PORT ANGELES — First came an outpouring. And this Friday via the internet, another is hoped for at the concert stage/art gallery/creative space known as Studio Bob. The upstairs venue and bar at 118½ E. Front St. in Port Angeles shut down just before its March 2020 “Bring Your Own Art” show, pausing a 13-year run as downtown Port Angeles’ locus for live music, theater, “Brush Off” art-making contests, dances and drag shows.
Friday at 6 p.m., the place will light up again.
FarmStrong, a band as genre-nonconforming as Studio Bob itself, will give a live-streamed concert via the Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts’ YouTube channel, free with donations welcome.
The show will be broadcast on JFFA’s YouTube channel and Facebook page; to watch, visit JFFA.org/live.
The campaign called “Save the Bob” began a month ago when Port Angeles’ Sam Calhoun, executive director of Arts Northwest, created a GoFundMe page.
Studio Bob “is responsible for building a sense of community for all who have visited,” she wrote.
“Young artists have been inspired and encouraged. The community would be a poorer place without Studio Bob and the positive impact it has had.”
Donations came in: $20, $50, $100, plus words of thanks from artists and art lovers.
By Wednesday, nearly $6,000 had been raised toward the $8,000 goal.
“What’s kept me alive are the comments,” said Bob Stokes, the Bob in Studio Bob.
One donor recalled coming from out of town to see the venue’s first art show in 2007. Another thanked Stokes for helping her set up her creations at the Bring Your Own Art display.
The Juan de Fuca Foundation staff and board, meanwhile, wanted to lend their support.
Presenter of “In [Your] Living Room” virtual concerts since last fall, JFFA asked the members of FarmStrong if they were interested in doing a live-streamed performance as a fundraiser for Studio Bob.
The answer was yes.
Then came Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement that all counties in Washington state would move into Phase 3 of the Roadmap to Recovery plan.
“Save the Bob” then morphed into a hybrid event, with a small in-person audience of supporters, seated in pods across the room, with FarmStrong up on the stage 20 feet away.
Kayla Oakes, JFFA executive director, said she’s grateful for the chance to offer this concert to viewers anywhere, while supporting both FarmStrong and Studio Bob.
The state’s Theater & Performing Arts and Events COVID-19 Requirements for Phase 3 document is her guide, she noted.
Up at Studio Bob, Stokes and his partner Cindy Elstrom have shifted into high gear, cleaning and preparing the stage and audience space.
“We’re in a mad dash to get everything ready,” Stokes said Tuesday. “Deadlines are my thing … we will be ready.”
Elstrom added that since she became part of Studio Bob in 2009, she has loved the energy musicians, artists, dancers, poets and actors bring.
“It will feel really good,” she said, “to have that energy again.”
Cort Armstrong, one of FarmStrong’s two singer-guitarists, laid out the band’s plan for Friday evening: music from their CD released in 2020, “FarmStrong 4,” including plenty of original songs and classics such as John Prine’s “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness” and The Band’s “Ophelia.”
The quartet calls its music “pure distilled country,” but then they go and do “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” from the Temptations and “Drive,” a hit by the New Wave band The Cars.
“We’ve given the Merle Haggard song ‘Sing Me Back Home’ a slight update,” too, added Armstrong.
And Save the Bob will play yet another role. It’s a kind of practice, Oakes said, for the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts, a hybrid event set for Memorial Day weekend, May 28-31.
Numerous virtual performances from across the country will pair with a few small in-person shows by bands from around Washington state.
“We’ll announce the lineup and open up ticket sales April 1,” Oakes promised.
As for musicians like Armstrong, Save the Bob means one more thing for live music and live audiences.
The event “is a dose of hope,” he said.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]