Rumor Has It
News of the Muse:
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Tucked away in the tiny town of Conway (pop. 91) lies a magical place that is part bar, part restaurant, part music venue and all heart, the Conway Muse. For the last 15 years, its owners, Elfa Gisla and Tom Richardson have lovingly stewarded the former dairy barn they renovated and named for the Greek goddesses who inspired great works of art.
They booked all manner of musicians, offered hearty meals made from local ingredients, hired bartenders that serve drinks with a smile (a departure from the surly style many of us have grown used to) and generally treated the Muse like it was their home and we were their guests and they wanted to show us the very best of the things they most love.
And they were good at it, if the number of Best of Skagit awards they routinely rake in and the accolades from performers and guests alike are any measure. It was obvious Gisla and Richardson didn’t stake their claim on the Muse thinking it would make them rich—this was a labor of love since the day they opened the doors to their Conway jewel.
Love may make the world go ’round and it might not cost a thing, but it doesn’t pay the bills. At the end of the day, if the Muse wasn’t going to turn a huge profit, it at least needed to pencil out.
But times are tough for arts organizations of all kinds and particularly rough on music venues. So it has been for the Muse, which has found itself squeezed on one side by the deadly duo of increased taxes and regulations and on the other by increased expenses, until there is nothing left to squeeze out of the space that has freely given so much to so many.
In typically straightforward fashion, Elfa and Tom announced that they’re shuttering the Muse after Nov. 10 and canceling the remainder of the shows they’ve booked after that date. As is also their way, they were quick to turn their message outward, toward the greater Muse community rather than keeping the focus on themselves, saying, “We have sincerely loved the journey and express our eternal gratitude to the musicians, performers and staff that are the very reason we are Skagit’s favorite place to hear live music and dance. And thank you to our loyal customers that have supported the thousands of performances over the years.”
Although Nov. 10 is just a short leap into the future away, there’s a lot of music to be heard at the Conway Muse before then. I’m sure Elfa and Tom would like nothing more than if we joined them for all of it.