‘Auntmama’ turns barn into haven for entertainment

In efforts to bring communities together to enjoy diverse art and entertainment, local resident Mary Anne Moorman has created an event space inside her barn where performers can also stay overnight.

The new space, born amid the pandemic, is called Auntmama’s Stage 3, located on Gamble Place near the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe reservation. Moorman, 75, said she has been called “Auntmama” for years, and she was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer in 2020, which is how the name of the venue came to be.

“What are you going to do when you get diagnosed with stage 3? Build a flippin’ stage,” she said.

Ideas began to spark for Moorman when she was trying to figure out what to do with an old horse barn on her property. Since it already had wiring, lights and septic, she knew an event space with lodging could be possible. She wanted to have a space for music, storytelling, dance, theater, actors, writers, painters, etc. where they could perform, hold workshops and retreats, or simply have a quiet space to work.

“I thought something neat could be done with it,” Moorman said. “I wanted to put a stage in that barn. I wanted to have a creative space because after COVID people needed to gather.”

Inside the barn is a hay loft that serves as the upstairs studio, a green room that is the downstairs bedroom, along with a living room, kitchen, bathroom, fireplace and about 50 seats for guests. In spring and summer, the barn doors will open for events, bringing more capacity.

Performers have the option to stay overnight for as long as they are there. Some come from far away while others are local. “I wanted there to be a place for residences,” Moorman said. “I wanted there to be a place the artists could come and work where it’s quiet. Most of the artists do spend the night. It’s just more convenient.”

The events are run by the nonprofit Music Community Resources, which Moorman recently became president of. So far, there have been about a dozen events at Auntmama’s Stage 3. For each event, suggested donations are recommended. “These people are trying to support themselves in an era of Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music,” Moorman said.

Moorman said she always provides chili and cornbread for those in attendance. She encourages others to bring food and drinks. “The idea is we break bread together, we get to know each other, we enjoy music together, and we cross our bridges together,” she said.

Moorman was born in the Appalachian mountain foothills of southwestern Virginia. She came to the West Coast in the 1970s to work for the Knight Ridder newspaper. Then, she moved north to Seattle and has made Washington state her home ever since. She most recently lived on Bainbridge Island before moving into her Kingston home about six years ago.

Moorman is best known for being a recognizable voice on KBCS 91.3 FM, based in Bellevue, where she cohosts a show once a week called Sunday Folks, a three-hour Americana program that airs at 9 a.m. The show is a mix of storytelling and music, playing genres such as reggae, funk, folk and others. She said the show is comprised of “roots, rock and soul” and added: “I’m from Appalachia. We’re all storytellers.”

A performance inside the barn with guests watching.

A performance inside the barn with guests watching.

People dance to the music inside Auntmama’s Stage 3.

People dance to the music inside Auntmama’s Stage 3.