Venue Spotlight: the Blue Moon

31 of the 82 shows I’ve seen so far this year have been at the Blue Moon, and though proximity factors in (I live very nearby), there are many reasons the Blue Moon is a venue worth seeking out. Get past your gritty first impression and once inside you’ll find the Blue Moon is weirdly beautiful, comfortable, and is the best place to people-watch. Plus they have good (dark) beer, attentive and friendly (seriously) service and excellent music. The 75 year-old Blue Moon is also steeped in history – it’s all around as you wander through.

 

I sought assistance in providing an accurate description of this unique establishment. Here’s what several folks I encounter at the Blue Moon have to say:

Jason Josephes, Blue Moon Talent Booker/Sound Engineer

1.  Why do you go to the Blue Moon?  I have to — I work there every Thu-Sat running sound and dealing with the mental elite. I also book the shows, but I do that from home.

2. What amenities does the Blue Moon offer?  An escape from the dreary humdrum of day-to-day existance and a glimpse into a world that exists nowhere outside of its wooden doors. Also, a couple of bathrooms.

3. How many shows have you seen at the Blue Moon? Wow, lemme do the math… five and a half years minus no Thursdays during my first year plus the shows I’d seen there before…. 858 or so?

4. How many shows have you played at the Blue Moon?  in which band(s)?  At least six shows with the Hopscotch Boys (including our first and last two), three shows as an officially booked solo artist, three appearances at our annual Christmas Eve pageant, and I used to crash open mic a lot from 2000-2002.

5. What is the first Blue Moon memory that pops into your head?  The time Matt Brown thought it would be a great idea for his friend Shecky the lawyer to play at his birthday show. It was not, in fact, a good idea.

6. Favorite Blue Moon beverage?  Miller High Life, but the folks call it maize. I mean, swill.

7. Describe the Blue Moon in one sentence. Bigger than my bedroom.

Ben Harwood of Gozer  (among others, see below)

1. Why do you go to the Blue Moon?  Where else is there?

2. What amenities does the Blue Moon offer?  I’m pretty sure if we’re at “The Moon” and a multi-syllabic word such as “amenities” is spoken aloud, one of us will be stabbed in the face.

3. How many shows have you seen at the Blue Moon? At least 20-30.

4. How many shows have you played at the Blue Moon?  in which band(s)?  At least 15-20. Played there as Vindaloo, Iceage Cobra, Gozer (Jeff from Vindaloo and I), Molten Sexy (Mitch from Iceage and myself), Harwood (just me and an acoustic and a collection hat), and god knows what else…musicians always go there to release new ideas, projects, plane crashes, into the wild for the first time.

5. What is the first Blue Moon memory that pops into your head?  Probably Matt Brown’s Birthday a few years back. I wrote an impromptu blues number that at the last minute, Lesli (of The Redwood Plan) and Jordan (Iceage Cobra), among like 6 or 7 other awesome friends and cohorts joined me onstage and sang the chorus when i did my best to nod at or cue them. It was such a good night. That…and Matt drank a glass of whiskey….it was a pint glass…and it was 3/4 full.

6. Favorite Blue Moon beverage?  Their imported English Camomile Tea is excellent….but a distant second would have to be the Pabst.

7. Describe the Blue Moon in one sentence.  “The sexiest singles club in Seattle.”

Abbey Simmons and Josh Lovseth, Sound on the Sound

1. Why do you go to the Blue Moon?  Abbey: (man, I wish I could just copy josh’s answer) Because JJ consistently books the best local rock line ups in town. Because my favorite bands think of the Blue Moon as their home stage. Because you’ve never seen a band at it’s more genuine bare than at the Blue Moon. Because I’ve been going there for so long, that quirky cast of characters are friends. Because other than the bathrooms, it’s nowhere near as bad as everyone says. Because the smell, like the aroma of Tacoma, is getting better all the time. Because on the best nights it feels like an extension of your living room, if your living room came with a few great local bands, interesting company, and a couple of stiff drinks.
 
Josh: Rock’n’roll. That’s the why. 

 
2. What amenities does the Blue Moon’s offer?  Abbey: Amenities? You know this is the Blue Moon we’re talking about right? It’s a little light on the “amenities”–but that’s part of the charm. The Blue Moon completely lacks pretension and it’s a bare bones bar. What it does offer are: strong drinks, a cast of characters that a fine novelist would’ve been proud to have created, dark nooks a plenty, and consistently, the best local line ups in Seattle.

Josh: On the top layer it is kind of menacing, dank dirty all wood, there’s no fucking cushions, there’s no fucking couches. You are sitting on wood benches that are twice as old as you are. But then once you realize and you sit down and take a moment to drink it in, wow there’s  a lot of strange character in this place. Every booth is different with whatever carved inside it, whatever books are on the shelf — how did these books get here? Posters on the ceiling, pictures of Jerry Garcia, random pieces of amateur artwork depicting the Blue Moon regulars, which once you’ve been there you recognize and know by name. Plus Tom’s in between set playlists are better than any DJ’s in town.
 
3. How many shows have you seen at the Blue Moon?  Easily over 100 Blue Moon shows.

 4. How many shows have you played at the Blue Moon? in which band(s)?  Abbey has played zero shows at the Blue Moon and will never play a show at the Blue Moon (or anywhere else)….because there’s definitely a reason I write about music. (Those that can’t play, write?)
 
Josh has played 5 times at The Blue Moon with The Backburners. Though in typical Blue Moon fashion, this number fluctuates from anywhere from 4 to 8 shows, as are all good Blue Moon memories, it’s a wee bit hazy. 

 
5. What is the first Blue Moon memory that pops into your head?  Abbey: There isn’t a single memory that pops into my head, because I have so many great ones. I remember being terrified the first time I went to the Blue Moon and how eventually I came to feel at home there, how the cast of characters no longer worried me but endeared themselves to me. I remember going to a show there the day after the Seattle smoking ban took place, and smoke still hung heavy about the bar. I remember seeing a cockroach crawl across the bar in the old days. I remember the smell. I remember seeing The Moondoggies for the first time there and thinking: this band is something special. I remember seeing a number of my favorite Seattle Bands take the stage one final time at The Blue Moon, I remember being introduced to a number of my favorite local bands at The Blue Moon. I remember Sound on the Sound’s first disastrous concert and the following ones that just keep getting better. I remember the Hopscotch Boys, Ice Age Cobra, WE’s Wheel of Decision, The Whore Moans, Thee Emergency, the Blue Womb, Junkface, and countless others. As odd as it may sound to some, when I think about the Blue Moon, I think about some of the best nights of my life. 
 
Josh:  The Hopscotch Boys. Not a single show, all of them. The Blue Moon was the perfect stage and venue for this band. The stage allowed for Blowdog to stalk through the audience and crowd surf and choose  target and climb on the bar. It was dark, raw, and kind of menacing gloomy rock and that’s what the Blue Moon is — kinda raw and gloomy.
 
p.s. this is an incredibly hard question — everything pops into my head! what doesn’t pop into my head?!?
 
6. Favorite Blue Moon beverage?  Abbey: Whatever whiskey I can afford, on the rocks. 
 Josh: Manny’s from the tap.

 7. Describe the Blue Moon in one sentence.  Abbey: My favorite dive in the whole world. 
 Josh: A rock’n’roll bar to its core.

Gabe Mintz

1. Why do you go to the Blue Moon?  Because I know where it is.

2. What amenities does the Blue Moon offer?  They offer true grit.  True grit.

3. How many shows have you seen at the Blue Moon?  I have seen more of my friends play there than I can, or am allowed to name.

 4. How many shows have you played at the Blue Moon?  in which band(s)?  I’ve played there as Gabe Mintz, Anonymous Un-Listed Guy, with The Weathermen, and with a variety of space aliens and funkoids.

 5. What is the first Blue Moon memory that pops into your head?  When my ex-girlfriend said she would kill herself if I played there.  I played there, and she ate just enough pills to get sick and had to spend the night in the hospital.  I was always proud of myself for that one ::D

6. Favorite Blue Moon beverage?  I didn’t know they even had “beverages”… at the Blue Moon. I like to think of it all as different flavors of stupid juice.

7. Describe the Blue Moon in one sentence.  The Blue Moon is a shit hole… if you consider youself a decent person and are halfway important… no one will find you picking up a crack-whore in that place… it is perfect.

Matt Brown, Baron of Bacon

1. Why do you go to the Blue Moon?  I go to the Blue Moon primarily to use their pristine and sparkling restroom facilities, where I often (allegedly) buy crack from a certain Seattle City Attorney.
 
2. What amenities does the Blue Moon offer?  Alcohol and (alleged) asininity.
 
3. How many shows have you seen at the Blue Moon?  (Allegedly) more than Eric Grandy and Hannah Levin combined, but (allegedly) less than Abbey Simmons and Amelia Gydé individually.
 
4. How many shows have you played at the Blue Moon?  in which band(s)?  I opened for H Is For Hellgate as “The Joe Satriani Air Guitar Experience” one magical night, but I’ve (allegedly) lent my vocal “talents” to several performances by a variety of local acts, including Iceage Cobra, Watch It Sparkle!, Vindaloo and Madraso.                                                                     

5. What is the first Blue Moon memory that pops into your head?  The night the Hot Rollers dressed up as sexy librarians, dedicated their set to me and (allegedly) finished the night with a half-naked bass player.
 
6. Favorite Blue Moon beverage?  (Allegedly) a pitcher of PBR with a pint glass full of bourbon (allegedly) dropped into it.
 
7. Describe the Blue Moon in one sentence.  My legal counsel has advised me to refrain from allowing my description to be posted.

Travis Young of We Wrote The Book On Connectors

1. Why do you go to the Blue Moon?  I go to the Blue Moon because it’s frankly one of the most honest places in the city for drinking, and/or experiencing live music.  The possibility of pretention at the Blue Moon is simple not applicable.  The place acts as a litmus test for all who enter.
 
2. What amenities does the Blue Moon offer?  Smoking patio with drinking man sculpture art, antique fixtures, bountiful library, flat screen TV, monitor-less stage sound-system, picnic tables, pool table/covered pool table you can sit on, friendly hosts in a “community” setting.  Also peanuts.
 
3. How many shows have you seen at the Blue Moon?  Probably 1 every other month since about whenever they started.
 
4. How many shows have you played at the Blue Moon?  Many more than is considered safe.  Probably like 15 or something.  in which band(s)?  All as part of WE, though in a couple of different iterations of WE.
 
5. What is the first Blue Moon memory that pops into your head?  Meandering in one of my first times around 9 years ago with a buddy who liked stout drinks.  He asked the bartender, “what kind of stout do you have”.  The bartender replied, “it’s chewy”.
 
6. Favorite Blue Moon beverage?  Pitcher of Roger’s (kin to Manny’s)
 
7. Describe the Blue Moon in one sentence.  The bathrooms at the Blue Moon smell like wet hay.

Dagmar Sieglinde, Music Addict, Kitten Enthusiast and Editor of this fine publication

1. Why do you go to the Blue Moon?  I never know what I’m going to see there. Several of my favorite bands have played there and it’s a laid back environment.

2. What amenities does the Blue Moon offer?  Hale’s Cream Ale on tap. Broken in and sticky seating. When my Mom was at University apparently she lived briefly in an apartment that was next to the bar. I think it’s now the stage.

3. How many shows have you seen at the Blue Moon?  Not as many as I would like to see. I was too frightened to step inside it for most of my life.

4. How many shows have you played at the Blue Moon? in which band(s)?  None. But I am open. JJ didn’t accept my offer to play the Virgin Mary for the Christmas party so who knows.

5. What is the first Blue Moon memory that pops into your head?  When I was at UW I remember walking by it and having a glass bottle of beer thrown at me.

6. Favorite Blue Moon beverage?  Cider.

7. Describe the Blue Moon in one sentence.  It’s unpretentious.

S. Smith of Thee Emergency (among others – see below) 

1. Why do you go to the Blue Moon?  I most often go to the Blue Moon when I have no other choice. Either other people want to go there, I have a show there, or some once-in-a-lifetime band is playing there for free and I just wouldn’t be able to forgive myself for not going. I can forgive myself for going to the Blue Moon.

2. What amenities does the Blue Moon offer?  The best thing about the Blue Moon is that they have an Automaitic Transaction Machine, and a sign to clearly illustrate where it is. They also have microwave dinners, peanuts, and a bathroom that smells exactly like a bathroom, only more so.

3. How many shows have you seen at the Blue Moon? I try not to think about that. All my favorite bands play there, including A Gun That Shoots Knives, We Wrote The Book On Connectors, The Hopscotch Boys, Ice Age Cobra so I’ve been there a bunch. I’m also secrectly in love with Douchebag, so sometimes I find myself there on Tuesday nights.

4. How many shows have you played at the Blue Moon?  in which band(s)?  I’ve played at the blue moon in six different bands; Thunder, The Drunk-Rock Blues, The Seattle Supersonics, Thee Emergency, Lavander Lunchbox and the Psychadelic Lightbulb, and Dr. Phibes’ Clockwork Wizards. That must be at least forty shows.

5. What is the first Blue Moon memory that pops into your head?  Blowdog! He’s done so many crazy things, but the god-damn silliest was when he pulled a moshing blackedoutdrunk frat boy on the stage and sang “Ha Ha Ha Ha” into his face for ten minutes. I’ve never seen someone look so scared.

6. Favorite Blue Moon beverage?  Beer.

7. Describe the Blue Moon in one sentence.  The homeless have to get drunk somewhere.

 

I’ve seen a few (very few) clunkers, but I’ve also seen many of my favorite bands at the Blue Moon. I’ve been surprised far more often by the talent onstage than the lack thereof. Below are some of my favorite shots – lots more are in the Blue Moon’s photo set.

 

 

 

Art, show posters and band stickers cover most available surfaces. A recent incident involving this incredible painting by Blue Moon bartender Mary McIntyre caused quite a stir.

Read about what happened here, here and here, and be sure to check out the comments.

Care to share your Blue Moon memories? Have you played there? Seen a show or two? Walked in and ran right back out? (I did – one unfortunate Sunday night.) Comment with your responses to my questions if you wish- here they are again:

1. Why do you go to the Blue Moon? 
 
2. What amenities does the Blue Moon’s offer?
 
3. How many shows have you seen at the Blue Moon?
 
4. How many shows have you played at the Blue Moon?
         in which band(s)?
 
5. What is the first Blue Moon memory that pops into your head?
 
6. Favorite Blue Moon beverage?
 
7. Describe the Blue Moon in one sentence.
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2 thoughts on “Venue Spotlight: the Blue Moon

  1. 1. Because Abbey makes me, or because I want a chill place to drink whiskey and faux-mosh and not have to worry about how trendy or not trendy my outfit is.
    2. Decent house whiskey, interesting signage, and the all-important amenity of a good time
    3. Probably five or six
    4. Zero, but when I start my Fiona Apple cover band I expect to play the Blue Moon monthly (right JJ?)
    5. Screaming my face off at The Hopscotch Boys and A Gun That Shoots Knives one night last year
    6. Whiskey on the rocks
    7. The Blue Moon is a place I don’t have to pretend to be anything other than what I really am or to want anything other than what I really want.

  2. 1. Why do you go to the Blue Moon? I used to go to the Blue Moon ’cause it was free and in my neighborhood.

    2. What amenities does the Blue Moon’s offer?
    A smelly bathroom. Beer nuts galore. Innarestin’ folks.

    3. How many shows have you seen at the Blue Moon?
    A ton…I don’t know. Jesus. I’ve seen everything from a kickin’ Ted Nugent cover band to some guy jamming on baritone clarinet.

    4. How many shows have you played at the Blue Moon?
    in which band(s)?
    A lot of shows. Wah Wah Exit WOund’s homestage, Beer Sandwich tried it out once. The Contraband Countryband played the last weekend free show!

    5. What is the first Blue Moon memory that pops into your head?
    Mt. Non Fiction Sessions

    6. Favorite Blue Moon beverage?
    When they used to have the shwill of the day, that was my favorite. Shwill of the day.

    7. Describe the Blue Moon in one sentence.
    Not even close to the diviest establishment in Seattle; for that head to Brewsky’s.

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