11 Questions: Hollie Huthman
Ya know, I just think the world of Hollie Huthman. I first met her nearly 12 years ago when we worked together at a little computer store in Bellingham. Back then, she was just a 19-year-old with questionaable musical tastes (Hollie, we’ll keep that to ourselves). But over the years, she has grown into one of this town’s ultimate badasses – bringing a venue to Bellingham that not only caters to great local bands, but brings some of the best regional and national independent music to our fine city. She started The Shakedown without a hint of ego or arrogance, and always with the best intentions – to provide Bellingham music fans with great music. But, aside from music and what she does at the bar, she’s just a wonderful person and someone I’m honored to be able to call a good friend for more than a decade. Hollie is one of the good ones and she is this month’s 11 questions.
Well hello there, Hollie, can you tell us about yourself?
I’m the only child of two really great parents that have lived separately in Olympia and the mountains of Colorado for most of my life. I played a few different instruments as a kid and decided on the bass guitar when I was 15 because “everyone plays guitar” and “drums are a pain in the ass.” Oddly, I had no idea that I was living smack dab in the middle of a movement centered in Olympia at that time called Riot Grrrl and wouldn’t know much about it until years later. Though, I do remember an older man at the music store telling me, “You know, it’s not unusual for girls to play the bass guitar these days.” I spent the last few years of high school in rural Colorado, a town called Norwood with a population of 500. It was entirely different kind of education than I would have received living in the city. I can sing every word of just about any country song that was on the radio in the late 90s.
I came back to Washington to go to school at WWU, in part because I missed being next to the ocean, and got a degree in Sociology. During that time, I also landed a job at Alpha Tech Computers with people I would later learn were rock stars like Dave Crider, Carl Ratcliff, Jeff Gray and Brent Cole. I turned 21 and finally got to enter this legendary and magical place called the 3B I had been hearing about (I think my first show was Wizards of Oz). By seeing other people on stage, I became inspired to pick up the bass I had been neglecting (and had starting to think about selling) and found myself in my first band we briefly called Shiner. I played in bands up until about 2008. And I can’t wait to have the time to do it again.
I was also compelled to start snapping photos at shows. I had just a point and shoot, and the photos were pretty bad, but I think it started because I was trying to save that amazing feeling when you’re right up front at a show and the energy between the band and the crowd is nothing short of magical. It was the best feeling in the world to me. And I had two role models at the time shooting shows too, in very different ways: Chris Fuller and Gunther Frank. After shooting hundreds of shows and thousands of photos, I got better.
While I worked at WECU after graduating college (and still do, yes, I work too much), and though it’s a really good job and place to work, I knew I hadn’t yet found what I wanted to do when I grew up. The hole left by the closing of the 3B was a big one for me, and many of us (I don’t care if some of you people are tired of hearing about it, there’s no avoiding it when we’re talking history). And I thought that maybe, just maybe with all of my skills, passions and the community connections I’ve made, I could pull off something a little like that. A place that was musician centered and felt like home. We’ve now managed to keep the doors open for over two and a half years.
As the co-owner of The Shakedown, can you describe the feeling when you realized the club was going to become a reality?
Honestly, I can’t remember a particular moment that I knew it would happen. There were so many tiny steps along the way. But signing the lease was definitely the moment of no turning back. We were legally bound. After doing that, there was certainly a feeling of both excitement, of course, but in large part overshadowed by, “Oh shit, how the hell are we going to get open in two months?!”
Please tell us something about yourself that even your closest friends might not know.
I was pretty sure I wanted to go into forensics or be a detective at one point in my young life. When I was a kid my mom was taking a forensics class and I thought her textbook was fascinating. The crime scene photos of dead people didn’t even faze me. I still really like things like gore movies and super dark stories. Yet I pass out when I get my blood drawn…
You’ve had a horribly long day and you just want to lay on the couch and watch a movie – what is your go-to flick?
I don’t really watch movies more than once. Too many good movies to watch, too little time. And the honest answer for my go-to long day de-stressor is likely the least cool answer I could give: Grey’s Anatomy.
Please describe your perfect Sunday morning.
Ha! What is this “Sunday morning” you speak of? I have two full time jobs and no children… After a sufficient amount of sleeping in, my dog PJ would eventually decide she’s hungry enough to start barking in my face, I would then wander out to get brunch at The Little Cheerful or Bayou with one or more of my brilliant, wonderful lady friends. Then it would be on to Penny Lane and Aladdin’s, I’m on a mad hunt for a mid-century modern footstool right now. Seriously, I’m there like once a week.
You’ve been a huge local music fan for nearly a decade. What are your top three all time favorite local bands?
Now, what have been your top three all time favorite shows?
This is the hardest question to answer. The shows have become one blobby blur at this point. And I won’t lie; the great shows of my early years are harder to remember due to the copious amounts of booze. The camera was also a crutch for my memory and luckily I have pages and pages of photos to help me answer this one.
The first Band Lotto at Jinx in 2010: It was proof that we have an incredibly talented music community and every single person in that room was so happy and supportive of one another.
Federation X and Cicadas at The 3B at the end of 2005: Or really, every Federation X show in 2005. This night, I think the air was just super-charged because everyone knew we needed to make the most of what we had while we had it. There was also this new band Cicadas (soon to be Dog Shredder) blowing everyone away…
Big Business, Sandrider, Bali Girls at The Shakedown 2013: Three of my favorite bands and the first time having Big Business at The Shakedown. I was over the moon.
What is your favorite part of co-owning The Shakedown?
It’s when someone tells me they’ve had the best night of their life. I wanted to be able to create a place where people would have amazing experiences that they’d never forget, like I had at shows all throughout my 20s. And I figured that creating that for other people would be a pretty cool job. I get paid in thanks, these days, and it’s what keeps me going.
If you could meet and hang out with any living musician, who would it be?
PJ Harvey. Though, while I don’t get star struck very easily, I’m not sure I’d have the balls to even say two words to her.
If you didn’t live in Bellingham, where would you live and why?
I have no reason to live anywhere else.
What is your favorite non-musical hobby?
Believe it or not, I don’t have any! Shoot, even the photography is music related.
Any last thoughts?
While I realize Bellingham is amazing and none of us think we ever have a reason to need to get out of town: BELLINGHAM BANDS NEED TO TOUR. The one tour I had a chance to do (with my band The Whammies) was one of the best experiences of my life. Get out of town. You’ll come back changed. With new friends. And still realize that Bellingham is the best place on earth.