Seattle hosted the 47th Northwest Folklife Festival at the Seattle Center from 25 May through 28 May 2018. It’s a fantastic event that celebrates culture, arts, and music. I think one of the things I most like about the festival is that it is accessible to everyone. The Pacific Northwest boasts several great music festivals, but the prices are beyond the reach of a lot of people. Northwest Folklife asks for donations that it desperately needs, but there’s room for everyone to enjoy the beautiful setting and engage with a diverse community of talented artists.
The festival is massive. According to the official website, there are over 5,000 performers. I tend to gravitate towards the outdoor music stages, grass fields, and artist booths, which unfortunately means I miss out on a lot of the indoor events. This year’s cultural focus was on Mexican American and chicana/o roots in the Pacific Northwest.
This year I wanted to narrow my focus and tackle a mini-project. My friends at Datenite were playing an afternoon set at The Vera Project. I asked them if I could tag along and try documenting what it’s like for a band to play at Northwest Folklife.
I didn’t get a lot of photos, but it was a great experience. I already knew Datenite works incredibly hard: rehearsing, writing, booking, marketing, loading in, loading out, selling merchandise, lining up gigs throughout the year. They do that on top of their day jobs.
Watching them load in for The Vera Project gave me an even greater appreciation for the effort they put into it. I wrote on an Instagram post that it was like watching an Indy 500 Pit Crew. Get to the Seattle Center, haul in the gear, unpack, check in with the event coordinators, find time for some networking, navigate and share a small space with two other bands (the before and the after), get the soundcheck done, make it look like you’ve just walked out of a fancy green room relaxed and ready to play, and then deliver a great set that will win over some new fans. And it’s not over. Take it all down, get off the stage, pack up, do some more networking, and then rush out to the lobby to set up a merch stand. I was exhausted just watching all of it. It was impossible not to think of Dire Straits’ sarcastic “Money for Nothing”.
I’ve added a few photos from Datenite’s set. I’m also working on my video / video editing skills. I have a long way to go, but if you’d like to see something I put together from Folklife, it will be at the bottom. I should warn you – it opens on the Monorail, and that portion is shaky and fast. I got there early to get the front seat, thinking it would help me to stabilize the camera. But two cool kids got on the train after me, and I could hear their disappointment when they saw me go for the first seat. “Tough luck,” I said. Kidding. I moved to the second row, which made video on the ride a little trickier. You can fast forward that part if you’re prone to car sickness and jump right into the photos.
You might recognize some other people in the photos. I caught Lizzie Weber’s set and hung out for a while with Faith Grossnicklaus and Austin at her Bone China Designs art booth. If you like dogs you should definitely watch the end.