Six months ago, Alejandro Albright-Reveles’ goal was to go to college to get his degree. But these days, he dreams of influencing the Bellingham music sphere.
His typical day begins around 9 a.m., attending classes centered around piano skills and music theory. In the afternoon, he participates in music lessons, ending his nights with band rehearsals or playing a gig.
Albright-Reveles moved to King County from Rochester Hills, Michigan when he was less than a year old. He’s loved music since a young age, brought up by his parents who introduced him to various genres.
“My uncle bought me a keyboard when I was really young,” Albright-Reveles said. “I think the first time I seriously picked up an instrument was fifth grade.”
Albright-Reveles said he joined the fifth-grade band for fun but only began taking music seriously in high school. By that time, he knew teaching music would be his career.
“A lot of my music teachers have given me so many opportunities that changed my life so I want to be able to provide those opportunities for the next generation of students,” Albright-Reveles said.
Now, at 20 years old, Albright-Reveles plays in multiple bands, teaches his own students a variety of instruments and conducts live instrumentation for various hip-hop artists in the area.
“I want to keep growing this music scene here,” Albright-Reveles said. “I think it’s really positive and there's a lot of opportunity for people who want to get together and create new music.”
Teddy Lim, one of Albright-Reveles's bandmates, is a second-year at Western studying music entrepreneurship. Lim is the lead singer of No Mars, an indie rock band based in Bellingham that Albright-Reveles joined at Lim’s request.
“After we played a show at The Blue Room with his other band, Atomic Affair, I personally invited him to play bass in No Mars, and he immediately said yes,” Lim said. “I knew he would make a great addition to the band.”
Lim said that Albright-Reveles had musical prowess that never failed to impress. Picking up a new instrument and playing it skillfully in a limited time is just one of Albright-Reveles's many talents.
“I feel like I’ve definitely been blessed with the ability to be able to sit down with an instrument and try to understand it,” Albright-Reveles said. “It’s definitely a lot of hard work. Every time I pick up a new instrument it does become a little bit easier. A lot of things translate.”
Greg Williamson, one of Albright-Reveles’s previous jazz and percussion professors at Western, described him as a great, open individual. When Williamson first heard Albright-Reveles play the saxophone in a solo, he was impressed.
“He was kind of quiet and reserved at first,” Williamson said. “I remember when he first took a solo. His sound was very experienced and mature. Very jazzy.”
Williamson puts a lot of emphasis on the importance of bringing people together through music. Pony Boy Records, Williamson’s label, hosted an annual jazz picnic for 10 years which managed to bring various people and musicians together.
Albright-Reveles did something similar. Last year, he and his friends hosted Lawnfest, a two-day event at High Street intended to bring multiple Bellingham-based artists to play in one place.
“I think we’ve done a really good job at bringing this community even closer together and providing opportunities for each other,” Albright-Reveles said. “That’s something I’m super big on.”
This fall, Lawnfest was hosted for the second year in a row. More than 20 artists performed, and people attended free of charge. Albright-Reveles said that he and his friends wanted to give a platform to local artists that was free and enjoyable.
For Albright-Reveles and his bands, Lawnfest spread their names further in the Bellingham community.
Lenny Price, a longtime professional saxophonist, said building a brand is what sets musicians apart. He began playing semi-professionally at 11 years old, only months after picking up a saxophone for the first time.
Price has been playing the saxophone professionally since 1984. Now at 61 years old, Price has a diverse discography and has toured with Keith Washington, an American vocalist, and Earl Klugh, a Grammy-winning guitarist and composer.
Price referenced popular musicians Beyoncé and Taylor Swift, saying that they took the music world by storm in the way that they made a name for themselves. Price said that musicians building their brands online is crucial since we’re living in a digital age.
“They have broken the mold of waiting for people to create opportunities for them," he said. “You have to be concerned with building a brand.”
Albright-Reveles plans to continue to build his name, both online and in the Bellingham area.
No Mars fans should look out for their upcoming sets and new music, Albright-Reveles and Lim said. No Mars has been performing around Bellingham almost every weekend this past fall, and they’re not planning on slowing down during winter.
“Be ready for the spring season,” Albright-Reveles said. “We’re going to be out here every single week. Come support your local musicians.”
Neisha Gaskins (she/her) is a campus life reporter for The Front. She is a second-year student studying environmental journalism. When she isn’t writing, Neisha spends her time reading, making jewelry and sorting her recycling. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.