The Beat Goes On

What’s Up! Magazine’s long goodbye

After 22 years, one last celebration
February 14, 2023 at 5:05 a.m.
Horror rockers Black Eyes and Neckties played during a What's Up! Awards Show in 2005. Members of the band will reunite during a Saturday, March 4 show at the Wild Buffalo.
Horror rockers Black Eyes and Neckties played during a What's Up! Awards Show in 2005. Members of the band will reunite during a Saturday, March 4 show at the Wild Buffalo. (Photo by Gunter Frank, courtesy of Black Eyes and Neckties)

CDN Contributor

Way back in 1998, Brent Cole had an idea. Inspired by what The Rocket newspaper was doing in Seattle, Cole and a crew of collaborators set out to create a magazine that would document the Bellingham area music scene. 

Every month for 22 years, What’s Up! Magazine reviewed just about every local album release, published great photos, gave lots of young writers their first chance to appear in print, and contributed in numerous other ways to the local music scene. They were also notorious for throwing massive citywide live music parties every time they had an anniversary. 

However, even before the pandemic hit, Cole was already fighting burnout and thinking about moving on from the magazine. What’s Up! went on hiatus starting in March 2020, and that September they announced it wasn’t going to come back. 

Although he was entirely at peace with the decision, Cole couldn’t help feeling the way the magazine ended was like a “cliffhanger on a show that doesn’t get renewed.” So now the time has come to bring some resolution, with one last celebration.  

On Friday, March 3 at The Shakedown and Saturday, March 4 at the Wild Buffalo, a bunch of the bands that helped define Bellingham music for the last 20 years will come together to give the magazine a proper sendoff. There will be a few currently active bands, like Dryland, LipStitch and Smooth Kiwi, but also some surprising reunions of groups who haven’t played together in quite a while. (Conflict of interest disclosure: I’ll be playing at the Friday night show with No-Fi Soul Rebellion.)

Saturday night’s show in particular features some groups I never thought we would see again, like Bright Weapons, horror-rockers Black Eyes and Neckties, and the mathy, mostly instrumental sounds of early 2000s legends Lands Farther East. If you’re planning on being there, I would suggest getting tickets soon. 

Looking forward, Cole has some new music-related projects coming up. Most importantly, he’s part of the team planning a big new festival, Bellingham Exit, scheduled for October. Keep an eye out for more details about that soon!

In other news, if you’re already looking ahead to summer music, you’re not alone. The Elizabeth Park summer concert series released its schedule for the year. The Northwest Washington Fair announced its first headliner, country singer Chase Rice, who will be playing Aug. 17. The Beach at Birch Bay is taking a month-plus hiatus from live music to get a new stage in and some other renovations done, in anticipation of more fun to come.

On a more disappointing note, the Mount Baker Rhythm & Blues Festival will not be happening this year. Finally, the Wild Buffalo’s Lip Sync battle is back! Every Monday night competitors will show off their moves and win sweet prizes. 

Live music listings

Tuesday, Feb. 14

Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
Boundary: 6 p.m., Paul Klein on piano
Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic
Greene’s Corner: 6:30 p.m., Old Time Fiddle Jam
Menace: 7 p.m., Invitational Blues Jam

Wednesday, Feb. 15 

Boundary: 6 p.m., Aaron Guest on piano
Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
Rockfish: 6 p.m., Heron and Crow (folk)
Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Naughty Blokes Trio (folk/rock)
Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., SubDocta, Black Carl!, special guests (electronic)

Thursday, Feb. 16

Blue Room: 6 p.m., Open Mic, 8 p.m.; Jam:30 (open jam)
Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
That’s What I Like: 6 p.m., J.P. Falcon and Friends (folk/rock),
Wild Buffalo: 8:15 p.m., Given Peace, Ellie Wilde, Shakza (electronic)
Zeeks: 7 p.m., Tea Seas Trio (surf/ jazz/ boogaloo)

Friday, Feb. 17

Aslan: 8 p.m., Diego Romero Band
Black Fern: 6 p.m., Brian Cunningham Trio (jazz)
Blue Room: 8 p.m., Whalien, Bodhi Mojo, Glyph (jam rock)
Birdsview: 6 p.m., Tom Mullin
FireHouse: 6:30 p.m., Dry Martini (jazz)
Fireside: 7 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)
Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Jay Irwin and the GP Sunsets (folk/rock)
Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Dance Illumination (belly dance)
Karate Church: Marlo Mudd, Lightweight Champion, Serafima & The Shakedowns
Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Marie Songer and The Problem Child, Hovering Dark, Sasha Petrenko
Menace: 7 p.m., Goodtime Hustle (alt-country/jam)
Mount Baker Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Our Planet Live in Concert
Shakedown: 9 p.m., SUUNS, Lorelle Meets the Obsolete, STAHV (rock)
Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Badd Dogg Blues Society
Vault: 7 p.m., Mary Ellen Lykins and Craig Adams (blues)
Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., Yo La Tengo (rock)

Saturday, Feb. 18

Bellwether: 7 p.m., The Singer Tina
Birdsview: 6 p.m., Frasier Green
Black Fern: 6 p.m., Morhaf Al Achkar (Arabic)
Blue Room: 8 p.m., Diego Romero Band, Michele D’Amour and the Love Dealers (blues)
Boundary: 8:30 p.m., Sleepy Alligators (Grateful Dead tribute)
Brown Lantern: 9 p.m., Desolation Sound (rock)
Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Dudley Taft (blues)
Eagle Haven: 6 p.m., Joe & Kelly
FireHouse: 6:30 p.m., Bilongo Quintet (Latin jazz)
Fireside 4 p.m., Singers’ Saturday
Gateway1890: 7 p.m., Odd Mood Jam Band
Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., North Country Highway (country/rock)
Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Hot Tomatoes (hot jazz)
Main Street: 8:30 p.m., Dial Up (’90s and ’00s rock covers)
Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Jules Auston, Petri Dish, Heaven’s Stone Lanterns, Angels Egg (singer-songwriters)
New Prospect: 7 p.m., The Lowest Pair (folk)
Jansen Art Center: 7:30 p.m., Rosin & Reed (Celtic/Americana)
Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., Free Harmony (folk/rock)
Shakedown: 9 p.m., Jasmine Greene Band (blues/R&B)
Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Ryan Sandholm (acoustic covers)
Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Skiitour, Salleymane b2b Ricky Ticky, Cables (electronic)

Sunday, Feb. 19

FireHouse: 4 p.m., Jazz Project Miles Davis Tribute
Greene’s Corner: 5 p.m., Simon Evans (folk)
Kulshan: 5 p.m., Katie & Kevin (folk)
Main Street: 6 p.m., Open Mic
Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., The Atlantics (classic rock)

Monday, Feb. 20

Blue Room: 7 p.m., Frank Youngblood Quartet (jazz)
FireHouse: 3:30 p.m., Mark Ashworth & Mark Kelly (jazz)
Kulshan: 6 p.m., Aloha Danny
Lincoln Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Mark Hummel’s Blues Harmonica Blowout

Tuesday, Feb. 21

Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic
FireHouse: 6:30 p.m., The Atlantics (special New Orleans-focused show)
Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Open Mic
Hotel Leo: 6:30 p.m., Lindy at the Leo featuring Live Music
Menace: 7 p.m., Invitational Blues Jam

Before heading out to listen to live music, check with individual venues to make sure the event is still taking place as scheduled. 

Jesse Stanton's music column, The Beat Goes On, runs Wednesdays. Email: or Twitter: @JSBhamMusic.

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