Arts Live at Haller Lake

By Stewart Hendrickson

    The arts are indeed alive in the Haller Lake neighborhood of north Seattle. I played for a chili festival at the Haller Lake Community Club last summer and helped open their first concert for the 2006-07 season last September. They have a beautiful performance center, which is a real gem for expanding the arts scene here.
    The Haller Lake Community Club was established in 1921 as the Haller Lake Improvement Club. It is now a non-profit, all-volunteer, membership-based community organization. The club building, built in 1922 at 12579 Densmore Ave N, contains a large performance hall, complete with a 1926 theatre pipe organ and stage, which will accommodate about 150 people.
    For several years the building has been home to the Creative Dance Center and Kaleidoscope Dance Company. The pipe organ is owned by the Puget Sound Organ Society, which also uses the building for some of their events. In September 2004 the Arts Council of the Haller Lake Community Club was formed to bring local artists together with the community.
    In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I am now a member of the Arts Council. Desiree Smith, the driving force behind the arts program, convinced me to join. Desiree is an illustrator, printmaker, graphic designer, and art instructor. Her aim is to bring local artists and the community together for the benefit of all. This includes the applied arts, fiber & needle arts, fine & visual arts, literary arts, and performing arts.
    My particular interest is in the performing arts. Performances began a year ago with a November concert arranged through the Seattle Folklore Society featuring Ginny Reilly and David Maloney, a favorite duo of the West Coast folkmusic scene, otherwise known as “Reilly and Maloney.” This concert series, known as “Arts Live! 2nd Saturdays at the Club,” last year included Joe Jencks in a CD release concert, some film showings, Jim Page, and the Seattle Labor Chorus.
    The first concert this  season was a Celtic Music Night. Dan Carollo and I opened with a 45 min set of Irish songs and tunes with fiddle and guitar, followed by another 45 min set by the local Celtic band Watch The Sky. It was great fun. The acoustics of the hall were wonderful and needed only at little amplification, which a new sound system nicely provided. And it’s a very comfortable and attractive space for the audience.
    October featured two local singer songwriters, Larry Murante and Wes Weddell, cosponsored by Puget’s Sound Productions. And November featured two concerts sponsored by the Seattle Folklore Society – Reilly and Maloney; and Hanneke Cassel, a U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion.
    On December 9, Seattle Early Dance will present Baroque Passion, a selection of exquisite dances popular at the lavish European courts of the eighteenth century. They will be accompanied by live music performed on authentic period instruments, and special guest artist Elisabeth Belgrano will enhance the program with her singing.
    January 13 will feature a Filé Gumbo Night with the Filé Gumbo Zydeco Band and traditional Louisiana style gumbo and pecan pie. Filé Gumbo is a local band comprised of Mark Whitman, Doug Bright, Marc Bristol, and Will Peoples. This should help you get over the winter blues with good food, music, and dance.
    The rest of the season is still being worked out, but will include a concert by Bellingham singer songwriter, Linda Allen on March 10 along with a possible workshop, a poetry and jazz night on April 14, and a Fabulous 50s Sock Hop on May 12.
    According to Desiree, “the Arts Live! Saturdays at the Club are envisioned as a night for the arts that could feature anything from independent films, poetry readings, arts lectures, art exhibitions and performing arts designed to bring arts and the community together for the benefit of all.”
    In addition to the Saturday night series, the Arts Council also coordinates the main music stage for the Northgate Family Festival. Last summer I performed on that stage with Jerry Middaugh, Isla Ross, and Alan Kausal. Other local performers also performed there over the two-day festival. Next summer’s festival will be on August 11 and 12, on the grounds of the Northwest Out-Patient Medical Center on Meridian Ave N.
    Plans are now underway for the annual Arts Council fundraiser in June, the “Chili Palooza – A Haller Lake Community Festival.” It will include an art exhibit, photography competition, children’s art and crafts, live music, community booths, a community chili cook-off and more. Last summer’s festival was great, this should be even better!
    In addition to enjoying the Saturday night performances and other activities, you can become part of the Haller Lake Arts community by joining the Club and its Arts Council. Information is available on their web pages: here and here. Arts Council members receive the monthly Club newsletter, Splashes, along with an Arts Council newsletter. Both of these are also available online at their web sites.
    While there are more coffee houses and pubs in the north Seattle area for local performers, we need to introduce local artists to the community through live concerts and other activities. Arts Live! at Haller Lake is an important and exciting new venture in this area. Help develop an exciting arts scene in north Seattle by becoming involved. I’ll see you Saturday night at the Club.


Stewart Hendrickson is Chemistry Professor Emeritus – St. Olaf College, Research Professor Emeritus – University of Washington, and in his new career, an unemployed folk musician (voice, fiddle, guitar; ). Reprinted from the Victory Review, December, 2006.