By Katelyn Doggett
Blaine’s country music haven, the Haynie Opry, is closing the doors on its 10th anniversary season on Thursday, August 8, but not without one last weekend full of events.
On Friday, August 7, and Saturday, August 8, the opry will hold three more concerts before shutting down until next year. The opry was previously open only during the summer, but ran a longer season from March through August this year, which is now a permanent change.
Matt Audette founded the Haynie Opry in 2005. Audette spent many years touring as a country musician before settling in Blaine. He wanted to create an all-ages venue to share the music he loves, and he found the Haynie Grange building to house the opry.
The grange, located at 3344 Haynie Road in Blaine, was chartered in 1906 and is the oldest active grange in Whatcom County.
“It’s a place with a down-home, rustic atmosphere where people can see live music and bring their entire family for a modest price,” Audette said.
Audette has been an entertainer for 43 years, and finds that the opry helps stimulate his creative process by planning events, playing shows and presenting other bands. He is able to keep the legacy of famous artists alive, which is something he loves, he said.
Audette’s band, the Circle of Friends Band, are the opry’s in-house musicians. The band plays original compositions as well as tributes to classic artists, choosing to feature a different artist every summer.
Previous tributes have included Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and George Jones. This year’s featured artist is one of America’s first country music superstars, Hank Williams.
On August 7 at 7 p.m., the Haynie Opry will host Seattle bluegrass group Pickled Okra. Pickled Okra is an upbeat, Americana band made up of two married couples. Their quirky music is an eclectic mix of other genres of music, such as Irish fiddle, jazzy delta blues, rock, reggae and funk. They are known to play “pickled” versions of pop and rock tunes by artists such as Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.
Also performing that night are Matt Audette and the Circle of Friends Band; Al Ulrich, who will be playing the dobro and yodeling with singing accompaniment by Jim Taylor; and Joseph Hanson, who will be performing contemporary country music.
Tickets will be available at the door and are $10; children age 12 and under are free. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m.
On August 8, the opry will hold a repeat of July’s Hank Williams tribute show, featuring Matt Audette and the Circle of Friends Band. Hank Williams is famous for songs such as “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and “Hey, Good Lookin’.”
Audette said this tribute show draws a crowd and is a great time, and this is the last opportunity to see it. Tickets for the show are $10 at the door, and tickets for children age 12 and under are free. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m.
Also on August 8, the opry will have a Country Gospel Matinee at 3 p.m. This event is an uplifting afternoon full of traditional gospel songs and Americana music. The gospel matinee shows began this year, received positive feedback and will continue next year, Audette said. Tickets are $5 and available at the door.
Big plans are in store for the Haynie Opry, as Audette said he plans to continue the opry for at least another 10 years and grow to a younger crowd. Next year’s season begins in March 2016, and the opry will pay tribute to John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
For more information on the Haynie Opry, contact Matt Audette at 360/366-3321.