Yellingham: Third annual do-it-yourself event features three days of music at local homes, venues

Festival goers watch an outside house show at Yellingham. This year, night shows will be held at venues in town and not at homes. COURTESY PHOTO
Yellingham is less of a music festival and more of a testament of the do-it-yourself ethos of Bellingham combined with the fraternal energy woven between a variety of music scenes in the Pacific Northwest.
Nick Duncan, one of the founders of Yellingham and this year’s co-ordinator, has taken great strides to establish the festival as a safe environment for everyone to share. The roots of Yellingham started in the fall of 2009, leading to the event’s debut in April 2010.
“I was coming home late one night and my friends and I started talking,” says Duncan, “We noticed that a lot of our favorite bands in the area weren’t coming through Bellingham. Once I put the idea forward we started making phone calls and having meetings.”
Less than a year later, Yellingham launched and the response was so positive that it has since become an annual tradition. Such an event requires devoted volunteers who are willing to help in many capacities.
“I caught wind of Yellingham and immediately wanted to get involved,” says Laura Seniow. “Yellingham was so inclusive, especially when you’re new to the area and you don’t know what to do in town.”
Yellingham is continually accepting volunteers, especially since Duncan will be leaving Bellingham before next year’s Yellingham. “If anyone is interested in helping out next year, they should get in touch through our website,” says Duncan, “We need people to carry the torch.”
It appears that the only requirements for Yellingham volunteers is a passion for local music and devotion for making positive change in the community.
“I almost hesitated to get involved,” says Seniow, “But I went to the meetings, listened, and offered anything I could.” The Yellingham volunteers believe similar music festivals, like Carousel Fest, has helped greatly in responsibly expanding Yellingham.
“Carousel Fest has rotating venues,” says Duncan, “They book shows at their YMCA and other legit spots.”
By utilizing the all-ages Jinx Art Space, Yellingham is able to ensure jam-packed line-ups without disturbing Bellingham residents. “Just seeing other music communities around Seattle and Olympia and how they treat their acts really helped us figure out how to take Yellingham to the next step,” says Duncan.
Yellingham volunteer meetings typically start in October and occur sporadically until January, when many details are solidified. After a few trial runs, the Yellingham volunteers have taken note on how to run things more smoothly.
“I think we’re more organized this year,” says Seniow, “Last year we thrifted shirts and this year we’re actually ordering shirts.”
Last month, Yellingham’s Kickstarter aimed to raise $500 in 30 days and they wound up with over double the amount of their goal. “The support is pretty amazing,” says Duncan.
The greatest change for Yellingham this year is that the night shows are now located in venue spaces rather than houses. “It’s a really comforting change,” says Duncan, “Especially after one of our house shows got shut down on the first night last year. This year we’re going to better about keeping attendance and making sure we’re being more careful.”
Duncan stresses the importance of Yellingham’s intent as an all-ages, alcohol and drugs free festival. “There really weren’t any all-ages venues in town when Yellingham started so it filled that void,” says Duncan. “It’s really important to us all that each show is alcohol and drug free. We want people to come and enjoy the music, not to get trashed.”
Yellingham will be held at select locations around Bellingham April 13-15. For more information, check out www.yellingham.org/.