The Blue Room is a new all-ages entertainment venue in downtown Bellingham created by HodWall Productions, and it has its opening night on Friday, Mar. 4.
The new venue will host concerts, arts and crafts nights and have an open mic night every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. HodWall Productions is made up of two current Western Washington University students, Martjin Wall and Nick Hastings, and one former Western student, Ben Hodson.
“We really want to make [The Blue Room] more about the arts and the music,” Wall said. “We're really leaning on that community to come here as performers and to come here as attendees and all that stuff.”
The Blue Room is located at 202 E. Holly Street, right above K-Pop Chicken in downtown Bellingham. Unlike other downtown performance venues such as the Wild Buffalo and The Shakedown, The Blue Room will be the first all-ages entertainment venue in downtown Bellingham, creating more opportunities for younger artists.
“We kind of see ourselves as like a good complement to that because we are all ages,” Hodson said. “People want to go somewhere with all ages, right? [It’s] like a third option for people downtown.”
The Blue Room is set to open on Friday, March 4 at 7 p.m. with local acts like Foxy Apollo, Ceras, and Roland Olayvar all performing on opening night. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required to attend all events at The Blue Room.
“They’re trying to capture that D.I.Y. feeling without losing that independent artist kinda feel[ing],” said Sam Ashkenazy, lead singer of Foxy Apollo.
Tickets for the first show can be bought online for $10 and $12-15 at the door, while tickets for other upcoming shows can be found on The Blue Room’s website. One of HodWall Productions’ main goals with The Blue Room is to provide a safe space of inclusivity and collaboration for Bellingham’s artistic community.
“The event that I'm really excited about because of how much opportunity and inclusivity it has is the open mic night,” Wall said. “We're having an open mic/mini market, which is a way to have a multi-dimensional experience for us, we're gonna have about eight to 10 vendors that are just like arts and crafts vendors for that night.”
The Blue Room will be host to an open-mic night every Thursday that will allow aspiring local artists to perform and showcase their talents to a live audience. Wall said that The Blue Room will host other events like an art party on March 9 and a stand-up comedy night that's yet to be decided.
The Blue Room will offer a chance for all local artists, not just musicians, to show their art to an audience. It’s an art venue, not just a music venue, Hastings said.
The new venue also has plans for the future involving a possible membership program that would give members access to the venue as a study/creative space on off-days and before shows.
“I think the goal is for [The Blue Room] to basically just be a place where pretty much anybody of any skill level can come and get their chance to have a platform to promote themselves,” Ashkenazy said.
Being an all-ages venue, The Blue Room will provide new opportunities for younger artists to express themselves and collaborate together. HodWall Productions hopes that as the venue grows, they’ll be able to bring in bigger name acts and create more learning opportunities for younger Bellingham artists.
“Downtown Bellingham has always been a hub for arts and culture, it is what makes Bellingham such a creative, original and welcoming community,” said Jennifer Walters, retail advocate for the Downtown Bellingham Partnership. “It is a welcome and wonderful sight to see new venues opening that will be facilitating art, music, entertainment and community programming.”
The local community will benefit from The Blue Room in downtown Bellingham because it adds to the economic ecosystem built in downtown. Other businesses will benefit because the new venue will bring more people downtown who will end up shopping at downtown businesses, said Walters.
“We’re art first, always,” Hastings said.
Kieran Bresnahan is a city news reporter studying visual journalism at WWU. He enjoys writing about education and local businesses and taking photos of local events.