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Kendl Winter’s hypnotic approach to banjo music

Olympia musician brings new album to New Prospect Theatre in March

Kendl Winter's new album “Banjo Mantras” consists of experimental, surprising instrumentals. (Photo courtesy of Molley Gillispie)
By Jesse Stanton CDN Contributor

Olympia’s Kendl Winter is probably best known to music fans as half of the hard-traveling Americana duo The Lowest Pair. She’s got some other tricks up her sleeve, though. Her latest project is an all-instrumental album of original compositions that show off her unique approach to the banjo.

She calls them “Banjo Mantras,” and she’s releasing an album by that name and gracing us with one of the release shows. On Sunday, March 3 at the New Prospect Theatre, she and a few collaborators will give us a taste of this special music.

Winter’s approach to this music began with a commitment to create something new every day. She would start each morning by creating a new tune and improvising on it until she had something she liked, then share it online.

Although some of the songs eventually developed some kind of structure or form, they were never consciously arranged and may still take on new shapes at any time. In them, you can certainly hear her roots in bluegrass and old-time Appalachian music, but you can also pick up on her interest in experimental and electronic music, as well as her background growing up with parents who were classical musicians. 

The end result is hypnotic, but also full of surprises. Just when the repetition of one melody starts to put you in a trance, something shifts and the music takes you somewhere new. Maybe a heavily affected guitar will come in to shift the dynamic, or a moment of silence will snap you out of your reverie. 

The show will mostly consist of music from the album, brought to life with the help of guitarist Adam Roszkiewicz (with whom she also plays in the electronic folk/pop duo Pony Camp). Winter may also sing a few songs from some of her other solo albums, just to mix things up a bit. 

The album is coming out on both colored LP and CD. Since this is music designed for close listening, it wouldn’t make sense in a noisy venue. She chose the New Prospect Theatre specifically for its cozy environment and beautiful acoustics. Her Lowest Pair bandmate Palmer T. Lee will be opening the show. Check it out if you can, it should be a beautiful musical experience. 


There’s an interesting new musical option up in Blaine. At the new Tokyo Monster Sushi in Birch Bay Square, they’ve brought in a baby grand piano and lined up a bunch of the best pianists around to take turns playing it. Expect jazz, blues and elegant standards from Marvin Johnson on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Diane Leigh on Thursdays, and Cheryl Hodge with guitarist Tim Volpicella on Fridays and Saturdays.

On Sundays, Hodge will also host Singers’ Sundays, an event similar to the one she hosted for years at the Fireside, where she provides piano accompaniment for a rotating cast of the area’s best singers. If you’re looking for some classy, mellow musical accompaniment to go with your sushi or a nice cocktail, this sounds like it should be a great spot. 

Speaking of banjos, there’s also a new local release this week that I’ve been looking forward to. The four-song debut EP from The Dream Goats gives you a nice taste of their talent and versatility, running from double fiddle hoedowns to a sweet original song. 

The Lynden Heritage Museum is beginning to work on a special exhibit on the history of country music in Whatcom County. If you’ve got photos or memorabilia relating to that theme that you could lend them, or maybe just a cool story of seeing Loretta Lynn live somewhere around here once upon a time, please do reach out to them.  


Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto
6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, FireHouse Arts and Events Center, 1314 Harris Ave.

I caught the Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto last time they played at the FireHouse, and it was an absolutely transfixing musical experience. Neto is a true living master of Brazilian jazz, and the rest of the band is great too. I especially enjoyed watching percussionist Jeff Busch choosing from his vast arsenal of unusual percussion instruments.

Jovino Santos Neto is bringing Brazilian jazz to the FireHouse in Fairhaven on Wednesday, Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy of Rhonda Stewart)
7:30 p.m., Friday, March 1, Karate Church, 519 E. Maple St.

Drayton have rapidly claimed a place as one of the best and catchiest young rock bands in town. If the rest of their forthcoming EP has even half of the hooks per minute as the lead single, “Around You,” then it will be quite the accomplishment. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing it. They’re celebrating its release with a show at the Karate Church, with support from Champ and Back to the Loud. 

March Fourth
8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2, Wild Buffalo

Portland’s March Fourth are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year and have a new album coming out. Their explosively funky brass band sound and traveling carnival aesthetic have earned them a substantial following around here, and they’re back at the Wild Buffalo the first weekend in March.


Friday, Feb. 23

  • Aslan Depot: 7 p.m., Carrao
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Thomas Harris Quartet (jazz)
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., The Unknowns
  • Corner Taphouse: 7 p.m. Ethan J. Perry
  • Fireside Martini and Wine Bar: 7 p.m., Free Harmony (folk/rock)
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., The Problem (jazz)
  • Happy Place: 8 p.m., Listening party for CHVRNS and the Sudden Valley Drive compilation
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., INI, Lala Robinsong
  • Hotel Bellwether: 6 p.m., Adrian Clark
  • Lincoln Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Bell Bottom Blues (Eric Clapton tribute)
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Jake Werrion, Matt Gilmore, Nate Witham, Chittering (experimental/improv)
  • The Shakedown: 9 p.m., MEM//BRANE, Axefear, The Ignorati
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Uncle Doug (Neil Young tribute)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Sottile, OConnor & Loeffler (folk/rock/blues)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)
  • The Vault: 7 p.m. Dick and Jane (acoustic covers)
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., KalanFrFr, guests (hip-hop)

Saturday, Feb. 24

  • The Blue Room: 7 p.m., Lipstitch, Dead Bars, Beautiful Freaks (rock)
  • Buxton’s: 6:30 p.m., The Outtatowners, Don Bird Experiment, AHS Jazz Combo (jazz)
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Mark Dufresne Band
  • Downtime Taps: 7 p.m., JP Falcon Grady
  • Hotel Bellwether: 6 p.m., Marvin Johnson
  • Jansen Art Center: 7:30 p.m., Jerry Steinhilber Trio (jazz)
  • Larrabee Lager: 6 p.m., Meinhardt Merry
  • Lincoln Theatre: 8 p.m., Fanny Alger, Stagnant Water (punk)
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Accused AD, Vacuum, MEM//BRANE, Toilet Boys (metal/hardcore)
  • Menace Brewing: 6 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Ono Kitchen (formerly Culture Cafe): 10 p.m., Silk Jammies, Shadow Variable (electronic)
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., Will Rainier, Ruby Marvel, Bog’s Brother Fen (alt-country/folk)
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., Jim Basnight Band
  • The Shakedown: 9 p.m., Oath ov Hatred, Rhinderpest, Noceur (metal)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., The Penny Stinkers (classic rock)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Cardova (R&B/funk)
  • Underground: 8:30 p.m., Neon Shadows (80s pop covers)

Sunday, Feb. 25

  • Birdsview Brewing: 3 p.m., Upriver Shiver, Paydirt 
  • FireHouse Arts and Events Center: 4 p.m., Greta Matassa Quintet (jazz)
  • Kulshan: 5 p.m., Cardova (R&B/funk)
  • Mount Baker Theatre: 3 p.m., Bellingham Symphony Orchestra
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., The Bow Diddlers
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., Kitchen Dwellers (bluegrass)

Monday, Feb. 26

  • Conway Muse: 7 p.m., Tommy Castro & The Painkillers (blues)
  • FireHouse Arts and Events Center: 3:30 p.m., Keith Carpenter, Lynne Givler, & Loch Clark
  • Kulshan: 6 p.m. The Singer Tina (acoustic covers)
  • Tuesday 2/27
  • Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Menace: 7 p.m.,  Invitational Blues Jam
  • Ono Kitchen: 7 p.m., Open Mic ft. Sinflower
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., The Elevator Club (hip hop showcase with open cypher)
  • Tokyo Monster: 5:30 p.m., Marvin Johnson
  • Underground Coffeehouse: 7 p.m., Open Mic

Wednesday, Feb. 28

  • The Blue Room: 7 p.m., Message Received (jazz) 
  • FireHouse Arts and Events Center: 6:30 p.m., Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto (Brazilian jazz)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
  • New Prospect Theater: 5:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Rockfish: 6 p.m., Janette West
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m. Thomas Sandblom (acoustic covers)
  • Tokyo Monster: 5:30 p.m., Marvin Johnson
  • Underground Coffeehouse: 7 p.m., TBA

Thursday, Feb. 29

  • Admiralty Lounge: 7 p.m., David Donohue, Alice In Space (folk)
  • Boundary Bay: 6 p.m., Shady Groove (acoustic Dead/bluegrass)
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Farmstrong Brewing: 6 p.m., Tom Buenger
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Bluegrass Jam
  • New Prospect Theatre: 7 p.m., Joachim Cooder, West of Roan
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • Tokyo Monster: 5:30 p.m., Diane Leigh
  • That’s What I Like! Island Grill: 6 p.m., JP Falcon and Friends (folk/rock)
  • Zeeks Pizza: 7 p.m., Hopnotic (funk/jazz)

Friday, March 1

  • The Admiralty Lounge: 7 p.m., Lindsay Street (Celtic)
  • Aslan Depot: 7 p.m. BJ Block Trio (jazz/ funk)
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Thomas Harris Quartet (jazz)
  • El Capitan’s: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., North Country Highway (country/ folk/rock)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., TBA
  • Hotel Bellwether: 6 p.m., Walt Burkett
  • Karate Church: 8 p.m., Drayton, Champ, Back to The Loud (rock)
  • Lincoln Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Coool Babies (tribute to Talking Heads’ “Stop Making Sense”)
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., Cowboy Guts, Spider Cult (alt-folk/country)
  • Ritual Records: 6 p.m., Mom Sport, Sere (rock)
  • The Shakedown: 9 p.m., Boogarins, Levitation Room, guests 
  • Skagit Casino: 8 p.m., Harmonious Funk
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Jaden Oscar
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Whitewing (blues/soul/R&B)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., High Mountain String Band (bluegrass)
  • Tokyo Monster: 5:30 p.m., Diane Leigh & Tim Volpicella (jazz/blues)
  • The Vault: 7 p.m., Double Trouble
  • WinkWink: 7 p.m., Cat Valley, The Wyrds, True Stars (rock)
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Vampa, Mad Dubz, Pathos, Hermit (electronic)

Saturday, March 2

  • Birdsview Brewing: 6 p.m., Nicola Linde
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Dermody/ Sherman Blues Band
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Ireland Woods & Sam Harris
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., TBA
  • Hotel Bellwether: 6 p.m., Marvin Johnson
  • Hotel Leo: 7 p.m., Jasmine Greene Band (rock/blues/pop)
  • Katt’s Westside Stores: 8 p.m., Pretty Much Nothing, Oath ov Hatred, Hired Mules, Done to Death (rock/ metal)
  • Mount Baker Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Grace Potter, Brittney Spencer (rock)
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., Lemon Bear, Kazmyn, Bellflower (folk)
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m. Randy Weeks & The Silent Treatment
  • The Shakedown: 9 p.m., Sinking Season, Smithers, Culloden (rock)
  • Skagit Casino: 8 p.m., Harmonious Funk
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Lisa Temcov (classic country)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Aloha Danny
  • Tokyo Monster: 5:30 p.m., Diane Leigh & Tim Volpicella (jazz/blues)
  • Wild Buffalo: 8: 30 p.m., MarchFourth, guests

Sunday, March 3

  • The Blue Room: 3 p.m., Free Harmony, Havilah Rand (folk)
  • Kulshan: 5 p.m. TBA
  • New Prospect Theatre: 7 p.m., Kendl Winter (folk)
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m. Ron Bailey & The Tangents
  • The Shakedown: 8 p.m., Sons of Rainier, Mr. Sam, Zach Bryson (alt-folk/Americana)
  • Tokyo Monster: 4 p.m., Singers’ Sunday

Jesse Stanton's music column, The Beat Goes On, and his compilation list of live music events in Whatcom County appear weekly. Reach him at; @JSBhamMusic. Check with individual venues to make sure events are still taking place as scheduled.

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