Featured image credit: Highway 99 Blues Club
A city’s rapid growth has its positives, but often small businesses feel undue pain. Expanding development, rising real estate prices, and unsuccessful lease renewal negotiations shuttered many in Seattle during the past few years.
The Highway 99 Blues Club thrives in a brick building built in 1909 on Seattle’s downtown waterfront. This award-winning venue, inspired by the juke joints of the South and neighborhood blues clubs of Chicago, brought 200 shows a year to blues lovers in the Northwest. But after 12 years, the club must close after its New Year’s Eve show because of unsuccessful lease negotiations and waterfront development.
Here’s the club’s unedited announcement in full from its Facebook page, which was posted on November 25:
“By now maybe you have already heard, but if not, as of January 1st, 2019, we will be suspending operations at the club and closing our doors. We were not able to work out a manageable lease extension with our current landlord, and in light of the pending demolition of the viaduct, followed by a few years of construction on the waterfront, thought the unknown elements of the future to be just too much for the business to bear.
“Thanks to all of you. We accomplished more than we thought at times possible. The awards we won, the friends we have made and the artists that we have brought to our stage, all seemed impossible when this started. None of this happened without the support of our fans. Thanks to all of you. For treating us and our staff with respect and friendship. Our staff makes this place what it is; their commitment to the vision of the club and the effort they put out night after night will always be what we and our customers remember.
“The Blues Foundation presents the KEEPING THE BLUES ALIVE (KBA) awards to organizations that have made significant contributions to the Blues world. In 2017, The Highway 99 Blues Club won this award. With over 200 shows a year presented in the club, the number of artists to have “Hit the Highway” is huge. They represent the best; collectively they have won Grammy’s, BMA’s, KBA’s, and Best Of from their respective Blues Societies. Even Canada’s Maple Blues Award. International, National, Regional, and local bands all brought their best to our stage.
“We have had our favorite all time shows. We bet you do too. We were always about the music first. Unforgettable performances, surprise guests, bands and artists you had never heard of, styles of music you didn’t know you liked. That’s what makes a club special. They bring you the favorites along with the new stuff to get you excited about what you just heard.
“We hope you get a chance to make one last visit before we go; sign the wall, talk to the staff, see one or all of the remaining shows.
“It’s been an amazing run. Your support for all these years is truly remarkable. We can’t say thank you enough.”
Blues fans are sad to see the Highway 99 Blues Club close, and we hope that the club can find a new location—even if it’s outside Seattle. But based on the posts from Facebook, it’s a wrap.
Thank you, Highway 99 Blues Club, for providing a wonderful place to enjoy blues from so many talented artists during the past 12 years. You will be missed.