Star Club brings cocktails, music to downtown Bellingham

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 21, 2014 

Bellingham's Brock Blatter says he's an opportunist, and that's why, after 30 years in information technology, he opened a bar.

After receiving many suggestions from friends, he decided to call it The Star Club: Bellingham's Speakeasy.

The 21-and over club, located in the original YMCA building on East Holly Street, built in 1906 (also known as the Odd Fellows Hall), was last operated as another bar, Stella.

Blatter had been in that venue only once. But he worked in food service as a teen, and says that it was while he was working at a Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour in the outskirts of San Diego that he noticed something: Everyone was smiling. So he bought the joint and began what he laughingly says were a "few weeks of productive failure."

For his new venture, he rebuilt the Stella bar and kitchen, changed the menu, reupholstered the chairs and began booking some of his musical friends to play in the evenings.

He has been creative with the names of his cocktails, including Old Man in a Champagne Sea, Summer in Bellingham, and Drunken Honeybee.

He had a soft opening a couple of weeks ago, but on Saturday, May 24, he's ready for his grand opening.

"Because of some happy accidents, I've got some great bartenders with a high degree of professionalism," he says.

He wants the Star Club to be a community gathering place, like Cheers, he says, where people can find a comfortable environment to listen to good music. And sing, too (there's karaoke Sundays and Mondays.)

Saturday's music lineup includes Sonja Lee, Chuck Dingee, Cheryl Hodge, Andy Koch, Bemused, and Stirred Not Shaken. Music starts at 6 p.m. and runs until 11.

Bellingham pianist Marvin Johnson donated a piano whose former home was Wellspring Community School in Bellingham. School founders Laurie Riskin and Bill Snow wanted the piano to find a good home.

"This is a perfect place for it," Blatter says.

BELLINGHAM THEATRE WORKS OPENS WITH 'BORDER SONGS'

Western Washington University theater arts professor Mark Kuntz is a guy with a lot of energy. So he needed a creative outlet after his departure from Mount Baker Theatre's Repertory Theatre and after the Commercial Street Theatre Project failed to reach its goal of opening a new space in downtown Bellingham.

He became friends with Steve Lyons, who also worked on the Commercial Street project, and they formed Bellingham TheatreWorks, a theater group without a home.

"We don't have a physical theater space, but we do have enthusiasm," Lyons says.

And they're ambitious.

Their first production is "Border Songs," a stage adaptation of Olympia author Jim Lynch's bestselling novel set in Whatcom County and first produced by Seattle's Book-It Repertory Theatre.

Kuntz says a focus of Bellingham TheatreWorks is to collaborate with community partners, and "Border Songs" is being produced by Village Books, a big supporter of Lynch over the years.

"Border Songs" will be staged in June and July at Firehouse Performing Arts Center in Fairhaven and at Claire vg Thomas Theatre in Lynden.

In August, Lyons and Kuntz are working with the Wayne Morse Center at the University of Oregon, the Oregon Historical Society and the World Affairs Council of Oregon to tour a play written by Lyons, "The Ghosts of Tonkin," just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin incident that incited the Vietnam War.

DETAILS SQUARED

- The Star Club, 311 E. Holly St., Bellingham

Open 4 p.m. to midnight daily.

360-927-1938, Star Club Bellingham on Facebook

No cover; tips for musicians welcome.

- BellinghamTheatreWorks.org, 360-933-1096

ABOUT BEHIND THE SCENES

Behind the Scenes focuses on the people who make the arts and entertainment world of Whatcom County happen. It appears in Take Five, The Bellingham Herald's entertainment section, each Thursday. Margaret Bikman is the Entertainment News Coordinator at The Bellingham Herald. Contact her at 360-715-2273 or margaret.bikman@bellinghamherald.com.

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