Photo of band performing

The Scene: A Timeline of Whatcom County’s Musical Past

April 2, 2022; Old City Hall

“Bellingham was coming to life in a certain way with all sorts of bands forming and all sorts of things going on.” —Ken  Stringfellow, founding member of The Posies, interviewed Dec. 23, 2019

From string bands on steamboats in the 1890s, to symphony orchestras, barbershop quartets, jazz bands, folk singers, and alternative rock groups in the decades that followed, Bellingham and its surrounding communities have a rich history in bringing music to the bay and beyond. This exhibition sheds light on the musical history of our area and some of the people who helped bring a bit of “excitement” to our subdued way of life.

Featured image: Bellingham rock band “The Lime Surprise” playing on stage, August 1969.  Photo by Jack Carver, Whatcom Museum 1995.1.12942.


The Whatcom Museum acknowledges that we gather on the traditional territory of the Lhaq’temish – Lummi People – and the Nuxwsá7aq – Nooksack People – who have lived in the Coast Salish region from time immemorial. The Museum honors our relationship with all of our Coast Salish neighbors and our shared responsibilities to their homeland where we all reside today.