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Get the dance party started with New Year’s Eve shows

A bevy of bands performing in Whatcom and Skagit counties

MarchFourth Marching Band
MarchFourth Marching Band
By Jesse Stanton CDN Contributor

New Year’s Eve is always one of the biggest nights of the year for nightlife and live music, but it’s not a good night to try to improvise. Most of the best events are ticketed, and you’ll want to make plans in advance or risk getting squeezed out. I’m going to run down some of the highlights to help you plan ahead.

The big one this year is the return of the Bellingham Firefighters Community Ball, happening in the ballroom of the Hotel Leo. They’ve lined up an excellent headliner: Portland’s MarchFourth Marching Band, with their signature blend of deep, danceable horn and drum grooves and circus-inspired mayhem. 

Openers include two excellent locals: The Cosmic Neighborhood and The Problem. DJ Kraymer GDot will spin tunes in between bands and leading up to midnight. Since it’s the firefighters putting it together, there will also of course be bagpipes, and the Bellingham Circus Guild will be on hand to add that extra level of magic. 

Over at the Wild Buffalo, alpine-themed electronic duo SkiiTour will be delivering their thumping beats for what should be a packed house of dancers. On the other hand, if soul is what pulls you to the dance floor, you’ll want to be at Boundary Bay’s taproom, where North Sound Soul will be ringing in the new year with a range of horn-driven classics.

photo  MarchFourth Marching Band plays with a blend of deep, danceable horn and drum grooves and circus-inspired mayhem. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Wyatt)  

There are two big shows happening in Skagit County. At the Lincoln Theatre, powerhouse vocalist Savannah Woods brings her band Eden to the stage. Their local shows this year have left fans buzzing about their dynamic performances, which blend memorable acoustic rock songs with some serious instrumental shredding. 

Lazy Acres opens the show, and there’s also an acoustic afterparty slated for District Brewing, just down the street. Meanwhile, at the Swinomish Casino, they’re bringing in a top Prince tribute act, Marshall Charloff & Purple Xperience. Prince’s celebratory music seems like a great fit for a New Year’s event.

One great thing about New Year’s celebrations is how they are spread out into some of the smaller towns in the region. 

For example, La Conner’s Maple Hall has a big event with fiery blues/rock from Chris Eger, and the Conway Muse has the Stacy Jones Band. Out in the eastern part of Whatcom County, Trabin will be bringing some funky jams to Chair 9, and BandZandt will be at the Van Zandt Community Hall for danceable folk/rock classics. Up in Birch Bay, the Jack Benson Band will be rocking the Beach Bar. 

Wherever you end up celebrating please do be safe getting home: Designate a driver, or take a cab or rideshare. Let’s ring in the new year with music and community, and then see if we can’t make next year even better.


Two new releases are worth a mention, both in the melancholy Americana vein. The new EPs by Aching Pine and Pete Ruble should fit nicely into your subdued winter playlists.

I’ve got lots of fun and exciting venue news to share with you this week. A little north of downtown, Roam Coffee + Beer is starting up an open mic night, taking place from 6–8 p.m. the second Monday of each month.

Bison Bookbinding’s new space in the Granary Building is now open and they’ll be hosting acoustic shows most Saturday nights from 6–8 p.m. The Shakedown recently completed a major round of sound system repair and improvements, and The Blue Room is doing something similar over the next few weeks. 

Finally, and perhaps most excitingly, the Orion is getting ready to open a live music space in the area behind their bar. (Parents of a certain age might remember this as the former site of the Time In Play Cafe.) Their grand opening is slated for New Year’s Eve and although the lineup wasn’t available yet as of my deadline, I have high hopes this is going to become a key component of our music scene. I’ll have more details soon.


The Polish Ambassador 
9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 29, The Wild Buffalo
If you want to get the dance party started early, the Wild Buffalo also has The Polish Ambassador on Friday, Dec. 29. He comes up frequently from Northern California with his eclectic electronic beats, which frequently incorporate live instruments. His signature fashion move is the jumpsuit, but I suspect if you try to match that, you’re going to get pretty sweaty.  

photo  The Polish Ambassador, an electronic beats artist from Northern California, is playing at the Wild Buffalo on Friday, Dec. 29. (Photo courtesy of Mollie Hull)  

Punk at the Waterfront
8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 30, Waterfront Tavern
Punk shows are back at the Waterfront. Saturday, Dec. 30 features a four-band bill of Crüd Güns, Boxcutter, Proud Failures and Disaster Queen. The Waterfront used to be a regular spot for dive-bar rock shows, and I’m glad to see that combination making a comeback. 

Singer-songwriters at Honey Moon
8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 30, Honey Moon
The weekend before New Year’s naturally features a lot of noisy, raucous events. If you’d rather swim against the tide and seek out something quiet and lovely, I would suggest the Honey Moon. They have a great lineup of singer-songwriters on Saturday night, Dec. 30, including Tim Mechling, Hannah Wyatt and Tad Kroening. 


Tuesday, Dec. 19

  • Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • Menace: 7 p.m.,  Invitational Blues Jam

Wednesday, Dec. 20

  • FireHouse: 6:30 p.m., Jose “Juicy” Gonzales (jazz tribute to “A Charlie Brown Christmas”)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
  • Rockfish: 6 p.m., Christine Atteberry
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Tom Sandblom (acoustic covers)

Thursday, Dec. 21

  • Admiralty Lounge: 7 p.m., Sam Chue (singer-songwriter)
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., High Peak Trio (jazz/funk)
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Corner Pub (Bow): 6:30 p.m., The Artful Dodgers (country/rockabilly)
  • Farmstrong: 6 p.m., Chris Eger (blues)
  • Mount Baker Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Million Dollar Quartet Christmas
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., Killer Whale
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • That’s What I Like: 6 p.m., J.P. Falcon and Friends (folk/rock)
  • Zeeks: 7 p.m., Frank Vitolo Electric Quartet (funk/jazz)

Friday, Dec. 22

  • Aslan: 7 p.m. The Alger Rhythms (acoustic rock covers)
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Thomas Harris Quartet (jazz)
  • Brown Lantern: 9 p.m., Ebb, Slack & Flood (rock/funk/reggae)
  • Corner Taphouse (Fairhaven): 7 p.m., The Dimes
  • Fireside: 7 p.m., The D’vas (holiday show)
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Ireland Woods & Samuel Harris
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Paige Woods (Christmas folk)
  • Main Street: 8 p.m., Low Tier Hero
  • New Prospect Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Robert Sarazin Blake, Louis Ledford & Norah McLaughlin (Christmas-themed folk music)
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., Oath ov Hatred, Inpathos, Disaster Queen (metal)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Dry Martini (jazz)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., TBA
  • Vault: 7 p.m., Free Harmony

Saturday, Dec. 23

  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Frasier Green
  • Bison at the Granary: 5 p.m., Louis Ledford
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Vincent Blackshadow (rock)
  • New Prospect Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Robert Sarazin Blake, Louis Ledford & Norah McLaughlin (Christmas-themed folk music)
  • Ramble Tamble: 7 p.m., Walker Van Wingerden, Mark Wheeler
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m. The Fat Fridays (rock/blues/folk)
  • Shakedown: 8 p.m., Holy Tailfeathers, Los Bongquistadors, The Howling Brave (rock)
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Keith Howard
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Marly Dzis (jazz/Christmas)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Carly Ann Calbero

Sunday, Dec. 24

Monday, Dec. 25

  • Christmas carols: Your living room 

Tuesday, Dec. 26

  • Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • Menace: 7 p.m.,  Invitational Blues Jam

Wednesday, Dec. 27

  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
  • Rockfish: 6 p.m., Janette West (jazz/R&B)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m. Odd Mood Jam Band

Thursday, Dec. 28

  • Admiralty Lounge: 7 p.m., Chuck and Carr (acoustic covers)
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., High Peak Trio (jazz/funk)
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Farmstrong: 6 p.m., Tom Buenger
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Bluegrass Jam
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • That’s What I Like: 6 p.m., J.P. Falcon and Friends (folk/rock)
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., Fruition (roots rock/Americana)
  • Zeeks: 7 p.m., Red Means Go (rock)

Friday, Dec. 29

  • Amendment 21: 7 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Aslan: 7 p.m., The Problem (jazz)
  • Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., Saltwater Cowboys
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Thomas Harris Quartet (jazz)
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., General Mojos, GLYF, Tryin’
  • Buxton’s: 7 p.m., The Enthusiasts, Biz Point, Nautilus
  • Corner Taphouse (Fairhaven): 7 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)
  • El Rey: 10:30 p.m., The Takers (hard rock covers)
  • Fireside: 7 p.m., Naughty Blokes Trio
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., John Swanke, Sam Baribault
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., The D’vas
  • Stones Thrown: 6 p.m., David Donohue (folk)
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., Shady Groove (acoustic Dead/bluegrass)
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., The Polish Ambassador (electronic)

Saturday, Dec. 30

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., TBA
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Pure Halcyon, The Cosmic Neighborhood, Slowfall (rock)
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Zach Michaud
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Stardrums & Lady Keys
  • DownTime Taps: 7 p.m., JP Falcon
  • Graham’s: 8 p.m., ELK (funk/rock)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Tim Mechling, Hannah Wyatt, Tad Kroening, Emma Watson, Philip Hofmann (singer-songwriters)
  • Main Street: 8:30 p.m., AntiShock (alt rock covers)
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., The Dunton Sisters (bluegrass/country)
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., Dancifer, Ten Thousand Chariots
  • Skagit Cellars: 5 p.m., Mike Hopkins
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Ryan Sandholm (acoustic rock covers)
  • Stone’s Throw: 6 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)
  • Waterfront: 9 p.m., Crüd Güns, Boxcutter PNW, Proud Failures, Disaster Queen (punk)
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Voyager, Neon Shadows (’80s rock covers)

Sunday, Dec. 31

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 5:30 p.m., Jack Benson Band (classic rock/blues)
  • Boundary: 10 p.m., North Sound Soul
  • Chair 9: 9 p.m., Trabin
  • Hotel Leo: 7:30 p.m., MarchFourth Marching Band, The Cosmic Neighborhood, The Problem
  • Kulshan: 5 p.m. Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)
  • Lincoln Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Eden ft. Savanna Woods, Lazy Acres
  • Main Street: 9 p.m., The Shannanagins (classic rock)
  • Maple Hall (La Conner): 8 p.m., Chris Eger Band (blues/rock)
  • Old Edison: 8 p.m., Ron Bailey & The Tangents
  • Stone’s Throw: 7 p.m., Badd Dogg Blues; 10 p.m., Jeffrey, Michael, & John
  • Swinomish Casino: 8 p.m., Marshall Charloff & Purple XPerience (Prince tribute)
  • That’s What I Like: 8 p.m., ButtaMuzik, G-Money, Chelsey Monique (hip-hop/R&B)
  • Twin Sisters: 9:30 p.m., Spaceband (R&B/hip-hop covers)
  • Van Zandt Hall: 9 p.m., BandZandt
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., Skiitour (electronic)

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: or Twitter: @JSBhamMusic.

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