Honey Moon Changes and Musical Collaborations at B-Town

Last Wednesday, Sept. 26, marked the last time that Pace Rubadeau acted as host for the weekly open mics at Honey Moon Mead and Cider, located at 1053 N. State St., in the alley behind Pepper Sisters. Pace, known around town as the dapper gent who’s never without his trumpet and as ambassador for the Hot House Jazz Band, hands over his imaginary baton to musician and storyteller Ivan Sandomire on Tuesday nights. Pace said on Facebook, “It’s been a sound honor navigating Wednesday nights for the past year from the comfort of Bellingham’s acoustic living room.”

Indeed, the intimacy of the Honey Moon is one of its attributes; and on a personal note, it’s where I was last November, when a stunned gathering was glued in amazement to the live coverage of the national election.

So I thought it behooved me to ask the owners of the venue to ask what other changes were afoot. Here’s what co-owner Anna Evans told me, in her words.

Bottom line is yes, we are indeed entering a ‘New Phase of The Moon.’  In August we hired Michelle Schutte as our first-ever official bar manager, and we’ve been absolutely blown away by her energy and vision, not to mention by the sheer joy she’s brought to expanding the possibilities at our funky little establishment. The tasting room has a brand new look, a new music schedule — and cocktails!  At Michelle’s urging we finally applied for a liquor license, which was approved rather more quickly than we anticipated.

Meanwhile, in addition to mead, cider and traditional mixed drinks, folks are invited to beta-test one of our soon-to-be ‘World Famous Mead Cocktails.’

One of the consequences of the new liquor license is that we will no longer be able to admit all ages.  This was a tough choice for us; in addition to our family-friendly status, we’ve valued the opportunity to help nurture young performers in our space, and we’re especially sorry to disappoint them.  I wish we could have it both ways.

Another change has to do with our attempt to find a more sustainable balance between Honey Moon’s reputation as a ‘listening room,’ where audiences sit quietly and listen attentively, and its potential as a place where people go to relax and enjoy good food, drink and conversation.  To make a little more room for the latter we’re scaling back our music schedule. Currently our plan is to offer music three nights a week instead of six. But like so much of what we do, this is an experiment; we’ll keep fine tuning it as we move forward.”

And here’s part of what Anna wrote on in a letter posted on Honey Moon’s Facebook page, with her husband and co-owner, Murphy.

“Honey Moon has always been a quirky sort of experiment, born out of curiosity and desire — curiosity about what we could create from the bounty of the earth around us, and a desire to share the results with our community.  Since we opened our doors in 2005, we’ve been dedicated to crafting one-of-a-kind meads and ciders from locally sourced ingredients. We’ve also been honored to serve as a home for other kinds of creative expression. Over the years our little space on the alley has become a hub for local artists and musicians, poets and performers of many stripes.  It’s been beautiful and inspiring to be part of this vibrant community.

It’s also been a labor of love.  Truth be told, Honey Moon has always operated at a loss.  If this were simply a matter of business, we’d have shut our doors years ago.  We’ve kept at it because. . .well, because, like we said, it’s been beautiful. And inspiring.  But the fact is we simply can’t afford to keep things going the way they have been. For many years, Murphy’s mother had an unattributed quotation posted prominently on the wall above her kitchen table.  Her version read: “If things are going to stay the same, some things will have to change.” We’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, as it certainly applies to our situation. We very much want to preserve what’s at the heart of Honey Moon — that animating spirit of curiosity and desire — and toward this end we’re making some important changes.

As parents ourselves, we believe that families and responsible people of all ages should be able to enjoy being out and about together, and we have many sweet memories of the ways young people have added to the charm of Honey Moon over the years.  We’re truly sorry that we are not able to welcome minors into our space any longer — but we do hope their parents will find our upcoming cocktail menu intriguing enough to plan a special night to come out and sample something new.

Some of you may remember that Honey Moon was not originally conceived as a performance venue; like so much of what we’ve done, this aspect of our business began as an experiment of sorts.  The experiment kept expanding — from casual background music every now and then, to a couple of regular weekly gigs, to performances every night, six nights a week. Many of these have been glorious!  It has been an honor to host the many extraordinary musicians who have graced our makeshift stage over the years, and a deep pleasure to have had a hand in making so many beautiful memories. At the same time, we’re aware that there are other possibilities clamoring for a chance to manifest in our space, and we’re looking forward to experimenting with those as well.  
Beginning in October, we plan to offer live music on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings, including our long-running Open Mic night.  We’re also exploring the possibility of adding Sunday evenings to the musical mix. Thursday, Friday and Saturday will be more free-form, with ample room for folks to enjoy conversation and make connections over drinks.  

We’re excited about the possibilities ahead.  We’re also clear about what’s not going to change — that is, our commitment to providing a warm, inviting space to gather with friends and try something unique, and maybe even beautiful.  We hope the results of our ongoing experiments in the production room and behind the bar will spark your own creative spirit. We’re so grateful for the support of our friends and Honey Moon family over the years — you’re what’s kept us going all this time, and we hope we’ll be here for years to come.  We look forward to welcoming you to a new phase of The Moon.”

And new bartender Michelle Schutte adds she’s “busy training bartenders and new menus and other ‘fun stuff.'”
“I am unbelievably happy to be working with Anna and Murphy.” she says.

“I have a ton of respect for how important the Honey Moon institution is to fans of their meads, ciders, staff, and performers so I want people to know that we’re not doing away with anything beloved, just adding cocktails (including some special mead-infused house drinks), new seating, and several nights a week focused on customers rather than live music. I’ve been doing my thing with great booze, fresh-squeezed juices, pickles and candied fruit – and we’ll soon have fondue!”

For details and updates on the Honey Moon, call 360-734-0728 or go to
www.honeymoonmeads.com.

B-Town Kitchen and Raw Bar at Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, 714 Lakeway Drive is collaborating with musicians from Western Washington University, and admission is free!

Here’s what’s coming in October. Seven performers will participate in six different musical sets, with Western’s jazz choir director Kirk Roa performing at each gig as vocalist

The Saturday night concerts will begin at 8 p.m. and feature two sets per night, with a 9 p.m. act following the opening set.

Here’s the schedule:
Oct. 6: The drum and keyboard duo of Western music students Blake Tiemann and Max Cannella pull from a repertoire of jazz, funk and original compositions, followed by trumpet player Duncan Lang and vocalist Kirk Roa.

Oct. 13: Pianist and composer Nick Swanson performs, followed by guitarist and vocalist Zaldy Rogero, with Roa.

Oct. 20: Pianist Sarah Potocki  will perform two hour-long sets, first as a soloist, then joined by Roa.

For more information on upcoming events, visit btownkitchen.com or call 360-392-6520.

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