The fellows of Snug Harbor could be likened to the pell-mell twigs of the most comfortable and jazzy birds nest that you ever grooved into. Seemingly randomly picked up from all across the country (Maine, New York, South Dakota, Spokane, Everett, Anacortes, and Bellingham), these guys are a scrappy group of talented musicians and eclectic personalities. They wound up together with the common goal of playing music and having fun. Luckily what started as jazz jam sessions went public for the rest of us to enjoy (and is heading to the recording studio this summer for those of us who are ready to take them home).
Snug Harbor was the name of the first jazz club trumpet player and band leader Will Glazier went to in New Orleans. It's also a real place on San Juan Island. Most importantly, Snug Harbor (the band) has become a warm and happy destination for Bellingham's lovers of jazz, funk, and soul to let loose.
In a town where jam bands pop up and fade away again with syncopated regularity, Snug Harbor stands out first and foremost in size. Though they just lost a percussionist to WWU graduation, Snug Harbor's core is holding strong at seven. Their arrangement includes an organ (Justin Smith), horn section (Will Glazier and Daniel Delisle), sax (Jun Nakamuro), drums (David Lofgren), electric bass (Steve-O Blair), and guitar (Wyatt Winston). The fact that on any given night, however, you could catch five to 12 musicians on stage speaks volumes about their go-with-the-flow approach. Coordinating all seven band members for practice is understandably difficult, but the four block radius that most of Snug Harbor lives in makes impromptu jam sessions commonplace.
When asked to describe their dynamic, the first two responses were "bi-polar" and "collaborative." All it takes is one glance at Snug Harbor to see what a diverse group of individuals and musical approaches have been assembled. On the organ bench, Justin is kicked back with t-shirt, cargo pants and a backwards hat. To top off his sweater and tie combo, bassist Steve-O has his white-man-afro erupting out from a pink bandana. Then behind the drums David has his white button up tucked into plaid polyester pants. While Will exudes his unwavering passion for music and the vibrant scene here in Bellingham, Justin is willing to call it a hobby. It's a hobby that he that he gladly lets suck up his time, but the distinction in mind-set between the two musicians is certainly clear. The many characters and styles that comprise Snug Harbor, and the unique ensemble that they have formed, are what make this band unique.
"The story behind the band is wonderful," Will explained. "We found each other last year in this relatively small town but soon realized it came packed with high energy, positivity, creativity and a strong sense of locality. The pride in this community gives us something to work for every single day. How could we not be playing music?"
The band, he said, is constantly inspired by the "people around us. I have made so many life-lasting and strong bonds between musicians alone in this town, from Jordan Rain to Joel Ricci to Robert Blake to Delvon Lamarr. There is usually animosity between musicians or competitors, but there is no race to fame in Bellingham, only strength and importance of music and expression."
One of the key elements of jazz rhythm is called counterpoint, or the texture resulting from the combining of individual melodies. More than simply meshing counterintuitive melodies, Snug Harbor is creating a fascinating weave of individuals.
Melanie Merz What's Up! Magazine, July 2009