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The joyous jams of Whalien

Eclectic quartet brings colorful sound to Bellingham's The Shakedown

Whalien is a Bellingham-based group with roots in the jam band genre
Whalien is a Bellingham-based group with roots in the jam band genre, but their musical influences are far-reaching. They're playing The Shakedown on Feb. 2 with the Eugene, Ore.-based group Spunj. (Photo courtesy of Julia Anderson)
By Jesse Stanton CDN Contributor

Whalien may be one of the most eclectic groups you’re ever likely to hear. They’re rooted in the jam band scene, so if you’re looking for long jams, they’ve got those for sure. But they also bounce across innumerable other genres. 

At any given moment, their music might sound like country, ska, disco, jazz fusion, hard rock or something entirely new. It’s all going to be danceable, though, as long as you’re in the right frame of mind. You can experience all this for yourself at the bar/event space The Shakedown on Friday, Feb. 2. 

Whalien embraces an aesthetic of bright colors, with lots of glitter and sparkle (and some seriously bizarre hats). If the darkness and gloom of the winter are getting you down, the energy and excitement of a show like this might be just what you need.

Whalien formed in Bellingham in 2017, and is now split between Seattle and Bellingham. The lineup includes Alex Draper on keyboard and trombone, Zach Martin on guitar, Jimmy Goulding on bass and Shane Crawford on drums. Vocals are spread among all the members, with Alex and Zach taking most of the lead vocals. Lyrical topics range from the Space Needle to sea llamas.

The group put out their second album, “Whale Tales,” last year. You can check that out before you go, but you should expect the songs to get re-invented in the live setting. The other band on the bill for this show is Spunj, a group from Eugene, Oregon with a similarly eclectic, jam-friendly approach. 

photo  The group Whalien is distinguished by their bright and sunny aesthetic, quirky lyrical content and extremely danceable grooves. (Photo courtesy of Julia Anderson)  


I saw the Sehome High School jazz band play a couple times last year and thought to myself, “Wow, some of these kids are so good, they could really be out playing shows around town.”  Apparently drummer Julian MacDonough agreed with me, as he tapped four of them to form the core of the latest edition of his band Message Received, a tribute to Art Blakey. Guitarist Miles Harris is also in the lineup. They’re going to be playing at the Blue Room every Wednesday for the foreseeable future. 

The Blue Room also recently launched their new Sunday afternoon Folk Club. That will be from 3–5 p.m. on the first and third Sunday of every month with some excellent headliners, including the Tango Cowboys, Sweater Weather String Band and Serafima & The Shakedowns. 

Speaking of high school kids making waves, Slowfall, the pride of Bellingham High, now have some songs out online. “Jumpstart” and “Peas” capture the energy of their shows and their distinctive melodic sensibility. I’ve seen this group play a few times, and they just keep getting better. 

In other news, live music is also returning to the Skagit Casino. Expect top-quality regional cover and tribute bands most weekends in their Pacific Showroom. 

A few other releases to mention: Aardvarticus Zeus has a new Freshwater Session live video, showing off a newly expanded lineup.  

Drayton released their single “Around You,” which is just about the catchiest thing I’ve heard in a while. Seriously, I dare you to listen to that chorus once and not get it stuck in your head. The harmonies are great too, with a sweet ’50s pop vibe. 

Finally, the Spine Readers just released “Bird Song,” which will be the last piece of the puzzle for their fourth and final album. They also just released a fantastic music video for the song “Goth Lessons” off their previous album “Mystery School.” Apparently we’re just going to get to keep learning about the depths of the musical legacy that Sean Meyer left behind. 


BJ Block Trio Album Release Party
7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2, Aslan Depot, 1322 N. State St.
When I spoke with multi-genre guitarist BJ Block last year, he mentioned that his funky jazz trio (with bassist Roger Yamashita and drummer Christian Casolary) was working on an album. Their regular First Friday gig at Aslan is coming up on Feb. 2, and this time around it will be a celebration of the album’s release. 

The Mighty Bayou Opossums at the Mardi Gras Dog Walk
1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, Paws for a Beer, 501 Harris Ave.
For the second year in a row, Paws for a Beer is sponsoring a Mardi Gras dog walk inspired by a New Orleans-style second line. Wear green, gold and purple, and bring your dog to Boulevard Park at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 3. The Mighty Bayou Opossums will add live music to the parade once it arrives in Fairhaven and makes its way down to Paws, then keep playing until 3 p.m.

The Murder City Devils
8:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 4, Wild Buffalo, 208 W. Holly St.

One of my all-time favorite rock ‘n’ roll memories is watching the drummer for Seattle’s legendary horror punk/garage rock band The Murder City Devils play a flaming drum set back in 1998. The band has been broken up for most of the last 20 years but they are doing a couple of reunion shows this year, including one at the Wild Buffalo on Sunday, Feb. 4. I wouldn’t count on any literal flames, but it should be a pretty high-energy show nonetheless. 


Friday, Jan. 26

  • Aslan Depot: 7 p.m. Caleb & Walter (Americana)
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Petunia & The Vipers (country/ swing)
  • Corner Taphouse: 7 p.m., Zach Michaud
  • DownTime Taps: 7 p.m., JP Falcon Band
  • Fireside Martini & Wine Bar: 7 p.m., Naughty Blokes
  • Graham’s: 8 p.m., ELK
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Devin Champlin, Nathaniel Talbott (folk)
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Drayton, Back to the Loud, Shame Banger, Kids On Fire (rock)
  • The Shakedown: 8:30 p.m., Pure Halcyon, Great Comet, Sour Fuzz (rock)
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Aloha Danny (folk)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Marley Dzis (jazz/ bossa nova/ R&B)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)
  • The Vault: 7 p.m., Michael Dayvid (acoustic covers)

Saturday, Jan. 27

  • Birdsview Brewing: 6 p.m., Jack Parker
  • The Blue Room: 8 p.m., No Mars, Alessandra Rose, Whiskey Class
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Polly O’Keary Band (blues/rock)
  • Corner Pub: 6 p.m., Wayne Hayton
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Luxien Dandelion
  • Karate Church: 7 p.m., The Floral Shirts, Live TV, Morning Glory, Fyre Alarm (rock)
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Somerfeld, Male Gaze, The Hobby (rock)
  • Main Street Bar & Grill: 8:30 p.m., Thermal Blues Express
  • Menace Brewing: 6 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Mount Baker Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Martin Sexton (sold out)
  • Odd Fellows at the Orion: 8 p.m., Live Jazz
  • Old Edison: 8 p.m., The Dirty Pilots
  • Presence Studio: 7 p.m., Three Wheels Turning
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., Girl Parallel, Adam Greenberg, Kazmyn
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m. Powerhouse (blues/rock)
  • The Shakedown: 9 p.m., Feral Moon, Unsheather, Deep Recess (rock)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Rose and Joel
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Katie & Kevin (folk/bluegrass)
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., The True Loves (R&B/soul)

Sunday, Jan. 28

  • FireHouse Arts & Events Center: 4 p.m., Josh Cook/ Steve Treseler Quintet (jazz)
  • Kulshan: 5 p.m., Broken Bow String Band
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m. Ron Bailey & The Tangents

Monday, Jan. 29

  • Kulshan: 6 p.m.
  • Ramble Tamble: 7:30 p.m., Wild Geese of the West (acoustic Grateful Dead)

Tuesday, Jan. 30

  • Aslan Depot: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic ft. The Singer Tina
  • Menace Brewing: 7 p.m.,  Invitational Blues Jam
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., The Elevator Club (hip hop showcase with open cypher)
  • Underground Coffeehouse: 7 p.m., Open Mic

Wednesday, Jan. 31

  • The Blue Room: 7 p.m., Message Received (jazz)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
  • Rockfish: 6 p.m., Pension King and the Dependents
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Ron Hardt & Jimmy Wright
  • Underground Coffeehouse: 7 p.m.,

Thursday, Feb. 1

  • Admiralty Lounge: 7 p.m., David Donohue (folk)
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Farmstrong: 6 p.m., Joshua Red Uttech
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Stellar Sounds ft. Mark Hunter (free improvisation and avant-garde jam)
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., Jazz Jam ft. The Problem
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • That’s What I Like! Island Grill: 6 p.m, JP Falcon and Friends (folk/ rock)
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., The Elovaters (reggae)
  • Zeeks Pizza: 7 p.m., Emery Road (rock/ country/ blues)

Friday, Feb. 2

  • Admiralty Lounge: 7 p.m., Emily Freudenberger (singer-songwriter)
  • Aslan Depot: 7 p.m., BJ Block Trio (jazz/ funk)
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Thomas Harris Quartet (jazz)
  • The Blue Room: 8 p.m., Atomic Affair, New Age Healers, Ceras (rock)
  • Conway Muse: 6 p.m., Ben Starner on piano
  • Corner Taphouse: 7 p.m., Shady Groove (acoustic Dead/ bluegrass)
  • Eagle Haven Winery: 7 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Ireland Woods & Samuel Harris
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Bob Paltrow and Paige Woods
  • Main Street Bar & Grill: 8:30 p.m., False Sense of Security (’80s/’90s rock covers)
  • Ritual Records: 6 p.m., Biff Got Killed, The Wyrds
  • The Shakedown: 9 p.m. Whalien, Spunj
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Jolene Gayle & Ryan T. Higgins
  • Skagit Valley Casino: 8 p.m., Groove Nation
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Dry Martini (jazz)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., High Mountain String Band (bluegrass)
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Sottile, O’Connor & Loeffler
  • The Vault: 7 p.m., Luke Francis
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., ZEKE BEATS (electronic)
  • WinkWink: 7 p.m., Harbor Day, Lily Ire (indie rock)

Saturday, Feb. 3

  • The Blue Room: 8 p.m., Frog Rocket, Lemon Bear, Rylan Fischer (rock)
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Charlie Partin (country)
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Joel Astley Band (blues)
  • Eagle Haven Winery: 6 p.m., Joel Gibson Jr. 
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Quickdraw String Band (folk)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Wes Jones
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Les Ailes, Anna Arvan, Hooves and Beak
  • Odd Fellows at the Orion: 8 p.m., MacDonough/ Harris/Angelos/ Hunter (jazz)
  • Jansen Art Center: 3 p.m., Bellingham Dixieland All Stars
  • Paws for A Beer: 1:30 p.m., Mighty Bayou Opossums (with dog parade starting at 1 p.m. in Fairhaven)
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., North Country Highway
  • The Shakedown: 9 p.m., Twin Tribes, Urban Heat, Vandal Moon (goth/ post-punk)
  • Skagit Valley Casino: 8 p.m., Groove Nation
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Anissa (jazz)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., East Coast Dave (roots)
  • Underground: 8 p.m., Blindfate (hard rock covers)

Sunday, Feb. 4

  • The Blue Room: 3 p.m., Friends for the Ghost, Brady McAtee & Jan Peters
  • Kulshan: 5 p.m.,
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., Country Dave & The Pickin’ Crew
  • Paws for A Beer: 2 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., Murder City Devils

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: jsbhammusic@gmail.com or Twitter: @JSBhamMusic.

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