strong financial and organizational skills,” she adds. Huthman also has a passion for photography, which is evident from her pieces hanging on the walls of The Shakedown. In the past few years, Huthman has developed connections within the venues of the Bellingham community but did not pursue ownership until just over a year ago.
“When the 3B shut down, they left a hole for a medium-sized rock venue,” she says, “I continued with photography and music during that time.” Huthman explains her interest in becoming a venue owner, noting the importance of live music. “Being at the front of the crowd to see your favorite band is like a religious experience,” she says.
Huthman was intimidated by the prospect of owning a venue, especially during an economic downtime and when some venues were cyclically opening and closing. After the Nightlight closed, Huthman had looked into taking over the space but it did not work out (it’s now called The Underground). “It was a really good learning process,” she says, “I learned what I wanted in a venue and I kept looking for a space. I just didn’t realize it would happen so soon.”
Huthman recalls the support she found from the Bellingham community. “Without my friends in Bellingham, I’m sure I wouldn’t be doing this,” she admits, “Some close friends just kept saying, ‘You have to do this’ and ‘You’re the only one who can do this,’ and their support really inspired me to go for it.”
Although Huthman was overwhelmed at first, she now views The Shakedown as a testament to her tenacious nature. “If I knew what a huge undertaking opening The Shakedown would be when I started down the road to doing this, I might not have thought it was something I could do,” she adds, “But we did it. And although it’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, there isn’t a day that passes that I don’t think it was worth it.”
The Shakedown has a reputation for booking rock bands primarily but Huthman aims to change that. “A lot of the people who work here, including myself, love metal and that’s why we have Metal Tuesdays,” she explains, “We provide an outlet for metal bands but not everyone wants to hear metal every single night.” Huthman adds that she heavily caters to local music since it is full of talent.
“Above all, we search for quality music,” she adds, “It’s also really important to me that our customers trust our taste in music so that, even if they haven’t heard the bands we’ve booked, they’ll still come to the show because they believe we book great acts.”
The Shakedown is well-established for having just recently celebrated its first anniversary. “We also started on a really tight budget,” says Huthman, “We’ve just had the intention to add more shows as time went on, eventually growing into ourselves more.”
Huthman hopes to include a stronger balance between hip-hop, electronica, and rock in the future, adding in nationally touring acts as well. “This year we’ve been doing a good job of establishing a reputation for bigger acts,” she says, “That just means we’ll be able to bring in more variety, which is really awesome.”
The Shakedown is located at 1212 N. State St. For more information, visit shakedownbellingham.com/.