FEELING THE MUSIC IN BELLINGHAM
Washington has been a hot bed for homegrown music talent like Bing Crosby, Jimi Hendrix, Kenny Loggins, Footloose, Simon and Garfunkel, KISS, and Bellingham carries that on with alternative rock band Death Cab for Cutie. Whether you want to dance or just enjoy a meal and be entertained, Whatcom County clearly has it happening with a variety of live music venues featuring blues, jazz, rock, hip hop, soul, folk and classical.
Our first stop was the Hotel Bellwether for their Blues, Brews and BBQ’S event held every Thursday evening throughout the summer. Hugging Bellingham Bay the hotel’s Waterfront Terrace is the perfect place to relax with a warm setting sun, cold drink, self-serve barbecue menu and live music. We had an unforgettable evening meeting some of the locals and visiting boaters who were enjoying the ample on-site moorage and others moored at neighbouring Squalicum Harbor Marina!
Our next two nights would be at the iconic seaside Semiahmoo Resort located just 40 minutes away in Blaine along the shores of Semiahmoo Bay and Drayton Harbor. The resort has recently completed a multimillion dollar restoration, turning it into a state-of-the-art, luxury destination. It’s a magical place where you can capture a sunrise from one of two award-winning golf courses or watch from a deckchair as a great blue heron or bald eagle takes flight.
Our Saturday morning started with a workout at the hotel’s fitness center which even has an indoor track. Just for balance, the workout was followed by an amazing buffet breakfast at the Pierside Kitchen with fresh, seasonal breakfast items showcasing the local bounty from neighbouring farms and ranches. Keeping with the seaside theme the resort’s luxurious spa offers guests a wide array of seaweed-inspired treatments. I don’t get to visit spas too often but after talking with Sherry Ott, the Spa Manager I decided to treat myself to the Sea Salt Body Polish. This invigorating body exfoliation not only managed to remove a few crusty barnacles but left me feeling relaxed and very much connected with my new ocean surroundings.
Semiahmoo is right in the heart of the Northwest’s premier boating region. Nestled between the San Juan Islands to the south and the inland waters of British Columbia to the north, boaters will find Semiahmoo Marina where anyone who wants to dock is welcome and from there wander over to the resort for a meal, spa treatment or simply to take in the view. Neighbouring Blaine Marina offers an easy five minute ride to the resort via the 1944 ferry boat MV Plover.
We enjoyed a great afternoon paddle using onsite kayaks, getting up close to the local seal colony but needed to be back in time for our next music experience – the Friday night Semiahmoo Beach Party featuring live music and tables of corn bread, coleslaw, potato salad, wild king salmon, chicken, burgers, corn on the cob and Virginia’s favourite an irresistible selection of desserts. We enjoyed local wines and craft beers and with a golden sunset for a backdrop we found ourselves circling one of the beachside campfires making our own s’mores with the other guests and locals.
Our final music adventure began with a drive along Mt. Baker Highway which understandably is one of the top scenic drives in America. The journey was highlighted by waterfalls and wildflowers as we crisscrossed the Nooksack River making our way to the Snowater development run by Mt. Baker Lodging. This was a great mix of semi-wilderness accommodation but just a short drive to Deming for the Mt. Baker Rhythm & Blues Festival. What a thrill to see Savoy Brown, Josey Wails and The Yardbirds – there was a nice vibe to the festival with a really interesting crowd enjoying the beer garden and food vendors all weekend long. After the main stage shut down each evening around 11 pm, the after-hours experience began bringing fans and musicians together for a worldclass jam until 2 am! We were back to our lodge well before that time but did hear from those enjoying the free overnight tent and RV camping that the jam was great.
Held in late July, Bellingham’s Mt. Baker R&B Festival has been a big success for the past two decades. The Blues Foundation in Memphis honoured the Festival with their 2013 Keeping the Blues Alive Award. Lloyd Peterson, the organizer commented, “There have only been a dozen or so who have received this award. It’s like the Oscars for the Blues. Most events who have won are huge, corporate events like the Chicago Blues Festival.” We would have loved to have more time to enjoy the many hiking trails but after the Sunday morning Rev. Deb’s Gospel music hour we were off for our last night at Fairhaven, less than an hour’s drive away.
The Fairhaven Village Inn is a 22room hotel located in the heart of the Fairhaven Historic District of Bellingham. Just footsteps to more than 20 restaurants the Inn offers the privacy of a hotel and the warmth of a B&B right next to the Fairhaven Village Green. One not-to-be-missed (we missed it) Fairhaven experience is taking in an
outdoor movie at the Village Green, Saturday nights in the summer. You could actually watch that movie from the Inn’s deck, but it’s so much better to take a blanket and cuddle up in front of the screen. If you are there on a summertime Sunday enjoy the afternoon Music On The Green.
Be sure to get in touch with Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism (www.bellingham.org) and put together your own road trip to the music, taking in one of the many music festivals, or just stop in at any of the various bars and restaurants that serve up quality live performances. The website is loaded with travel info including lodging, restaurants, things to do and insider advice for a personal visit.