If you visit Polecat’s website, www.polecatbluegrass.com, and scroll down a bit you’ll see a photo of Cayley Schmid, the band’s fiddler, posing with three What’s Up awards.
What’s Up awards, for those wondering, are given to bands and musicians in the Bellingham, Wash., music scene by Bellingham’s own What’s Up magazine, which covers said scene.
One of the What’s Up awards Polecat took home was “Best Silver Platter” for its 2011 album “Fire on the Hill.”
The second What’s Up award the band won is probably the most instructive: “Best Highway Americana.” That’s because this relatively young quintet makes music with momentum. The tracks you can hear at the website have a worldly perspective and a wandering spirit, as if they were written specifically for windshield-gazing.
Polecat’s music is rooted in bluegrass, without question, but like many stringbending bands in this half of the United States, they stretch that genre’s boundaries by incorporating easygoing rock, grey-skied blues, jazzy jams and a hint of reggae and Celtic flavor. Imagine a long, strange trip around either Yonder or Moon mountains, and you have some idea of Polecat’s proclivities.
The band has shared the stage with some big names — Infamous Stringdusters, Hackensaw Boys, Trampled By Turtles among them — but it’s what goes on in front of the stage that keeps Polecat gigging. Scroll down further on the website and you’ll find the band playing in front of a tangled dance floor full of giant grins.
And that brings us back to that photo of Schmid and those three What’s Up awards. The third was called “Best Up Close and Personal,” given to the best live band in Bellingham.
Indeed, it’s on stage where Polecat shines. You can visit their various online homes and listen to “Fire on the Hill” and hear that they have chops. But to get the full picture of this band, hit McMenamins on Wednesday.
Polecat; 7 p.m. Wednesday; free; McMenamins Old St. Francis School, 700 N.W. Bond St., Bend; www.mcmenamins.com .