Rumor Has It
Back to the Future
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Truth be known, I spent so much time during that long 15-month period that our music venues were shuttered due to COVID-19 simply hoping that they’d make it through to the other side that I spent very little time thinking about what that other side might look—and sound—like.
And when I did try and envision the future of the music scene, the picture was blurry due to the number of unknowns involved. How many venues would survive going dark for more than a year? What would going to shows be like during our COVID reality? Even if our stages could be saved, would there be any bands left to play on them after such a long forced hiatus? There was simply no way to know.
I’ve never met a problem that I didn’t try and solve by fretting.
Even after two-plus decades of writing about it, my love for Bellingham’s music scene remains strong and true. When people ask me what my favorite thing about it is, I don’t struggle to find an answer. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what I love best is not any one venue or show or band or era. Instead, it’s that music happens in this town everywhere, all the time. We don’t need a dedicated venue or event or festival. A day of the week and something that passes as a stage works. Any excuse will do.
Of all the things I worried COVID could take from the music community, that come-one-come-all, anytime-anywhere aspect of the music scene was what I harbored the greatest concern about. That the music scene would survive, I had no doubt. But would we still be the same?
I need not have worried. While the music community is not quite as robust as it was during our carefree pre-pandemic days, it’s pretty darn close. Even better, music is happening everywhere, all the time once again. During a recent night, I walked past a show in the beer garden at Boundary Bay. Not far from there, bands were taking the stage at Gruff Brewing. A recent wander took me to Trackside, where a new stage is being put to good use by musical acts on a regular basis. Every Wednesday night, I can hear the open mic at Honey Moon from my downtown balcony, as well as music at All That Jazz several nights a week. If I lean out far enough, I can even catch a glimpse of people dancing in the street. And that barely scratches the surface of the music you can find without even looking for it.
I have a pretty strong feeling that this pandemic will be the defining event of our lifetimes in terms of scale and magnitude. Our lives and our world have changed profoundly. But in some smaller, but no less important ways, we have indeed remained the same.