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Getting ready for Bellingham Exit festival

Inaugural edition of multi-venue festival offers range of genres

Hip-hop trio Deltron 3030 will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday
Hip-hop trio Deltron 3030 will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday
By Jesse Stanton CDN Contributor

The Bellingham Exit festival, taking place Oct. 11–15 all over downtown Bellingham, represents something a lot of local music fans have wished for for a long time. 

Bringing together local, national, and even international performers across a range of creative formats and genres, the festival aims to make Bellingham a destination that draws in fans from all around the region for one big weekend of music, comedy and art. I’m going to suggest three strategies for taking full advantage in a way that makes sense for you.

Let’s call the first one the frugal approach. The festival features 14 free events at nine different venues, including places that don’t typically host shows, like Mallard Ice Cream, Ritual Records and Bantam.

You can and probably should RSVP to these events in advance to make sure to get in. Performers for these events are mostly locals, with a few out-of-towners mixed in. 

Since you’re getting the music for free, maybe plan on picking up some merch from the performers. If you want to see more than that but can’t afford a pass, there may also still be some volunteer possibilities available.

photo  Smooth Kiwi is playing at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15 at Ritual Records. (Photo courtesy of Johanna Hendrickson)  

On the other hand, some of you are going to want to go all in on this. For those folks, I encourage getting a festival pass. For one price you get into everything all week, including the big-name headliners at the Mount Baker Theatre and the Wild Buffalo. 

One note of caution: for shows at the smaller ticketed venues (The Shakedown, The Blue Room and the New Prospect Theatre) having a festival pass does not guarantee admission to any particular show. So if you do get a festival pass and have a band you really want to see at one of those venues, you’ll want to show up well in advance. 

photo  The Pharcyde is performing at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11 at the Wild Buffalo. (Photo courtesy of Bellingham Exit)  

In between those two options, you could also take a more selective approach. Single-event tickets are available for all of the performances. So if your only interest is sci-fi-inspired hip-hop, dance-floor-filling EDM, or Norwegian instrumental pop, you can play it safe by picking and choosing. 

In order to bring some unity to the festival experience, all of the major venues (except the Mount Baker Theatre) are going to be reimagined with nature-themed art installations, headed up by Mark Kuntz of Bellingham TheatreWorks. This should help the festival-goers achieve the goal of feeling like they have “exited” the ordinary world. 

Typically, any new event of this scale will have some growing pains and kinks to work out as it goes along. The team members behind it are all seasoned pros in the music and events industry, and I have confidence they’ll make it as smooth as possible while keeping an eye out for ways to make future editions even better. 

I know many of us are rooting for this to become a successful, ongoing event, bringing great music to Bellingham and exposing what we already have here to crowds of new listeners.

photo  Singer-songwriter Louis Ledford, right, is pictured with Norah Mclaughlin. Ledford will be performing at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14 at Champlin Guitars. (Photo courtesy of Bellingham Exit)  

If that scale of festival is not your scene, or you’re looking more for music in the jazz or classical realm, the Lynden Music Festival is happening the same weekend. Check its website for all the details. If you’d rather hear something more nautical, there will be live music at Zuanich Point Park as part of Bellingham SeaFeason the afternoons of Oct. 14 and 15.

(Conflict of interest disclosure: I’m playing a free show with No-Fi Soul Rebellion as part of Bellingham Exit.)


Bellingham Exit: The Hu
6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, Mount Baker Theatre
On Thursday, Oct. 12 at the Mount Baker Theatre, there’s a show exploring unusual takes on metal from around the world. Headliner The Hu combines the traditional music and legends of Mongolia with electric guitars and drums for a truly unique experience. Voice of Baceprot is a trio from Indonesia with some viral videos due to the initially incongruous image of young women in hijabs slaying with brutal riffs. Blind Channel is a Finnish nu-metal band that once represented its country in the Eurovision Song Contest.

Sona Jobarteh
4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, The Blue Room
Sona Jobarteh will be doing an early show Saturday, Oct. 14 at The Blue Room. She’s a Gambian singer, guitarist and kora player who lives in London and infuses traditional West African sounds with pop, jazz and classical influences in a way that remains true to the emotional core of the music she grew up with. If you were part of the big crowd when Alpha Yaya Diallo came to town, you’ll probably really enjoy this show too.

photo  Sona Jobarteh will be doing a 4:30 p.m. show Saturday, Oct. 14 at The Blue Room. (Photo courtesy of Bellingham Exit)  

Kerela Dust
9:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, The Shakedown
Later on Saturday night at the Shakedown, Kerela Dust is a group based in Berlin and Zurich that blends electronic beats with dark, moody guitars and vocals. Imagine an alternate universe where Nick Cave replaced Ben Gibbard in The Postal Service, and you’re in the ballpark. 


Bolded listings represent Bellingham Exit shows. Go to to RSVP for the events that are free, as space is limited.

Tuesday, Oct. 3

  • Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Jam:30 (open jam night)
  • Boundary: 6 p.m., Paul Klein on piano
  • Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Menace: 7 p.m.,  Invitational Blues Jam
  • Ramble Tamble: 9 p.m., The Elevator Club ft. The Rhetorician  (hip-hop)
  • Shakedown: 8 p.m., Willi Carlisle, Rachel Baiman (folk/country/Americana)
  • Wild Buffalo: 8 p.m., Everclear (alternative rock)
  • Zeeks: 6 p.m., Open Mic

Wednesday, Oct. 4

  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Rootz Within, Skablins, Jeremy A (reggae)
  • Birdsview: 5 p.m., Max Minardi
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
  • Rockfish: 6 p.m., Trish Hatley (jazz/standards)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m. Simon Llewelyn Evans (folk)

Thursday, Oct. 5

  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., High Peak Trio (jazz/funk)
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Hip-Hop Open Mic
  • Boulevard Park: 5 p.m., Floodlights and Fools, Kazmyn, Lemon Bear, Girl Parallel, Kai Sage
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Jazz Jam
  • 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., TBA

Friday, Oct. 6

  • Admiralty Lounge: 7:30 p.m., Lindsay Street (Celtic)
  • Allied Arts: 6 p.m., Chuck Dingee
  • Aslan: 8 p.m., BJ Block Trio (jazz/funk)
  • Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., Jill Newman
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Thomas Harris Quartet (jazz)
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Chiddy Bang (hip-hop)
  • DownTime Taps: 7 p.m., JP Falcon
  • El Capitan’s: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • Karate Church: 7:30 p.m., Love Darts, Drayton, Terminally Dumb (rock)
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., North Country Highway (country/rock)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Karyn Ann, Stephanie Strange (indie folk)
  • Ritual Records: 6 p.m., Cat Positive (folk-punk), and Sybil (acoustic singer/songwriter)
  • Shakedown: 8:30 p.m., Boxcutter, Potbelly, Land of Wolves (punk)
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Ben Starner
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Lisa Temcov (classic country)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., High Mountain String Band (bluegrass)
  • Vault: 7 p.m., Adrian Clark
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Minnesota, Ceilla (electronic)
  • Wink Wink: 7 p.m., Pure Halcyon, The Hobby (rock)

Saturday, Oct. 7

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 3 p.m., Lost at Last
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Rosahlee
  • Chair 9: Land of Wolves, Boxcutter PNW (punk)
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Joe Cook Blues Band
  • Eagle Haven: 6 p.m., Billy Appleton Band
  • Fireside 4 p.m., Singers’ Saturday
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Delta Promenade (acoustic blues)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Lucas Warford (cabaret folk)
  • Lincoln Theatre: 7 p.m., Petty or Not
  • Main Street: 8 p.m., Sunset Superman (classic rock)
  • Mount Baker Theatre: Main Stage 7:30 p.m., Jesse Cook (flamenco); Walton Theatre 7 and 9:30 p.m., Ruth Moody Band (folk/bluegrass singer formerly of The Wailin’ Jennys)
  • Ramble Tamble: 7 p.m., Will Rainier & The Pines, True Stars
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m. Red House (blues)
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., PaperHeart, Anti-Shock (alt-rock covers)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Will Byrne (acoustic covers)
  • Station 49: 3 p.m., Jack Benson Band (classic rock)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., One Lane Bridge
  • Underground: 7 p.m., Bubba Sparxxx & GT Garza (hip-hop)
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., Sam Lachow (hip-hop)

Sunday, Oct. 8

  • Kulshan: 5 p.m., The Devilies (Celtic/folk)
  • Main Street: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Mount Baker Theatre: 4 p.m., Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., Pacific Twang (country)
  • Shakedown: 8 p.m., John R. Miller, William Matheny (country/folk)
  • Station 49: 2 p.m., Sandy Rowe

Monday, Oct. 9

  • Blue Room: 7 p.m., Jerry Steinhilber Trio (jazz)
  • FireHouse, 3:30 p.m., Bob Paltrow
  • Kulshan: 6 p.m., Tea Seas Trio (jazz/funk/boogaloo)
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Mannequin Pussy, Softcult (rock)

Tuesday, Oct. 10

  • Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Jam:30 (open jam night)
  • Boundary: 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 ft. Dank Zavala (hip-hop)

Wednesday, Oct. 11

Thursday, Oct. 12

  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., High Peak Trio (jazz/funk)
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., King Youngblood, Atomic Affair, Where’s The Exit?(rock)
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Farmstrong: 6 p.m., Charlie Partin
  • Gruff: 7 p.m., Me Nd Adam
  • Mount Baker Theatre: 8 p.m., The Hu, Voice of Baceprot, Blind Channel
  • New Prospect Theatre: 7 p.m., Tommy Prine (singer-songwriter)
  • Shakedown: 8 p.m., Slow Magic, Beacon Bloom, Solstis
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • That’s What I Like: 6 p.m., JP Falcon and Friends (folk/rock)
  • Wild Buffalo: 6:30 p.m., Youth Lagoon
  • Zeeks: 7 p.m., Cats Like Us (rock/punk/psychedelic)

Friday, Oct. 13

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., Dan Hewitt
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Conrad Gruener (country)
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Thomas Harris Quartet (jazz)
  • Black Noise Records: 7 p.m., Black Noise DJs
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Paper Idol, Hockey Teeth
  • Boundary: 6 p.m., Whalien (jam/funk rock)
  • Culture Cafe: 8 p.m., Mostafa, guests (hip-hop)
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., The Devilies (Irish folk)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., The McHughs (folk family)
  • Main Street: 8:30 p.m., Michael Dayvid (acoustic covers)
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Duos, Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends, Lung, Slowfall (rock)
  • Schweinhaus: 8 p.m., Pure Halcyon, Magenta Wave (rock)
  • Shakedown: 5:30 p.m., Yumi Zouma (indie rock) 
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Odd Mood Jam Band
  • Vault: 7 p.m., JP Falcon
  • Wild Buffalo: 6 p.m., Sol, Grieves (hip-hop) 10 p.m., Machinedrum, The Librarian, Cables (electronic)

Saturday, Oct. 14

  • Bantam: 6 p.m., Julian Macdonough (jazz)
  • Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., Tom Sandblom
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Cascade Cody
  • Black Noise Records: 7 p.m., Black Noise DJs
  • Blue Room: 5 p.m., Sona Jobarteh; 8 p.m., Alex Vile, Instant Crush, Niko Haley (rock)
  • Brown Lantern: 9 p.m., Dan Norman & The Chrysalis Effect
  • Champlin Guitars: 3 p.m., Louis Ledford (singer-songwriter), Spoon River
  • Culture Cafe: 8 p.m., BlkSknn, Oble Reed, CHRVNS (hip-hop)
  • FireHouse: 6:30 p.m., Chuchito Valdes (Latin jazz)
  • Fireside 4 p.m., Singers’ Saturday, 
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Lindsay Street (Celtic)
  • Gruff: 6 p.m., Holy Tailfeathers, Dryland
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Kat Bula (singer-songwriter)
  • Katt’s Westside Stories: 5 p.m., UR GRLS, Nobody’s Peach, Bitchslap
  • Lincoln Theatre: 7:30 p.m., The Heatherlys, Chris Eger Band
  • Lost Giants Cider: 2 p.m., Flattery (Celtic)
  • Make.Shift: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Mallard: 3 p.m., Cat Positive, Sunflecks
  • Menace: 6 p.m., MIchael Dayvid
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., Mope, Overthinker
  • Red Rum: 5 p.m., No-Fi Soul Rebellion, Stereo Donkey (rock)
  • Ritual Records: 6 p.m., Cat Valley, Harbor Day
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., Cozmic Sauce
  • Shakedown: 5:30 p.m., Orions Belte, Shimmertraps (psychedelic rock/pop); 10 p.m., Kerela Dust, Navvi 
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Ryan Higgins
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., JP Falcon Grady
  • Station 49: 3 p.m., The Shannanagins (classic rock)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Anissa & Erik
  • Wild Buffalo: 6 p.m., Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway; 10 p.m., The Funk Hunters (electronic)
  • Zeeks: 7:30 p.m., Whitewing (blues/R&B)
  • Zuanich Point Park: SeaFeast, music lineup TBA

Sunday, Oct. 15

  • Blue Room: 6 p.m., Joe P
  • Kulshan: 5 p.m., Cardova
  • Mallard: 3 p.m., Luke Hogfoss, Kazmyn
  • Main Street: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Mount Baker Theatre: 7 p.m., Deltron 3030 (hip-hop)
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., The Bow Diddlers
  • Ritual Records: 6 p.m., Smooth Kiwi, Actress (rock)
  • Shakedown: 6:30 p.m., Acid Tongue, Bret Amaker & The Rodeo, Foxy Apollo
  • Station 49: 2 p.m., Cascade Cody
  • Wild Buffalo: 8 p.m., Snakehips (electronic)
  • Zuanich Point Park: SeaFeast, music lineup TBA

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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