Echoes from the underground

No matter where you’ve been or where you go, you can’t deny your roots.

No matter where you’ve been or where you go, you can’t deny your roots.

It has been a long-standing tradition for former island musicians to make the trip back to Bainbridge to bolster and pay homage to the local music scene they left behind.

This Saturday’s show at the Bainbridge Grange Hall is no exception. The concert is being put on by former island resident, Andy Crane, who is now part of the band Wildildlife – a group with a heavy sound comprised of otherworldly effects, driving drums and ringing vocals.

Wildildlife will be joined by Seattle-based Emeralds, with former island band members Andy Mackinnon and Aren Orsen, and the band Stabbings with island resident John Humphrey. Also playing are island locals Wizard Wagon, along with Mammatus, from Santa Cruz, Calif.

To Crane, making the pilgrimage back to his hometown is part of keeping the strong tradition of underground Bainbridge music alive.

“At this point there is still a Bainbridge Island reputation in the underground, people thinking that Bainbridge is some crazy music mecca,” Crane said. “In some ways it is that way. There have been so many awesome bands coming out of Bainbridge.”

One of the latest is the Holy Ghost Revival, Crane noted. The band has signed with 1965 Records and members are currently living in England as part of their contract.

“They are the best example of a band that has done it… been a part of all this here and has blown it up,” Crane said.

Crane, Mackinnon and Orsen have played with the Holy Ghost Revival in the past and now reside in Seattle pursuing their own musical interests.

Crane helped to form Wildildlife at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, and the group moved to the West Coast to continue playing together.

“I haven’t lived here for five years, but I’ve come back here and played a lot of shows in that time,” Crane said. “Whether it’s been playing with Holy Ghost or on tour with my band, I always want to play Bainbridge because it’s fun.”

Emeralds, which bass player Mackinnon describes as psychedelic biker-rock, will be playing its first Bainbridge show this Saturday. The band had a single that was released this summer on Antarctic Records and will be recording in November. Mackinnon started playing music on Bainbridge at the age of 13 and still maintains the Bainbridge connection off-island, where musicians who bonded locally tend to stick together and continue playing abroad.

“I haven’t played on Bainbridge for a couple of years,” Mackinnon said. “But the majority of my closest friends are people I played music with there. It was a really healthy, loving scene and we played for each other.”

Returning to the Grange Hall also has its roots in Bainbridge underground lore. Crane grew up and listening to local bands such as The Rickets and PUD and going to shows at the Grange. It’s encouraging, he said, to know that the venue is still being used by local bands who want to keep the music scene alive.

“It’s awesome that there are shows still going on there… that is where I started going to shows,” Crane said. “And even if no one showed up besides just the people playing and some friends, there was always something that made it awesome. That is what Bainbridge music is all about.”