Let’s get weird
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Last week, I expressed my ambivalence toward Valentine’s Day. To recap: People who want to make a big deal of it and break out the flowers and bust out the candy—I don’t really get it, but I’m cool with it. As for people who abhor Valentine’s Day, everything it stands for and everyone who celebrates it—I don’t get that either, but live and let live.
In other words, when it comes to Valentine’s Day, you do you, boo.
However, something I can get behind is an unorthodox Valentine’s Day, one that deviates from the Hallmark-forward script in favor of getting a little weird. Luckily, this is a realm in which Bellingham provides.
I’m no poet, but if I were to write a Valentine’s Day verse, it would probably go something like, “Roses are red/Violets are blue/Lavender Country.” It’s like a haiku, but instead of the syllable-per-line count being five-seven-five, it’s four-five-five.
Hey, I said I wasn’t a poet.
Lavender Country isn’t just more of my word salad. It is the longtime project of Seattle musician Patrick Haggerty, whose claim to historical fame is the release of the first gay-themed country music album in history. Lavender Country accomplished this feat in 1973, with funding from the Gay Community Social Services of Seattle. The band performed at Seattle’s first pride celebration the year after, and broke up a couple of years later. Lavender Country probably would’ve faded into obscurity forever were it not for a renewed interest in rediscovering country’s gay pioneers at the turn of this century, which resulted in the reemergence of Haggerty and his band. They were the subject of a memorable documentary, These C*cksucking Tears (a reference to their most infamous song), in 2016, which introduced Lavender Country to a new audience eager to be late-adopters of the heretofore-unknown gay icons. Haggerty and Co. first played the Shakedown in conjunction with a showing of the documentary, and they’ve been back several times since. You could spend Valentine’s Day with a boring box of chocolates, or you could be entertained by one of country music’s true outlaws. Where: 1212 N. State St. Info: http://www.shakedownbellingham.com
Meanwhile, at a music venue across town, a 10-piece funk band will be reminding everyone that Valentine’s Day isn’t just about sugar, spice and everything nice, but it can also be about soul music, sweat and a smattering of sin. Bellingham loves a big band and a big show, and they’ll get everything they love all wrapped in one big Baby Cakes package on Valentine’s Day. The Bellingham band has a big local following and their shows are growing ever more rare (it’s not an easy thing to wrangle 10 people and their schedules), so it might be wise to jettison the lingering glances and candlelit dinner in favor of making it to the Wild Buffalo by the show’s 8:30pm start time. Sure, you can go the roses-and-romance route on Feb. 14, but I’d like to propose an alternate four-part plan: 1. See Baby Cakes at the Wild Buffalo. 2. Shake booty. 3. Get lucky. 4. Never tell me about it later. What happens at Baby Cakes stays at Baby Cakes. Where: 208 W. Holly St. Info: http://www.wildbuffalo.net
Maybe neither soul bands nor gay country pioneers are making your heart beat faster. Perhaps what is required to put you in the mood for love is female-fronted psych pop. In that case, you’ll want to make the Firefly Lounge your Valentine’s Day destination. Seattle’s General Mojo’s will make the journey to Bellingham in order to provide a dreamy soundtrack to your romantic date night—or galentine’s day or solo evening out, whatever you have in mind. General Mojo’s Heather Thomas is more than just the band’s singer and percussionist, she’s also an outspoken advocate for supporting, making space for and increasing the visibility of female and female-identifying musicians. She’s been working for her own success for more than a decade with the goal of opening doors and broadening opportunities for herself and as many women as possible. I don’t know about you, but I think I’m in love. Where: 1015 N. State St. Info: http://www.thefireflylounge.com