Music

From Sea to Sky

A sense of place

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Musicians and bands have all kinds of influences that draw from all manner of different things. But if they can be said to have one thing in common, it would be that they tend to sound like where they come from. Media and lore might have had a hand in turning Seattle into the epicenter of 1990s grunge, but there’s no denying that style of music was organic to the Pacific Northwest. A similar mythos surrounds California’s Laurel Canyon, where the likes of Joni Mitchell, the Byrds, the Eagles, and Crosby, Stills and Nash all wrote some of their most iconic music in its bungalows and on its porches, so much so that the “Laurel Canyon Sound” is emulated by bands even today.

Even when it comes to making music, wherever you go, there you are.

For Donavon Frankenreiter, music was not his first love. Instead, like so many other California natives, he was born to surf. He went pro when he was 15 years old, and surfing continues to be central to his existence. When he began playing music a couple of years after becoming a pro surfer, it wasn’t because of deep-seated and as-yet-unrealized artistic ambition. It was a way to pass the time. Strumming a guitar on the beach was a better means than most for dealing with the downtime that comes part and parcel with life as a surfer, and strumming led to singing, which led to songwriting, until Frankenreiter found himself joining a geographically linked musical tradition of his own: surfer/songwriters.

When I consider surf music, I tend to think of the distinct and propulsive guitar sounds of Dick Dale or the energetic harmonies of the Beach Boys. However, there exists a whole other subset of surf music of a more laid back variety, the kind that sounds more like warm sunshine and gentle waves washing over you than it does a beach blanket boogie. Practitioners of this type of surf sound include Jack Johnson, G. Love and Special Sauce, and, of course, Frankenreiter. Indeed, Johnson and G. Love aren’t simply Frankenreiter’s musical contemporaries, but they’re also his collaborators. Frankenreiter scored his biggest hit with 2004’s “Free,” a song Johnson is featured on, and he’s got a side project with G. Love called Jamtown.

To Frankenreiter, surfing and music are two sides of the same coin. In the same way that he can only do so much to predict how the surf will be on any given day or how many waves he’ll catch, his songwriting process is to go where the music takes him. Much like how surfing is an activity that makes him happy and feeds his soul, his music is known for its positive messaging and downright sunshiny vibe. And he’s been known to plan a tour stop or two around his favorite surf spots, meaning he’s never far from those days of strumming his guitar on the beach between surfing sessions.

In terms of geographically desirable musical movements, being a surfer/songwriter seems pretty dreamy

But as those of us who live in a place with the ocean on one side and the Cascades on the other can attest, there’s something to be said for the mountains as well.

Yonder Mountain String Band would likely be quick to agree, seeing as how they hail from a tiny town in Colorado that’s more than 8,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by mountains. I’m trying to wrap my mind around how anyone does anything other than move as little as possible and gasp for oxygen at 8,000 feet, but Yonder Mountain has long since cracked that code, and not only do they play music, but they pay fast-paced, lively bluegrass and they are not afraid to go wherever the urge to jam might take them.

While the band ultimately owes their level of success to their music, they’ve been innovative in the in the means they’ve employed to make certain their music is heard. Early on, they adopted a welcoming stance toward anyone who wanted to record their live performances—and their live shows are where they truly shine—essentially creating an army of people who were empowered and encouraged to spread the band’s gospel far and wide. It was a strategy that paid dividends, and the band’s reach now extends far beyond the mountain-town environs that spawned it and its distinctive sound.

Should you so choose, you can stroll the proverbial beaches with Frankenreiter on Thurs., March 8 and explore the mountainous regions with Yonder Mountain String Band on Tues., March 13, a sea-to-sky journey you only need to travel as far as the Wild Buffalo to undertake. Geography never sounded so good.

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Events
Today
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Vendovi Tours

10:00am|Vendovi Island

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Bringing Memoir Alive

5:00pm|Village Books

Art Uncorked!

5:00pm|Windows on the Bay

Jazz Jam

5:30pm|Illuminati Brewing

Pub Run

6:00pm|BBay Running

Healthy Meal Planning

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Cruisin' the Fossils Coastline with Ray Troll

7:00pm|Village Books

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Zambia Travelogue

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

La Cage Aux Folles

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Sh*tty Ted Talks

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

The Wind in the Willows

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Village Books
Tomorrow
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Vendovi Tours

10:00am|Vendovi Island

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

La Cage Aux Folles

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

The Wind in the Willows

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Fall Garage Sale

9:00am|Skagit Valley Fairgrounds

Coffee Tasting

3:00pm|Camber Cafe

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Museum Advocates Tag Sale

5:00pm|Syre Education Center

Family Story Night

6:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Commercial Street Night Market

6:00pm|Commercial Street

International Day of Peace Community Dinner

6:00pm|Majestic

Farm Tunes

6:00pm|BelleWood Acres

Banned Books Week Kickoff

6:30pm

John Whelan, Hayley Richardson

7:00pm|Littlefield Celtic Center

African Children's Choir

7:00pm|Leopold Crystal Ballroom

Anna's Home

7:00pm|Village Books

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Courthouse Comedy

8:00pm|Territorial Whatcom County Courthouse

Internetland

9:00pm|Upfront Theatre

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Saturday
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Vendovi Tours

10:00am|Vendovi Island

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

The Wind in the Willows

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

La Cage Aux Folles

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Fall Garage Sale

9:00am|Skagit Valley Fairgrounds

Museum Advocates Tag Sale

5:00pm|Syre Education Center

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Internetland

9:00pm|Upfront Theatre

American Legion Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #154

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Queens of Dirt Mountain Bike Race

9:00am| Lake Padden Park

Mount Vernon Farmers Market

9:00am|Riverwalk Park

Twin Sisters Market

9:00am|Nugent's Corner, North Fork Library

Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival

9:00am|Christianson's Nursery

Community Cider Press

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Kitchen Cutlery Class

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Blaine Gardeners Market

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From Weapons to Art

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Lynden Farmers Market

10:00am|Centennial Park

Bellingham Farmers Market

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Museum Day Live!

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Sumas Writers Group

10:00am|Sumas Library

Fall Into the Holidays

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Sundial and Mural Celebration

12:00pm|Ciao Thyme

Fall Bunting Workshop

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Lynden Cemetery Tour

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Trial Vineyard Open House

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The Politics of Conservation

2:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Nooksack River Walk

3:00pm|Horseshoe Bend Trailhead

Artist Talk with Allen Moe

4:00pm|i.e. gallery

Kulshan CLT Community Party

5:00pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Fall Demo Derby

6:30pm|NW Washington Fairgrounds

Lake Memoir

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Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Songs of the Salish Sea

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

The Official Blues Brothers Revue

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Stories of the Salish Sea

7:30pm| Lummi Island Library

Catching up with Elwood and Jake

7:30pm

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