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Aperatonic Trio’s jazz conversation

Concert at Aslan Depot presents music from under-recognized female jazz composers

From left, Sarah Yates, Marceline Keene and Melanie Sehman form the Aperatonic Trio, a jazz trio. They will perform next on Friday, March 8 at the Aslan Depot. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)
By Jesse Stanton CDN Contributor

Aperatonic Trio is a relatively new force on the Bellingham music scene, but the musicians behind it are not. In fact, all three members have previously collaborated in at least one other, more traditional-sounding band. Bassist Sarah Yates and guitarist Marceline Keene play together in Nuages, Keene and drummer Melanie Sehman perform with Lulu Swing, and Yates and Sehman are both in The Unknowns and MANtrio.

For this project, though, they’ve come together to make something brand new.

Aperatonic Trio is their new group devoted to reinterpreting the jazz compositions of female and non-binary composers, with carefully chosen set lists dedicated to shedding light on some unheralded geniuses. They’re performing at Aslan Depot on Friday, March 8 if you want to experience their unique approach for yourself. 

Most jazz groups have a standard progression from melody to a round of solos, then back to the melody — but this group works hard to create, as Sehman puts it “a lively group conversation, rather than a series of monologues.” That could mean everyone playing the melody at once, everyone soloing at once or some unexpected combination in between.

The setlist for the Aslan show includes composers including Tomeka Reid, Geri Allen and Mary Lou Williams, plus originals by the band members and at least one structured improvisation not based on written music. Although Sehman is the behind-the-scenes organizer for most of the band’s logistics, on stage they function entirely as a collective. Each concert they present is carefully thought out, with a different set list each time. 

If any of that sounds overly intimidating or abstract, keep in mind that these folks all know how to swing memorable melodies even when they’re improvising. Even if you’re not paying attention to all the thought and craft the musicians are putting into this, it’s still going to be a fun night out.

Marceline Keene, left, plays guitar and Sarah Yates plays bass. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)


While we’re on the topic of creative improvised music, there’s another event I’ve been wanting to highlight that ties in nicely. Stellar Sounds is a new series happening on the first Thursday of each month at the Honey Moon, loosely modeled after the Racer Sessions at Cafe Racer in Seattle. Organizer Mark Hunter is bringing in a featured performer each month to lead a night of unpredictable improvisation. After the featured artist does a 20–30 minute set, they present a prompt or theme. Whichever musicians are in attendance proceed to improvise in small groups based on that. Pianist Cat Torens is the host for March, and Aperatonic Trio will be hosting in May. 

In one of my favorite signs of spring, we’re starting to get announcements about summer events. The Elizabeth Park series just announced its lineup of summer Thursdays. North Sound Soul is kicking it off with riotous, horn-driven soul classics on June 20, bandZandt is in their traditional last show of the summer slot on Aug. 22 — and in between, you get everything from pop to blues, klezmer and Celtic. It’s awfully nice to think about live music on a sunny summer Thursday in the park right about now.

The North Cascades Bluegrass Festival also announced its plans for Labor Day weekend out at the Deming Log Show grounds. Their headliners will include Arkansauce, Never Come Down and Under The Rocks.  

The guys from Willdabeast have branched out by starting a label. Grand Alliance Music is releasing music by some of their many friends in the global electronic music scene and have had some nice success with it. The duo also have a new single of their own out and an album coming in April. 


The Groovy Nobody, FROND, Teal Pop
8 p.m. Monday, March 4, The Blue Room, 202 E. Holly St.

You don’t see a lot of top-shelf shows on Mondays, but this Monday, March 4 at the Blue Room is going to be an exception to that. The Groovy Nobody and FROND, both from Seattle, and Teal Pop all the way from Los Angeles are coming to town for a night of lush neo-psychedelia. Get ready to trance out on a weeknight. 

The Sweet Goodbyes
5–7 p.m. Friday, March 8, Stones Throw, 1009 Larrabee Ave.

March 8 is International Women’s Day, and Fairhaven just might be the place to celebrate. If you want to make an evening of it, you can start off by catching the beautiful harmonies and original songs of The Sweet Goodbyes at Stones Throw, then go down the block to Skylark’s for a showcase of local female acoustic musicians. 

MEM//BRANE, Done to Death, Dryland
6 p.m. Saturday, March 9, Ritual Records, 115 E. Magnolia St.

I got to play a show at Ritual Records for the first time recently and was pleasantly surprised by the good acoustics in there. Great, enthusiastic crowd, too. On March 9 it’s going to get pretty loud in there, with the hardcore anthems of MEM//BRANE, the punk/metal blend of Done to Death, and the stoner doom metal of Dryland. Go check out some of the best heavy bands in the area, and maybe pick up some records while you’re at it. 


Friday, March 1

  • The Admiralty Lounge: 7 p.m., Lindsay Street (Celtic)
  • Aslan Depot: 7 p.m. BJ Block Trio (jazz/funk)
  • Big Stick BBQ: 5:30 p.m., Lykins-Adams Duo (blues/rock/country)
  • 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)
  • 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 Sushi: 5:30 p.m., Cheryl Hodge (jazz/blues)
  • The Vault: 7 p.m., Double Trouble
  • Viking Union: 8 p.m., Sounds of the Underground finals ft. Mad King, Cuttlefish, Frog Rocket
  • 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., Hot Tomatoes (vintage jazz)
  • Hotel Bellwether: 6 p.m., Marvin Johnson
  • Hotel Leo: 7 p.m., Jasmine Greene Band (rock/blues/pop)
  • Katt’s Westside Stories: 8 p.m., Pretty Much Nothing, Oath ov Hatred, Hired Mules, Done to Death (rock/metal)
  • Main Street Bar and Grill: 8:30 p.m., Blind Fate (classic rock)
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Where’s The Exit?, Angel’s Egg, Les Ailes, Every Lux (singer-songwriters)
  • 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 Sushi: 5:30 p.m., Cheryl Hodge (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. Guitars & Gratitude (folk/Americana)
  • New Prospect Theatre: 7 p.m., Kendl Winter (folk)
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m. Ron Bailey & The Tangents
  • Paws For A Beer: 2 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Ramble Tamble: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • The Shakedown: 8 p.m., Sons of Rainier, Mr. Sam, Zach Bryson (alt-folk/Americana)
  • Tokyo Monster Sushi: 4 p.m., Singers’ Sunday

Monday, March 4

  • The Blue Room: 8 p.m., The Groovy Nobody, FROND, Teal Pop
  • Ramble Tamble: 7 p.m., Wild Geese of the West (acoustic Grateful Dead)

Tuesday, March 5

  • Aslan Depot: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Menace Brewing: 7 p.m.,  Invitational Blues Jam
  • Ono Kitchen: 7 p.m., Women’s Open Mic Showcase
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., The Elevator Club (hip-hop showcase with open cypher)
  • Tokyo Monster Sushi: 5:30 p.m., Marvin Johnson
  • Underground Coffeehouse: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • Zeeks Pizza: 6 p.m., Open Mic

Wednesday, March 6

  • The Blue Room: 7 p.m., Message Received (jazz) 
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
  • New Prospect Theatre: 5:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Rockfish: 6 p.m., Whistle Lake Jazz Quartet
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Hopnotic
  • Tokyo Monster Sushi: 5:30 p.m., Marvin Johnson

Thursday, March 7

  • The Admiralty Lounge: 7 p.m., Blue Collar Grass Band
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., 8 p.m., Stellar Sounds ft. Cat Toren (free improvisation and avant-garde jam)
  • Jansen Art Center: 7:30 p.m., Front Street Jazz
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • That’s What I Like! Island Grill: 6 p.m., JP Falcon and Friends (folk/rock)
  • Tokyo Monster Sushi: 5:30 p.m., Diane Leigh
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Kamaiyah, guests
  • Zeeks Pizza: 7 p.m., Badd Dogg Blues Society

Friday, March 8

  • Aslan Depot: 7 p.m. Aperatonic Trio
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Thomas Harris Quartet (jazz)
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Pure Halcyon, The Glare Killers, Torch (rock)
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Under The Puddle (rock)
  • Corner Taphouse: 7 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle
  • Eagle Haven: 7 p.m., Aaron Crawford (country/Americana)
  • Fireside Martini and Wine Bar: 7 p.m., Misty Flowers (folk)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Bellflower
  • Hotel Bellwether: 6 p.m., Walt Burkett
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Mt. Fog, Lane Lines, LipStitch, Sleepy Genes
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., Cuttlefish
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., The House Wrens (Celtic)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., International Women’s Day Showcase
  • Stones Throw: 5 p.m., The Sweet Goodbyes (folk)
  • Tokyo Monster Sushi: 5:30 p.m., Cheryl Hodge (jazz/blues)
  • The Vault: 7 p.m., Darla Kendrick
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., The Record Company, Sarah Rogo

Saturday, March 9

  • Birdsview Brewing: 6 p.m., Christopher Nunn
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Beatroots, Slowfall, Back to the Loud, Kellen Murphy & Friends (rock)
  • Brown Lantern: 9 p.m., Pension King & The Dependents
  • Buxton’s: 7 p.m., Brittany Collins, Pearl Tottenham, Brian Tottenham, Kate Dinsmore, Mike Frazier (singer-songwriters in the round)
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Badd Dogg Blues
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Lindsay Street
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Michael Daley, Finn Wilcox
  • Hotel Bellwether: 6 p.m., Marvin Johnson
  • Main Street Bar and Grill: 8:30 p.m., Sunset Superman (classic rock)
  • Old Edison: 8 p.m., Jasmine Green Band (rock/pop/blues)
  • Karate Church: 7 p.m., Headstone Brigade, The Moving Hats, The House Wrens 
  • Make.Shift: 6 p.m., Avant Garde Open Mic
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., Cuttlefish (rock)
  • Ritual Records: 6 p.m., Dryland, Done to Death, MEM//BRANE (metal)
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., The Atlantics
  • The Shakedown: 9 p.m., Full Color Dream, Biff Got Killed, Toadmortons (rock)
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Jerry Wirkkala (flamenco)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., JP Falcon Grady
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., 
  • Tokyo Monster Sushi: 5:30 p.m., Cheryl Hodge (jazz/blues)
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., The Wood Brothers, Rainbow Girls

Sunday, March 10

  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m. The Dunton Sisters
  • Ramble Tamble: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • The Shakedown: 8 p.m., DEAL (Grateful Dead tribute)
  • Tokyo Monster Sushi: 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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