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The return of the Valentine’s Day cover shows

Event brings ad hoc bands together for two fun nights

Tesla Monson, right, and Sam Kristofferson, left, jam together with their respective black and turquoise guitars.
Tesla Monson, right, and Sam Kristofferson of band Mom Sport jam together on Monday, Jan. 22 as they prepare for their next gig in Bellingham. Mom Sport will be covering Eve 6 at Make.Shift's Valentine's show on Friday, Feb. 9. (Jack Warren/Cascadia Daily News)
By Jesse Stanton CDN Contributor

The lyrics of most pop music have revolved around love and romance for so long that we often take that for granted. Around Valentine’s Day, that can get to be overwhelming if you’re not in the mood for it. 

Eleven years ago, the folks at Make.Shift came up with a great idea for everyone who needs an antidote to Valentine’s Day schmaltz: gathering impromptu cover bands for a night of (mostly) punk and emo covers.  Over the years, the event became so popular that it had to spread to two nights.  After a few years off, the V-Day cover shows make their return on Feb. 9–10.

Fifteen bands will take the stage for 20-minute sets over those two nights, some of them alter egos of existing bands, some of them assembled just for this show. Friday night is more punk rock focused, with bands playing the parts of Paramore, Blondie, Operation Ivy, Screeching Weasel and more. I’m particularly excited to see The Collectors, a group who don’t perform very often, take on the part of Fugazi.

Saturday night leans more toward alternative rock, with the groups being tackled including Fall Out Boy, Eve 6, Third Eye Blind and Dinosaur Jr. (a particularly ambitious choice for whoever’s playing guitar). To get through all those bands in a timely fashion, both nights start right at 6 p.m.

In addition to being a fundraiser for the venue, the event has also been the stimulus for the formation of numerous new bands over the years. Groups of friends would get together to create a one-off cover band, then end up sticking together to create something new. (I should know, I’m in a band that started in exactly this fashion.)

The music scene often ends up being divided between original bands that play shorter sets at places like The Shakedown or Make.Shift, and cover bands that play for a couple hours. This event bridges that gap in a fun way, and serves as a great community builder as well. Just remember: no PDA!

Mom Sport meets every Monday to fine tune their musical skills and prepare for future performances. They’ll be covering the band Eve 6 for Make.Shift’s Valentine’s Day show. (Jack Warren/Cascadia Daily News)


The Subdued Sessions video series just continues knocking out super high-quality live videos in both production quality and performance. The two most recent feature Wes Jones playing a beautiful original in a guitar workshop, and Kian Dye and two friends absolutely tearing up a bluegrass fiddle tune around the fire at Stones Throw. 

The Mount Baker Theatre recently announced a bunch of big shows. High energy roots-rocker Grace Potter is there Saturday, March 2; alternative rockers the Wallflowers on Friday, May 31; and comedian/country songwriter Rodney Carrington takes the stage on Friday, June 28.

The Lincoln Theatre also has an unusually strong live music lineup over the next few weeks, with highlights including the Montreal Guitar Trio on Monday, March 11 and Irish folk virtuosos Lunasa on Monday, March 18. They’ve also got an intriguing event on Saturday, Feb. 24 that combines a historical look at the punk scene in Skagit County with performances by Fanny Alger and Stagnant Water. They’re even going to take out some seats to facilitate moshing, which is certainly not something I ever expected to see there. 

The BJ Block Trio’s new album is here! Check out Antiphony on all the streaming platforms if you’re looking for guitar-powered jazz with some funk and Latin grooves balanced by evocative moments of quiet contemplation. Fans of Julian Lage, John Scofield or Bill Frisell should all find something to love here. 

The Anacortes Music Project is hosting a battle of the bands at Buxton’s on Friday, Feb. 9, featuring a lineup of six local student bands. These events have been very popular in the past, it’s great to see them becoming a tradition. I’m also impressed that Anacortes High School has six bands going.  


Dark Star Orchestra
6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St.

The Dark Star Orchestra are widely considered the very best Grateful Dead tribute band around. They tour constantly and are known for re-creating entire shows from Dead history, right down to details like the specific guitar sounds. Supposedly the diehard fans compete to see who can be the first to figure out what historic show they’re playing on any given night.

Hip-hop group Snotty Nose Rez Kids will be playing the Wild Buffalo on Feb. 9. (Photo courtesy of Snotty Nose Rez Kids)
Snotty Nose Rez Kids
9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, Wild Buffalo, 208 W. Holly St.

Snotty Nose Rez Kids are a First Nations hip hop duo from British Columbia, who many local music fans might remember from when they last made a stop in Bellingham as one of the headliners of the NW Tune-Up festival last summer.

8:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, The Shakedown, 1212 N. State St.

Redshift is a punk band, but they also bring in a lot of surf rock influences. It’s an unusual mixture but it works. Both styles have lots of fast guitar riffs, then you just add some righteous indignation on top of that. Punk fans might remember their leader Vic Bondi from his group Articles of Faith. They’ll be at the Shakedown with local support from Disaster Queen and Proud Failures


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, OConnor & Loeffler
  • The Vault: 7 p.m., Luke Francis
  • Viking Union: 8 p.m., Tanukichan, Black Belt Eagle Scout
  • 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)
  • Corner Taphouse: 7 p.m., Simon Evans
  • 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., Friends for the Ghost
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Les Ailes, Anna Arvan, Hooves and Beak
  • Odd Fellows at the Orion: 8 p.m., The Common Oddities (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., The Devilies
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., Country Dave & The Pickin’ Crew
  • Paws for A Beer: 2 p.m., Michael Dayvid (acoustic covers)
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., Murder City Devils

Monday, Feb. 5

  • FireHouse Arts and Events Center: 3:30 p.m, Cheryl Hodge, Matt Eakle, & Jan Peters
  • Kulshan: 6 p.m., Three for Silver
  • Ramble Tamble: 7:30 p.m., Shady Groove (acoustic Dead/bluegrass)
  • Wild Buffalo: 8 p.m., Lotus

Tuesday, Feb. 6

  • Aslan Depot: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic ft. Michael Longeneker
  • 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
  • Zeeks Pizza: 6 p.m., Open Mic

Wednesday, Feb. 7

  • The Blue Room: 7 p.m., Message Received (jazz)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
  • New Prospect Theater: 5:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Rockfish: 6 p.m., Joan Penney (jazz)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m. Russel Thompson

Thursday, Feb. 8

  • The Admiralty Lounge: 7 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Farmstrong Brewing: 6 p.m., Ireland Woods & Samuel Harris
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Rose and Joel
  • Mount Baker Theatre: 7 p.m., Dark Star Orchestra
  • Ramble Tamble: 5 p.m., Wild Geese of the West (acoustic Grateful Dead)
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • That’s What I Like! Island Grill: 6 p.m., JP Falcon and Friends (folk/rock)
  • Zeeks Pizza: 7 p.m., Red Sky Riders (country/folk)

Friday, Feb. 9

  • Aslan Depot: 7 p.m., Cuttlefish
  • Buxton’s: 7 p.m., Rock The Island Battle of the Bands
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., The Atlantics
  • Corner Taphouse: 7 p.m., Michael Dayvid 
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Karyn Ann
  • New Prospect Theatre: 7 p.m., Eli West (folk)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Sam and Ireland (jazz/soul/folk)
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., The Outta-Towners, Miles Harris, White Ducks (jazz/rock/pop/blues)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., JP Falcon Grady
  • The Vault: 7 p.m., Chuck Dingee (acoustic covers)
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Snotty Nose Rez Kids (hip-hop)

Saturday, Feb. 10

  • The Blue Room: 8 p.m., Campana, Dank Zavala, Nestra (hip-hop)
  • Birdsview Brewing: 6 p.m., Dave Hannon
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Market Street Traditional Jazz Band
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Lindsay Street (Celtic)
  • Guemes Island General Store: 6:30 p.m., The Enthusiasts, Jacob Navarro
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)
  • Mount Baker Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Martha Scanlan & Jon Neufeld (roots/Americana)
  • Old Edison: 8 p.m., County Rose Band (country)
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., Paige Woods + Friends (acoustic jams) 
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., Cardova (funk/R&B)
  • The Shakedown: 9 p.m., Redshift, Disaster Queen, Proud Failures (punk)
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Spider Cult (cabaret folk)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., JP Falcon Grady
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., The Problem (jazz)
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., SpaceBand (hip-hop/R&B covers)

Sunday, Feb. 11

  • Kulshan: 5 p.m., E. Pruitt (funk/jazz/R&B)
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., Pacific Twang (country)

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

Jesse Stanton's music column, The Beat Goes On, appears weekly. Reach him at; @JSBhamMusic. Check with individual venues to make sure events are still taking place as scheduled.

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