Le Beat: January 2014

“I ain’t no grown up, I’m a musician.”
–Antoine Batiste/Treme

Hey ya’ll, I assume you’ve had a happy and safe new year. My life is filled with Seahawks bliss right now – I pretty much live and breath it every day… but… this is a music magazine, so I’ll spare you all the Russell Wilson talk.
As we move into another year, this is always a special time for me. While the magazine celebrates its official birthday on March 1, we actually started working on the magazine in mid-January of 1998 (had I known it would’ve been my career over 16 years, I would’ve kept track of which day we worked on it). I know I got a call from Sean Spain sometime in early January and we had our first meeting at Stuart’s in mid-January (location is now Bayou on the Bay). It was such a nothing thing, ya know, just myself and Sean getting together to figure out how we could put a magazine together. There were great bands and no one was seeing them (Death Cab for Cutie being one of ‘em). It’s mind blowing and terrifying that there are now people reading this who were just in the first grade when we started… I didn’t mean for this to happen, but I’m glad it did. It hasn’t always been easy and it has certainly never been profitable, but I’m honored that I’ve gotten to work with the Bellingham music scene for so many years. Not sure what the future will hold for the mag, but we’re having a good time right now!
And ya know what’s wild? There might be ebbs and flows within the scene, but it’s generally so flipping good. Seriously, you think there are many places like this around the country? Town of less than 100,000 people with a boatload of venues, great house shows, an all-ages venue (we’ll mention more on that later), a music mag, a great radio station… Lots of great art, lots of great music, and more importantly, lots of great people.
Couple of big news items in What’s Up! land. First off, we aren’t doing an awards show this year. After 12 years, we feel like it needed a break. It was always fun, but recently not quite the energy level it had been in the past. On a side note, Brad Lockhart, you are the one person in town paying attention!
What’s Up! is working on a music video festival. The project is in its infancy, so there aren’t a ton of details, other than it’ll be a festival with local music videos. So, we’re going to need applicants. If you’re in a band and have been thinking about making a music video, here’s your inspiration!
The other related piece of What’s Up! news is with our birthday just around the corner, the magazine will be hosting the 2nd Annual What’s Up! 15th Birthday Extravaganza again (thanks Sean Meyer for naming the event), this time on March 1. Not quite as many shows at night, but the majority will be good to go! On the flip side we’re hoping to have more day shows – details are still being worked out for the entire day, so stay tuned! And, like last year, it’s ALL FREEEEEEEEEEEE!

I think the town has pretty much figured out that Chandra Johnson (Hot Damn Scandal, Mary Lambert, etc. etc.  etc.) is a total badass. Well, she’s going to be on Jay Leno backing up Mary Lambert on Jan. 10. Watch and enjoy seeing a Bellingham musician on one of the biggest stages around – millions of people will be watching, how awesome is that? Not quite as high profile, but still really cool is her birthday party show, which will be at the Green Frog on Jan. 12. Band member Harper Stone (who is not, it turns out, married to Pete Irving, as was so unfortunately written last year) couldn’t give me any details, but each of the other birthday parties have been INSANE. Totally nuts.
Cuff Lynx recently finished a remix of a Manatee Commune song, which is Bellingham on Bellingham love. The two bands, along with Vise Versa, will be playing the Wild Buffalo on Jan. 31 in what is being billed as “Live From Space: An Audio, Visual, Physical Encounter.” Among the highlights will be original material from Cuff Lynx, which should rule. And Manatee… wow… wow… wow.

We Like It
Wow do I love the new “Be Loved” video by Sky Colony. Great harmonies, great musicianship – kind of Head and the Heart-ish, but, I think, better. More lush.
Sir Mix A Lot is coming to the Wild Buffalo Jan. 17 and 18. I’d include this in the calendar picks, but I’m sure these two shows are sold out. If you’re going, enjoy it! For most folks, The Mix is synonymous with “big butts,” but his album SWASS (released in 1986) was ground breaking for NW hip-hop and a brilliant album still to this day. I could take a trip down memory lane for you, but I won’t, I’ll just tell you to enjoy the shows if you’re going and to not miss tickets next time around.

Records and Releases
The N7E Records, a good ol’ fashion local rock/punk label, will be releasing their debut comp hopefully in early spring and it looks to be absolutely huge. Mike Cloud and Robby Cleary recently recorded 10 bands over a two-week period with more bands to come – some bands recorded a couple songs, a couple as much as an EPs worth. Pretty amazing for a label that’s only been in existence for a few months. For more info on Robby, check out the 11 questions this month. 2014 looks to be the year of N7E.
Also releasing new material soon is Basque Rats, Bellingham newest badass punk band. Jeff B, Ryan Clapper and Timmy have a history in some of Bellingham’s best heavy bands over the years, so the three of them coming together is like a punk rock supa group. Another band I’m hoping will go into full ass kicking mode in 2014.
The Boombox Kid has been working on a new EP, which should be out shortly. You can usually find him DJing every weekend at Glow among other location, so it’ll be cool for the new music – you can have a little bit of loving from him everywhere you go.
Gonzo is looking to release some music in February (and look for a story on them ‘em next month as well). Ask Hollie from The Shakedown, this band is the real deal. Another on my list of bands to watch in 2014. HEAVY HEAVY HEAVY!
The Fire Organ put out a new EP just before Christmas and it’s their best yet. The trio play good pop music inspired by some of my favorite bands (Sloan and much of the Canadian pop scene of the late 90s). I’m really hoping to see more from these guys next year – more playing, more music… more more more.

Comings & Goings
Have you checked out Will Glazier’s electronic Wildabeast project? It is some awesome stuff – multimedia extravaganza. Will has decided to forego a job and go all in with music – a commitment I absolutely love to see. Wish more people would do it (god knows it’s a tough leap of faith, but if you can pull it off, your art will greatly benefit). Wildabeast and Snug Harbor both look to have a huge 2014.
We’d like to congratulate Ryan Greer and his wife Yarrow who brought little Sterling Flynn Greer into the world on Dec. 11. Momma, baby and rock God daddy are doing well. It’s been a blast seeing people I’ve known for years (in this case, Ryan since he was a real youngin’ with BENT) and watch ‘em grow up and become parents. Being a father of three is beyond awesome, so getting to know the joy people like Ryan will get to experience is a real thrill.
Finally, I’d like to apologize for the absurd amount of errors we made last month, some small, some “oh my god” big. I could give you the reasons and excuses, but really we just had a bad month. Kind of like Russell Wilson against the Cardinals… not terrible, just not championship game like (there it is, my football reference). Sucks when that happens because our mistakes get to stick around for an entire month.
Last month’s naughty and nice holiday covers were enjoyed. Thanks for the feedback.
Last but not least, as we head into another year of the magazine, I’d like again shine a spotlight on my wife, Becca, who stands in the shadows here at What’s Up! but does a ridiculous amount for the paper, including putting all the pieces together for press. She is an amazing partner in crime as we navigate the stormy waters of publishing.
Hugs and kisses, Brent