PORT TOWNSEND — This is not Clay Bartlett’s usual spot for music-making. But the country-blues-folk-rock’n’roll singer is ready to go, Santa Cruz and Martin guitars by his side, to the Candlelight Concert this Thursday.
The Trinity United Methodist Church hosts the live-streamed concert series at 7 p.m. every fourth Thursday of the month at https://trinityumcpt.org, where admission is by donation.
As with all Candlelight Concerts, proceeds are split between the performer and a local charity; this month, donations will be shared with Dove House of Jefferson County, which serves people recovering from domestic violence, homelessness and other sources of trauma.
Bartlett’s acoustic show will also be simulcast on KPTZ-FM 91.9 and KPTZ.org.
“I’m more of a Saturday night than a Sunday morning,” quipped the singer, whose song and album titles include “Mama Told Me,” “Fixin’ to Break Down” and “Philosophy of the World Pt. 2.”
He calls his style “heart-worn,” as in wearing honesty on his sleeve.
In live shows like Thursday’s, Bartlett finds a new pulse in each song, one that makes it different from the recorded version.
Music is made to evolve, after all.
Bartlett, 54, moved to Port Townsend nearly 20 years ago, having played in a number of Seattle bands: Dead Flowers, The Cheap Ones and England’s Newest Hitmakers among them. He’s opened for acts ranging from Dave Alvin and Iris DeMent to X and Pearl Jam.
On the North Olympic Peninsula, Bartlett played bass with Solvents, the late Jarrod Bramson’s band, as well as solo gigs at venues including the Uptown Pub, the Cellar Door and Sirens Pub.
His albums “Fixin’ to Break Down” and “Born Bored” are available from claybartlett.bandcamp.com.
In the midst of a performance, Bartlett goes for full immersion. The best thing, he said, is when he’s feeling — not thinking about — the music.
“I really want to be living the song,” he said.
Then, to lighten up a little, Bartlett quoted a musician friend, Sean Mugrage, who once said: “When you start thinking, you start stinking.”
These days, Bartlett also can be seen working behind the counter at Seal Dog Coffee, the Uptown Port Townsend cafe he owns with fiancee Jeanette Testu.
It’s been a bumpy year, with changing state mandates affecting the tiny space on Lawrence Street.
Through it all, Bartlett is thankful for music. He looks forward to the day when he can join a band again.
“I’ll play tambourine. I’ll play triangle,” he said.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]