In the grand scheme of things, six years might not seem like a long time. But in just six years, the Bartlett managed to become a staple of downtown Spokane, a space for music fans and musicians no matter where they were in their career.
Local, regional and national musicians graced the stage night after night, and the Bartlett Awards celebrated those performances each year. But all good things must come to an end, and, in September, Bartlett owners Karli and Caleb Ingersoll announced that they were closing the venue.
“The only explanation we can give is that it’s time for us to move on,” the pair wrote on Facebook. “6 years of magic, laughter, new friends, old friends, disappointments, challenges and an unbelievable amount of incredible live music …
“We’ve put so much into this little club. We love it so dearly and can’t imagine life without it. But we’ve also put so much thought and time into this decision and we appreciate your respect and understanding.
“We know this will be a hard blow to a lot of you who have been regular patrons for years. We LOVE you all so much. Your support of live music and specifically of The Bartlett will be something we will never forget.”
Before closing the doors for good on Friday, though, the Ingersolls have planned one last hurrah: Farewell to the Bartlett.
The farewell extravaganza features Miles Martin, Bristol, Cate, Bandit Train, Scott Ryan, the Holy Broke, Jenny Anne Mannan, Cedar and Boyer, Chris Molitor, Bob Riggs, Windoe, Blake Braley, Sisters, Cathedral Pearls, Little Wins, Dead Serious Lovers, T.S the Solution and more.
There also will be drink specials, surprise guests and, according to the Facebook event page, “Crying. Euphoria. Nostalgia.” The decision to close the Bartlett was not one the Ingersolls made lightly.
On and off for two years, at least, the pair would talk about potentially closing the venue, but an underlying hope that the Bartlett would eventually see more growth that would turn a profit, a need to make sure they had tried absolutely everything before throwing in the towel or, simply, an emotional connection to the space would persuade them to stay open for at least a little longer.
But this fall, especially after the opening of their second venue, Lucky You Lounge, the Ingersolls decided that the time had come.
“It’s been a ton of work to keep up both places, but we really wanted to try to make it work, to have both, because I feel like they do serve such different purposes,” Karli Ingersoll said.
“But then this fall, we were both feeling like, ‘Man, it feels like it’s time.’ And we both agreed at the same time and so we were like, ‘Let’s just do this.’ It was an ongoing conversation that we finally both settled on it and felt good about.”
The announcement was, as could be expected, met with a lot of shock and sadness, with performers and patrons sharing memories of their time at the Bartlett. Knowing how much the Bartlett has meant to people over the years, Ingersoll expected the reaction to some degree, but she didn’t expect it to be quite so big.
“There’s so many people that have played music there that they’ve really felt like it’s been such a big part of their story and their experience as an artist and a reason that they’ve grown and been able to really put themselves out there and all those things,” she said. “That’s been really sweet and validating to see how many people really loved it and enjoyed it.”
She’s honored the venue has played that role in so many stories and said that knowledge made all the hard work that went into running the Bartlett worth it.
“I don’t have any regrets,” she said. “It makes me so happy to know that people have gotten so much from it, and it makes me sad, too, that it can’t keep going. I so wish that it could keep going. It’s hard.”
After Farewell to the Bartlett, the Ingersolls are turning their focus on maintaining the success of Lucky You Lounge, which Ingersoll said requires attention in ways the Bartlett didn’t and is less work because she and Caleb aren’t booking as many shows.
But the end of the Bartlett, the venue, doesn’t mean the end of the Bartlett, the business. Ingersoll said she and Caleb are thinking of potentially hosting shows at other venues in town. The all-ages environment, Ingersoll said, is a big part of the essence of the Bartlett, and she would love to help facilitate it in some way.
“The Bartlett is us and our aesthetic and our artistic vision and our desire to have that intergenerational love of music and facilitating people’s artistic progression,” Ingersoll said. “All of those things are part of what the Bartlett is, and the space we created was a home for that – but it can still exist outside of it.”
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