The Beat Goes On

Singer, songwriter De-Esser releasing anti-folk album

Simpson celebrating album with an Aug. 26 show at Honey Moon
August 15, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.
Singer, songwriter and guitarist Victor Simpson plays live onstage. Simpson is releasing a new album, "Tame," coming out shortly, and will be celebrating its release with a show on Saturday, Aug. 26, at the Honey Moon.
Singer, songwriter and guitarist Victor Simpson plays live onstage. Simpson is releasing a new album, "Tame," coming out shortly, and will be celebrating its release with a show on Saturday, Aug. 26, at the Honey Moon. (Photo courtesy of Olivia Bradley)

CDN Contributor

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Victor Simpson has been performing all around the area for a decade now. He works in a style of music referred to as folk-punk or anti-folk.

It’s a nebulously defined genre but basically implies acoustic instrumentation, lo-fi recordings and unusual lyrical structures. Bright Eyes or the early Mountain Goats recordings would be good reference points, but there are also plenty of more traditional folk and country styles in his music. 

Back in 2016, he adopted the name De-Esser for the release of his album "Campa Cavallo." He now has a new De-Esser album, "Tame," coming out shortly, and will be celebrating its release with a show on Aug. 26 at the Honey Moon.

The evening will feature Sam Chue, Tim Mechling, and Hannah Wyatt — all songwriters in their own right — who all contributed to the album. Chue’s new record label, Washingtones Records, has made it possible for the album to be pressed onto vinyl LPs, and those will be for sale. 

Most of the songs on the album were written and recorded solo, with his fingerpicked acoustic guitar providing the backdrop for gently crooned songs on a surprising array of topics. Many of the 15 songs clock in under two minutes, although a few stretch out longer. 

photo  Victor Simpson works in a style of music referred to as folk-punk or anti-folk. (Photo courtesy of Olivia Bradley)  

Simpson's slightly warbly voice and some warm tape hiss give the whole album a very human, individualized feel, entirely at odds with the slick perfection of Autotuned modern pop. It’s the kind of music that rewards close attention to the lyrics and ideas, so a vinyl release is perfect. For that matter, so is the intimate, attentive scene at the Honey Moon. Head down and check it out.

The lineup for the Bellingham Exit festival is out and music fans are going to want to clear their calendars for Oct. 11–15. Headliners include old-school hip-hop heroes The Pharcyde and Deltron 3030, comedians Marc Maron and Joe Pera, drag queen Monet X Change, bluegrass with Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway, and Mongolian heavy metal (yes, that’s a real thing) from The Hu. The four main venues will be the Wild Buffalo, The Shakedown, The Blue Room, and the New Prospect Theatre, but they’ll also be packing art, live music, dance parties and comedy into other spaces all over town.

Cat Valley just released the first single from their upcoming EP, "Bingo Queen," which will be out Sept. 15. I will have a feature with them coming up in a few weeks but in the meantime make sure to check out "Not Me." Their sound is a distinctive blend of righteous fury with sweet harmony, and they just keep getting better with each new recording.

One other notable local release this week is "Susschord" by The Toadmortons. It’s their sixth album, but first since relocating from California to Bellingham — recommended for fans of the rootsier side of '90s alt-rock, with crunchy guitar riffs and catchy melodies.

I mentioned a while back that Ramble Tamble was going to start having live music. (That’s the new bar at 1313 N. State St.) They’re off to a good start: Local hip-hop hero Mostafa is going to be curating a weekly event there on Tuesdays starting Aug. 22. Expect him DJing, plus guest performers, cyphers and emcee battles. 


Magic Wands
8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, The Shakedown
Magic Wands are inspired by the dark but ethereal sounds of '80s and '90s goth and post-punk. They are touring the country behind their fifth album, "SWITCH," and will make an appearance Tuesday, Aug. 22 at The Shakedown with support from Lorelei K and TREASVRE. 

Mama's Broke
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 23, New Prospect Theatre
Mama’s Broke is a duo all the way from Nova Scotia. They write original music heavily informed by traditional folk, using fiddle, banjo and guitar to support their tight harmony singing. They tour heavily all over the world and will be at the New Prospect Theater Wednesday, Aug. 23.

photo  Nova Scotia-based duo Mama's Broke will bring original and traditional folk sounds to Bellingham for a Wednesday, Aug. 23 show at the New Prospect Theatre. (Photo courtesy of Blanc Esther Chavez)  

Smooth Kiwi
7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 26, Kulshan Trackside Beer Garden
Smooth Kiwi won over a lot of new fans with their energetic, unpredictable performance at Downtown Sounds a few weeks back. They will be headlining a show at the Kulshan Trackside stage on Saturday, Aug. 26, for anyone who wants to hear more of their epic rock originals and well-chosen covers. 

Ibidunni Ojikutu and Rebecca Mañalac 
5:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27, Lincoln Theatre
The powerful Seattle-based soprano Ibidunni Ojikutu and Bellingham pianist Rebecca Mañalac have put together a program of operatic works and art songs emphasizing young, female and Black composers. They’ll bring this selection to the Lincoln Theatre on Sunday, Aug. 27. This would be an interesting choice for both confirmed opera lovers and the merely opera-curious. 


Friday, Aug. 18

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Bellewood Farms: 6 p.m., Queen’s Bluegrass
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Goodtime Hustle
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Julian MacDonough Jazz Quartet
  • Boundary: 6 p.m., The Problem (jazz)
  • Burlington Summer Nights: 6 p.m., Billy Appleton Band (blues/rock 'n' roll)
  • Eagle Haven: 7 p.m., Midnight Hour (classic rock and soul)
  • Fireside: 7 p.m., Carr Parker
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Deadlot (Grateful Dead tribute)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Gruv (instrumental jazz/funk/rock)
  • Karate Church: 7:30 p.m., Wolfchild, Claire Furtwangler, Eli Willis (folk/rock)
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Pure Halcyon, Counterproductive, Where’s The Exit (rock)
  • Main Street: 8:30 p.m., Thermal Blues Express
  • NW Washington Fair: 7 p.m., Ne-Yo (hip-hop pop)
  • Seafarer’s Memorial Park (Anacortes): 6 p.m., Victims of Love
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., Paydirt, Tuesday’s Refuge, Sweetwood (rock)
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Eric Kosarot (bluegrass/Americana)
  • Skylark’s: 5 p.m., Badd Dogg Blues Society
  • Station 49: 3:30 p.m., Charlie Partin
  • Stone’s Throw: 6 p.m., Tara Caldwell & Diane Bochsler, Larry Johnson, Ed Hoban (singer-songwriters)
  • That’s What I Like: 7 p.m., Jeffrey Slough (acoustic covers)
  • Vault: 7 p.m., The Unknowns (jazz/pop/folk)
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., 40 Oz. To Freedom (Sublime tribute), Perfect by Tomorrow

Saturday, Aug. 19

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 3 p.m., Mutiny Bay (hard rock covers)
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Nick Anthony
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Atomic Affair, Marla Hooch, No Mars, Cuttlefish (rock)
  • Brown Lantern: 9 p.m., Johnny Lawhorn and the Pentagram String Band
  • Eagle Haven: 7 p.m., Full Spectrum
  • Fireside 4 p.m., Singers’ Saturday
  • Guemes Island General Store: 6 p.m., Andy Coe Band, Jacob Navarro
  • Heart of Anacortes: 6 p.m., Savage Blues Band
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Ruby Flambe
  • Kulshan Trackside: 3–10 p.m. Acid Ball Music Festival ft. Sugar Candy Mountain, The Shivas, Acid Tongue, King Youngblood, more (psychedelic rock)
  • Main Street: 8:30 p.m., Antishock (alt-rock covers)
  • NW Washington Fair: 7 p.m., Russel Dickerson (country)
  • Pioneer Park (Ferndale): 6 p.m., Locust Street Taxi (pop/rock)
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., The Dunton Sisters (country/bluegrass)
  • Skylark’s: 5 p.m., Three for Silver
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Tyler Clarke
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Beats Antique, guests

Sunday, Aug. 20

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 3 p.m., Jim Buk Tu (rock covers)
  • Bellingham Cider Co: 6:30 p.m., The Best Intentions (jazz/blues/Americana)
  • Birdsview: 4 p.m., Ryan Doty
  • Gilkey Square (La Conner): 1 p.m., Pacific Twang (country)
  • Kulshan Trackside: 3 p.m., Kian Dye & Madrona (bluegrass)
  • Kulshan Sunnyland: 5 p.m., Katie & Kevin (folk)
  • Main Street: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., Ron Bailey & The Tangents
  • Station 49: 3 p.m., Cascade Cody (country)

Monday, Aug. 21

  • Boundary: 6 p.m., Dusty Mugs (acoustic blues)

Tuesday, Aug. 22

  • Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Barkley Village: 6 p.m., The Naughty Blokes
  • 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 (hip-hop)
  • Shakedown: 8 p.m., Magic Wands, Lorelei Ki, TREASVRE (alt-rock/goth)

Wednesday, Aug. 23

  • Bar Cicotti: 6 p.m., The Problem (jazz)
  • Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., Open Mic/Jam
  • Boundary: 6 p.m., Aaron Guest on piano, 6 p.m., Gallowglass (Celtic)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
  • Katt’s Westside: 6:30 p.m., Savanna Woods (folk/rock)
  • New Prospect Theatre: 8 p.m., Mama’s Broke (folk)
  • Rockfish: 6 p.m., Janette West (jazz/R&B)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m. Tom Sandblom
  • Welcome Road: 4 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)

Thursday, Aug. 24

  • Barkley Village Green: noon, The Dusty Mugs (acoustic blues) 
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., High Peak Trio (funk/jazz)
  • Boundary: 5 p.m., High Mountain String Band 8 p.m., Marie, The Band, The Sweet Goodbyes (folk)
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Eagle Haven: 6 p.m., The Pension King
  • Elizabeth Park: 6 p.m., BandZandt
  • Farmstrong: 6 p.m., Savanna Woods (folk/rock)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Waddler (indie folk)
  • Hotel Bellwether: 6 p.m., SpaceBand (hip-hop and R&B covers)
  • Kulshan Trackside: 6 p.m., Odd Mood Jam Band; 7:30 p.m., Free Harmony
  • Lincoln Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Lydia Pense and Cold Blood (funk/rock)
  • Mount Vernon Riverwalk: 6 p.m., Chris Eger Band and the Powerhouse Horns (blues/rock)
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., Monstress, Swamp Church, Torch (rock)
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • That’s What I Like: 6 p.m., JP Falcon and Friends (folk/rock)
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., Cuttlefish, Midpak, Atomic Affair (rock)
  • Zeeks: 7 p.m., The Saltwater Cowboys (country/Americana)

Friday, Aug. 25

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., The Three Radicals (rock covers)
  • Bellewood: 6 p.m., Clanna Morna (Celtic)
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Julian MacDonough Jazz Quartet
  • Blue Room: 9 p.m., Whalien, Left on Tenth, GLYF
  • Boulevard Park: 6 p.m., High Mountain String Band
  • Boundary: 6 p.m., The Legendary Chucklenuts (classic rock)
  • Burlington Summer Nights: 6 p.m., Midlife Crisis and the Alimony Horns
  • Eagle Haven: 7 p.m., Uncle Doug
  • Fireside: 7 p.m., Anissa & Erik
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Flattery (Celtic)
  • Guemes Island General Store: 6:30 p.m., Haunted Like Human
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Shadow Basket (folk rock)
  • Lake Padden Golf Course: 5:30 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Lincoln Theatre: 8 p.m., Judy Collins (folk)
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Jostaberry, Moraine, Chaos and the Cosmos
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., Too Slim and the Taildraggers (blues/rock)
  • Seafarers' Memorial Park (Anacortes): 6 p.m., Eden (folk/rock/blues)
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., The Bronx, Vandoliers (punk)
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Ian Skavdahl
  • Skylark’s: 5 p.m., Michele D’Amour and the Love Dealers
  • Station 49: 3 p.m., Ron Hardt; 8 p.m., Cash’d Out (Johnny Cash tribute)
  • Structures Old Town: 6:30 p.m., Tea Seas Trio (funk/jazz)
  • That’s What I Like: 7 p.m., Leo Bootes (blues)
  • Vault: 7 p.m., Anna Katarina
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Given Peace, Salleymane b2b Chxndler, DJ Feral Cat b2b Obzedat, Silk Jammies (house)

Saturday, Aug. 26

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 3 p.m., Motown Cruisers
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Jesse James
  • Boundary: 7 p.m., The Dusty 45s, Lonesome Town Painters, The Roostertails
  • Brown Lantern: 9 p.m., Dain Norman and the Chrysalis Effect
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., The Atlantics
  • Fireside 4 p.m., Singers’ Saturday
  • Granary Building: 4 p.m., The Moving Hats (Celtic)
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Doug Allen
  • Guemes Island General Store: 6 p.m., Yogoman Burning Band, Ebb, Slack & Flood
  • Heart of Anacortes: 6 p.m., The Enthusiasts (folk/rock)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., De-Esser, Sam Chue, Hannah Wyatt, Tim Mechling
  • Kulshan Trackside: 7 p.m., Smooth Kiwi (rock)
  • Old Edison:  8 p.m., The Walrus (classic rock)
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., Cascadia Groove (funk/jazz/R&B)
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., Lint, Charts, Biff Got Killed (rock)
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Spider Cult
  • Skylark’s: 5 p.m., Into The West
  • Station 49: 8 p.m., Cash’d Out (Johnny Cash tribute
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Odd Mood Jam Band

Sunday, Aug. 27

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 3 p.m., Midlife Crisis
  • Bellingham Cider Co: 6:30 p.m., Yankee Drivers (bluegrass)
  • Birdsview: 4 p.m., Zach Michaud
  • Fairhaven Village Green: 3:30 p.m., Jazz Axiom
  • Gilkey Square (La Conner): 1 p.m., Cascadia Groove (funk/R&B)
  • Kulshan Trackside: 3 p.m., Marie, The Band (folk)
  • Kulshan Sunnyland: 5 p.m., Daniel Kosel (country/rock/blues)
  • Lincoln Theatre: 5:30 p.m., Ibidunni Ojikutu & Rebecca Mañalac(opera/contemporary classical)
  • Main Street: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., The Flaming Pies (Beatles tribute)
  • Station 49: 3 p.m., D’vas and Dudes
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., Wildermiss, Van Bellman, Harbor Day

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.

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