As of August 24, 2017, Duluth’s newest venue has opened their doors. With a soft opening last Thursday, and their official opening last Friday, Blush has started off with a bang. Blush is a cooperatively ran art gallery, bar, and intimate music venue, located at 18 N 1st Avenue West in Duluth. Their website describes their intentions, ”to offer a space that accommodates a diverse spectrum of artists and patrons, facilitating musical and visual events spread between a formal gallery and venue/bar area.” 

To the surprise of some, this bar seemingly popped out of no-where. To those who followed the former venue Studio 15, or who may be following one of the many bands involved in the cooperative, it’s a long awaited dream now turned into reality. Blush has been in the works for a little over a year, some of the cooperative is made up of former studio renters of Studio 15, which closed its doors about a year ago. Now a board of seven individuals, backed by Zenith City Music Collective, a large conglomerate of local talent, the space is finally ready. A beautiful wooden bar, actually made from a large piece of Duluth Fourth Street tree, is the beautiful focal point of the room, with a full bar behind, and a large open room for events. 

Sam Williams
Sam Williams

I had the opportunity to speak with Sam Williams, a member of the Blush board, she described their concept as, “The idea is, a venue in Duluth, that is hopefully, ideally more of a comfortable space than a lot of other venues, that is owned cooperatively, by seven people, and a majority of the people that own and run Blush are queer. We all met at Studio 15, so the goal is that kind of intimate, DIY space. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who aren’t self aware in our music scene of the space they create sometimes, and we want this to be a conscientious, all inclusive space.” 

“So it’s a new gay bar?“ you may ask, and while that is sort of true, the space is more aiming to be a place of understanding, for queer,  for people of all-ages, and for the community in general. Williams and the collective feel, that while there are places in our music scene that are queer friendly, not everywhere and everyone always emulates that. Blush is aiming to provide a comfortable sanctuary for the community. “Of course there are queer people creating things in Duluth, but we want to to foster and intentionally state that this is a safe place for a queer person to create and present art,” said Williams, “We also want it to be sustainable and to maintain being a cooperative.” Due to the nature of balancing all-ages shows, and their liquor license, some evenings will be 21+ and provide a full bar, while other all-ages nights will be alcohol free. Williams also mentions that, “One Thursday every month we’re going to partner with Lifehouse, to give the kids over there a place to share the things they create. So those nights will be all-ages, no alcohol nights, but we will still make up some mock-tails for fun. We want to be a community based venue.” Their website also highlights that, “In efforts to remain in-tune with the needs of the greater Twin Ports region, Blush will also offer its space as a one to host gatherings and events as proposed by community members.”

Interested in checking out the bar? They may not be open every night of the week for now, but the next show there will be September 6, 2017, with Proliferate (from PA), Collin Weiland (from MPLS), and Norby (of Duluth) at 8 pm. Followed by another show September 9, 2017, with Rick McLean’s CD Release Show, accompanied by The True Malarkey, and Amy, at 8 pm. 

To learn more about Blush, check out https://www.zenithcitymusiccollective.com/blush/. To learn about more shows to come, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BLUSHDULUTH/.