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Jazz guitarist BJ Block slated for a flurry of local shows

Block's skills span flamenco, soul, Latin jazz, rock, chamber music, EDM

Jazz guitarist BJ Block can be found playing with his trio at the Aslan Depot on the first Friday of every month. The BJ Block Trio has been playing together for more than 10 years
Jazz guitarist BJ Block can be found playing with his trio at the Aslan Depot on the first Friday of every month. The BJ Block Trio has been playing together for more than 10 years
By Jesse Stanton CDN Contributor

BJ Block wears a lot of musical hats. He is probably best known around here as a jazz guitarist, but his array of skills also spans flamenco, soul, Latin jazz, rock, chamber music and even electronic dance music. 

On the first Friday of every month, you can always find Block playing with his trio at the Aslan Depot. The BJ Block Trio, which features bassist Roger Yamashita and drummer Christian Casolary, plays jazz with some funky grooves to it. They’ve been doing that residency for about four years now (with some COVID-related interruption, of course). 

The trio has been playing together for more than 10 years, and they are now getting ready to finally do some recording this fall. Their next First Friday gig is Sept. 1.

Block’s other long-running group is called Trio Sueño, with bassist Tom Anastasio and percussionist Steve Jones, doing a fusion of flamenco and jazz. That group will be performing at the Firehouse Arts and Events Center in Fairhaven on Saturday, Sept. 23. He also recently joined the long-running seven-piece Latin jazz ensemble Bilongo, adding his guitar to their already-thick stew of horns and percussion. 

photo  BJ Block got into rock guitar as a teenager, inspired by classic guitar heroes like Jimi Hendrix, Joe Satriani and Stevie Ray Vaughn. (Photo courtesy of Jason Deet)  

Block’s winding musical path started with classical piano. He got really into rock guitar as a teenager, inspired by classic guitar heroes like Jimi Hendrix, Joe Satriani and Stevie Ray Vaughn. 

He went to the Berklee College of Music in Boston to study jazz, lived in Philadelphia for a while playing with a roots-rock band, then moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. While in Vancouver, he recorded two albums collaborating with soul singer Dawn Pemberton. 

He and his wife, Erika, moved to Bellingham in 2012. She is also a talented musician, playing clarinet in several ensembles and now serving as the executive director of the Bellingham Festival of Music. The two of them recently did a collaborative concert at the Blue Room, bringing classical and jazz musicians under the title Between Two Worlds, and are planning more collaborations along those lines in the future. 

I could just barely wrap my mind around all those different skills, but then I found out Block still had one more to mention. He’s also got an electronic music project under the name Anodos. From the look of their Spotify statistics, they seem to have a substantial following in Europe. 

If this seems like a lot, that’s because it is, but you don’t have to try to take it all in at once. Start with the trio at Aslan, go from there and you won’t be disappointed.


The members of Hockey Teeth have all moved to Seattle recently, but they still have a lot of fans around here who will be glad to hear that they have a new EP out. It’s called “Start and Delay,” and features more of the melodic indie rock that made them such a hit locally. They’re also featured in the most recent episode of “Shut Up and Listen,” the new Bellingham music podcast that is doing a nice job of featuring some interesting local artists. 

Andy Bunn of the High Mountain String Band is launching a new showcase series for singer-songwriters. It’s at Stones Throw on the third Friday of each month, which makes the next one Sept. 15. The idea is to host both established musicians and folks who are newer to the scene, in an environment that’s conducive to attentive listening. Check @neighborhoodsongwriters on Instagram for more details. 

Looking ahead a bit, I have to mention that the Silver Reef Casino has a big show on Friday, Sept. 22 for fans of ’90s hip-hop. If you want to see Kid ‘n Play, Young MC, and Tag Team, you should probably bust a move and get tickets now. 

It’s worth mentioning again that the lineup for the Bellingham Exit festival is out and music fans are going to want to clear their calendars for Oct. 11–15. Headliners include old-school hip-hop heroes The Pharcyde and Deltron 3030, comedians Marc Maron and Joe Pera, drag queen Monet X Change, bluegrass with Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway, and Mongolian heavy metal (yes, that’s a real thing) from The Hu. The four main venues will be the Wild Buffalo, The Shakedown, The Blue Room, and the New Prospect Theatre, but they’ll also be packing art, live music, dance parties and comedy into other spaces all over town.


JESSE’S PICKS

Beats on the Bay
5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29, Boulevard Park
Tuesday, Aug. 29 is your second and final chance this year to watch live music while floating in Bellingham Bay. In an event sponsored by the Community Boating Center, the Schooner Zodiac will be floating right off Boulevard Park while Rubatano Marimba performs lively Zimbabwean marimba music on deck. Watch from shore, book passage on the ship or paddle your own watercraft out to join the flotilla. 

photo  The Community Boating Center will host its second “Beats on the Bay” fundraising concert Tuesday, Aug. 29 on Bellingham Bay. (Photo courtesy of Trevor Andrews)  

Bit Brigade
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 30, The Shakedown
Wednesday, Aug. 30 brings an unusual act to The Shakedown. Bit Brigade performs renditions of your favorite classic video game soundtracks in a high-energy, two-guitar/bass/drums format. “The Legend of Zelda” and “DuckTales” soundtracks are on the agenda for this show. 

photo  Bit Brigade will perform renditions of classic video game soundtracks Wednesday, Aug. 30 at The Shakedown. (Photo courtesy of NickelEdge)  

Snow in the Summer
8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 31, Wild Buffalo
Thursday, Aug. 31 is another installment in the Wild Buffalo’s series of local hip-hop showcases. This one is called Snow in the Summer and features YoGirlCallMeSenpai, Neffy3600, and a bunch of their friends from the SNNO WORLD collective. 

AMP Fest
Noon Saturday, Sept. 2, Seafarers’ Memorial Park
Saturday, Sept. 2 at Seafarer’s Memorial Park in Anacortes is the return of AMP Fest, highlighting a bunch of the best music from Anacortes and Skagit County. The headliners are bluesy hard-rockers Pretty Much Nothing and the foot-stomping folk-rock of The Enthusiasts.


LIVE MUSIC LISTINGS

Tuesday, Aug. 22

  • Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Barkley Village: 6 p.m., The Naughty Blokes
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Jam:30 (open jam night)
  • Boundary: 3 p.m., Out of the Ashes; 6 p.m., Paul Klein on piano
  • Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • Menace: 7 p.m., Invitational Blues Jam
  • Ramble Tamble: 9 p.m., The Elevator Club (hip-hop)
  • Shakedown: 8 p.m., Magic Wands, Lorelei Ki, TREASVRE (alt-rock/goth)

Wednesday, Aug. 23

  • Bar Cicotti: 6 p.m., The Problem (jazz)
  • Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., Open Mic/Jam
  • Boundary: 6 p.m., Aaron Guest on piano, 6 p.m., Gallowglass (Celtic)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
  • Katt’s Westside: 6:30 p.m., Savanna Woods (folk/rock)
  • New Prospect Theatre: 8 p.m., Mama’s Broke (folk)
  • Rockfish: 6 p.m., Janette West (jazz/R&B)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m. Tom Sandblom
  • Welcome Road: 4 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)

Thursday, Aug. 24

  • Barkley Village Green: noon, The Dusty Mugs (acoustic blues) 
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., High Peak Trio (funk/jazz)
  • Boundary: 5 p.m., High Mountain String Band 8 p.m., Marie, The Band, The Sweet Goodbyes (folk)
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Eagle Haven: 6 p.m., The Pension King
  • Elizabeth Park: 6 p.m., BandZandt
  • Farmstrong: 6 p.m., Savanna Woods (folk/rock)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Waddler (indie folk)
  • Hotel Bellwether: 6 p.m., SpaceBand (hip-hop and R&B covers)
  • Kulshan Trackside: 6 p.m., Odd Mood Jam Band; 7:30 p.m., Free Harmony
  • Lincoln Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Lydia Pense and Cold Blood (funk/rock)
  • Mount Vernon Riverwalk: 6 p.m., Chris Eger Band and the Powerhouse Horns (blues/rock)
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., Monstress, Swamp Church, Torch (rock)
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • That’s What I Like: 6 p.m., JP Falcon and Friends (folk/rock)
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., Cuttlefish, Midpak, Atomic Affair (rock)
  • Zeeks: 7 p.m., The Saltwater Cowboys (country/Americana)

Friday, Aug. 25

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m. The Three Radicals (rock covers)
  • Bellewood: 6 p.m., Clanna Morna (Celtic)
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Julian MacDonough Jazz Quartet
  • Blue Room: 9 p.m., Whalien, Left on Tenth, GLYF (jam bands)
  • Boulevard Park: 6 p.m., High Mountain String Band (bluegrass)
  • Boundary: 6 p.m., The Legendary Chucklenuts (classic rock)
  • Burlington Summer Nights: 6 p.m., Midlife Crisis and the Alimony Horns
  • Eagle Haven: 7 p.m., Uncle Doug
  • Fireside: 7 p.m., Anissa & Erik
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Flattery (Celtic)
  • Guemes Island General Store: 6:30 p.m., Haunted Like Human
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Shadow Basket (folk rock)
  • Lake Padden Golf Course: 5:30 p.m., Michael Dayvid (acoustic covers)
  • Lincoln Theatre: 8 p.m., Judy Collins (folk)
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Jostaberry, Moraine, Chaos and the Cosmos
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., Too Slim and the Taildraggers (blues/rock)
  • Seafarer’s Memorial Park (Anacortes): 6 p.m., Eden (folk/rock/blues)
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., The Bronx, Vandoliers (punk)
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Ian Skavdahl
  • Skylark’s: 5 p.m., Michele D’Amour and the Love Dealers
  • Station 49: 3 p.m., Ron Hardt; 8 p.m., Cash’d Out (Johnny Cash tribute)
  • Structures Old Town: 6:30 p.m., Tea Seas Trio (funk/jazz)
  • That’s What I Like: 7 p.m., Leo Bootes (blues)
  • Vault: 7 p.m., Anna Katarina
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Given Peace, Salleymane b2b Chxndler, DJ Feral Cat b2b Obzedat, Silk Jammies (house)

Saturday, Aug. 26

  • Bayou on Bay: 1 p.m., New Orleans-style second-line parade featuring The Mighty Bayou Opossums starts and ends here
  • Beach at Birch Bay: 3 p.m., Motown Cruisers
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Jesse James
  • Boundary: 7 p.m., The Dusty 45s, Lonesome Town Painters, The Roostertails
  • Brown Lantern: 9 p.m., Dain Norman and the Chrysalis Effect
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., The Atlantics
  • Fireside 4 p.m., Singers’ Saturday
  • Granary Building: 4 p.m., The Moving Hats (Celtic)
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Doug Allen
  • Guemes Island General Store: 6 p.m., Yogoman Burning Band, Ebb, Slack & Flood
  • Heart of Anacortes: 6 p.m., The Enthusiasts (folk/rock)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., De-Esser, Sam Chue, Hannah Wyatt, Tim Mechling (singer-songwriters)
  • Kulshan Trackside: 7 p.m., Smooth Kiwi (rock)
    • Newsroom Pub: 6 p.m., Little Big Band (classic/Southern rock)
  • Old Edison:  8 p.m., The Walrus (classic rock)
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., Cascadia Groove (funk/jazz/R&B)
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., Lint, Toadmortons, Biff Got Killed (rock)
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Spider Cult
  • Skylark’s: 5 p.m., Into The West
  • Station 49: 8 p.m., Cash’d Out (Johnny Cash tribute
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Odd Mood Jam Band

Sunday, Aug. 27

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 3 p.m., Midlife Crisis
  • Bellingham Cider Co: 6:30 p.m., Yankee Drivers (bluegrass)
  • Birdsview: 4 p.m., Zach Michaud
  • Fairhaven Village Green: 3:30 p.m., Jazz Axiom
  • Gilkey Square (La Conner): 1 p.m., Cascadia Groove (funk/R&B)
  • Kulshan Sunnyland: 5 p.m., Daniel Kosel (country/rock/blues)
  • Kulshan Trackside: 3 p.m., Marie, The Band (folk)
  • Lincoln Theatre: 5:30 p.m., Ibidunni Ojikutu & Rebecca Mañalac (opera/contemporary classical)
  • Main Street: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m. The Flaming Pies (Beatles tribute)
  • Ramble Tamble: 6 p.m., Tending to Death, Queer Ren Fair Dance Party, Mikey Muffins (country/folk/punk)
  • Station 49: 3 p.m., D’vas and Dudes
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., Wildermiss, Van Bellman, Harbor Day

Monday, Aug. 28

  • Boundary: 6 p.m., Delta Promenade (acoustic blues)
  • Kulshan: 6 p.m. Countercurrent (folk)
  • Menace: 6 p.m., Open Mic with featured artist K.A. Ambrose

Tuesday, Aug. 29

  • Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Barkley Village: 6 p.m., GrooveBot (R&B/funk covers)
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Jam:30 (open-jam night)
  • Boundary: 3 p.m., Out of the Ashes, 6 p.m., Paul Klein on piano
  • Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • Menace: 7 p.m., Invitational Blues Jam
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., The Elevator Club (hip-hop)
  • Ranch Room: 9 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Schooner Zodiac, floating in Bellingham Bay: 6 p.m., Rubatano Marimba

Wednesday, Aug. 30

  • Bar Cicotti: 6 p.m., Ben Starner, Philip Nakarno (jazz)
  • Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., Open Mic/Jam
  • Boundary: 6 p.m., Aaron Guest on piano
  • Firehouse: 6:30 p.m., Connections Jazz Series ft. Christian Casolary, Mike Allen, Miles Black, Jeff Johnson
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
  • Rockfish: 6 p.m., Pension King and the Dependents (acoustic rock covers)
  • Shakedown: 8 p.m., Bit Brigade, Shotty (video game soundtracks)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m. Badd Dogg Blues Society

Thursday, Aug. 31

  • Barkley Village Green: noon, Resin & Reed (Celtic)
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., High Peak Trio (funk/jazz)
  • Boundary: 5 p.m., Robert Sarazin Blake & The Happy Hour Band 8 p.m., Hot Damn Scandal, Shpilkis
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Farmstrong: 6 p.m., Pretty Much Nothing
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Bluegrass Jam
  • Hotel Bellwether: 6 p.m., The Atlantics (classic rock ‘n’ roll)
  • Kulshan Trackside: 6 p.m., ELK; 7:30 p.m., Lightweight Champion
  • Mount Vernon Riverwalk: 6 p.m., Mama Dirty Skirt
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., Surprise Chef, Akua Naru (jazz/funk/psychedelic)
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • That’s What I Like: 6 p.m., JP Falcon and Friends (folk/rock)
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., YoGirlCallMeSenpai, Neffy3600, YpLou, Zon3sb, many more (hip-hop)
  • Zeeks: 7 p.m., TBA

Friday, Sept. 1

  • Admiralty Lounge: 7:30 p.m., Andy Koch (blues)
    • Aslan: 8 p.m. BJ Block Trio (jazz/funk)
  • Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., The Naked Cowboys 
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Uncle Doug
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Julian MacDonough Jazz Quartet
  • Downtown Busking Program: 6-8 p.m., Briar & Joe Seamons at Maple and State (jazz/blues/folk), Mostafa & Tommy Turnbuckle at Prospect and Bay (hip-hop), Marie, The Band at Holly and Commercial (folk)
  • Eagle Haven: 7 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Cat Positive (solo), Where’s the Exit?
  • Shakedown: 8 p.m., Jungle Brothers, OG Neeks, BlkSknn (hip-hop)
  • Skylark’s: 5 p.m., Little Big Band
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., High Mountain String Band (bluegrass)
  • Vault: 7 p.m. Double Trouble
  • Wink Wink: 7 p.m., Kurly Somthing, No-Fi Soul Rebellion (rock)

Saturday, Sept. 2

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 3 p.m., Billy Appleton Band
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Frasier Green
  • Blue Room: 7 p.m., Paige Woods, Michael Dayvid, Veronica North (singer-songwriters) 
  • Deming Library: 6 p.m., Marie, The Band (folk)
  • Deming Log Show Grounds: North Cascades Bluegrass Festival ft. Red Wine, Kruger Brothers, Kristen Grainger & True North, many more
  • Eagle Haven: 6 p.m., Fortress of the Bear (blues/rock)
  • Fireside 4 p.m., Singers’ Saturday
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Towse, Corwin Zekely & Grace
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Bellow Wing and Robin (cabaret folk)
  • Kulshan Trackside: 7 p.m., TBA
  • Make Shift: 6:30 p.m., Slowfall, 3mry & Jester, Angel’s Egg, No-Fi Soul Rebellion (rock)
  • Seafarers’ Park (Anacortes): noon to 8 p.m., AMP Fest ft. Pretty Much Nothing, The Enthusiasts, Collins Beach, many more
  • Station 49: 5 p.m., The Penny Stinkers (classic rock)
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., Girls Know, Marble, Magenta Wave (rock)
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Andre Feriante
  • Skylark’s: 5 p.m., Whitewing (blues/soul)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Rob Hutchings (acoustic covers)
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Red Not Chili Peppers, guests (RHCP tribute)

Sunday, Sept. 3

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 3 p.m., Shenanigans (classic rock)
  • Bellingham Cider Co: 6:30 p.m., TBA
  • Birdsview: 4 p.m., Yellow Birds
  • Deming Log Show Grounds: North Cascades Bluegrass Festival ft. Red Wine, Kruger Brothers, Kristen Grainger & True North, many more
  • Gilkey Square (La Conner): 1 p.m., Savanna Woods
  • Kulshan Sunnyland: 5 p.m., Towse (folk/pop)
  • Kulshan Trackside: 3 p.m., North Country Highway (country/rock)
  • Main Street: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., The Dunton Sisters (country/bluegrass)
  • Shakedown: 8 p.m., Public Theatre, Fox Royale, guests (indie rock)
  • Skylark’s: 1 p.m., The Penny Stinkers
  • Station 49: 5 p.m., Little Big Band (classic//Southern rock)

Before heading out to listen to live music, check with individual venues to make sure the event is still taking place as scheduled. 

The Beat Goes On is published online Tuesdays and in print Fridays. Email: jsbhammusic@gmail.com or Twitter: @JSBhamMusic.

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