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The Problem brings jazzy grooves to local stages

Young jazz ensemble has huge repertoire, high ambitions

The Problem's style is based primarily in jazz but easily stretches to incorporate funk
The Problem's style is based primarily in jazz but easily stretches to incorporate funk
By Jesse Stanton CDN Contributor

Sometimes as I’m putting together my calendars, a name will go from brand new to omnipresent with a surprising quickness, which has been the case this year for a group called The Problem — so I thought I’d track the members down and find out a little bit about what they’re all about. 

The group was organized back in January by Frank Youngblood and Samuel Harris with a mission to “play a lot.” Their style is primarily based in jazz but easily stretches to incorporate funk, soul and pop hits. 

This versatility means they can play anything from a quiet jazz show to a raucous wedding or nightclub, adapting their sound to fit the event. When they do weddings, for example, they can play jazz for the reception and funk and pop for the party. This broad range of sounds and steady stream of performances has helped The Problem develop a fan base its members refer to as “The Solution.” 

Just in the next week or so, they’ve got three gigs: Saturday, Sept. 23 at Poirer’s in Mount Vernon, where they typically play once or twice a month; Monday, Sept. 25 at The Blue Room as part of the venue’s Monday Night Jazz series; and finally Thursday, Sept. 28 at the Wild Buffalo, opening for Miles Harris & The Deep Cuts and Atomic Affair. 

Despite their busy schedules, they are also willing to donate their time to causes that are important to them, and they’re looking forward to a Nov. 2 fundraiser for Mount Baker Planned Parenthood, also happening at The Blue Room. They describe themselves as “ambitious with getting gigs,” and particularly enjoy inaugurating new venues that might not have had live music before. 

In addition to Youngblood on sax and Harris on trombone, keys and vocals, the rest of the group includes vocalist Ella Davis, bassist Alejandro Albright-Reveles, and Eli Porter and Nick Moshier trading off on drums and keys. Most of the members are either current or former Western Washington University students, except for Youngblood, who is a recent Berklee College of Music grad. They all bring a great deal of skill and enthusiasm to the project. 

In addition to the core lineup, they try to be collaborative and incorporate other young musicians who are looking for gigs. Since they play so much, they end up having plenty of opportunities for others to either sub or sit in.  

For now, all you can hear online from them are some live recordings on their Soundcloud, but they’re hoping to carve out time for some recording soon. Both Harris and Youngblood have some original compositions they are hoping the group can learn and record. When you add it all up, this is a group you’re going to be hearing a lot from in the music scene. 

They hope to be even busier next year and are already making plans for 2024. As Harris puts it, “We will be even more in peoples’ faces.”

Check The Problem out, and you might just find yourself being part of The Solution!

Western’s Associated Students has a great tradition of kicking the year off with a big free show on campus. West Fest is happening 5–9:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, and will feature The Black Tones, Instant Crush and Pure Halcyon, along with dance and drag performances.

Speaking of lineups, if you haven’t started checking out the lineup for the Bellingham Exit festival in October, you should probably get on that. It has a bunch of free pop-up shows that require you to RSVP, and those might fill up quickly, especially the ones in smaller spaces. I’ll have lots more on this as it gets closer. 

Live music is apparently going well at the Bistro at Shuksan Golf Club because it is being moved inside year-round. Catch the High Peak Trio doing funky jazz every Thursday and the Thomas Harris Quartet playing more straight-ahead jazz every Friday. 


photo  Local band Smithers will join Seattle’s Black Ends and Beautiful Freaks for a wild rock triple bill Thursday, Sept. 28 at The Blue Room. (Photo courtesy of Angel Hofmeester)  

Beautiful Freaks, Black Ends, Smithers
9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, The Blue Room
As one of our premier all-ages venues, The Blue Room has the most to celebrate the return of Western students to campus. It’s got a bunch of great shows this week but the highlight for me is the wild rock triple bill Thursday, Sept. 28 with Seattle’s Black Ends and Beautiful Freaks, plus locals Smithers. 

Skagit Bigfoot Fest
Friday, Sept. 29, Skagit County Fairgrounds
The Skagit Bigfoot Fest is on Friday, Sept. 29, and Saturday, Sept. 30 at the Skagit County Fairgrounds, but if you’re mostly interested in the music I’d say you want to go on Friday, since The Olson Bros Band, King Youngblood and Fortress of the Bear are all appearing that night. 

The Halluci Nation 
9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, Wild Buffalo
The Halluci Nation, appearing at the Wild Buffalo on Saturday, Sept. 30, is a Canadian group with a unique hybrid style that combines First Nations powwow chants with contemporary electronic music, bringing Indigenous traditions to the modern dance floor. (You may also know the band under its former name, A Tribe Called Red.)

Restless Spirit, Witch Ripper, Swamp Lantern
8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1, The Shakedown
The Shakedown has a big metal show on Sunday, Oct 1, featuring the ominous sounds of Restless Spirit all the way from New York, plus Seattle’s Witch Ripper and the epic compositions of local all-stars Swamp Lantern. 


Tuesday, Sept. 19

  • Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Jam:30 (open jam night)
  • Boundary: 3 p.m., Out of the Ashes, 6 p.m., Paul Klein on piano
  • Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Majestic: 7:30 p.m., A Night of Grief & Mystery
  • Menace: 7 p.m., Invitational Blues Jam
  • Ramble Tamble: 9 p.m., The Elevator Club ft. Pascal (hip-hop)

Wednesday, Sept. 20

  • Bar Cicotti: 6 p.m., Brian Cunningham & Tom Anastacio (jazz)
  • Boundary: 6 p.m., Aaron Guest on piano
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
  • Rockfish: 6 p.m., Zach Michaud
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Song Wranglers (acoustic Americana)

Thursday, Sept. 21

  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., High Peak Trio
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Rambxlr
  • Boundary: 5 p.m., Biddy On the Bench; 8 p.m., Dumpster Joe, Stone & Sue
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Farmstrong: 6 p.m., Chris Eger Band
  • FireHouse: 6 p.m., The D’vas, Cheryl Hodge, Sharon Mason, Bob Paltrow, Havilah Rand, Sonja Lee, Yesterday’s Dreamers, Guitars and Gratitude
  • Gruff: 8 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle
  • Honey Moon: 5:30 p.m., The Devillies
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • That’s What I Like: 6 p.m., JP Falcon and Friends (folk/rock)
  • Zeeks: 7 p.m., Hopnotic (jazz/funk)

Friday, Sept. 22

  • Aslan: 8 p.m., North Country Highway
  • Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., Chill DeVille
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Wayne Hayton
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Thomas Harris Quartet (jazz)
  • Blue Room: 6:30 p.m., Scottish Fish
  • Boundary: 3:30 p.m., Feddersen, Gourley & Miller; 5 p.m., Biddy On the Bench; 6:30 p.m., The Moving Hats
  • DownTime Taps: 7 p.m., Silent Cowboy
  • Fireside: 7 p.m., The D’vas
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Alex Sturbaum and Friends
  • Lincoln Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Masters of Hawaiian Music ft. George Kahumoku Jr., Led Kaapana, Jeff Peterson
  • Main Street: 8:30 p.m., Thermal Blues Express
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Hotel Vignette, No Existo, Somerfeld
  • Silver Reef Casino: 8 p.m., Tag Team, Kid ‘n Play, Young MC (classic hip-hop)
  • Skylark’s: 5 p.m., Lost at Last (country/folk/rock)
  • Vault: 7 p.m., Michael Dayvid (acoustic covers)
  • Welcome Road: 6 p.m., Bison Socks

Saturday, Sept. 23

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 3 p.m., TBA
  • Blue Room: 2 p.m., San Miguel Fraser; 4:30 p.m., Jackson & Cotter; 9 p.m., Talisk
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Glass Heart String Choir
  • Boundary: 1 p.m., Gallowglass; 2:30 p.m., Biddy On the Bench; 4 p.m., Rosin & Reed; 5:30 p.m., Calaskan; 7 p.m., Lindsay Street
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Mojo Cannon & the 13th Street Horns (blues)
  • FireHouse: 6:30 p.m., Trio Sueno (jazz/flamenco)
  • Fireside 4 p.m., Singers’ Saturday
  • Honey Moon: 5:30 p.m., Tim Cummings
  • Main Street: 8 p.m., The Takers (hard rock covers)
  • Menace: 6 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Mount Baker Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Martha Scanlan & Jon Neufeld
  • New Prospect Theatre: 6:30 p.m., De-Esser, Sam Chue, Turn Key Runner
  • Northwest Yarns: noon, Kate & Baron
  • Old Edison: 8 p.m., The Dimes
  • Poirer’s On the River: 6 p.m., The Problem
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., North Country Highway (country rock)
  • Schweinhaus: 9 p.m., ELK
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., Full Color Dream, Great Comet, guests (rock)
  • Skagit Cellars: 5 p.m., DZ
  • Skylark’s: 5 p.m., JP Falcon Band
  • Station 49: 3 p.m., Urban Cowboy Band
  • Stones Throw Block Party: 1 p.m., Jasmine Greene Band; 5 p.m., Pat Mcfarland
  • Whatcom Museum: 6:30 p.m., Feddersen, Gourley & Miller
  • Swinomish Casino: 8 p.m., Hell’s Belles (AC/DC tribute)

Sunday, Sept. 24

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 3 p.m., Chris Eger Band (blues/rock)
  • Birdsview: 4 p.m., Zach Michaud
  • Boundary: 12:30 p.m., Schmid & Guest; 2 p.m., Kate & Baron; 3:30 p.m., Countercurrent
  • Kulshan: 5 p.m., Alger Rhythms
  • Main Street: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Mindport: 11 a.m., Bauman & Vogt
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., Ron Bailey & The Tangents (classic rock)
  • Station 49: 2 p.m., Michael Dayvid

Monday, Sept. 25

  • Blue Room: 7 p.m., The Problem (jazz)
  • Kulshan: 6 p.m., Whiskey River Mudflats (folk)
  • Menace: 6 p.m., Open Mic

Tuesday, Sept. 26

  • Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Jam:30 (open jam night)
  • Boundary: 3 p.m., Out of the Ashes; 6 p.m., Paul Klein on piano
  • Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • Menace: 7 p.m., Invitational Blues Jam
  • Ramble Tamble: 9 p.m., The Elevator Club ft. Ca$h McClane (hip-hop)
  • Ranch Room: 9 p.m., Michael Dayvid

Wednesday, Sept. 27

  • Bar Cicotti: 6 p.m., Mark Hunter & Julian Macdonough (jazz)
  • Blue Room: 9 p.m., JoWe, Addee, Silk Jammies
  • Boundary: 6 p.m., Aaron Guest on piano, Gallowglass in the beer garden
  • FireHouse: 7 p.m., Cory Woods Quintet with Steve Davis (jazz)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
  • Rockfish: 6 p.m., Fidalgo Swing (jazz)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Free Harmony

Thursday, Sept. 28

  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., High Peak Trio
  • Blue Room: 9 p.m., Black Ends, Beautiful Freaks, Smithers (rock)
  • Boundary: 5 p.m., Robert Sarazin Blake and the Happy Hour Band; 8 p.m., Ivy Ficarra, Sunflecks
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Farmstrong: 6:30 p.m., Chill DeVille
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Dmitri Metheny Quintet ft. Holly Pyle
  • Gruff: 8 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Bluegrass Jam
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Impulse Noise, Mem//Brane, Slaghive, Dulzura (metal/ hardcore)
  • Shakedown: 8:30 p.m., Creative Differences, Foxy Apollo, Lint (rock)
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • Wild Buffalo: Miles Harris & The Deep Cuts, Atomic Affair, The Problem
  • Zeeks: 7 p.m., J.P. Falcon

Friday, Sept. 29

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., Little Big Band
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Matney Cook (folk)
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Thomas Harris Quartet (jazz)
  • Blue Room: 9 p.m., Magenta Wave, Madam Monarch, Madrona (rock)
  • Boundary: 6 p.m., Legendary Chucklenuts (classic rock)
  • Eagle Haven: 7 p.m., Free Harmony
  • Farmstrong: 6 p.m., Savanna & Ireland Woods
  • Fireside: 7 p.m., Fritz & The Freeloaders
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Serafima & The Shakedowns, Sunflecks, Branson Anderson
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., Dmitri Matheny Group
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., Secret Emchy Society (country)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)
  • Vault: 7 p.m., Veronica North (folk)

Saturday, Sept. 30

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 3 p.m., Jim Buk Tu
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Mike Spine and Barbara Luna
  • Boundary: 6 p.m., Sleepy Alligators (Grateful Dead tribute)
  • Brown Lantern: 9 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., The Walrus
  • Eagle Haven: 6 p.m., County Rose (country)
  • Fireside 4 p.m., Singers’ Saturday
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Quickdraw String Band
  • Guemes Island General Store: 6:30 p.m., GrooveBot
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., TBA
  • Littlefield Celtic Center: 7 p.m., Fred Morrison (Celtic)
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., The Atlantics
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., Teddy Bear Orchestra, Kurly Somthing (experimental/multimedia)
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Ryan Higgins
  • Station 49: 3 p.m., JP Falcon Band
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Flattery (Celtic)
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., The Halluci Nation (electronic)
  • Zeeks: 7:30 p.m., Motown Cruisers

Sunday, Oct. 1

  • Birdsview: 4 p.m., Jake Rozier & Bailey Allen Baker
  • Kulshan: 5 p.m., TBA
  • Main Street: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Mount Baker Theatre: 3 p.m., Bellingham Symphony Orchestra
  • New Prospect Theatre: 4 p.m., Salty Siblings Harvest Hootennany ft. Hot Damn Scandal, Clam Slam Jammers, more
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., Alice Wallace and the Pickers
  • Paws for a Beer: 2 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Shakedown: 8:30 p.m., Restless Spirit, Witch Ripper, Swamp Lantern (metal)
  • Station 49: 2 p.m., Zach Michaud
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Hamdi (electronic)

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.

A previous version of this story misspelled the name of the band Thermal Blues Express playing Friday, Sept. 22 at the Main Street in Ferndale. The story was updated to reflect the change at 3:23 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20. Cascadia Daily News regrets the error. 

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