The Beat Goes On

Musical mixtures at the Bellingham Folk Festival

Listen and learn, jam and dance
January 17, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.
Highlights at the Bellingham Folk Festival include a performance by Portland-based traditional country duo Reeb & Caleb Friday, Jan. 20 at The Blue Room. Fiddle/guitar sister duo Cassie and Maggie Macdonald will also be on the lineup that night. During the four-day event, attendees will find a mix of performances (both ticketed and free), dances, workshops and jams.
Highlights at the Bellingham Folk Festival include a performance by Portland-based traditional country duo Reeb & Caleb Friday, Jan. 20 at The Blue Room. Fiddle/guitar sister duo Cassie and Maggie Macdonald will also be on the lineup that night. During the four-day event, attendees will find a mix of performances (both ticketed and free), dances, workshops and jams. (Photo courtesy of Reeb & Caleb)

By JESSE STANTON
CDN Contributor

The Bellingham Folk Festival returns this week with a relentless lineup of quality performers both local and national. There’s a lot to take in, so I’ll try to break it down for you. Like its sister festival, the Bellingham Celtic Festival, attendees will find a mix of performances (both ticketed and free), dances, workshops and jams.

I’m going to focus mostly on the performances here, so musicians who are interested in learning and jamming should make sure to check the full schedule for that info. The festival takes a wide view of the term “folk,” including everything from singer-songwriters to old-time fiddle to klezmer and contra dancing. 

The headquarters of the festival this year is the Majestic Ballroom, with both upstairs and downstairs performance spaces. The simplest way to take in most of the festival would be to just hang out at the Majestic all day. The festival kicks off there Thursday, Jan. 19 with an early evening showcase of some of our finest local folk acts (The Living Arrows, The Wandering Seas, etc.), followed by a square dance. That’s all free, but for the rest of the weekend you will need a festival pass for the performances at the Majestic and The Blue Room.

Honey Moon will host a mixture of shows and jams, which don’t have a cover — but you should plan on tipping the performers. Brandywine Kitchen is also hosting some free all-ages jams on Saturday and Sunday, and singer-songwriter Jay Cobb Anderson performs at Aslan Depot on Friday night. 

The bulk of the performances, though, are on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s highlights include Portland traditional country duo Reeb & Caleb and Nova Scotia fiddle/guitar sister duo Cassie and Maggie Macdonald at The Blue Room. Local ragtime/jazz/blues duo The Best Intentions headline the Honey Moon, while the lineup at the Majestic kicks off at 3 p.m. and includes local autoharp master Bryan Bowers, Scottish-derived trio Kalos, and New England acoustic quartet Corner House. 

Saturday morning features a bunch of workshops, before performances kick off around 1 p.m. Highlights include the distinctive singer-songwriter Jenner Fox and Portland-based Scandinavian quartet Varlese, both at the Majestic. Saturday at The Blue Room is capped off with Elias Alexander’s electronic/folk project, Ramblxr, melding traditional instrumentals with dance beats. Separate tickets for just that show are also available.  

The festival winds down a bit on Sunday, with nothing happening at the Majestic. Sunday is more about workshops and jams, although you could also check out the contra dance/jazz hybrid of The Faux Paws at 2 p.m. at The Blue Room. One other highlight will be the Tango Cowboys leading a cowboy song sing-along at 2:30 p.m. at Brandywine Kitchen. The whole festival then wraps up at 5 p.m. with a final jam and party at Honey Moon. 

No matter what forms of folk music you are interested in, you are sure to find something to intrigue and delight. 

One final bit of news unrelated to the folk festival. What’s Up! Magazine editor Brent Cole announced recently that the now-defunct magazine will be hosting one last big blowout, March 3 at The Shakedown and March 4 at the Wild Buffalo, to celebrate their 20-plus-year run in style. Save the date for that!

Live music listings 

Tuesday, Jan. 17

Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
Boundary: 6 p.m., Paul Klein on piano
Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic
Horseshoe Cafe: 9 p.m., Michael Dayvid (acoustic covers)
Menace: 7 p.m., Invitational Blues Jam
Underground Coffeehouse: 7 p.m., Open Mic

Wednesday, Jan. 18

Boundary: 6 p.m., Aaron Guest on piano
Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
Rockfish: 6 p.m., Christina Atteberry (singer-songwriter)
Stones Throw: 6 p.m. The D’vas
Underground Coffeehouse: 7 p.m., Madam Monarch, Girls Know (rock)

Thursday, Jan. 19

Blue Room: 6 p.m., Open Mic; 8 p.m., Jam:30 (open jam)
Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
Honey Moon: 5:30 p.m., Louis Ledford; 6:30 p.m., Peter Ali; 7:30 p.m., Devil’s Club Darlin’s
Majestic: 4:30 p.m., Devin Champlin; 5:15 p.m., Dream Goats; 5:40 p.m., Wandering Seas; 6:25 p.m., Living Arrows; 6:50 p.m., Marie, The Band; 7:35 p.m., Calaskan; 8 p.m. Square Dance
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., BeatRoots (rock covers)

Friday, Jan. 20

Aslan: 8 p.m. Jay Cobb Anderson (folk)
Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., Dan Hewitt
Blue Room: 5:30 p.m. Cape Flattery; 6:50 p.m., Tango Cowboy; 8 p.m., Reeb & Caleb; 9:20 p.m., Maggie & Cassie
Fireside: 7 p.m., Will Byrne (acoustic covers)
Gateway1890: 7 p.m., Adrian Clark
Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Hambone Wilson & Jan Peters (blues)
Honey Moon: 5:30 p.m., Quickdraw Stringband; 6:45 p.m., Sweet Old Souls; 8 p.m., The Best Intentions
Main Street: 8 p.m., Goodtime Hustle (alt-country/jam)
Majestic: 3 p.m., Bryan Bowers; 4:20 p.m., Corner House; 5:40 p.m., Brian Dolphin and Elizabeth LaPrelle; 7 p.m., Kalos; 8 p.m., Local Songwriters’ Showcase, Square Dance
Shakedown: 8:30 p.m., The Phone Books, Wild Powwers, Madam Monarch (rock)
Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Brent Satala (folk)
Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., MUST DIE!, Kotori, REM, Pathos (electronic)

Saturday, Jan. 21

Beach at Birch Bay: 4 p.m., Chill Deville (classic rock)
Birdsview: 6 p.m, Cascade Cody
Blue Room: 5 p.m., Sean Hall; 6:30 p.m. Sweet Goodbyes; 9 p.m., Ramblxr
Brown Lantern: 9 p.m., The Long Haulers (folk)
Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Michele D’Amour and the Love Dealers (blues/R&B)
Fireside 4 p.m., Singers’ Saturday
Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Heron and Crow (bluegrass)
Honey Moon: all day, BFF jams and gatherings
Jansen: 7:30 p.m., Pearl Django (jazz)
Main Street: 8 p.m., Mutiny Bay (hard rock covers)
Majestic: 1 p.m., Reeb & Caleb; 1:50 p.m. Amy Hakanson; 2:20 p.m., Corner House; 3:10 p.m., Colin Stackhouse; 3:40 p.m., Jenner Fox and Jeremy Elliott; 4:30 p.m., Mark Kilianski; 5 p.m., Varelse, 5:50 p.m., Linda Allen; 6:20 p.m., Maggie and Cassie; 7:30 p.m., Contra dance
Menace: 3 p.m., Michael Dayvid
Lincoln Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Epic Queen (Queen tribute)
Rockfish: 7:30 p.m. CD Woodbury Trio (blues)
Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Badd Dogg Blues Society
Shakedown: 8:30 p.m., Old Town Scouts, J. Graves, Tuesday’s Refuge (rock)
Wild Buffalo: 8 p.m., Sam Grisman Project (bluegrass/folk)

Sunday, Jan. 21

Blue Room: 2 p.m., Faux Paws (folk)
Kulshan: 5 p.m., Katie and Kevin (folk)
Main Street: 6 p.m., Open Mic
Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., Flaming Pies

Monday, Jan. 22

Black Fern: 6 p.m., Queer Open Mic
Blue Room: 7 p.m., Dry Martini (jazz)
Kulshan: 6 p.m. Michael Dayvid
Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., GZA, Mostafa, CHRVNS (hip-hop)

Tuesday, Jan. 23

Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
Boundary: 6 p.m., Paul Klein on piano
Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic
Greene’s Corner: Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)
Menace: 7 p.m., Invitational Blues Jam
Underground Coffeehouse: 7 p.m., Open Mic

Wednesday, Jan. 25

FireHouse: 6:30 p.m., Duende Libre (jazz)


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

Jesse Stanton's music column, The Beat Goes On, runs Wednesdays. Email: jsbhammusic@gmail.com or Twitter: @JSBhamMusic.

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