Formed in Bellingham, Washington in March 2010, Polecat has quickly established itself in the Northwest, with two records and over 200 shows in two years. Their unique instrumentation is comprised of Karl Olson (drums), Jeremy Elliott (electric guitar and vocals), Aaron Guest (vocals and 12 string guitar), Cayley Schmid (fiddle), and Richard Reeves (upright bass). This enables them to seamlessly blend genres including bluegrass, country, celtic, rock, and world music into their sound. "The core audience of Polecat is, well, everybody. There is a sense of mass appeal attached to Polecat for it's unique take on bluegrass, as well as an acknowledged respect for their honest approach to their genre" (H. Nightbert, What's Up! Magazine, June 2010)
Aside from their self-titled E.P. and full length album 'Fire on the Hill', one of the best aspects of Polecat is their live show. Their music celebrates life, love, and good times, and it reflects on the faces of the players and their audience. Polecat has shared the stage with several nationally acclaimed acts, including The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, The Hackensaw Boys, The Moondoogies, and Trampled by Turtles.
Aaron Guest - Vocals, 12-string acoustic guitar
Jeremy Elliott - Vocals, Electric Guitar
Cayley Schmid - Fiddle
Richard Reeves - Upright Bass
Karl Olson - Drums & Percussion
Polecat EP (April 2010)
Polecat LP -Fire on the Hill (April 2011)
Fresh Faces Rock the Stage at Seattle Bumbershoot Festival
[+ Show ]
For Bellingham-based act Polecat, getting people to dance is just part of the job. Formed in Marc...For Bellingham-based act Polecat, getting people to dance is just part of the job.
Formed in March 2010, the bluegrass/Americana five-piece has been making a name for itself throughout the Northwest for its expressive roots tracks and explosive live shows.
Consisting of Aaron Guest (vocals, 12 string acoustic), Jeremy Elliott (electric guitar and vocals), Karl Olson (drums), Cayley Schmid (fiddle), and Richard Reeves (upright bass), Polecat got its start playing weekly gigs at Boundary Bay Brewing & Bistro in Bellingham before the group even established itself as a band – or had a name.
“I just went in (to the restaurant) and said I’m gonna have a band, and I think it’s gonna be fun,” Guest said.
Five months and several gigs later, the weekly show had become one of the most sought after parties in town. The band has since recorded a self-titled EP, a full-length album called “Fire On The Hill,” and played more than 200 shows in the past two years. The group, represented by In the Pocket Artists, is scheduled to record its next full-length release at Bear Creek Studio in December.
Rooted in bluegrass tradition, Polecat’s music delves into a variety of moods. Some of it is triumphant and celebrates life, love and spending time with friends, and some of it is dark.
“I think we really respect our audience,” said Schmid, whose mastery of the fiddle and familiarity with traditional Irish music, have become driving forces behind the group’s live show. “We don’t just play the same thing for three whole minutes and expect them to be entertained. We mix it up every 30 seconds.”
This, along with the band’s conscious effort to set itself apart from other acts in the Americana genre, has found the group experimenting with fuller, percussion-driven tracks alongside rhythms of the Eastern European and Caribbean variety.
Known for producing stomp-worthy dance tracks, Polecat’s live show is an experience. It’s sweaty and loud in all the right ways – and it’s sure to get you on your feet.
Having recently played sets at the Subdued Stringband Jamboree and Summer Meltdown festivals to rave reviews, the group’s debut slot at Bumbershoot is sure to be another stomping good time.
“We would like for people to leave the show saying, ‘They belong at Bumbershoot. They belong at a festival with crowds this big – and that’s what they should be doing,’?” Elliott said.
Polecat plays the Promenade from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Read more here: http://www.theolympian.com/2012/08/30/2231735/fresh-faces-rock-the-stage-at.html?storylink=weekendnav#storylink=cpy
Climbing on Strings
[+ Show ]
Success may not happen overnight, but for Bellingham five-piece Polecat, it seems like it has. Th...Success may not happen overnight, but for Bellingham five-piece Polecat, it seems like it has.
The bluegrass band’s been together for just a little more than a year, and has already released one EP, opened for several established groups, including Seattle’s the Moondoggies, and is currently taking to the road in promotion of its debut full-length album, “Fire on the Hill.” North Central Washington fans can catch an album release show at Caffé Mela on Thursday, Chelan’s Vogue Liquid Lounge on Friday and the Twisp River Pub on Saturday.
Lead guitarist Jeremy Elliott suggests the band’s quick success is based on a surge of general interest in Americana music.
“As soon as we hit the scene here, we were doing something I think that’s very relevant to the music industry right now, with the Americana, especially with festival touring and the roots music coming back,” he says. “We’ve achieved the sound that people are just really interested in, because it’s not too subdued but it’s also not overly powerful. It’s got a good mix of everything.”
After less than a year together, the band was recognized in Bellingham’s What’s Up! magazine’s 2011 What’s Up Awards for Best Newby and Best Highway Americana.
Self-managed and self-produced, Polecat is led by vocalist/guitarist Aaron Guest, and includes drummer Karl Olsen, fiddler Cayley Schmid and bassist Richard Reeves.
Elliott comments that “heavily produced pop music’s always gonna have a place, because there’s always gonna be a demographic for it, but I think that because people are so interested in the more rootsy styles of music, they like to see that these guys are out making the music and producing the music themselves.”
The band enjoys performing in NCW for its outdoor recreational opportunities and because audiences in the area have been very receptive to their music.
“I think this year we’re gonna do a little busking out on the town, just set up acoustically, and maybe if people are out and about in town, we’ll do a little music for them out on the sidewalk,” he adds.
Go! Magazine: Are you in Bellingham as college students?
Jeremy Elliott: Actually, I came over here from Atlanta, Ga., about four years ago. Our drummer and our lead singer and our bassist all were students at the college at one point and they’re all done now. Our drummer and Aaron both are from Spokane originally, and then Richard, our bass player, is from the islands and Cayley is actually Canadian.
Go!: How did the band come together?
Elliott: When I moved over here, I started getting involved with a bunch of different projects. I also play in another group called Vaughn Kreestoe, which is a power soul, funk and jazz group. My drummer was in another band at the time with Aaron, and we just kind of met through the musical grapevine. Aaron had big interest in bluegrass and I grew up playing bluegrass. Originally the conception of the band was Aaron coming to me and saying, “I’ve seen you play. I’m putting together a band. I’d love for you to play.” So we got together with the idea in mind to have an acoustic bluegrass project. Then when we started I ended up meeting Cayley, the fiddle player. I met Richard, I met Karl — Aaron kind of handpicked all those musicians out of the scene here in Bellingham. And it ended up being a little different, because I play electric and we ended up going more the Celtic rock/Americana/bluegrass route.
Go!: I’ve even noticed some blues riffs in your music.
Elliott: When I started playing guitar I started playing bluegrass because I was playing acoustic. When I picked up an electric guitar, I don’t have any formal training, so I started playing the blues ’cause it was the easiest thing for me to pick up on. And I love the blues. We kind of try to mix a little bit of everything. It’s a very eclectic sound and that’s kind of what we’re going for . We’ve actually gotten into a lot of Afro-Cuban and jazz and gypsy jazz. We’re trying to push it all the time. We want to be able to hold onto our roots, in terms of people being able to hear the influences of bluegrass music and the influences of blues, but we don’t want to get stagnant in any of those genres.
Go!: What are your plans for promoting the new album?
Elliott: We’re gonna be coming over (to NCW), doing a few dates. We’ve been over there quite a few times and love it. Every time we come, the people always come out to see us and they always buy a lot of merch. I actually have family in Wenatchee, so it’s nice for me to be able to come over there and get the family together. We’re gonna do that, and then we’re gonna do a small tour on the West Coast going into Oregon and all the way down to California. Then, the big plan is we have an opportunity to do a show in North Carolina in October, so we’re gonna shoot across the southern U.S., then up the East Coast and back across the northern U.S., do a full nationwide thing.
Go!: Do you have many fans outside of the area?
Elliott: Actually, since the release of our album, we have noticed there’s been a lot of interest in North Carolina and down in Georgia. I have a lot of family and friends over in that area just because that’s where I grew up all my life. Apparently we’re being rotated on one of the college radio stations in Georgia, Georgia Tech Radio. So it’s little small things right now, but definitely we’re noticing that people are interested in hearing it, so we’re gonna try to capitalize on that here this year.
Go!: When can people expect a second album?
Elliott: It’s an interesting thing, because we’ve only been together for such a short period of time. We released our EP about five weeks into being a band. Then our first full-length came out within a year. Within this last year, we’ve played over 100 shows. It’s been a whirlwind of excitement for us, so what we’re gonna try to do right now is just focus on promoting this album. We are writing and we have written about half of a new album already, but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. I think we’re gonna try to wait until next year to put together another full album.
We’ve done a lot of things within a year, but there’s so much that we haven’t done. We’ve been focusing specifically on the state of Washington and I think our goal for the remainder of this year is to get out and spread it around to everywhere else and try to create a little bit of a buzz. We’re completely self-managed and self-produced, so everything we do, we do within the five of us. We’re gonna try to keep it that way, but it’s one of those learning experiences.
Go!: How did you manage an opening gig for the Moondoggies?
Elliott: We have a buddy of ours who owns the Wild Buffalo here in Bellingham, which is the biggest music venue we have here. All the national acts come through there. He called us up and said, “You guys are the only guys that I would want to be able to open for these guys,” and that show went over really well. We had an opportunity to go down to the Tractor (Tavern in Seattle) and open for the Infamous Stringdusters. We made good friends with them and are still in contact with them. We’ve opened for the Hackensaw Boys and Trampled by Turtles. It’s just been a great experience for us so far, in the little bit of time that we’ve been together, being able to make these kinds of connections and playing with these great groups that are really doing and achieving what we’re hoping to achieve.
Go!: It sounds like you’re already on the fast track there.
Elliott: A lot of these bands, they’ve all been doing this for six to 10 years. A lot of the things that we’re doing right now, they told us, “We weren’t doing those things until a few years in.” So, with us it’s just trying to keep that balance of being very excited about what’s happening, but trying to stay grounded and say, “OK, we still have a lot of work to do.” I think one of the big things is we really want to do it ourselves. We want to continue to self-produce ourselves, we wanna book ourselves, we wanna do that in our own kind of way. So that’s working against the grain a little bit, but we’ve had great opportunities and I think we’ll continue to have great opportunities, especially if we can promote some success on this album.
Music to Your Monday Night Ears
[+ Show ]
Officially assembled about two months back, Polecat has been playing consistently at Boundary Bay Br...Officially assembled about two months back, Polecat has been playing consistently at Boundary Bay Brewery Monday nights. This is mostly thanks to Aaron Guest, who plays piano at the food and beer establishment every Wednesday. He approached the owner Ed Bennett about doing a weekly gig with the new band. “It’s the band I’ve wanted for a long time,” admitted Aaron. He started making headway toward his dream project by cranking out some basic bluegrass song structures, ready to be refined and eventually evolve into what Polecat is today.
The assemblage of a Polecat was a hodge-podge of musical inspiration and identities. The band wanted to push themselves to take all of their musical inspirations and adapt them into a full-blown bluegrass ensemble. Aaron, who does vocals and plays 12-string guitar, had already dabbled in bluegrass before in 20 String Band but wanted to incorporate some fresh perspective. Cayley Shrid, originally from celtic band Giants Causeway, contributed her fiddle-playing skills and Richard Reeves (20 String Band) added his upright bass. Drummer Karl Olson’s (formerly of Lumpkins) affinity for multi-cultural music made for an interesting addition to the group. He also regularly accompanies modern dance classes at Western.
“Karl can play (bluegrass) even though he doesn’t even own a bluegrass record,” remarked guitarist Jeremy Elliot. Elliot is the band’s “purest” member, mostly due to his southern upbringing. He grew up in a family of musicians and his earliest memories were watching live bluegrass and listening to his father’s old blues records.
Every individual has their own unique musical taste, making for a fresh interpretation of the bluegrass genre. “That’s why I wanted these guys to play with me,” explains Aaron, “I trust their playing and they fit. We feed off each other.”
Although our music scene is for the most part very diverse and ever-changing, many musicians are confined to a certain “type;” electronica pop-alt has saturated the city’s music scene to it’s very core.Perhaps that’s why Polecat has been so well-received. They’re a much-needed breath of fresh air for those who just want to sit and enjoy a drink. They try to stay true to their genre; simple set-up, small amps and no extra fancy pedals. That’s because there’s more substance between the music than distortion effects and theatrics. It’s a pure, unwavering connection with the audience that makes the band so successful and they make a point of it being about the audience. “As a musician there’s nothing better than seeing them happy,” explained Elliot.
The core audience of Polecat is, well, everybody. They try not to take themselves too seriously and let the music speak for itself, making it more approachable. The age group of the fledgling band is as wide as it is diverse. “All ages, families, and everybody in between. We bounce around,” says Olson.
There’s a sense of mass appeal attached to Polecat for its unique take on bluegrass as well an acknowledged respect for their honest approach to their genre. Their first show in Seattle, a city whose musical culture leaves a much different taste than Bellingham’s, was surprisingly successful. And now with a planned mini-tour this month they want to take that success even further.
In the recording realm, things have been going smoothly. The EP, produced by Chris Vita, is selling well and they are planning on producing a second pressing and recording even more new material. They’ve already begun work on a second wave of new songs. “It’s been a rewarding, organic experience,” says Guest, “It just happens with us. The songs just come out the way they are.”
The ease at which Polecat’s members create work is a sign of the band’s cohesiveness as a group, which in turn gives them strength when performing. Guest adds that “things have been happening really fast,” but the pace and positive reinforcement has only boosted the team morale.
White Blank Page
[+ Show ]
I first heard about Bellingham-based band Polecat about a month ago when some friends took me to the...I first heard about Bellingham-based band Polecat about a month ago when some friends took me to their show at The Wild Buffalo House of Music. While they have fast become one of my favorite bands to see live, I have yet to dedicate an entire post about them here. I know, I am an idiot.
Polecat is a bluegrass/folk/fricken’ awesome band that formed in March 2010 and consists of Aaron Guest (vocals and 12-string guitar), Richard Reeves (double bass), Cayley Schmid (5-string fiddle), Jeremy Elliot (electric lead guitar and vocals) and Karl Olson (drums). I saw them for the third (fourth?) time last night at Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro in Bellingham, and shit, they are brilliant.
Their music is upbeat, fun to dance to and a bit Irish. Imagine the perfect mix of music from “The Boondock Saints” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, and you almost have the greatness that is Polecat. As I mentioned in a previous post, Schmid is an absolute beast on the fiddle, providing some of the sickest breakdowns I have ever heard. Paired with Guest’s gritty, Americana vocals, she is absolute BUTTER…
I think one of the best aspect’s of Polecat is their live show; they genuinely look like they are having the time of their lives, EVERY SINGLE TIME. Granted, this may have to do with the fact that the audience is generally a bit drunk, trying their best to do an Irish jig, while nearly taking out Olson’s drums every five minutes or so. But that is soooo Rock-n-Roll, right?
There are no upcoming dates at this time.