“Who was the fucking lunatic who put a case of beer onstage halfway through the set? I ain’t paying for that.”
“That was Aaron, he owns the bar. Don’t worry about it.”
That was my introduction to Aaron Roeder, the 3B Tavern, and music in Bellingham.
For sixteen years, Aaron’s bar has been the heart and soul of Bellingham’s eclectic, close-knit music community. If you saw or played a memorable show in Bellingham, chances are you did so at the 3B. Unfortunately, as of January 1, the 3B Tavern will no longer exist.
The who, what, and why of the story is simple enough. The bar’s lease expires, Aaron couldn’t find a new space, two and two still add up to four. The impact on Bellingham’s music community is immeasurable, to say nothing of the town’s rampant alcoholism. I, for one, am terrified.
As soon as Aaron told me he was closing the bar, I began considering my departure. It’s not even that I spend an inordinate amount of time at Aaron’s bar anymore, just that I’d prefer not to retain a front row seat to the gentrification of Bellingham. I’d also prefer not to play music in a town without a supportive local venue. I hope I’m wrong. I hope somebody steps up and attempts to fill the massive void.
So, as I try and pry my finger from the panic button long enough to enjoy the next few days, I’m left with a few hazy, scattered memories. I’d tie them all together with some clever and/or coherent thread, but that would be completely contrary to every experience I’ve ever had at the 3B. So, fuck that, here they are:
- Bob Log encouraging “tit-clapping” from his captive audience.
- Jesse Sykes holding a nearly-silent crowd in the palm of her hand.
- Federation X making me wish I’d never referred to myself as a “musician.”
- USS Horsewhip reminding me that, if Jeff Mitchell is taking on Robocop, you bet on Jeff Mitchell every time. Every single time.
- A beer-soaked Footstompin’ Trio trying, for all the world, to just finish the set and make it out alive.
- The Quaalude County Country Band recapturing Tuesday nights, thus leaving Bellingham without a single “stay-at-home” night.
- The posters.
- The vinyl.
- The Last Big Fuckin’ Hurrah.
- Looking out from the stage, and seeing an entire room full of friends.