By: Tyler Kirk
The local music scene in Bellingham features an arguably extensive and diverse collection of musicians in the area. Two Whatcom Community College students, Henry Dotson, 18, and Teo Crider, 24, have been writing, recording, and performing music in the Bellingham area for years.
“I’ve been playing music for over a decade,” said Dotson. “I’m only 18… I started when I was eight.”
Dotson said his music in the past has been stylistically different than his more recent work. He said that since he began playing music, he has performed with different bands across many genres from punk rock to his more recent acoustic singer-songwriter style.
“I started writing songs about the time I was a freshman in high school,” he said. “And then over time they developed and [I started] writing better things.”
Although he continues to collaborate with other bands, recently his attention has been on his solo project under the stage name Honey Dotson. Though he said he enjoyed his experiences with past bands, Dotson also expressed the benefits of having a solo project.
“My main focus right now is Honey Dotson,” he said. “When you’re playing with other people that aren’t necessarily on the same page as you, it’s tough.”
Dotson said he just released his newest solo album. The eight-track album, “Presenting Honey Dotson,” was recorded over a period of roughly seven months at Bellingham’s Puget Street Sound (what is this?) with the aid of local band Gypsters.
Dotson said that the members of Gypsters, with the help of online donations, are attempting to move their equipment into a space at the Alternative Library in downtown Bellingham to form a studio where musicians can record for a fraction of normal studio prices.
“Eventually it will be a community recording studio, open to anyone,” Dotson said. “It’s definitely very affordable.”
Dotson said that hard copies of his album can be found at Everyday Music in downtown Bellingham, while digital copies are available on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon, among other distributors. “Whatever your music player of choice is, it’s there,” he said.
Dotson said that his main songwriting influences, ranging from artists of the 1960’s and 70’s to several more modern artists, are evident throughout his new album’s 26-minute runtime.
“I would say it’s definitely like folk rock,” Dotson said. “It’s very heavily influenced by Paul Simon. Randy Newman, too, is a big influence in my writing.”
He mentioned that there are several more unconventional instruments on the album, including the trumpet, saxophone, rain stick, cello and glockenspiel, played by Dotson and several friends.
“I’m really pleased with how the album turned out,” he said.
He added that his album is also streaming in its entirety on YouTube and Soundcloud, which are accessible from his website, because it is more important for his music to reach new people than it is to exclusively sell the album.
“I feel like if you’re just solely selling the album on places like iTunes and Spotify, you won’t make enough money through them to make it worth it, and you’re keeping people from actually hearing your music,” said Dotson.
Dotson said that his live shows normally consist of a fairly minimalist setup.
“When I’m playing Honey Dotson shows, it’s me [singing] and an acoustic guitar. Occasionally a backing band as well,” he said.
His backing band is currently composed of his friend, Nate Malick, on drums and Gypsters guitarist Ian Reed on bass.
Honey Dotson will be performing at Bellingham’s Underbelly Festival, which is scheduled for June 13-15, which Dotson describes as “an all-ages festival.” He will be playing the morning of June 14.
Teo Crider, 24, is the singer and guitarist for the band Candysound, a group that he says draws influence from many indie and punk rock bands.
“Candysound is kind of like reverbed indie punk music,” Crider said. “We get compared to bands like Built To Spill and Modest Mouse.”
Crider said they recently finished “Now + Then,” the newest in a series of Candysound releases.
“We recorded it over a year of writing, demoing and touring. Then we tracked it this fall, mastered it in the winter, and then released it in the spring,” he said.
After playing in punk bands throughout high school, Crider said he also started a solo project under the moniker Porch Party. He described it as “kind of a lo-fi feel” and compared its sound to Elliott Smith and Nick Drake.
He said that Elliott Smith’s songwriting had a major stylistic influence on his music and that Porch Party led to Can
“I started recording solo music in my bedroom for a couple years. That kind of turned into the basis for Candysound,” Crider said.
Since their formation, he said Candysound has performed at popular local artist competitions such as Experience Music Project’s Sound Off! in Seattle, and has released several EPs and singles, eventually leading up to “Now + Then.”
Crider said Candysound has played a variety of shows in the area, spanning many different types of performances from house shows to venues like The Shakedown.
“Once you step in, you realize that everyone in this town is musical,” said Crider, describing Bellingham’s music scene. “The best way [to find new music] is to just to go shows.”
He said that the album recording process is long, but he wants to keep recording and “just keep playing fun shows.”
Candysound will also be playing the Underbelly Festival in June.
“We’re playing Friday night, a solo set with [Danbert Nobacon] from Chumbawamba, which is going to be fantastic and weird,” Crider said.
For Candysound’s future, Crider said he wants to continue recording music. He mentioned that after finishing “Now + Then,” he would love to follow it up with a “fun summer EP.”
Henry Dotson’s “Presenting Honey Dotson” can be found on his website, www.honeydotson.com, and Candysound’s “Now + Then” is available on candysound.bandcamp.com, along with many of their past releases.