As the Swillery Whiskey Bar fills with a crowd of music lovers, audience members draw names out of a hat to determine which performers will take the stage next.
One-by-one, local hip-hop and rap artists stepped up to the microphone as their names were called. The audience’s heads began to bob as soon as the music started.
On Saturday, March 5, artists and producers came together to combine unique sounds with a night of short performances for first the All Locals Hip Hop Show.
Jonah Falk, the creator of the event, is not new to the music or event-planning scene. He has been putting on hip-hop shows and events since he was in high school and has since moved on to be the director of Associated Students Productions at Western.
Falk is a junior studying music creation and the music industry at Fairhaven College with a focus on music artistry and productions. His music career began he was 13 years old with his love of poetry and performance, he said. Later, he said he decided to make the jump to music.
“Writing was a really good outlet for me at that age,” Falk said. “You can be an angsty teen and you need some kind of creative outlet. [Writing] was the one for me.”
Falk is the lead singer and rapper for the band Invictus, a hip-hop and rock group. In fall, Invictus played five shows, but currently the band is focusing on hosting fewer, but higher quality shows, he said.
Falk said events like the All Locals Hip Hop Show are put on in the hopes of getting most of the local “hip-hop heads” in the same place at the same time and creating a community, said Falk. Bellingham Hip Hop and Walking Distance, a community of local artists and musicians, collaborated to bring this event together. He and Conor O’Keefe, founder of Walking Distance, were the hosts for the night.
Klefto, otherwise known as Nico Sanchez, is a member of Bellingham Hip Hop and also attends Fairhaven College where he studies music entrepreneurship and cultural studies. Falk and Sanchez became friends through their classes and started doing shows together.
Sanchez’s love for music began at a young age like Falk, he said.
“My parents bought me this little dinky, acoustic, nylon-string guitar when I was probably 7 or 8 years old, and that’s when the madness ensued,” Sanchez said. “I just developed an obsession.”
In his time here at Western, Sanchez began playing shows almost every month and getting his name out into the music community. People have grown more receptive to his music, he said.
“Ever since I’ve been in Bellingham, I’ve been much more open to collaborations and I’ve met a lot of dope creators and inspiring people,” he said.
He said he hopes to eventually make enough money on his music to survive, but regardless of money, music will be something that continues with him throughout his life. Sanchez is quick to explain that music for him is not a career, just a necessity and an asset to his life.
Falk plans to continue pursuing his musical career on a professional level while strengthening his event-production skills with shows like these, he said.
The sounds ranged anywhere from upbeat to angry, to slower, melodic music. Some shows focused more on the production of the music than rapping.
“It was quite a mixed bag,” said Justice Fox-Hille, an attendee at the event. “There were definitely some artists that had trouble with the sound quality and the volume, but there were also a lot of artists that impressed me.”