Well Wishers: Sweet sounds

by Matthew Long

It was business as usual for a Wednesday night at Casa Que Pasa. People bustled in from the cold for take out, margaritas, chicken taquitos. At the corner table, by the window, sat Marshall Powell and Carly Roberts, two-fifths of the Bellingham folk group Well Wishers. Marshall had headphones around his neck, partially eaten fish tacos on his plate. Carly was rosy-cheeked, enthusiastic but embarrassed to have been running late. Seeing them together, watching them interact, felt more like watching old friends reminisce than bandmates sitting for an interview.

In its current form, Well Wishers have been together for four years. Comprised of Western students, the group came together in Nash Hall in 2011. In typical WWU fashion, they got their start at the Underground Coffee House.

“It’s a real gem, and I wish more community members took advantage of it,” Carly said. She even booked Well Wishers there, before she joined the band. She insisted, blushing, that she had no intentions of winning any favor.

The band was originally Marshall Powell, Nate Marley, Mika Zeta and Gary Wiley. Carly joined later, in a rather touching way. “You all proposed to me,” she said, looking at Marshall, “at Back to Bellingham. The three of them got down on one knee and proposed to me, to join the band. There were no flowers or fireworks or anything, but it was a precious moment nonetheless.”

That’s the feeling you get from the band, that they’re a collection of precious moments.

Well Wishers released their Columbia EP at the end of December, and it’s full of rich vocal harmonies.

“That’s the main focus of it,” Marshall said, “We can have a lot of practice where there’s no instruments, and it’s all singing.”

When it comes out that Carly sang with the Olympia Youth Chorus, Marshall said, “Carly’s got the best voice west of the Mississippi.” She blushed at this, as well.

Readers who frequent the Shakedown may remember that Well Wishers took first place in the Battle of the Bands last year. As a quintet of Western students, the band faced a problem common among underage musicians.

“The way they do it, it’s week, week, week and then finals, right? That’s how it works,” Carly said. “And Mika and Gary were still 20 at the time. They had to go sit out in the car while we were waiting to hear the results.”

The local music scene was what drew the individual members of the band to Bellingham. “It’s insane, we have everything. We have a really dope electronic scene,” Marshall said.

Looking at the folk and singer/songwriter scene, Carly said, “It makes it hard to rise above the noise, but it also makes it such a great incubator where you can experiment with different things and know there’s a community there to support you.”

Coming off the release of their EP, Well Wishers have no concrete plans to release a full length album any time soon.

“Finalizing something takes a long time… and we all know that,” Marshall said.

Like many musicians, Marshall and Carly confessed to being perfectionists. If they tried to push an album out too quickly, “We may cause physical injury,” Carly said.

MORE DETAILS: For news and show information, check out their Facebook page at facebook.com/wishersofwell, or listen to the new Columbia EP at wellwishers.bandcamp.com.

Published in the February 2015 issue of What’s Up! Magazine