There aren’t enough sad songs one could sing to fully lament the closure of one of downtown Spokane’s most beloved gems, The Bartlett.
On Nov. 8, music lovers of Spokane will say farewell to The Bartlett, the downtown live music venue, located at 228 W. Sprague Ave., that opened its doors almost seven years ago to live music followers of all ages.
“The past few years, The Bartlett has been the perfect place to dip away from campus for a couple hours and enjoy amazing live music in a welcoming atmosphere,” Anna Ruthven said as she reflected on her evenings spent at the small music venue. Ruthven, now a senior at GU, has been a dedicated patron of The Bartlett since her sophomore year.
The Bartlett, known for its intimate space, wide community of performers and music lovers, and openness to younger crowds, has brought life to Spokane’s music and arts community from the time it opened to the day it will close.
“We wanted to create a space that was on a professional level that could support touring bands but also could connect the local music and arts community with a more legitimate live-performance space than what Spokane could give at the time,” said Karli Ingersoll, a co-owner of The Bartlett alongside her husband, Caleb Ingersoll.
The Bartlett opened its doors to local and touring artists of all genres, from blue grass to hip-hop, to country and folk music, for musicians of all experience levels.
“We’ve seen a ton of new bands start at The Bartlett,” Caleb Ingersoll said. “Karli started an open mic when we first opened that’s ran ever since. There have been a lot of musicians that came out of that who went on to take music more seriously and form other bands.”
As far as an actual venue doing an open mic, there wasn’t one.
“That gave a lot of opportunity to get on stage and try stuff out and get a taste for what it could be like to have a band,” Karli Ingersoll said.
To Ruthven, The Bartlett was more than just a quality spot for live music.
“The Bartlett brought me the chance to go dance with my friends to some of my favorite musicians while it simultaneously introduced me to various artists as I listened for upcoming performers, always looking for an excuse to go to another concert,” she said.
She loves all that The Bartlett is and was and regularly checked the events schedule to see which artists were making appearances at the small venue each month.
“They had such a steady lineup of small yet mighty musicians, and the ticket prices were always manageable on a college budget,” Ruthven said.
What makes The Bartlett most unique is that it invites listeners of all ages, not just 21 and up.
“Everyone can show up and be able to be in that space, and music is a great way for people to build memories and create connections with each other,” Karli Ingersoll said. “Having access to all types of people really deepens that and when you involve a wide spectrum of age groups, that gets even more rich.”
Not just the concert goers are loyal fans of The Bartlett. Many of the touring and local musicians have a certain fondness for The Bartlett like no other.
“We had a few shows where it was one of our favorite bands,” Karli Ingersoll said. “For example Wye Oak, from the stage said The Bartlett is one of the best venues they had ever played at. It was a huge deal, and we’ve heard that a few times.”
One of Karli Ingersoll’s most memorable shows was when Future Island played at The Bartlett shorty after playing on David Letterman, which, to this day, is the most-watched Letterman musical performance of all time. Needless to say, The Bartlett was packed.
“There were a few of those shows —there was an electric feeling in the air, like you’re never going to get the opportunity to see a band of this size in a space this small ever again,” Karli Ingersoll said.
Hearing the praise of The Bartlett gave Spokane’s live-music chasers a sense of love not just for the music venue, but for the city too.
“Maybe it’s just a statement about how they like all the old brick buildings and trees, but hearing an artist you admire say something special about the place you love, creates a funny sense of pride,” Ruthven said.
The Farewell to the Bartlett Show on Nov. 8 is sold out, but Karli and Caleb are considering reopening tickets. The show starts at 5 p.m. and only local bands, with the exception of Sisters from Seattle, will play through the night until 12:30 a.m.
Fortunately for those who are 21 years of age and up, the Ingersoll couple have opened another music venue called Lucky You Lounge, located at 1801 W. Sunset Blvd., in Browne’s Addition. This venue has free shows on Thursdays, DJ’s Friday and Saturday nights, comedy on Sundays, and every other Wednesday is storytelling open mic.
“What we’re trying to hit with Lucky You is a middle ground that is a less intense, more fun dance environment,” Caleb Ingersoll said, comparing it to downtown’s The Globe or Nyne Bar.
However, nothing can recreate what The Bartlett brought to the music community of Spokane, for both music creators and music appreciators.
“There is something to be said about a venue where band members feel at home enough to play in their socks and patrons have a room to dance or sit and drink as they please,” Ruthven said. “The Bartlett was home to many wonderful memories for such a wide variety of people, and it will definitely be missed.”