It is no secret that Bellingham plays host to a large, diverse variety of live music. Posters and bulletin boards throughout town announce upcoming bands and acts, but so frequently, these advertisements come with a disclaimer: “21 and older.”
For underage individuals, finding off-campus live music can be a challenge. After a one-year absence from the local music scene, Whatcom All-ages Arts and Music is back in a new location to provide all-ages music for the community.
WhAAM will host a grand-opening show Saturday, Oct. 22, at its new downtown venue in Jinx Art Space at 306 Flora St. The show costs $5 and features local bands No-Fi Soul Rebellion, Candysound and Odd Ones Out. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and music starts at 8 p.m. The show is open to everyone. No alcohol is permitted, even for those of legal age.
Since its inception in 2005, WhAAM has provided Bellingham with a safe environment to enjoy all-ages music. After leaving its old residence at The Old Foundry on 100 E. Maple St. in April 2010, WhAAM has found a new home at Jinx, a venue now operated by Make.Shift, a nonprofit that supports local musicians and artists.
WhAAM President Amanda Kalkwarf said WhAAM has healthy communication with Make.Shift, and it plans to collaborate on future projects with the nonprofit since both organizations have overlapping goals.
Western sophomore Tanner Steffan said the new WhAAM venue would give music fans who are too young to see shows in bars more options to watch live local music.
“I think it’s cool that there is going to be another off campus location for everyone to see shows,” Steffan said. “It really offers a lot of new opportunities for those of us that can’t see live music at all the 21-and-over venues in Bellingham.”
As one of the only off-campus all-ages music organizations, WhAAM aims to provide shows that represent a wide range of musical tastes and genres.
“Just over the past five years that we were putting on shows from 2005 to 2010, I went to nearly every show and I saw some of the craziest things all over the musical spectrum,” Kalkwarf said. “I’m really, really glad that we could remain as diverse as that, and if anything, I just want to become more diverse.”
Not only does WhAAM provide a space to enjoy live shows, it can also be a place to network and connect with individuals who share a passion for music. Such is the case with senior Carlton Eide, a talent buyer for The Old Foundry, which previously shared its space with WhAAM. Eide’s first taste of Bellingham’s local music scene was at a WhAAM show. It inspired him to get involved in all-ages music, he said.
“Not only was it a good show, but I felt safe and my friends had a good time,” Eide said.
WhAAM is a nonprofit that uses all the funds it receives from shows to cover the costs and pay bands. It is also entirely volunteer-run and organized.
“We really pared down our volunteer army while we’ve been looking for a new space, and we need to reinvigorate the community and re-energize everyone,” Kalkwarf said.
With WhAAM’s reintroduction into the Bellingham music scene, everyone, regardless of age, will be able to enjoy the eclectic, all-ages shows that the organization has organized since 2005.
“I feel like all-ages music and the right to enjoy music and express yourself is a human right. Once people cross the invisible line of being 21, they forget that music is for everyone,” Eide said. “Having safe, well-managed, all-ages music venues reminds people that everybody is equal and that we all have a right to enjoy great live music and express ourselves.”