New venue for the blues in Tacoma

Tacoma has a new venue for live blues.

Gary Grape, president of South Sound Blues Association (SSBA), said the idea came from the past two Tacoma Jazz and Blues Festivals. The Harmon had the blues stage each year. "We packed the place both times," Grape recalled.

Figuring the venue warranted live blues more than once a year, he approached the SSBA board about organizing shows at the Harmon. The board liked the idea, so Grape approached Pat Nagle, owner of the establishment, and they agreed on a trial run of shows every other Thursday.

Grape noted one of SSBA's goals is more clubs for live blues. "This is a perfect fit," he remarked.

While the Harmon serves alcohol, it is considered a restaurant and thus families can bring children to the performance. There is no cover charge. Shows end at 10 p.m., so those who have to work the following morning don't have to worry about being up too late.

SSBA puts up an information table during gigs, where people can purchase T-shirts and  CDs and learn about joining the organization.

The turnout for the first show Sept. 27, which featured Little Bill & the Bluenotes, was a decent-sized crowd. However, there were still some empty seats. "I'm the kind of guy who likes standing room only," Grape commented.

Tacoma resident Solar Richard was on hand to power the instruments with a solar-powered generator he set up in front of the Harmon. Grape said Richard will likely do this for each show in the series.

The next shows in the series are In the House Oct. 11, Maia Santell & House Blend Oct. 25, Curley Cooke Nov. 8 and Junkyard Jane Nov. 29 (this show was moved back a week to avoid conflict with Thanksgiving). "The talent we have booked is among the best overall in the Northwest, without a doubt," Grape declared.

If the series of shows draw well, it could become a permanent fixture at the Harmon. "If we get a good crowd and people support this, we will continue it," Grape said. If so, he would like to aim for shows every Thursday night.

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