MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Marina Christopher was inspired to launch her dream project after she was diagnosed with a tumor that threatens her right arm.
A bassist and jazz vocalist, Christopher, 31, now fronts the award-winning band Marina and the Dreamboats.
“It’s very physical to do music,” said Christopher, a Mountlake Terrace High School grad. “They might have a shorter shelf life than other professions — and I thought maybe mine will be extra short. It pushed me to pursue music.”
Marina and the Dreamboats will perform Dec. 2 for the Northshore Performing Arts Foundation in Bothell via Facebook. Christopher will be joined by Chris Patin on drums, Joey Walbaum on keys and Jerome Smith on trombone.
The female-bassist-fronted band concludes Northshore’s Mid-Week Mash-Up series. Watch all of the shows — scheduled from Oct. 7 to through Dec. 2 — at www.facebook.com/NPAFoundation.
There are no tickets to purchase for the Mid-Week Mash-Up, but you can still support the Northshore Performing Arts Foundation with a donation via PayPal. Or donate to the musicians’ virtual tip jars. Links are provided with each performance.
Christopher, of Mountlake Terrace, formed Marina and the Dreamboats in 2015 after doctors found a desmoid tumor in the connective tissues of her right arm.
“It’s not cancer — it’s more like scar tissue that’s gone rogue,” Christopher said. “It’s right where all roots to the nerves to my right arm is. It could grow and crush structures in my shoulder. I’ve had three surgeries and chemo and radiation to try to hold it back.”
With her dream project in mind, Christopher wrote and recorded songs in between surgeries and therapy.
The band performs a blend of jazz, soul and classic pop — and isn’t afraid to throw down a New Orleans second line. In addition to playing the bass, Christopher plays the sousaphone, ukulele and sings for the band. She’s an alto.
Christopher’s Dreamboats are comprised of a roster of jazz musicians she’s performed with through Seattle’s Mo’ Jam Mondays. (Morgan “Mo” Gilkeson of Mo’ Jam also is a Mountlake Terrace grad and Christopher’s long-time friend.)
Chris Patin and Jerome Smith have been playing with Marina and the Dreamboats off and on since 2016. Christopher and Patin found they had great chemistry when they were hired to play rhythm for the Seattle arts collective Love City Love; Christopher was impressed by Smith’s jazz tuba at a jam session and asked him to play with her.
“She’s a great musician — just incredible,” Smith said. “I don’t feel like it’s work when I’m working with her. It’s a job until you meet someone like Marina. You get to enjoy yourself and get paid doing it. It’s one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.”
Christopher was named Earshot Jazz’s 2017 Emerging Artist of the Year and received the honorable mention at the 2018 Seattle-Kobe Female Jazz Vocalist Audition. Her band was the winner of the 2019 Hard Rock Cafe Seattle Battle of the Bands and placed second in the 2020 Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Arts Council Battle of the Bands.
She picked up the upright bass at 11, growing up listening to her father play jazz and boogie woogie on piano. The bass was his idea. She earned a bachelor’s degree in classical double bass performance from Central Washington University.
“I do think he gave me a leg up because he knew bass players can always find work,” Christopher said, adding that she was hired to play in the orchestra of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship after college.
When she isn’t performing with her band, she plays with The Bad News Botanists, Jerett Samples and Paula Boggs Band. She also occasionally plays bass and sings at the Sea-Tac Airport.
In 2019, Christopher toured the U.S. with Patti King of The Shins and The Portland Cello Project. She also has shared the stage with Stone Gossard, Meklit Hadero, Eugenie Jones and Billy Brandt.
Since releasing the self-titled EP “Marina Christopher” in 2015, Christopher has followed up with the albums “Must Love Cats” (2016) and “Marina and the Dreamboats” (2018).
After COVID-19 hit, Christopher launched a new project titled “Coffee and Ukes” with Emily McVicker. Through October, Christopher and McViker played ukuleles live on Thursday mornings via Facebook. Together they released “Coffee and Ukes Vol. 1.”
Marina and the Dreamboats will perform a mix of songs from Christopher’s catalog plus some funky holiday favorites at the Dec. 2 show, including “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Joy to the World” and “My Favorite Things.”
Patin said he’s looking forward to the band’s Mid-Week Mash-Up performance. He misses playing with the Dreamboats.
“Music has been shut down largely in the season of COVID, so just getting the opportunity to play with a group of people we really enjoy playing with makes it all that more special,” he said. “It fills your soul up with a really good vibe.”
Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; email@example.com; @sarabruestle.
If you stream
The Northshore Performing Arts Foundation in Bothell presents Marina and the Dreamboats at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 via Facebook. The band performs a blend of jazz, soul and classic pop — and isn’t afraid to throw down a New Orleans second line. This livestream show is part of Northshore’s Mid-Week Mash-Up series. Watch the show for free at www.facebook.com/NPAFoundation. Go to www.npacf.org for more information.
Here is the schedule for Northshore Performing Arts Foundation’s Mid-Week Mash-Up series. Watch all of the concerts — scheduled from Oct. 7 through Dec. 2 — at www.facebook.com/NPAFoundation.
Oct. 7 — Skid Rogues
Oct. 14 — David Duvall
Oct. 21 — Bodacious Ladyhood
Oct. 28 — The Ward Collective
Nov. 4 — Krista Cassidy
Nov. 11 — Chloe Cavander and Kristie Werner’s “For the Sake of Dressing Up”
Nov. 18 — Mercedes Nicole
Dec. 2 — Marina and the Dreamboats