Inaugural Bellingham Folk Festival comes to Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship Dec. 19-20

The inaugural Bellingham Folk Festival kicks off at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 19, and continues 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20, at Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, 1207 Ellsworth St. The festival is a celebration of folk music that takes place in the heart of Bellingham, with two days of workshops, performances, dances and jams for all ages and abilities.

Among the participants is longtime Bellingham vocalist and dobro player Laurel Bliss, who was exposed early in her life to the Carter Family, Doc Watson, the Louvin Brothers and Jimmy Martin. That exposure inspired her lifelong dedication to unearthing and learning vocal chestnuts. Bliss has a straightforward yet tender approach to singing that suggests an earlier era.

She played dobro and sang in Southfork Bluegrass Band in the 1980s, and has performed for many years in a duo with Cliff Perry. She has toured and recorded with Carol Elizabeth Jones of Virginia. Her heartfelt vocals have made her a standout in acoustic and bluegrass music.

The joy of playing by ear and learning to sing with others through the festivals of Weiser, The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes and the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop have shaped her approach to music. Bliss currently plays fiddle and guitar with The Happy Valley Sluggers, a Cajun and old-time band.

Other participants include Linda Allen, Flip Breskin, Kat Bula, Coty Hogue and Lucas Hicks.

Admission varies from full weekend passes to evening-only and day passes. Details: 360-733-3837, thebellinghamfolkfestival.com.