By Melissa McCarthy
He recalls looking out across the crowd at one of his earliest shows with the band. He tried to see past the stacks of drums and around his five other band members into the dimly lit room. After finally getting a good look at the crowd, he realized he was playing in front of the largest live audience he’s ever had; over 50 people. This year, he’s expecting 100.
Senior Alan Schellenberger will be back at the Miniham festival this year, playing drums in Bob Fossil and bass guitar in Billy Ward and the Other Guys.
Western alumna Katie Gray started Miniham three years ago to provide a stage for herself, her friends and other local musicians to perform. The festival has experienced substantial growth since then, prompting the slogan “It’s getting less mini each year!” It will feature 18 local and visiting bands.
“I think the goal [of Miniham] is to bring more and more of our rad community in to celebrate how many different, awesome bands and performers and sounds there are happening in Bellingham.”
“The first year we had seven or eight bands all crammed into one night,” Gray said. “Now it’s two venues, two nights, 18 bands.”
The event is useful for the music community in Bellingham, Gray said. It gives musicians an opportunity to connect with each other and their community.
Morgan Lanza, Western alumna and owner of the Tillie Lace venue, said the two locations have different vibes.
“Tillie Lace is geared more toward acoustic and lower-key jazz music, whereas Make.Shift is great for more rock bands and heavier sets with more amplified sounds,” Lanza said.
“I think the goal [of Miniham] is to bring more and more of our rad community in to celebrate how many different, awesome bands and performers and sounds there are happening in Bellingham,” Lanza said.
Schellenberger said having the festival at an all ages venue like Make.Shift and Tillie Grace is important because it taps into a huge portion of college students who can usually only attend house shows.
“I always feel like the fans appreciate when you play at an underage venue,” Schellenberger said. “Any time we play an underage show in a college town we’re helping to strengthen that community bond between the person who can’t go to a bar and see live music and the musician who plays in those bars that are 21 and up.”
Schellenberger has missed out on bands he loves because he was under 21, so he imagines the younger audience will be appreciative of the venue choice.
This year, attendees will to be able to pick their experience, Gray said. By having two different locations, the event appeals to both the rock and roll crowd and a more mellow crowd.
Most of the participating bands are from Bellingham, but there are some travelling from as far away as California. Gray herself will be performing with her band, The Katie Gray, as will Lanza in her bands Judy Just Judy and Impressions.
“If the audience goes home and has discovered a new favorite local band and continues to support them, that would be amazing,” Gray said.