Monday, July 25th, 2016
Live Music and So Much More at the Green Frog Acoustic Tavern
Lorraine Wilde

Most of my friends don’t refer to the Green Frog Acoustic Tavern by its full, eclectic name. This relaxed downtown Bellingham community hub and music venue is known simply as, The Frog. In addition to the chill energy, the creative comfort food, and the array of local and Pacific Northwest beverage options, I keep coming back to The Frog for the music—both local and nationally legendary—that always feels worth a whole lot more than the cover charge.

Bellingham supergroup Baby Cakes New Year's Eve 2015 at The Frog. Photo by Kenneth Kearney.

Bellingham supergroup Baby Cakes New Year’s Eve 2015 at The Frog. Photo by Kenneth Kearney.

 

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Owner James Hardesty makes the BBQ himself in a smoker out back.

Owner James Hardesty first began his business on a whim as an alternative to his steel working job. Hardesty might be easy for you to spot. He’s known for his ‘carefree’ hair styles, his deep belly laughs that sail across the tavern, and the relationships he’s built with music artists.

Shawenee Kilgore by SanjayNPatel

Shawnee Kilgore got her start at The Frog. Photo by SanjayNPatel.com.

Since he started his business in 2005, Hardesty has provided a welcoming stage and eager audience for artists ranging from nationally touring music legends to local bands and soloists just getting their start. That support, and that of his business partner, Nate Carlson, is somewhat selfless in that all of the variable—but affordable—cover charge goes directly to the folk, sting band, bluegrass, soul, funk, and blues performers that take the stage. That approach has kept those talented musicians coming back to Bellingham for more than a decade.

A number of Pacific Northwest artists have come through The Frog just before they became national hits. When I saw Seattle-based indie folk band The Head and The Heart at The Frog, the dance floor was so packed that it was too tight to actually dance. Their third album, Signs of Light, will be released and touring this fall. Singer-songwriter Shawnee Kilgore got her start in Bellingham and also performed at Bellingham’s Upfront Theatre. She is currently writing songs with L.A.’s Joss Whedon of Avenger’s fame. Critically-heralded singer-songwriter Joe Pug is still in touch with Hardesty and makes a point of stopping by when he’s passing through. That’s just a few of the incredible musicians that have coursed through The Frog.

Date Nights Rabbit Wilde at the Frog

Skagit County’s Rabbit Wilde boot stompin’ at The Frog. Photo by Kenneth Kearney.

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I also love The Frog because it showcases talented, emerging local artists like folk rockers Rabbit Wilde originally from Skagit County, Bellingham funk and soul supergroup Baby Cakes, and the genre-spanning Bellingham-based Polecat. I usually spend my favorite holidays like Halloween and New Year’s Eve dancing with my girlfriends and singing along with these bands.

I often arrive early before a show as a sort of pre-show ritual I’ve developed. When the weather is good, I sit out on the substantial back deck that faces the Bellingham Alley District. It feels surprisingly private for a public place and the sounds of the friendly urban neighborhood bounce off the surrounding buildings.

Inside, the comfortable industrial vibe and medium-sized dance floor are surrounded by antique fruit crate art and stringed instruments hung on the walls. It’s not uncommon for a patron to select an instrument from the wall and play it while they wait for their house-smoked BBQ made by Hardesty himself or the exotic grilled cheese sandwiches. My favorites are the Elvis (peanut butter, bacon, and banana) and the Mac Daddy (macaroni and cheese, bacon, and sharp cheddar) grilled to perfection and oozing from thick bread.

Hardesty attends brew and distiller festivals to stay connected with Pacific Northwest and Bellingham-based vendors. The Frog always keeps a wide variety of quality microbrew beers on the tap list as well as local, national, and international whiskey brands on hand.

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(L) Local actor, writer, producer, and comedian Glen Nelson Bristow did his first stand-up set at a Guffawingham open mic when it was just getting started in 2013. Photo by Sue Mattson. (R) Willdabeast hosts the Tuesday night Soul Explosion DJ set. Photo by Kenneth Kearney.

In addition to weekend shows, The Frog also offers a mainstay weekly shows. Sunday’s Slow Jam is an open jam session while Margarita Monday’s include an open mic that gives locals a chance to be seen followed by Guffawingham, a showcase of local stand-up comedy talent. Tuesday’s Soul Explosion is a popular dance night as DJ Willdabeast‘s Will Glazier and Dan de Lisle host a DJ set of classic covers. Some nights, when they’re feeling it, they and their talented friends play their horns with the music.

What I love most about The Frog is that I don’t have to plan ahead. I can show up and have affordable fun any time, any night of the week, and find hearty food and drink, friendly servers, and talented musicians from near and far.

 

The Green Frog Acoustic Tavern

1015 N. State Street

Bellingham, WA 98225

www.acoustictavern.com

 

 

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About the Author:

Lorraine Wilde has immersed herself in so many of Whatcom County’s vibrant communities over the past 25 years. Owner and Marketing Strategist for Wilde World Communications, Lorraine has connected with locals as a writer, actor, scientist, teacher, filmmaker, singer, and mom. Lorraine has performed improv and staged works in several of Whatcom County’s theatres and she is active in the Bellingham Film community. She is also a big supporter of the local music community. When she has a spare second, its spent with her children outside on a sailboat, a trail, or exploring a new adventure.