In Bellingham, where live music sits at the top of the entertainment heap, a conflict often arises among those who love seeing bands but also find themselves at the mercy of such things as real jobs, real responsibilities and real lives.
For these people—who walk among us in ever-increasing numbers—their will to seek out live music is strong, but sometimes their schedules will simply not allow. To put it simply: going to a show that doesn’t even begin until hours after one’s normal bedtime can make for a rough morning. Some choose to mitigate the effects of a late night by pre-funking with a catnap. Others rely on a surplus of caffeinated beverages the next day. Whatever the method, at some point these willing but sometimes unable entertainment seekers can be heard to utter the same inquiry: “Why do shows have to start so late?”
I’m not going to get into the whys and wherefores of what makes a show begin at 10pm or later. It’s an age-old question that generally leads to a protracted debate that generally leads to a shrug and the answer, “Because. They just do.”
Of course, some music venues have heard the cries of their sleep-deprived audiences and have obliged them with shows that features start times that are more amenable to the demands of their lives. However, the majority of music venues still hew to a standard schedule skewed toward the night-owl nature of their show-going clientele.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could all just go see bands during our lunch break?
It’s a ridiculous question, of course, because even in Bellingham’s anything-goes aural atmosphere in which a patch of sidewalk can serve as a stage and “why not?” is ample reason for just about every live undertaking imaginable, bands still don’t play shows during the noontime hour.
Most bands, that is. However, for Pretty Little Feet, Kore Ionz, Cumulus, Ruvara Marimba Ensemble, and Hot Bodies in Motion, the notion of a lunchtime show isn’t farfetched in the least.
That’s because, put together, these bands comprise Western Washington University’s Summer Noon Concert Series, which takes place from noon-1pm Wednesdays in the Performing Arts Center plaza.
When the series kicks off on June 27, it’ll be Pretty Little Feet that will provide the soundtrack to your lunch-break live music outing. This duo—made up of Matt Novak and Allegra Ziffel (also of Quickdraw String Band and Barnum Jack)—has been busy of late. They invested no small amount of time and effort providing the soundtrack for the locally made film The Mountain Runners (trust me, if you haven’t heard of it, you haven’t been paying attention), which chronicles the Mount Baker Marathon, the precursor to Ski to Sea. Their distinctive brand of old-timey folk is the perfect fit for the film, and if you let them score your lunch break, they will be only to happy to proffer a midday soundtrack to suit you as well.
Next up, on July 11, is Kore Ionz, who will hopefully bring about a needed dose of warmth with their sundrenched reggae sound. Hailing from Seattle, this band infuses standard reggae beats with jazz and Hawaiian rhythms to create a sound that might just turn your typically ho-hum lunch into a dance party. They’ve honed their performance presence by sharing stages with everyone from the Wailers to Katchafire, and now they aim to win you over too.
Come the next Wednesday, July 18, Alex Niedzialkowski—the artist known as Cumulus—will bring her talented self back to the town where she got her musical start, and she’ll have her band in tow. After time spent in and around Bellingham’s music scene, helping to make worthy things happen on a grassroots level, Niedzialkowski began to write songs of her own under the heading of Cumulus, started performing to audiences quick to embrace her brand of indie pop and hasn’t looked back since. Although she now lives in Seattle (where she’s augmented her solo stylings with a full-fledged band), Niedzialkowski’s is a familiar face we’re always happy to see and a voice we never grow tired of hearing.
Like Kore Ionz, Ruvara Marimba is aiming to get you up and moving when they take over the PAC Plaza on July 25. And when I say, “take over,” those words are chosen with care. Longtime marimba enthusiast Nancy Steele has been a ceaseless advocate for this type of high-energy African music. However a Ruvara Marimba concert is not intended to be a staid study in music appreciation, but a living, breathing exercise in what happens when traditional Zimbabwean instruments are used to make a joyful noise. Using your lunch break to see this band could very well render your post-lunch pick-me-up cup of coffee or energy drink wholly unnecessary.
The last band in this daytime musical roundup is Hot Bodies in Motion, who will close the concert series Aug. 1. No strangers to Bellingham, this band has used their blues/funk hybrid to woo crowds at the Wild Buffalo, and will also make an appearance at this year’s incarnation of Summer Meltdown. In fact, this concert could well be considered either a warm-up show for the upcoming Meltdown, or, for the initiated, will serve as a kind of introduction to some of what that event has to offer. And, needless to say, even if your interest in Meltdown is at a minimum, there are worse ways to pass a lunch break than with this band.
So, while WWU’s Summer Noon Concert Series may not provide a permanent solution to the problem of late-starting shows, but it certainly creates more options for entertainment-seeking early risers and their night-owl counterparts alike. And when it comes to live music, I think I speak for all factions when I say we’ll take every last bit of it that we can get.
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