The Blue Light studio, a new "old" music venue

Hersh Goodwald was a full-time business man and part-time disc jockey who transformed a Midland building into a nightclub for young people in the spring of 1966.It was called The Blue Light. As reported in the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends website, popular American and British rock ‘n’ roll groups performed on the stage of The Blue Light, including house band The Rogues, The Animals, Buckinghams, and ? (Question Mark) and the Mysterians. 
Jazzmyn Benitez is the operational manager of the Live Oak Coffeehouse and the owner of the Blue Light Studio.
After its early success, The Blue Light ceased operation as a teen nightclub in 1968. The venue has had many other uses since then including a dance studio on the second floor of what’s now known as Ashman Plaza building. It’s home to a few separate businesses including the Live Oak Coffeehouse. Jazzmyn Benitez is the operational manager of Live Oak and the owner of the new version of The Blue Light Studio.  Benitez says the history of the venue is impressive, with rumors that Bob Seger even played The Blue Light. She’s  bringing the music back. 

Although the venue has a rich history from  the garage band heyday, The Blue Light is now putting on shows with even more diverse sounds. “Today, we’re still a community-based venue, and soon-to-be recording studio also,” Benitez says. “We really want to bring more music to Midland. We do Living Room Sessions, which are free sessions downstairs in the coffee house. The recording studio is just to give a space to musicians to be able to get out of their homes, and enjoy an inspirational space used by other musicians also. We think collaboration really inspires some awesome work. We have an art studio in this building also.”

The Blue Light concerts are held on the second floor of the Ashman Plaza building. The recording studio has instruments for use, perfect for creative jam sessions with fellow musicians. “We plan to do a podcasting studio, and hopefully in the future, you can rent the green room out for live recordings also,” Benitez says. 

“I know a lot of awesome musicians here in Midland that haven’t really had a chance to ‘make it’ out there,” she says. “You can only do so much with a home recording studio, and not everybody has access to that. I really wanted to build something that allowed musicians to have a chance to share their voice.”

Jazzmyn, who moved to Midland over a decade ago from California, appreciates the community’s support of both science and the arts. “Midland is known for Dow and ‘Chemical City,’ but we’re really trying to get out there as an arts community as well. I really appreciate that it’s not just about the STEM programs, but it’s also about the arts. That’s really cool and important for the younger crowd to know they can be a chemist if they want, but they can also grow up and be an artist or a musician if that’s what makes their heart sing. Or they can be both, which most of us are, I’d say.”
The Live Oak Coffeehouse hosts Living Room Sessions.
Currently, The Blue Light hosts live music with free Living Room Sessions downstairs in Live Oak, singer/songwriter nights, and classical/jazz nights. The Ashman Loft gymnasium features hanging bistro lights, black curtains, a full PA system, and blue lights out on stage, and seating for roughly 100 people. In the summer, the venue plans to move the ‘grassroots operation’ outdoors for block parties at nearby Grove Park. 

“Every time we do Blue Light, it changes a little bit, and it grows,” Benitez says. “It’s really awesome to see, even when we don’t have a huge crowd coming out, everyone seems to really enjoy the music. That’s what it’s all about.”

The next Blue Light Concert is a benefit for Safe and Sound Child Advocacy Center on Wednesday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. Empty Canvas will be performing and painting live, and all donations will go to Safe and Sound, Midland’s only child abuse and neglect organization. There will also be a free live streaming option. The first Wednesday of each month is Singer Songwriters Night. On the fourth Thursday, you’ll hear Classical and Jazz music. The Blue Light’s website notes future events.
 


 

Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.

Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at spohn9@gmail.com.