The Seamonster Loungeisn't so much a spacious club as it is a hallway with a bar on one end and a few nooks and speakers on the other. But past the long counter and wall of couches is a makeshift stage wrapped in an octopus-laden underwater mural, and on that stage magic happens.
Seamonster Lounge 2202 N. 45th St., 992-1120, seamonsterlounge.com
With a "by musicians, for musicians" attitude and live music seven nights a week, the Wallingford watering hole never charges cover for its nightly jazz and funk performances; regular nights include McTuff Trio on Tuesdays and Funky 2 Death every Friday night.
"When I first started, I gravitated toward just getting the best music that I could find, and then locking them down for every Tuesday or Wednesday or once a month," says Andrew Nuñez, the Seamonster's owner and member of funk sextet Haiku-Chi, who moved to Seattle from the Bay Area and opened his bar in 2003. "But that cuts you off from all these other people, the young ones or people who are just getting to town and want to perform. This is like the neighborhood living room where they can play."
The Seamonster is very much a ground-floor club, but that doesn't mean the bands who play there are lacking in talent—a sentiment proved by the first Live at the Seamonster album, released at a burlesque-graced July show at the Hard Rock Cafe, that features groups like the Polyrythmics, Das Vibenbass. and the McTuff Trio.
"It's a wonderful place to play, and we love the owner and the clientele," says organist Ron Weinstein, whose duo, Suffering Fuckheads, has played the Seamonster every second and fourth Thursday since Nuñez took the reins. "That, and they'll let us play. At the other spots the crowd might come to see us, but at Seamonster we encounter people who don't necessarily know we're here."
A diverse crowd, few of whom are actually from the surrounding neighborhood, matches the underground feel—and in Nuñez's words, "the ones who've figured it out might be 22 years old or 50." The Seamonster might not be big or flashy, but once discovered it makes a dramatic impression.
"We're such a small venue, and it's very much a word-of-mouth place," he said. "I guess it is what it is. We're in Wallingford," he added with a shrug. "We do what we can."