By Crowley/The AS Review

Western’s own Underground Coffeehouse has long been a destination for local folk and rock acts, but at 8 p.m. this Friday, Feb. 5 the Coffeehouse will add a little spice to the mix when it hosts the local Dirty Bird Cabaret as a part of the Underground Coffeehouse Concert Series.

Joining the Dirty Bird Cabaret will be Bellingham-based folksters The Femme Uke, fresh off an appearance at the What’s Up! Magazine Awards Show. Ashley Thomas and Laine Keniston began playing together this past summer and have since joined fellow local acts Addition and Skinny Whiskers on Avocado Family Records. They are also members of the local Que Viva Collective, a community-based group of musicians who, according to Underground Coffeehouse Coordinator Nick Duncan, are “more about having fun than making it big.”

Ukulele in hand, The Femme Uke aren’t too shy to talk about subjects like smoking pot and having sex with your friends. Listening to them, it sounds like every syllable is being sung through a smile (though, with song titles like “Bestbian,” how could you not smile?). But while Thomas and Kensington have their fair share of silly songs, they know how to tell it like it is, too.  “Bummerham” begins with a Beirut-esque ukulele progression that accompanies the lyrics throughout: “I let my fingers do the walking / I let my feet do the talking / my mouth do the stalking / and my knees do the locking.”

There isn’t much to say about the Dirty Bird Cabaret in a music column because, well, it’s a cabaret. But rest assured, members Lucy Goosey, Porn Starling, Suzy Swallow, Lola Longtail, Kitty Nuthatch, Chickadee, Lady Peacock and QT Kiwi will put a show unlike anything else featured at the Coffeehouse. Seeing as they are a cabaret, it’s safe to say there will be burlesque involved; however, the group brings rock and roll and other musical genres into their dance routines.

“When I saw them at Ladyfest it was really awesome to see all the different body types … it was really open,” Underground Coffeehouse Coordinator Duncan said.

“Both shows are very Bellingham rooted, which is something we want to focus on,” Underground Coffeehouse Assistant Coordinator Lora Mednick added.

Two days prior, at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 3 Western student Hillary Susz will take the stage for the first leg of the biweekly concert series.  The solo artist, who has practically enough songs on her MySpace page for a whole album, blends acoustic and folk rock into a vocally-dominant ethereal experience.

“She’s been playing open mic and expressed a lot of interest in playing,” Mednick said.

Susz’ voice sounds very “classic,” a moniker she probably hates.  But “classic” in this case doesn’t mean old or boring; Susz’ voice carries with it an almost timeless quality. She provides an impressive vocal range, as she is able to go from the deep, smirking “All The Wrong Things” to the swooning “The City.” She plays the guitar as well, but the instrumentation isn’t the reason to attend this show: her voice is.

A second act for Wednesday is still in the works; for more information, visit the Associated Students’ Web site ( and click on “Underground Coffeehouse.” As for future shows, on Wednesday, Feb. 17, Seattle artist Fences will stop by Western as they tour their way up and down the west coast.  Fences will be joined by local mainstay and open mic regular Austin Jenckes in what will likely be a packed house.

As always, the shows are free and open to the public.