Music

Music at Maritime

Pretty on paper

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

With its amphitheater, salmon hatchery, native plant trail, lush grassy area, burbling creek running through it, and more, Maritime Heritage Park is a place of many charms. Add to that a location across the street from Bellingham Bay and nestled up against downtown Bellingham, and it can be hard to remember this glittering jewel in a parks system that boasts many jewels was built on the site of a former landfill. Of late, Maritime Heritage has also been getting a city-funded makeover, aimed toward revitalizing the public space.

All of that sounds pretty good, and indeed it’s a fair depiction of the park—on paper, that is.

In optimistic—or euphemistic—terms, Maritime Heritage is “underused,” a descriptor that speaks to condition without considering cause. The truth is, owing to its location adjacent to downtown and to the Lighthouse Mission, the park has become a hangout spot for the city’s homeless and so suffers from issues that result from being a haven for a transient population. The Bellingham Police Department has made it clear Maritime Heritage is a sore spot from a law-enforcement perspective, and evidence of unsavory activity there is apparent to just about anyone who cares to look.

Few issues in city planning and management are as complicated—or divisive—as how to cope with the vulnerable populations among us. And public parks are often the nexus of the public access vs. public safety debate. Personally, I believe parks and other public spaces exist for anyone who might want to use them (provided that use is within the rules and regulations of that space), regardless of a person’s place in society. This is, after all, the foundation upon which setting aside such spaces is built.

But what happens when that principle of public access is carried so far the general public no longer feels safe in a place that’s supposed to be for everyone?

If I had the answer to that question, I could solve problems plaguing public places the world over. And the people tasked with tackling Maritime Heritage’s issues—the City of Bellingham, Bellingham Parks and Recreation, and Downtown Bellingham Partnership—acknowledge the solutions will have to be long-term and wide-ranging, and don’t carry with them the guarantee of success.

But they do know that, along with its very real problems, the park also suffers from a crisis of perception, and the only way to get the public to see the park for the gem it is on paper is to encourage them to engage with it in a way that is safe and entertaining in real life.

Here’s where we come to that aforementioned revitalization, which was undertaken not just as a means of improving the park aesthetically, but also with an eye toward public safety. Handling the entertainment portion of the public-engagement plan proved to be a task squarely in the wheelhouse of the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, and thanks in part to a grant from Levitt Pavilions, it’s a job the minds at the hard-working, fun-loving nonprofit took on with their customary creativity.

The result is a series of concerts at Maritime Heritage Park, following close on the heels of Downtown Sounds—and following much of the formula for that concert series’ ever-growing success. This means for a couple of Saturday evenings and several Friday afternoons, Maritime Heritage will be a place where families can congregate and the entire community can use the park as it is intended. The hope is that by enticing the general public to engage with the park in this way, that they will continue to do so in the future, thus bringing some measure of balance to a place sorely in need of some.

Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t—but luring people with live music to embrace pieces of Bellingham they’d normally avoid is an area in which Downtown Bellingham Partnership has a proven track record, as anyone who recalls the alley origins of Downtown Sounds well knows. The citizenry of Bellingham may be able to resist coal trains, two-way streets and the pressure to uncouple their socks from their Tevas, but live, free, family-friendly music exerts its magical pull on us all.

Which brings us, finally, to the music itself. The series (which is actually two series, if we’re going to be picky about things) begins with two Saturday concerts that happen at 7pm on July 25 and Aug. 1. The first features the skills of Seattle’s the Senate, who are mostly retired (much to the chagrin of their many fans), but can enticed into action with the promise of a good show—and this aims to be one of those. The Fabulous Party Boys will remain true to their name (which is also their mission statement) when they play Aug. 1.

After that, the series switches from Saturdays to Friday concerts that begin at 11:30am, which means that meandering down there for a dance break during your lunch hour is a possibility worth considering. The much-beloved Swil Kanim kicks things off as only he can on Aug. 7, and he’ll be followed in short order by Rabbit Wilde (formerly known as Wild Rabbit) who will stomp that stage on Aug. 14, while West My Friend nabbed the Aug. 21 slot, Lobo del Mar is signed up for Aug. 28 and Pearl Django will close the whole experiment down with gypsy jazz on Sept. 4.

Music at Maritime is just part of a multipronged effort to get people make good use of this municipal gem. Already, a kickball tournament (with much trash-talking) has taken place, food trucks and circus entertainment can be found there on Fridays, a scavenger hunt is happening July 26 and more events are no doubt in the offing. All that, and it’s pretty on paper too.

Smoking Crow
More Music...
Record Store Day
Vinyl is forever

For people who own or manage music stores, Record Store Day is, like music itself, a thing about which people tend to have strong opinions. Many stores love it for the boost of business and exposure it brings. Other stores are more ambivalent, feeling, among other things, the event brings…

more »
Guemes Island General Store
Just a daytrip away

People often make fun of me for this, but I’m a devoted day-tripper. I am never happier than when behind the wheel of my hand-me-down mid-’90s sedan indulging my desire to explore the nooks and crannies of my immediate environs via back roads and less-beaten paths.

As such, I’ve…

more »
John Davis
Of musical mavericks

When it comes to music careers and their trajectories, a few general narratives prevail: 1. Toil in obscurity, get a big break and then attain fame, fortune and all the attendant blessings and curses that go along with those things. 2. Toil in obscurity, get a big break and then fade back…

more »
Events
Today
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

10:00am|Skagit Valley

Free Appliance Pick-up

10:00am|Whatcom County

Open House Garden Party

12:00pm|Bakerview Road

Hir

7:30pm|DUG Theater

Community Action Poverty Simulations

6:00pm|Cornwall Church

Opera Studio Performances

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

9 to 5, the Musical

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am| Stimpson Family Nature Reserve

Lynden Book Sale

10:00am|Lynden Library

Bellingham Beer Week

10:00am|Throughout Bellingham

Chanticleer Authors Conference

12:00pm|Hotel Bellwether

Books and Bites

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Kimono Reception

1:00pm|Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum

Coffee Tasting

3:00pm|Camber Cafe

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Family Story Night

6:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Race to Alaska

6:30pm|Firehouse PAC

Always...Patsy Cline

7:00pm|Conway Muse

Skagit Jazz Night

7:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Adrian Legg

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

North Cascades Concert Band

7:30pm|Bellingham, Arlington, Anacortes

Legends and Brawls

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Village Books
Tomorrow
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

10:00am|Skagit Valley

Free Appliance Pick-up

10:00am|Whatcom County

Hir

7:30pm|DUG Theater

9 to 5, the Musical

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Opera Studio Performances

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

Lynden Book Sale

10:00am|Lynden Library

Bellingham Beer Week

10:00am|Throughout Bellingham

Chanticleer Authors Conference

12:00pm|Hotel Bellwether

Always...Patsy Cline

7:00pm|Conway Muse

North Cascades Concert Band

7:30pm|Bellingham, Arlington, Anacortes

Legends and Brawls

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

VFW Breakfast

8:00am|VFW Hall

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Plant Society Field Trip

8:30am|Veder Mountain

3 Cs Plant Sale

9:00am|3 Cs Farms

Earth Day Planting

9:00am|NSEA Nursery

Ferndale City Wide Cleanup

9:00am|Downtown Ferndale

Planting Day

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Fun with the Fuzz

9:00am|Bellingham Police Department

FutureFest

9:30am|Port Transit Shed Event Center

Bellingham Bay Bocce Tournament

9:30am|Bellingham Sportsplex

Earth Day Celebration

10:00am|Edgewater Park

Voting, the Heart of Democracy

10:00am|Bellingham Public Library

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Ponds and Water Features

10:00am|Blaine Library

Community Art Museum Day

10:00am|Whatcom Museum

Arch of Healing Installation Ceremony

10:30am| Bellingham City Hall

Veggie Gardening 101

2:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Healthy Kids Day

2:00pm|Bellingham YMCA

Poetry Circle

3:00pm|Deming Library

Roller Betties Bout

5:00pm|Whatcom Community College

Winterhouse

6:00pm|Village Books

Speakeasy 21

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Rainbow Alliance Drag Show

7:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Who will wear the crown?

7:00pm

Blackthorn Band

7:00pm|Littlefield Celtic Center

Nepal Trek Talk

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

Songs from the Universe

7:30pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

Brigid Collins Benefit Concert

8:00pm|Walton Theatre

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Trove Web
Sunday
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

10:00am|Skagit Valley

Free Appliance Pick-up

10:00am|Whatcom County

9 to 5, the Musical

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Opera Studio Performances

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

Bellingham Beer Week

10:00am|Throughout Bellingham

Lynden Book Sale

10:00am|Lynden Library

Chanticleer Authors Conference

12:00pm|Hotel Bellwether

North Cascades Concert Band

7:30pm|Bellingham, Arlington, Anacortes

3 Cs Plant Sale

9:00am|3 Cs Farms

FutureFest

9:30am|Port Transit Shed Event Center

Dirty Dan Harris Festival

10:00am|Fairhaven Village Green

Earth Day Work Party

11:00am|Viva Farms

Pottery Demos

12:00pm|Good Earth Pottery

Choo Choo Soul

1:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Utopia Earth Day

1:00pm|Utopian Conservation Area

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Chuckanut Chili Cook-off

1:30pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Rambling Unicorn

3:00pm|Everson Library

Seeing Pink

4:00pm|Ciao Thyme Commons

Crowder

7:00pm|Performing Arts Center Mainstage

Pink Martini

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Take Me to Church

8:00pm|Rumors Cabaret

see our complete calendar »

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Trove Web Village Books