One of my favorite things to do in Bellingham—and any town I visit—is to see local bands or musicians. A local show gives you a feel for the area music scene, exposes you to a new venue and allows for a whole lot of dancing and people-watching.
I usually check out a song or video for the band or musician first and then check their website or Facebook page to see when and where they are playing.
To help visitors to our region, I put together this quick list with a variety of Bellingham and Whatcom area musicians and bands that play locally on the regular. Many are my friends and all are hard-working, passionate artists excited to share their work. Visitors can plan to include a show on their next visit. Locals might discover something new in their own backyard.
Of course, my list below can’t be comprehensive. Bellingham and Whatcom County are home to at least a hundred more musicians and bands.
Adding a live music show to your itinerary can be the highlight of your trip. Also, the memories you make will likely be one-of-a-kind and lasting. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover your new favorite band just before they make it big. Or you’ll like them so much you’ll want to include them on your next visit. In this comfortable town, you may even get to meet the players before or after the show.
Here are just a few of the talented musicians that make Bellingham and Whatcom County their home.
The Piano Players of Boundary Bay Brewery
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights for at least the last 15 years, Boundary Bay Brewery has employed the talent of three local musicians. While visitors enjoy the bistro’s fresh menu and a brew made on-site, they can listen to a wide variety of their favorite tunes from across the last century. Whether you love old show tunes and Gershwin, early rock and roll or blues, or some modern rock/pop tunes, you’ll dine in style at Boundary Bay over some old school Steinway barroom piano. Its upbeat, fun and recognizable.
My friend Aaron Guest has been playing Wednesday nights for the past eight years. Guest also started the band Polecat included below. Guest is self-taught and plays by ear. He said he tries to learn at least one new song per week, meaning his catalog of tunes is well over 100. He and the other piano players try to accommodate requests when they can.
Guest isn’t the only pianist hitting the keys at Boundary. Three other talented musicians cover Monday and Tuesday nights. The legendary Paul Klein, also known locally for his part in the popular boogie/pop rock/blues band, The Atlantics, was the first pianist at Boundary and has been playing there for at least 15 years.
Ben Starner comes from nearby Anacortes to share his wizardry on the keys while the talent of Steve Meyer rounds out the musicians who help you relax and unwind. Both Ben and Steve also sing a few of their song as well.
Whether you’re at the bar enjoying a local brew or in the family-friendly dining room with your evening meal, you can appreciate the piano players of Boundary Bay Brewery.
Boundary Bay also hosts many other musicians throughout the summer and is working on another music venue in another part of the brewery. Check their calendar to see what they are offering other nights of the week.
Groovebot is a high energy funk experience. They began first as a cover project for The Austerman File, who played their own version of Taylor Molzahn’s (guitar and vox) original music with soulful horn lines and unique harmonic and rhythmic flourishes. That sound evolved and grew gradually into Groovebot through the addition of thick, tasteful bass, and the smoky vocals of my friend Eve Smason-Marcus. In May 2017, the band and the Bellingham music community lost its beloved piano player Josh Spiegel who passed away suddenly. Since then, Groovebot has added my friend and keyboardist Chris Metz and now the group is honoring Spiegel’s memory at every show by playing with unbridled passion and heart.
Groovebot has become a popular choice for dancing around town. With a full tenor sax dominating the groove, it’s hard to keep from swaying with their classic funk and soul mixed with modern music. Their funky vibe brings the whole thing to life.
A short clip of our last show with the one and only Josh Spiegel on Keyboards. More content to come as we continue to work our way thru all of the recordings and photos we have. Thank you for watching and sharing! If anyone has photos or videos of Groovebot or The Austerman File, please send them our way!
Posted by GrooveBot on Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Groovebot performs all around Bellingham. You might see them opening for a well-known touring band at Wild Buffalo or at Boundary Bay Brewery in the beer garden in the summer. They also make the rounds at Downtown Sounds, Ski to Sea, and at local breweries and other local events.
Local Ghost is a band of four young men from Bellingham who want to share their take on rock and roll. You can take a listen to their debut album, Momentum, and their latest EP, The Breckon Sessions, for a true feel of their vibe. The string-heavy songs, gritty vocals, and soft beats really suck you in.
Their recent work includes traditional rock-Americana-pop songs that make you want to dance. The group can do soulful, tugging songs as well as upbeat riffs that keep the energy high.
I discovered Local Ghost when my friends at Talking to Crows made this music video for them. I’ve been hooked ever since.
Mōtus is a seven-piece group based in Bellingham, WA that pulls from neo-soul, jazz, R&B, and funk musical stylings. Their music includes a strong brass, meaningful strums, and a swanky drum beat brought together by the soulful sound of vocals with impactful lyrics.
They find inspiration in socially and politically conscious music and are composing new songs in the same vein. So if you like your music with a message, be sure to check them out.
Irish & Folk Mondays at The Honey Moon
If Irish and folk music are your thing, Jan Peters has you covered every Monday at The Honey Moon Mead and Cider. Peters hosts a wide range of musicians in the local Irish music community. There is an open Irish session from 6 to 8 p.m. followed by a featured artist 8:15 to 10 p.m. I’ve written more in-depth Insider Blogs about The Honey Moon and The Bellingham Folk Festival. The best thing about Honey Moon is that its all ages and always relaxed!
Polecat is one of Bellingham’s most popular bands. Their sound is hard to fit into a single genre. They call themselves a fun, fast-paced 5-piece rock band playing with acoustic instruments blending elements of Americana, bluegrass, reggae and world music. I’m delighted to know band members Aaron Guest and Cayley Schmid, who are among the most talented and hard-working musicians I know.
I wrote this more in-depth Insider Blog about them in 2017 to help you get to know them even better.
I know a couple members of Bellingham’s Deadly D who have been sharing their unique style of hip-hop infused with funk, soul, rock and blues since 2011. I wrote a more in-depth post about Deadly D in 2017. Their award-winning, feel-good music with a message has appeared at more than 300 shows, at festivals and has toured in 13 states and provinces. While sharing the stage with the some of the greatest including Nappy Roots and Paul Wall, they’ve been compared to The Roots, Kendrick Lamar and others.
This 8-piece group is full of years of talent and high energy. Baby Cakes share the classic funk, soul and R & B tunes you love but have also recently recorded an album of original songs. Baby Cakes’ diminutive lead vocalist, Stephanie Walbon, packs a punch in a small package. I also was immediately drawn to all that the horn section adds to each song. Their high energy is also transmitted to the audience through the wild, flying dreads of drummer and Manager Kevin Chryst.
When you attend a show, it’s obvious why they’ve won local awards for “Best Booty Shakin’ Band” and “Best Up Close and Personal” performance. It’s hard not to dance and sing along. They do the old songs justice with their own powerful spin. And you’ll be singing along with the new songs before the first is even over. Although a band member or two might have changed since I wrote this in-depth Insider Blog about them, their power and appeal remains strong.
Hopefully, this list included at least one musician or band that you’d like to check out on your next visit to our beautiful neck of the woods. Try your dates in our online events calendar to see if they’re playing. If not, another approach is to check the calendars of each of the local music venues to see what they’re offering during your date range. However you find them, Bellingham and Whatcom County have a wide variety of local bands and musicians to appreciate on your next trip to town.