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The return of locally rooted Kuinka

Trio returns to Bellingham for folk-pop dance party

Since forming in 2011
Since forming in 2011 (Rachel Bennett Photography)
By Jesse Stanton CDN Contributor

If you tried to make a word cloud from every time anyone has ever described the music of Kuinka, the words “joy,” “fun” and “energy” would be in big letters right in the middle. (“Sweaty” would probably also be in there somewhere.)

Since forming in 2011, they have delighted listeners in the Northwest and all around the world with a high-octane blend of folk, pop and rock. Kuinka has a lot of fast strumming, tight harmonies and big smiles. With some new releases coming up, they’re making their way to Bellingham for a show at The Shakedown on Friday, Nov. 17.

The three founding members of the band are Miranda Zickler and brothers Nathan and Zach Hamer. They all sing; Miranda plays keys, Nathan strums ukuleles and mandolins, and Zach is on the electric guitar. 

Although they all grew up in Mount Vernon, they originally decided to start the band in a diner in New York City. After that, they reassembled in the Pacific Northwest and got to work. Over the last decade-plus, they’ve had a few name and lineup changes, toured the country, recorded three full albums and a couple EPs, performed an NPR Tiny Desk Concert, and built a legion of enthusiastic fans. 

They are currently based in Seattle, with a lineup that now also includes drummer Michelle Nuno and bassist Kaylee Jasperson. Through it all, they’ve kept their focus on bringing audiences together to dance and commune in the most joyful way possible. 

photo  Kuinka has a new single coming out soon and a full-length album planned for next year. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Bennett)  

Their most recent single, “The Optimist,” shows off a lot of what makes them great, while also reflecting some evolution in their sound. While their earlier work used a cello and a lot of stomps and handclaps to fill out the rhythm, this one has a slightly more conventional bass and drum kit setup, combined with a little more space in the guitars and some quirky keyboard sounds. True to form, though, it builds to a big crescendo with lots of layers of vocal harmony. 

They’ve got a new single coming out soon and a full-length album planned for next year. They’ve eased up on their touring since their pre-pandemic peak, but they seem to be picking back up a bit. This show is part of a three-night run including Portland and Seattle. 

After all that, it’s kind of funny to hear that The Shakedown was where they played their first-ever show in Bellingham. Talk about coming full circle. They’re going to have the great Cat Valley opening up for a show guaranteed to be packed with fans old and new.

Looking ahead, some of our bigger venues are announcing shows you might want to get on your calendars. A few highlights at the Wild Buffalo include electronic dance favorites Skiitour lined up for New Year’s Eve, the Americana/electronic blend of Dirtwire on Jan. 14, modern bluegrass with Yonder Mountain String Band on Jan. 17, and rockabilly legend Reverend Horton Heat on March 24. 

Not to be outdone, the Mount Baker Theatre recently announced Pink Martini for Jan. 20, premiere Grateful Dead tribute Dark Star Orchestra on Feb. 8, and local favorite Petty or Not set for March 23. 

If you really want to look ahead, the Northwest Tune-Up festival has set its dates for next year: July 12–14. We won’t find out the lineup for a bit but they are promising longer sets for the music this year in response to feedback from previous years.

Finally, I never knew I needed a ska-inflected brass band cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” in my life, but it turns out I really did. Check out the new single from Analog Brass to see what I mean. 


Caitlin Canty
7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14, New Prospect Theatre
I had the privilege of playing at the New Prospect Theatre a few months ago and was amazed at just how beautiful that room sounds. Singer-songwriter Caitlin Canty’s delicate, beautiful original songs should be a great treat in that space when she comes to town on Tuesday, Nov. 14, with opener Joachim Cooder. 

Jake Shimabukuro 
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, Mount Baker Theatre
Jake Shimabukuro is one of Hawaii’s undisputed virtuosos of the ukulele. For the past several years he’s also embraced his love of Christmas music with a holiday-themed tour, and he’ll be bringing that tour to the Mount Baker Theatre on Thursday, Nov. 16.  

photo  Jake Shimabukuro, one of Hawaii’s ukulele virtuosos, is preparing to embark on his holiday tour. (Photo courtesy of Kurt Stevens Photography)  

True Stars
8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, Make.Shift
True Stars just released its debut album, a self-titled LP packed with garage rock and power pop goodness. They’re celebrating its release with a show at Make.Shift on Friday, Nov. 17 that also features The Collectors and Biff Got Killed. 

Estimate and OG Neeks
7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, Geheim Gallery
It’s hard to get vinyl pressed these days. Estimate and OG Neeks’s album, “Bright Ideas,” came out in January and has been one of the best local hip-hop releases of the year. They’re celebrating its vinyl release with a show at the Geheim Gallery on Bay Street on Saturday, Nov. 18. (They’ve also got a new music video out).


Tuesday, Nov. 7

  • Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Jam:30 (open jam night)
  • Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Menace: 7 p.m., Invitational Blues Jam
  • Ramble Tamble: 9 p.m., Elevator Club ft. Neffy3600 (hip-hop)
  • Ranch Room: 9 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Zeeks: 6 p.m., Open Mic

Wednesday, Nov. 8

  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Vocab Slick, DJ True Justice (hip-hop)
  • FireHouse: 6:30 p.m., Bill Anschell & Peruvian Reunion Trio (jazz)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
  • Lincoln Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Dervish (traditional Irish)
  • Rockfish: 6 p.m., Delta Promenade (acoustic blues)
  • Shakedown: 8 p.m., The Dead Yellers, Cape Flattery, Jay Irwin & the GP Sunsets
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Tom Sandblom
  • Underground Coffeehouse: 7 p.m., WWU Jazz Combo
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Riff Raff (hip-hop)

Thursday, Nov. 9

  • Admiralty Lounge: 7 p.m., Paige Woods (folk)
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., High Peak Trio (jazz/funk)
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Leo, Astro, Little Rose, Sky Meraki
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Buxtons: 7 p.m., Jo Passed, Yomori
  • Farmstrong: 6 p.m., Jeremy Abbott
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., The Problem (jazz)
  • Shakedown: 8:30 p.m., Myonia, Morrison Graves, Faith in Strangers (rock)
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • That’s What I Like: 6 p.m., JP Falcon and Friends (folk/rock)
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., 40 Oz. To Freedom (Sublime tribute)
  • Zeeks: 7 p.m., Groove Doctors (blues/R&B)

Friday, Nov. 10

  • Aslan: 8 p.m., Tea Seas Trio (jazz/funk)
  • Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., Charlie Partin
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Ray Neyens
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Thomas Harris Quartet (jazz)
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., The Whags, Salamander Collective, Whalien (jam-friendly rock)
  • Corner Taphouse: 7 p.m., Saltwater Cowboys
  • Fireside: 7 p.m., Carr Parker
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Doug Allen & the Union Wage (singer-songwriter)
  • Karate Church: 7:30 p.m., No Mars, Jeff and His Army of No One, Drayton (rock)
  • Main Street: 8 p.m., The Problem, Heroes, Cuttlefish
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Versipul, Done to Death, Oath ov Hatred (metal)
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., Speedy Ortiz, Space Moth, Jo Passed (rock)
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Eric Kosarot & Rosahlee (Americana/folk)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Dry Martini (jazz)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., JP Falcon Grady
  • Thirsty Badger: 8 p.m., Sam Halbert and Friends
  • Vault: 7 p.m., Trio Sueno (jazz/flamenco)

Saturday, Nov. 11

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., Naked Cowboys
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Sandy Rowe
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Hockey Teeth, Cuttlefish, Glare Killers (rock)
  • Brown Lantern: 9 p.m., Cozmic Sauce (funk/R&B)
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Kyle Findley-Meier (folk)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Brook Bates (singer-songwriter), Boris Budd (folk punk)
  • Main Street: 8:30 p.m., The Takers (hard rock)
  • Make.Shift: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Mount Baker Theatre: Main Stage 8 p.m., Watchhouse Duo; Walton Theatre, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., Luca Stricagnoli
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., CD Woodbury Trio (blues)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., JP Falcon Grady
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Keys N Krates (electronic)
  • Zeeks: 7 p.m., Hopnotic (funk/jazz)

Sunday, Nov. 12

  • Kulshan: 5 p.m., The Devilies
  • Main Street: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Nancy’s Farm: 2 p.m., Cabin Fever NW (folk/ Americana)
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., The Bow Diddlers
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., Shallou (electronic)

Monday, Nov. 13

  • FireHouse: 3:30 p.m., Milo Petersen & Loch Clark
  • Kulshan: 6 p.m., Paperheart (acoustic grunge tribute)
  • Littlefield Celtic Center: 7 p.m., Tannahill Weavers (traditional Scottish)

Tuesday, Nov. 14

  • Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Beach Cat: 6 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Jam:30 (open jam night)
  • Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • Menace: 7 p.m.,  Invitational Blues Jam
  • New Prospect Theatre: 7 p.m., Caitlin Canty, Joachim Cooder
  • Ramble Tamble: 9 p.m., Elevator Club ft. Yogirlcallmesenpai (hip-hop)

Wednesday, Nov. 15

  • FireHouse: 6:30 p.m., Jerry Steinhilber Trio (jazz)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
  • Ponderosa: 7 p.m., Jazz Night ft. Toby Bruce
  • Rockfish: 6 p.m., Ireland Woods
  • Shakedown: 8 p.m., Terrapin Flyer (Grateful Dead tribute)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Underground Coffeehouse: 7 p.m., Cuttlefish

Thursday, Nov. 16

  • Admiralty Lounge: 7 p.m., Ron Hardesty
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., High Peak Trio (jazz/funk)
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Culture Cafe: 6 p.m., Cascade Cody and His Unpulled Bootstraps (country)
  • Farmstrong: 6 p.m., Chris Eger (blues)
  • Mount Baker Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Jake Shimabukuro (Hawaiian)
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • That’s What I Like: 6 p.m., JP Falcon and Friends (folk/rock)
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Sully (electronic)
  • WWU PAC: 8 p.m., Srivani Jade Ensemble (North Indian classical)
  • Zeeks: 7 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)

Friday, Nov. 17

  • Aslan: 8 p.m., Cardova (funk/R&B)
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Thomas Harris Quartet (jazz)
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Culloden, Mad King, Deep Contact, Yellow Peddled Flowers (rock)
  • Downtime Taps: 7 p.m., Charlie Partin
  • Fireside: 7 p.m., Free Harmony
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., The Problem (jazz)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Travelin’ Miles (roots rock)
  • Littlefield Celtic Center: 7 p.m., Kevin Henderson & Neil Pearlman (Celtic)
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., True Stars, The Collectors, Biff Got Killed 
  • McIntyre Hall: 7:30 p.m., John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., Kuinka, Cat Valley
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Neighborhood Songwriters Showcase ft. Simon Evans, Keith Carpenter & Lynn Givler, Michael Medler, Ivy Ficarra
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Vault: 7 p.m., Veronica North
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Noah Gundersen (folk/rock)

Saturday, Nov. 18

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., Billy Appleton & Vic Smith
  • Blue Abode: 8 p.m., Ireland Woods & Samuel Harris
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Miles Harris, Groovebot
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Paydirt
  • Brown Lantern: 9 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Nick Vigarino (blues)
  • Corner Taphouse: 7 p.m., Jupiter’s Trail
  • Edison Granary: 6 p.m., Dream Goats, Marie, The Band (folk)
  • Geheim Gallery: 7 p.m., Estimate & OG Neeks (hip-hop)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Fritz and the Freeloaders (rock)
  • Jansen Art Center: 7:30 p.m., Dmitri Matheny Group (jazz)
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Grizzly Troubadour, The Fieldboats, No Mars 
  • Mount Baker Theatre: 7 p.m., Across the Spiderverse Live in Concert (soundtrack performed by orchestra)
  • Old Edison: 8 p.m., The Dirty Pilots
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., The Unknowns
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., Devin Champlin, Levi Thomas, Zero Charisma (alt-folk/country)
  • Silver Reef Casino: 8 p.m., Night Ranger (classic hard rock)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Lost at Last (country/folk)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Jay Irwin & the GP Sunsets
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Noah Gundersen (this show is sold out)

Sunday, Nov. 19

  • Kulshan: 5 p.m., Katie & Kevin (folk/bluegrass)
  • Main Street: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., Orville Johnson Band

Before heading out to listen to live music, check with individual venues to make sure the event is still taking place as scheduled. 

The Beat Goes On is published online Tuesdays and in print Fridays. Email: or Twitter: @JSBhamMusic.

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