Holiday Happenings

How to have a cool yule

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

It’s highly probable that you’ve noticed, but it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you go.

Except in my house, that is. I’ve acquired half of the presents I intend to gift to loved ones, have baked only some cookies, have hauled out no holly, hung no wreaths, and did not even trim my two-foot-tall fake Christmas tree.

Which is not to say that I find myself sans Christmas spirit. It just means that I’ve given up on making my own abode a seasonal scene, but am perfectly willing to seek out the spirit someplace else.

It probably comes as no surprise that Bellingham gets pretty into Christmas. And the winter solstice. And whatever you’ve got, really. This town has never met a holiday it didn’t want to celebrate. But the holiday spirit doesn’t stop at the city limits. You can carol your way through Whatcom and Skagit counties during the coming days, should you so choose. If your preference is to watch other people sing and let the traditional sounds of the season wash over you, opportunities abound for that as well.

But if what you seek is a slightly unorthodox means of getting into the holiday groove, I’m just happen to have some ideas for you along that line.

Every year, Robert Sarazin Blake—or Robt, as he is now known—plays a concert he calls A Very Subdued Christmas. It began as a smallish affair, but as the years have gone by, it has become a hyper-local holiday tradition for an ever-growing number of people, and this year’s outing stretches from Thurs., Dec. 21 until Christmas Eve at the Sylvia Center for the Arts. As he has done with all of his holiday performances, Blake doesn’t sing the classics you’re used to. Instead he unearths songs and stories that, according to him, “have something to do with the holiday season.” This year’s run of concerts includes a recitation of Dylan Thomas’ “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” with very special guest Grace Gouran, who I suspect might just steal at least part of the show.
Where: 205 Prospect St. Cost: $5-$15 Info:

If you like your Christmas all mixed up with your solstice celebrations, the party is Thurs., Dec. 21 on the Southside at Fairhaven’s Lovitt Restaurant, where the Atlantics Soulstice Holiday Show will usher in the return of longer days and shorter nights and will kick out the Christmas jams as well. Bellingham’s longest-running party band and musical mainstays will be joined by the Saxquatch Quartet, and together they’ll bring the boogie until the days grow longer or Christmas comes, whichever happens first.
Where: 1114 Harris Ave. Cost: $10 Info:

The Atlantics aren’t the only ones marking the solstice in song, however. Kuinka’s Winter Solstice is another annual tradition that will return to its roots at the Green Frog for a pair of Sat., Dec. 23 shows. The concerts will be bittersweet, as the venue will close at the end of the month, and a post on the band’s Facebook page sums up how they feel about it: “We consider this venue our first home; where we cut our teeth and where we learned how to perform together. We wrote Howl with this specific room and the people that pass through it in mind. James [Hardesty] has given a really beautiful thing to us and thousands of other musicians and listeners, and we’re so grateful that we get one more chance to stomp here.”
Where: 1015 N. State St. Cost: $10-$12 Info:

It speaks to Bellingham’s holiday mania that the most Christmassy event in this entertainment roundup doesn’t happen until Dec. 28—three days after Santa has departed for his North Pole sweatshop/reindeer ranch for the remainder of the year. That’s when the Brian Setzer Orchestra’s Christmas Rocks Tour takes over the Mount Baker Theatre, and with 14 years of putting his swinging spin on seasonal songs, it’s probably safe to say he’s got some things figured out when it comes to making sure you continue to have a cool yule, even if Christmas really only exists in spirit by that point. But don’t be fooled by Setzer’s over-the-top, big-band Christmas shtick—he’s a three-time Grammy winner, guitar great and the man responsible for somehow making the lyric “I get my dinner from a garbage can” sound way more cool than it should. If anyone can make the case for Christmas being postponed for a few days, it’s him.
Where: 104 N. Commercial St. Cost: $45.50-$99.50 Info:

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