10 Live Music Venues in Bellingham

bellingham live music
Portland, OR junkbox blues duo, Hillstomp, toured through the Wild Buffalo in April. Photo by Kenneth Kearney Photography.

 

By Lorraine Wilde

If you love rock, hip hop, jazz, blues, soul, folk, or classical, Whatcom County has it covered any night of the week with a variety of live music venues. Whether you want to dance, bang your head, or just sit and enjoy a savory snack and a drink, this list is a great starting point for any music-lover’s quest to see the best of what Bellingham has to offer.

Although we couldn’t include them all, these venues provide opportunities for both local and touring artists to bear their soul and their craft for your entertainment.

The Green Frog Acoustic Tavern

bellingham live music
Bellingham Folk-Stomp Americana band, Wild Rabbit, at The Frog. Photo by Kenneth Kearney Photography.

This Bellingham staple has an industrial vibe, a medium-sized dance floor, and quality sound. The Frog has a history of visits from some music legends as well as a dedication to locals. In fact, most or all of the variable cover charge goes directly to the performers, which often include folk, string band, and blues artists. The substantial deck out back with a view of Bellingham Bay and the house-smoked BBQ are a bonus. Patrons can play stringed instruments hung throughout the venue and enjoy great local beers, a wide variety of whiskey, or their famous grilled cheese sandwiches. My favorite is the Elvis: peanut butter, bacon, and banana grilled on thick bread to perfection.

The Green Frog Acoustic Tavern

1015 North State Street

Bellingham, WA 98225

 

The Wild Buffalo House of Music

Also known as The Buffalo, this venue offers perhaps the widest variety of music in town including reggae, hip hop, funk, soul, and electronic to name a few. The cover ranges from free for open mic and monthly Free Funk Friday up to $20 for some nationally-recognized touring artists. The sound system is good and loud and there is ample space on the dance floor. “Balcony” seats offer the best view and make you feel like you’re sittin’ in with the band.

The Wild Buffalo House of Music

208 W. Holly Street

Bellingham, WA 98225

360-746-8733

 

Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro

Across from the Farmers Market, this kid-friendly bistro offers beer brewed on-site, an outdoor deck, and beer garden. Concerts are outdoor in the summer and in the bar when the weather doesn’t cooperate. They are partial to Americana, folk, and blue grass but also blues-rock and other genres, with both local and touring bands. The food hasn’t changed much over the years, but that’s because it’s great. My favorites since 1995 are the Yam AleChiladas and The Great Northwest Pizza.

Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro

1107 Railroad Avenue

Bellingham, WA 98225

360-647-5593

 

Shakedown

bellingham live music
The 1980’s hardcore punk band, Reagan Youth, tour their comeback album at the Shakedown. Photo by Sue Mattson.

The Shakedown is just finishing a recent remodel upstairs that will add the quieter Racket Bar and Pinball Lounge with 18 pinball tables. The sound on the main floor is good and loud. Affordable drink prices and a cover from free to $15 makes this place a favorite with local rock bands and patrons alike.

Shakedown

1212 North State Street

Bellingham, WA 98225

360-778-1067

 

Make.Shift Art Space

Local musicians are part of the core of this all-ages DIY non-profit art and music venue. The music variety is as wide as the interests of Bellingham’s musicians and every dollar raised supports local artists. The Make.Shift is also home to a documentary film center, Bellingham’s Local Music Library, and the new community radio station.

Make.Shift Art Space

306 Flora Street

Bellingham, WA 98225

360-389-3569

 

Honey Moon Mead & Cider

Built in a historic warehouse on the alley behind Pepper Sisters restaurant, the Honey Moon is an all-ages venue for local singer/songwriters as well as a variety of bands including Latin fusion, Irish fiddle and cello, country, and Appalachian tunes. Their additional outdoor seating is great in good weather. Mead isn’t my thing, but I always enjoy the cider.

Honey Moon Mead & Cider

1053 North State Street Alley

Bellingham, WA 98225

360-734-0728

 

Kulshan Brewery

bellingham live music
Portland, OR junkbox blues duo, Hillstomp, toured through the Wild Buffalo in April. Photo by Kenneth Kearney Photography.

Kulshan is kid-friendly in their outdoor seating area and offers plenty of locally-brewed beer and live music, especially Americana, Irish, and folk. Some of the area’s best food trucks park right out front or you can bring your own food from off-site. I ride my bicycle to this venue to play darts and appreciate the relaxed atmosphere.

Kulshan Brewing Company

2238 James Street

Bellingham, WA 98225

360-389-5348

 

The Swillery Whiskeybar

The Swillery is also a favorite with local rock bands because there is no stage. Performers play among the audience making the concert atmosphere electric.

The Swillery Whiskeybar

118 W. Holly Street

Bellingham, WA 98225

 

The Star Club

bellingham live music
Bellingham Murder Jazz band, Falling Up Stairs, at the Shakedown. Photo by Aaron Brick Artography

An intimate venue, the Star Club calls itself a speakeasy. Its comfortable atmosphere is perfect for the Americana, singer/song writer, Irish, and folk rock they offer. I like their new twists on old-fashioned cocktails.

The Star Club

311 E. Holly Street

Bellingham, WA 98225

360-656-6075

 

Mount Baker Theatre

The Mount Baker Theatre is a sumptuous 1500-seat venue. Open since 1927 and listed on the register of National Historic Places since 1978, it is home to the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra and at least one young female ghost named Judy. It provides a grand stage for cultural music performances as well as international favorites like the upcoming Bruce Hornsby, Michael McDonald, and UB40. Ticket prices are generally higher than the other venues.

Mount Baker Theatre

104 North Commercial Street

Bellingham, WA 98225

360-734-6080

This is just a splash of the great live music available in Whatcom County. For practical reasons, music venues tend to cluster near the business districts along the I-5 corridor, so if we’ve missed some gems off the beaten track, please let us know via email and we’ll be sure to check them out.

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