Local pianist gets back in weekly groove at Edmonds Waterfront Center

Can we please just get back normal? We all wish it could be so. One local pianist and singer truly is happy this week. Being blind and autistic, Edmonds resident Nick Baker feels the need to return to normal a bit more acutely.

Nick began his local performance career at the former Edmonds Senior Center building in 2006. His grandmother, Lillian Passage, was an annual summer visitor and she loved dining at the center every day. She mentioned the gorgeous grand piano. “In the corner of the luncheon room, and hardly anyone plays.”

Lillian Passage with grandson Nick during a break from piano playing at the former Edmonds Senior Center. (Photo by Kathy Passage)

“It seems a sin for it just to be sitting there; I bet Nicholas would love to play it,” she said. So she petitioned the activities coordinator on Nick’s behalf.

Nick was finishing up his musical degree in performance and technology at Shoreline Community College. His Friday mornings were open —  he became a regular entertainer for the folks having lunch. It wasn’t long before he knew his way around. After Grandma returned to Phoenix that fall, he was able to travel independently on DART buses, to and from his weekly gig.

Technically, Nick wasn’t a volunteer — his tip jar usually received donations. On occasion he sold some of his CDs, and later the books that he authored with his mother.

Nick enjoyed the social aspects of his weekly visits very much. He enjoyed chats with others who rode the DART bus. Many of the folks having lunch, as well as the staff at the front desk, adopted Nicholas as a “grandson.” One day when Nick didn’t show up as expected, his mom got a phone call… “Where is Nick? Did he miss the bus?”

In May 2019, the old facility was torn down to make way for the multigenerational Edmonds Waterfront Center building, ending Nick’s time entertaining.

His angst centered on the gap in his former routine. “When do you think the new senior center will be open?” was a frequent question at breakfast.

Over the years, Nick’s presence at the senior center launched a successful career as an entertainer in many of local area assisted living facilities. His days were full, yet he missed his senior friends and the weekly gigs. COVID certainly isolated him even further as many establishments closed to outside entertainment.

Zoom sessions with some fellow musicians filled in the gaps, and his work on an Internet radio station — providing weekly musical support to the station’s various DJs and programs — filled the gap. But he longed for a return to the established routine, the weekly gigs at the new Edmonds Waterfront Center

The day came when Potlatch Bistro announced its grand opening at the Waterfront Center, and they invited Nick to come and be part of that celebration. One caveat: The lovely grand piano that he had played for years was still stashed in storage. His electronic keyboard filled in nicely, and he enjoyed the day.

Nick Baker playing his keyboard during the March 2021 Potlatch Bistro opening. (My Edmonds News file photo)

Nick’s craving for routine activities was finally fulfilled, with the return of the grand piano that is now tucked in the front corner of the Potlatch Bistro. Once again, he can count on a regularly scheduled activity.

Nick Baker returns to his grand piano at Potlatch Bistro. (Photo by Kathy Passage)

Wednesdays are his open day and he looks forward every week to entering the building, seating himself at the piano and playing for an audience.

You are invited to come up to the piano. His musical repertoire is boundless, and it would be his pleasure to honor your request.

— Submitted by Kathy Passage, Restaurant News columnist, who’s proud to be “Nick’s Mom and #1 Fan”


4 Replies to “Local pianist gets back in weekly groove at Edmonds Waterfront Center”

  1. Nick is an amazing and talented young man. Happy to hear that he is once again adding live music to the inviting ambiance of the Edmonds Waterfront Center.


  2. This story made my day! I’ve enjoyed hearing talented Nick entertain residents in Assisted Living homes a few times, lifting spirits and stirring happy memories all around the room.
    We’re grateful for the gifted Baker & Passage family who share some of the best things in life with us!


  3. Posting on behalf of Alice Rundle, who is having technical issues:

    I would like to thank the Edmonds Waterfront Center for providing the opportunity for Nick Baker to play piano during lunch at the center on Wednesdays. Over the years I have watched Nick perform and he is truly one of the most talented piano players in the area. Thanks to all who have helped this happen.
    I would also like to share that I own the book written by Nick’s mother about Nick’s life challenges and how he has turned them into positive attitudes. I share this book with my grandchildren on a regular basis.
    Alice Barnard-Rundle


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