Summer, winter, spring or fall Anacortes rocks with music. Why? Anacortians love music. Over the years, this passion has fostered many a musician, like Gaelan Sylvia, Karl Blau and the band The Lonely Forest. One could even say this enthusiasm began in Anacortes’s early days when the town welcomed the fishing fleet with summer Plaza Dances. What does this mean for an island getaway to Anacortes? You can experience song and sound year-round. For some venues, there is a cover charge, and sometimes it’s free.
Let’s start with the place that’s all about the sound of silence―the Anacortes Public Library. Acoustic Music is every third Tuesday, from 6:30 to 7 p.m. and third Sunday from 2:00 to 2:30 p.m., and musicians play the baby grand piano or their own instrument. Every second Sunday, local jazz groups perform from 2 to 3:30 p.m. for Jazz at the Library.
Rockfish Grill, known for its woodfired pizzas and Anacortes Brewery beer, schedules live music every week. Tunes can be heard Wednesdays and some Thursdays at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Fridays. H2O, which has the most beer handles in the county, innovative fare, and a large dance floor, has live music on Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and a DJ at 9 p.m. on Fridays. If you’d rather belt out your favorite song Sunday karaoke at 8 p.m. is the cure.
The Brown Lantern, which has been serving burgers and beers for over 80 years, schedules music at 9:30 p.m. on some Fridays and most Saturdays. On Thursdays, musicians are encouraged to swing by at 8:30 p.m. for Open Mic Night to show off their skills. Every November, Rockfish Grill, H2O and the Brown Lantern host the annual bluegrass and microbrew celebration Brewgrass! This popular event is now in its 13th year and for two nights, guests enjoy great tasting beers while listening to six bluegrass bands.
Want to hear music outside? Anacortes has it covered, or should I say uncovered. On Saturdays, The Anacortes Farmers Market schedules live music in the courtyard from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. May to October. Nearby the Croatian Cultural Center serves up Croatian food and during the Anacortes Arts Festival the Vela Luka Orchestra plays on the outdoor patio, and if their schedule allows they delight guests with the melodies on summer weekends. Also, every March is the Vela Luka Festival, and in December, St. Nicholas Feast, both include Croatian food, music, and dance.
In historic downtown, The Heart of Anacortes starts their summer line-up in June and schedules bands well into the warm days of September. Concerts start in late afternoon or early evening to make the most of that Pacific Northwest sunshine. Music lovers can shimmy in front of the stage or sit in one of the provided chairs, as well as, enjoy local libations and bites. In July, at Seafarer’s Memorial Park on at 6 p.m. is the Port of Anacortes free Summer Music Series. Musicians entertain the audience with a mountain and water view as the backdrop. Hint: Bring a low-backed chair, a blanket, and some goodies.
The Anacortes Arts Foundation arranges a variety of musical events at the Croatian Cultural Center throughout the year. On April 1 at 7 p.m., baroque violinist Ingrid Matthews and lutenist Jonh Lenti perform a selection of German music. In May, Trio Affettuoso plays music from the Baroque and classical areas.
Annual festivals also host musicians. In June, the Vela Luca Croatian Dance Ensemble will perform at the Waterfront Festival. In August, the Anacortes Arts Festival highlights local and regional talent and schedules bands throughout the day at three different stages, which makes it easy for anyone to find music that speaks to your musical soul. In October, Bier on the Pier showcases musicians from various corners of the Pacific Northwest, focusing on high energy Americana. And, in December Geoffrey Castle’s Christmas Celebration packs the house with his Celtic song, dance and electric violin.
Whatever the mood‒jazz, rock, pop, classic or country‒Anacortes’s passion for music lights up the beats on the streets.
by Lara Dunning