Jake Barrow performs one of his songs. // Photo by Julia Vassallo
Between the tall white walls and green palms at babygreens, Vervex, an indie-rock artist from Bellingham, held their album release celebration on April 15.
Jake Barrow, the artist behind Vervex, played a set from his new album “On Moon Island” a day before the album was released to the public.
Barrow and his partner Jolaina Phillipps will be taking off for their West Coast tour the weekend after the album release. Barrow said he is excited to play in places he has never been before.
“I have been there with Jake through the whole process of creating this album,” Phillipps said. “I’m patient with him when he’s recording songs a million times at home and watch the infants of his work transition to the final product during this journey.”
Barrow is a solo artist who creates all his music by himself, especially after graduating from Western in 2013. Barrow explained that vervex is Latin for sheep, and has been used as a derogatory word to call people stupid. He connected to this term because he always felt like an outsider, he said.
“I love going into a session with a blank canvas and no expectations, just experimenting and seeing what I end up with after a few hours,” Barrow said. “Sometimes I have my collaborators help me play my songs live, but for this national tour, I’ll be playing everything solo.”
Barrow said he is extremely thankful for babygreens allowing him to perform at the shop.
Selling a variety of houseplants on Cornwall Avenue, babygreens opened downtown on April 4, 2018.
“We have hosted events in the past,” Nick Meza, owner of babygreens said. “We have had small musical performances, magazine release parties, painting courses and house parties.”
The Playhouse Quartet, the openers for Vervex, include members Gaetano Demartino on guitar, Sam Burdic on drums, Skye Toporowski on keys, Dawson Van Cise on bass and Kendall Lujan, the band’s singer.
“We are all such great friends that music brings us together in a way that is unspeakable,” Lujan said. “Rehearsals are mainly someone bringing up an idea and we mess around with it until we feel a good groove happening.”
The two bands met through house parties and art nights in Bellingham, where artists get together and perform music and socialize, according to Lujan.
Anali Knotek is a close friend of The Playhouse Quartet and Toporowski’s partner and spends a lot of time with them when the band rehearses.
“This music is their heart, soul and love,” Knotek said. “Playing music is what they do every time we are at home hanging out.”
As the artists played their sets, babygreen’s floor crowded with a lively audience that danced throughout the night.
“I have heard of both Vervex and The Playhouse Quartet before, so it’s great that this is happening at the shop,” audience member Bill Angel said. “I’m excited to enjoy their music live.”
Along with friends and fans, Barrow had family members attend the event as well, including his brother and mom, Henry and Susan Barrow.
“I remember when Jake wanted to try out for a musical in high school, but he didn’t quite grasp the singing part,” Susan Barrow said. “It’s so fun for me to remember him standing at the piano being afraid before he grew into who he is today.”
As the show wrapped up, Barrow discussed his future plans with the tour.
“Time stops when you’re playing music sometimes,” Barrow said. “I don’t know where we’re going next, but we can’t stay here.”