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It’s Bellingham Folk Festival time again

One last action-packed weekend from organizer Cayley Schmid

Golden Shoals are a fiddle/banjo duo from Nashville
Golden Shoals are a fiddle/banjo duo from Nashville (RUST + REBEL)
By Jesse Stanton CDN Contributor

The Bellingham Folk Festival makes its big return Jan. 18–21. As usual, it’s a wild mish-mash of folk-related styles and genres, with an equally broad assortment of activities.

Contemporary and traditional folk, Celtic, klezmer, old-time and bluegrass are just some of the styles represented in concerts, jam sessions, dances and workshops. 

Let’s start by getting the bad news out of the way: 2024 will be founder Cayley Schmid’s last year as the organizer. After 10 years running it, she’s hoping to find some other folks to step up and take it on. In her role as director of the Celtic Arts Foundation she’s already got a lot on her plate, including the Bellingham Celtic Festival in the fall. 

Schmid did an amazing job launching these festivals and making them happen year after year, so if you enjoy them and you see her around, make sure to share your appreciation.

That said, Schmid has done her best to bow out with a bang. Dozens of performances will be taking place across all sorts of venues. 

There are quite a few free events, and a reasonably priced wristband serves as your ticket for just about everything else. The Majestic Ballroom on Forest Street will serve as a sort of home base for the festival, offering workshops, jams, a maker’s market, and square and contra dances. 

What to expect

Headliners are mostly at the Blue Room, and those are the only concerts with cover charges not included with the festival wristband. The Blue Room is also launching an ongoing Sunday afternoon folk music series, the first installment of which will be part of the festival. 

Headliners this year include the Celtic music from the band Cantrip and the duo of Jocelyn Pettit & Ellen Gira, Seattle klezmer trio Tzepl and Appalachian fiddle/banjo duo Golden Shoals. There’s also the unusual contra dance/jazz fusion of the Faux Paws, and the return of the Coty Hogue Trio

photo  The contra dance/jazz fusion group Faux Paws will be co-headlining the Bellingham Folk Festival. (Photo courtesy Bellingham Folk Festival)  

The Honey Moon is hosting a mix of concerts and jams, mostly with no cover and no wristband required. It’s a smaller space and tends to fill up fast at these festivals so plan ahead for that. The Shakedown has concerts on Friday and Saturday nights, which you can get into with your wristband or by paying a separate cover. There’s even a free Sunday morning performance by West of Roan at Mindport, which is actually a beautiful space for music. 

On Thursday night, the Blue Room will be hosting a showcase called “Locals Covering Locals.”  A whole bunch of performers will be covering songs written by their friends and peers. I love this concept and hope some version of it can become a regular event. 

Note that the Fire & Story Festival will be running at the same time, and there will be a fair bit of crossover between the two events. For the whole schedule you’re definitely going to need to check their website. Whether you devote the whole weekend to listening and jamming or just stop by for a show or two, there’s something for everyone.

photo  Kian Dye is a fiddle player and multi-instrumentalist specializing in bluegrass and Americana music. He will be playing the Bellingham Folk Festival in 2024. (Photo courtesy of Courtesy Bellingham Folk Festival.)  


Girl Parallel, Dank Zavala, and Ebony Harris
7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19, WinkWink Boutique
Girl Parallel is a R&B/synth-pop artist who has a new album coming out. For the Jan. 19 release show at WinkWink’s event space, she’ll be performing with a band plus two great openers: Dank Zavala and Ebony Harris. So far I’ve only heard the clips she’s put on Instagram, but it sounds awfully promising, and I’m looking forward to checking out the whole thing. 

Between Two Worlds, Classical and Jazz Guitar
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, The Jansen Art Center
Up at Lynden on Jan. 20, there’s a fascinating concert taking place. Jazz guitarist BJ Block and his trio and the chamber music trio rioT are coming together for a program called Between Two Worlds,” with the two worlds in question being those of jazz and classical music. They’ve done this program a few times before with great success. More cross-genre collaborations are always a good thing. 

8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, Wild Buffalo House of Music
Also on that Saturday night, Seattle’s Reposado bring their steaming mix of funk, Afrobeat and Latin music to the Wild Buffalo, a mixture they refer to as “tequila funk.” They were a big hit at Downtown Sounds last summer, keeping all the dancers grooving. They’re also celebrating the release of a new single, “We Are the People.”


**part of the Bellingham Folk Festival

Friday, Jan. 12

  • Aslan Depot: 7 p.m. Aperatonic Trio (jazz/improv)
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Thomas Harris Quartet (jazz)
  • The Blue Room: 8 p.m., Smithers, SMAC, Drayton (rock)
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Charlie Partin (country)
  • Fireside Martini & Wine Bar: 7 p.m., Fritz & The Freeloaders (acoustic rock)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Spoon River
  • Lincoln Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Epic Queen (Queen tribute)
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., John Swanke, Gazebo of Destruction, John St. Pelvyn (improv/experimental)
  • Ramble Tamble: 9 p.m., Obzedat, DJ Feral Cat, R_Conna (house)
  • The Shakedown: 8:30 p.m., Atomic Affair, The Problem, guests
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Michael Dayvid (acoustic covers)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Christopher Nunn (folk)
  • Thirsty Badger: 8 p.m., Cascade Cody (country)
  • Vault: 7 p.m., Anna Katarina
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Buku, Smith (electronic)

Saturday, Jan. 13

  • Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., Paperheart (acoustic grunge covers)
  • Birdsview Brewing Company: 6 p.m., Sandy Rowe
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., The Mighty Bayou Opossums (music of New Orleans)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Jeffrey Slough (acoustic covers)
  • Main Street: 8:45 p.m., Neon Shadows (80s rock and pop covers)
  • Make.Shift: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Ramble Tamble: 7 p.m., Old Man of the Woods, Katana Boy, Glitchlette (indie pop/synth dance)
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., Free Harmony (folk/rock)
  • The Shakedown: 9 p.m., Serafima & The Shakedowns, Sunflecks, Mom Sport (country/folk/rock)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., JP Falcon Grady
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Guitars and Gratitude

Saturday, Jan. 14

  • Eagle Haven Winery: 1 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., The Bow Diddlers (classic rock)
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., Dirtwire

Monday, Jan. 15

  • FireHouse Arts & Event Center: 3:30 p.m., Lorraine & Kaeli Earle
  • Kulshan: 6 p.m. Ivy Ficarra, Logan Day (singer-songwriters)
  • Ramble Tamble: 7:30 p.m., Wild Geese of the West (acoustic Grateful Dead)

Tuesday, Jan. 16

  • Aslan Depot: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic ft. Guitars and Gratitude (folk/Americana)
  • Menace Brewing: 7 p.m.,  Invitational Blues Jam
  • Ramble Tamble: 8 p.m., The Elevator Club (hip hop showcase with open cypher)

Wednesday, Jan. 17

  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
  • New Prospect Theatre: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Rockfish: 6 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m. Verboten (folk/pop)
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., Yonder Mountain String Band (bluegrass)

Thursday, Jan. 18

  • Admiralty Lounge: 7 p.m., The Moving Hats (Celtic)
  • **The Blue Room: 7 p.m., Locals Covering Locals Songwriters Showcase
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Farmstrong: 6 p.m., Savanna Woods
  • Fire and Story Festival: 5 p.m., Tango Cowboys; 6 p.m., The Best Intentions; 7 p.m., Ben Hunter
  • **Honey Moon: 7 p.m., Bluegrass Jam, 9 p.m., Old Time Jam
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • That’s What I Like! Island Grill: 6 p.m, JP Falcon and Friends (folk/rock)
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Atomic Affair, Hippies With Money, Mad King (rock)
  • Zeeks Pizza: 7 p.m., Free Harmony

Friday, Jan. 19

  • Aslan Depot: 7 p.m. North Country Highway (country/rock)
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Thomas Harris Quartet (jazz)
  • **The Blue Room: 7 p.m., Cantrip (Celtic), Tzepl (klezmer)
  • **Champlin Guitars: 3 p.m., Tom Bourne
  • Fire and Story Festival: 5 p.m., West of Roan; 6 p.m., Earth Practice
  • Fireside Martini & Wine Bar: 7 p.m., Free Harmony
  • **Honey Moon: 7:30 p.m., Pub Sing, 9:30 p.m., Pan-Celtic Jam
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Pure Halcyon, Trask, The Rain Station (rock)
  • The Shakedown: 8 p.m., Kian Dye (bluegrass), Aaron Guest & Miles Harris
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Ben Starner (jazz)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., LIttle Big Band (classic/Southern rock)
  • **Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Neighborhood Songwriters Showcase
  • The Vault: 7 p.m. Marie, The Band (folk)
  • WinkWink: 7 p.m., Girl Parallel, Dank Zavala, Ebony Harris (R&B/synth-pop/hip hop)
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., DMVU x Toadface

Saturday, Jan. 20

  • Aslan Depot: 1 p.m., Record fair and DJs, 7 p.m., Heist & OK, Ca$h McClane, BlkSknn, AJ Suede (hip hop)
  • Birdsview Brewing Company: 6 p.m., Cascade Cody (country)
  • **The Blue Room: 12 p.m., Jocelyn Pettit & Ellen Gira; Coty Hogue Trio, 5 p.m.; Faux Paws, Golden Shoals
  • **Bison at the Granary: 2:30 p.m., Louis Ledford & Norah McLaughlin
  • Brown Lantern: 9 p.m., Tom Savage
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Seattle House Rockers (blues)
  • Culture Cafe: 8 p.m., Hip Hop Showcase ft. Adamneiro, Sbrockinnit, Jonah The Kid, more
  • Fire and Story Festival: 5 p.m., Nathaniel Talbot; 6 p.m., Earth Practice; 7 p.m., Jenner Fox & Jeremy Elliott
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Sottile, O’Connor & Loeffler
  • **Honey Moon: 5:30 p.m., Grace Honeywell, 7 p.m., Kat Bula
  • Jansen Art Center: 7:30 p.m., Between Two Worlds ft. BJ Block Trio, rioT (jazz/classical)
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., 3mry & Jester, Evil Mob, guests
  • Mount Baker Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Pink Martini (sold out)
  • Old Edison: 8 p.m., The Dimes (rockabilly/blues)
  • Ramble Tamble: 7 p.m., Cats Like Us, Stone Jones, Selena Mac (rock)
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., Joe Cook Blues Band
  • **The Shakedown: 8 p.m., Sweater Weather String Band, Nathaniel Talbot Duo
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Faast/Carr Duo (country/jazz)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Tyler Clarke
  • That’s What I Like! Island Grill: 6 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • **Welcome Road: 3:30 p.m., Spoon River (folk)
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Reposado (Latin/funk/soul)
  • Zeeks Pizza: 7 p.m., The Sweet Goodbyes (folk)

Sunday, Jan. 21

  • **The Blue Room: 3 p.m., TBA
  • Kulshan (Sunnyland): 5 p.m. Peter Ali (Native American flute)
  • **Mindport: 11 a.m., West of Roan
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., The Davanos (classic 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: or Twitter: @JSBhamMusic.

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