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House shows return — with caution, hope and grooving tunes

The Bluebird House brings people and artists together as it becomes a prominent music venue near WWU’s campus

CHRVNS performs at Bluebird House in Bellingham, Wash. on Sept. 24, 2021. Masked viewers watched as he performed his latest work. // Photo by Julia Kohut

Lights gleam under the trees as venue directors Sam Ashkenazy and Sebastian Hagman set up for another show at the Bluebird House. The Bluebird is an indoor venue with a large wooded outdoor area. Since the middle of June, their team has hosted big names such as CHRVNS, The Rhetorician, Foxy Apollo — which Ashkenazy plays in, Analog Brass and more. 

Venues such as the Bluebird have been recently hosting house shows with incrementally more attendees each show. Due to long lines, people are encouraged to buy tickets online for the Bluebird and other house show venues around Bellingham. Hagman describes groups of people who wander to find shows or parties as “amoebas” possessed by the lights and the music emerging from the house. 

Hagman was inspired to start the Bluebird because of Bellingham’s large music scene.  

“We felt like there were a lot of musicians here,” Hagman said. “We thought it would be cool if there was a cafe or someplace where you knew musicians [could] hang out there. If you want to build a band together, how the hell do you meet people?”

For Ashkenazy, the people are what make house shows special. 

“I like being around people who are really into art and music,” he said. “That’s the kind of people you meet at house shows versus a random party.” 

Artists can also network at these venues in order to collaborate and work on their craft, Ashkenazy said. 

BLUEBIRD HOUSE (SECOND IMAGE)

Analog Brass is the final act to perform on Oct. 8th at the Bluebird House. // Photo by Julia Kohut

When it comes to the Bluebird, there’s a significant following and community that understand how the venue works. Hagman said the attendees understand COVID-19 protocols as well as house show protocols. Even in outside venues, directors like Mario Gonzalez have enforced COVID-19 precautions as well. 

“Everyone chipped in to make the shows happen,” Gonzalez said. “It’s intimate and community involved as opposed to going to a big concert where you paid $100-$300 to go and you had nothing to do with it.” 

Gonzalez has also gone to house shows at the Bluebird and followed the same guidelines since he started hosting in late October. As everyone has their masks on, people also remind each other to wear them in order to make everyone feel safe. At least, that’s what attendee Rosalee Cowan has seen.

When Cowan reconvened with their friends at a house show, their friends were asked to put on their masks after drinking and talking for a second. 

“It’s pretty cool to see other community members ask other community members to step up and continue to follow the mask enforcement, even though they are vaccinated,” Cowan said. 

At other indoor venues such as the Wild Buffalo, co-owner Joey Crahan said vaccination card validity is important. 

“If any proof of vaccination is in question, we make sure that there are multiple eyes on it before allowing or not allowing that individual into our establishment,” Crahan said. 

He also encourages local house show venues to continue productions. 

“The more they do, the better they will get at it,” Crahan said. “Those shows are very important to grow our local music scene.” 

Crahan hopes people like Gonzalez, Ashkenazy and Hagman bring more local artists to the Wild Buffalo to help grow the local music scene in Bellingham. Gonzalez announced on Instagram that he is having another Halloween house show — and a costume contest — on Oct.16 featuring CHRVNS, Sam Ashkenazy and Glitchlette.


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