Conner Helms, 22, was born in Eugene, Ore., but considers Bellingham his hometown. He graduated from Sehome High School in 2012 , Whatcom Community College in 2013, and is now studying political science and music at Western Washington University.
He’s playing with several groups in Bellingham, and January is a busy month for him, but he’s open to teaching introductory classical piano, beginner to advanced jazz piano, classical and jazz saxophone, and music theory. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question: When did you become interested in performing?
Answer: I first performed as a seventh-grader with the Bellingham Youth Jazz Band, directed by Mark Kelly. It was in part, my early experiences with that group that helped cultivate my love for music and jazz in particular. I took two years’ worth of piano lessons from Bill MacDonough, and got hooked on jazz piano. Now I am largely self-taught, but the knowledge and habits passed on to me from Mark and Bill still influence both my methods and my motivations to continue practicing and improving.
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Question: Where can people see you perform?
Answer: One of my favorite and longest standing collaborations is working with vocalist, bassist, and composer Kaeli Earle and our close friend, drummer Alex Roemmele. Throughout summer and fall we did a series of more than 15 private house concerts bringing our mix of original material, jazz, and pop covers to audiences throughout the Pacific Northwest. We recently released our debut CD, “Bellingham Sessions, Volume I,” a live recording from our most recent house shows. We will perform from 8 to 11 p.m. Jan. 9 at Fireside Martini & Wine Bar and at Skylarks Hidden Cafe from 8 to 11 p.m. Jan. 16.
Helms had planned to attend law school but decided against it because he didn’t want to give up music for an extended period of time.
I’ll perform with another group, The Lion and the Bird, at 10 p.m. Jan. 7, at the Swillery; and at 8:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at McKays Taphouse.
I also perform jazz and originals with the Anissa Quintet from 8 to 11 p.m. Jan. 30, and blues and jazz with the Sonja Lee Band from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan.10 at Hotel Bellwether’s Lighthouse Grill, from 8 to 11 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Fireside, and from 8 to 11 p.m. Jan. 29 at Skylarks.
Question: Any gigs that stand out?
Answer: A really memorable gig for me was performing a Pink Floyd cover show with the Anissa Quintet. We spent a considerable amount of time over the summer learning by ear and memorizing the Pink Floyd album “Wish You Were Here.” On the 40-year anniversary of that album’s release we performed the entire work straight through for a packed house at the Fireside.
Question: What are your plans?
Answer: I had planned to go to law school after completing my degree at WWU, but have decided against that path as it would require me to give up music for an extended period of time. For now, I am just trying to excel at the activities that I am interested in.