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Bellingham funk band to play at Downtown Sounds this week

By Emily Porter

If you ever find yourself near James Street, listen closely because you might hear the tunes of Dirty Ferns, a Bellingham funk group, practicing in a nearby alleyway.

The Dirty Ferns at their practice space on Wednesday, July 11. // Photo by Emily Porter

Comprised of drummer Lincoln Humphry, keyboardist Ben Mead, trumpeter Rainey Abere, guitarist Blake McLam, bassist Jacob Kleiman and singer Kendall Lujan, Dirty Ferns consider themselves a family and cleverly refer to their fans as “fronds.”

They will be playing on Wednesday, July 18 at the stage located on the intersection of Bay Street and Prospect Street for the second show of Downtown Sounds this summer.

“We went from playing in a little bedroom with four of us… to playing at Downtown Sounds,” Humphry said. “Our goal was to play Downtown Sounds,” he added. “We are surpassing our goals and we are so overwhelmed and we don’t know what to do with ourselves.”

This is Downtown Sounds’ 14th year gathering in Bellingham. The event started in an alley and has turned into an event that Bellingham knows and loves.

From first impression the Dirty Ferns are an energetic, positive and spontaneous group of musicians. The constant laughter and inappropriate jokes here or there led me to believe this band was genuine and relaxed.

The band was created by Keely Killebrew, manager, in October 2017. While she’s not playing music she’s a KC-46 aircraft functional test technician for Boeing.

Killebrew has been writing original music since she was a child and continues to write music for the Dirty Ferns. She started the band with a post on the Bellingham House Shows Facebook page to get musicians involved with what she called, “groovy music”.

Dancers from Rumba Northwest perform to a crowd for the first show of the Downtown Sounds Music Festival on July 11. // Photo by Oliver Hamlin

“We started out as Hurricane Kenny and the Sweet Potato Pancakes, meeting for practice in my [little] bedroom on Humboldt Street,” she said.

She said without the Dirty Ferns, her ideas would still be stuck in her notebooks – unused and undeveloped.

Alongside Killebrew, the Dirty Ferns gained its audience with the help of Craig Jewell, booker for various venues in Bellingham.

Humphry said the ferns were lucky because Jewell was their neighbor. One day the band was practicing in a garage, with their music echoing throughout the alley, when Jewell came knocking on their door and asked, “Do you guys want a gig?”

Killebrew said Downtown Sounds is a jumping-off point for the band’s bigger plans.

“I think you’ll be seeing [the Dirty Ferns] go on a northwest tour in the near future,” she said. “For the further off future, we’ll start to look at record labels and maybe work on connecting with fellow fronds outside of the Pacific Northwest.”

Downtown Sounds continues until August 8, every Wednesday from 5:30-9 p.m. The rest of the lineup this year includes:

July 18: Petty or Not with Dirty Ferns

July 25: Tatanka with Mr. Feelgood & the Firm Believers

August 1: MarchFourth with Robt Sarazin Blake & The Letters

August 8: Klozd Sirkut with Mōtus



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