Music scene thrives at Clinton backwoods business

Ken Stange described Bailey’s Corner Store as Whidbey Island’s best “well kept secret” for live music.

Bailey’s Corner Store is somewhat of an oddity. The gas station, convenience store, restaurant and music venue all rolled into one is located far off the beaten track in a rural, wooded area of Clinton.

Ken Stange, the owner since 2016, described it as Whidbey Island’s best “well kept secret” for live music.

“I’ve tried to turn this place into like, a restaurant, music venue, kind of a social gathering place,” Stange said. “And now it’s finally starting to come together.”

Bailey’s Corner has had live music for a while, but last summer, in response to COVID-19, Stange built an outdoor stage.

“We had a great summer last summer and people were comfortable coming out because it was outside,” he said. “Bands were comfortable to play because they weren’t stuck inside with a bunch of people breathing on them.”

Bailey’s also has an indoor stage for shows during the winter.

“It’s pretty cozy; we have a fireplace,” he said.

Stange has been working on improving the sound systems to make a more enjoyable experience for both the audience and the bands.

While just about anyone is welcome to play at Bailey’s Corner, Stange said the business is known for showcasing musicians who perform original music. In fact, he described it as the “signature” music of the business.

“The island is loaded with talent,” he said. “I’ve known this for a long time. That’s why I started doing live music.”

Eli Moore is in the band LAKE, formed in 2005 in Olympia. Moore is from Whidbey Island and has lived here off and on since 2007. He describes LAKE’s music as “experimental soft rock.” LAKE has toured all over the world, including Europe and Japan, but has played only three shows since the COVID-19 pandemic, one of which was at Bailey’s Corner.

“It was amazing how many people came out. I was really surprised,” Moore said. “I think people like to go to Bailey’s for shows. I think it feels fun and adventurous.”

Stange said there were about 120 people crowded into Bailey’s Corner for LAKE’s show.

Musicians who play at Bailey’s are mostly local but out-of-towners are welcome.

“We’ve had a lot of friends from around the country come, and it seems word kind of spreads because we’ll get messages from people saying, ‘Hey, I heard there’s a gas station on Whidbey Island that does shows and it’s in the woods,’’ he said.

Lauren Flynn of the band “Buried Blonde” does PR for Bailey’s Corner and curates some of the shows.

“To have people who are willing to load up their car, get on the ferry, wait in line and come up and play, it’s really cool,” she said.

“My thing is just curating shows and publicizing them for the good of the community,” she added. “And then also trying to weave in some outside stuff to just create a larger network.”

Flynn said she hopes the business will attract those who normally go to larger cities to see live music.

“Just save your money and your time and come here and see an even better show than you would see in Seattle, I think,” she said.

Bailey’s has helped facilitate the growth of the music scene on the island.

“When we came back in 2014 after not living here for a while, it seemed like something had shifted and it seemed like there was more going on,” Moore said. “Ever since then it does seem to be growing, or at least not shrinking.”

Stange had a similar sentiment. Local musicians, he said, “are all threads in the fabric that is the island music scene.”

Bailey’s Corner also has a trivia night every Thursday, along with music on the weekends. Live music is free, although a donation for the band is requested. See their list of events at

Lauren Flynn performs with her band Buried Blonde. (Photo by Dennis Browne)

Lauren Flynn performs with her band Buried Blonde. (Photo by Dennis Browne)

Seattle band Atrocity Girl. (Photo by Dennis Browne)

Seattle band Atrocity Girl. (Photo by Dennis Browne)