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New signature event brings music to Bellingham

Local artists hope it will showcase Whatcom talent

An illustration depicting a packed concert. The art showcases an idyllic vision of what may await those attending the future event hosted by the city. // Illustration by Alfie Short

The city of Bellingham has proposed a new off-peak season signature music event and is looking for creative proposals until the deadline of March 25, 2022.

Previous signature events have existed, but this will be the first standalone music event. It will also be the first to target an off-peak tourist month, with a goal of happening sometime between October and May.

“A music event that highlights our live music and restaurant culture will be a great addition to the collection of events we currently enjoy,” said Shannon Taysi, program specialist for the city of Bellingham. “Dedicating a weekend or longer to entirely focus on music will draw a wide demographic to come to Bellingham to explore this music scene.”

She said it will also create more opportunities for collaboration throughout the city. The event will give local businesses the opportunity to showcase what makes Bellingham unique as a city.

City collaboration is what the co-founder of HodWall Productions and musician Martijn Wall said he hopes to see come from the event. He hopes to see it really feature the city that he has a lot of pride in. 

“I really hope that the reason I love the city and the reason everyone else, especially, in the artist community loves the city is on full display,” he said. “I think if the event was like an extremely expanded version of [the art walk] that would work really well.” 

Sam Ashkenazy, the lead singer of Foxy Apollo, said he would love to perform at this new music event but had concerns due to how competitive the music industry is. He said he hopes they don’t ignore the local bands in favor of only big headline names.

“Headliners [are] important to bring because that's what brings people outside of the area into town,” he said. “But also [including] the local bands that people recognize I feel like that is what will make it a solid festival.”

Wall shared concerns for the event as well and said that its success would depend on who the city ended up getting to run it. As is, it could go either way, and he feels that no one will really know how successful the event will be until the name of the chosen proposal is announced. 

Beyond the concerns of the event’s content, there are the ever-looming COVID-19 concerns. By the time the event comes to fruition next year, such concerns could be limited at most. 

“We are looking forward to moving beyond [COVID-19] and seeing vibrancy return to our wonderful city,” Taysi said.

Wall wasn’t sure how the event could be hosted outside unless it was set up like the art walk. He suggested several events happening throughout the day at different locations within the city could help alleviate the placement needs. 

He said if they treat it more like a festival, something that was city-wide, he felt it would be safer and more successful overall.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to lean towards this return to normalcy,” he said. “We’re treating this virus like we did two years ago when we didn’t know anything, I think we know a lot more [now] and can adjust our philosophies accordingly.”

Chauncey Gummere

Chauncey Gummere (he/him) is one of the city news reporters for the Front this quarter. He is a third-year, majoring in Journalism with an emphasis on Public Relations. Chauncey’s most recent writing accomplishment was free-lancing for an Australian gaming company. 

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