Capitol Hill Block Party ready to welcome Paul Allen-backed Upstream to Seattle music festival scene

As Capitol Hill Block Party owner Jason Lajeunesse decompresses from the 20th edition of the annual E Pike music festival, it’s hard not to turn an eye to 2017. The CHBP crew have already started the process of booking bands for the 21st installment of the event, but planning this time around is coming with a little more urgency and trepidation than in years past.

Last week, Paul Allen announced Upstream, a large South by Southwest-style music and ideas festival that will takeover a massive footprint in Pioneer Square from May 11th-13th.

With a goal of booking 200 artists, primarily drawn from Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, the festival has the potential to lock-in bands with contracts that prevent them from playing other nearby festivals or venues during the summer. Continue reading

Born and raised on Capitol Hill, now playing Capitol Hill Block Party

Musician Joe Gregory was born and raised on Capitol Hill and can remember attending the Capitol Hill Block Party when it was a tiny, alternative, upstart music festival.

On Sunday he and his band J GRGRY are joining the ranks of CHBP performers. “It’s really exciting to actually finally 20 years later be a part of it,” said Gregory.

It has been a quick rise for the group. J GRGRY has been around for about a year. The group was asked to play CHBP earlier this summer after several successful shows at Neumos.J GRGRY consists of Gregory, guitar player and Gregory’s longtime friend Robert Cheek, drummer Andrew King, and bass/key player Ryan Leyva. The group’s first performance together was at The Crocodile in December 2015. After that first show, J GRGRY submitted for the opening slot for Geographer at Neumos.

“So many people came out for us and we sold a ton of presale tickets – it was just an overwhelming response and the club was like, ‘Holy shit, who are you guys?’” said Gregory. “It ended up being such a cool show, and then I think because of my onstage aesthetic they thought about asking me for the Prince show.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill Block Party 2016: More sun outside, more neighborhood stuff outside the fences

The crowd during a sunny CHBP 2014. (Image: Jim Bennett/CHBP with permission to CHS)

CHBP-GuideMap-2016Capitol Hill Block Party has expanded its inside offerings for 2016 — an indoor panel discussion at Grims kicks off the festival Friday followed by a slate of indoor shows — but unlike last year, the sun will be shining on the streets of Pike/Pine.

With temperatures reaching the mid 70s through the weekend, this year’s forecast looks ideal for three full days of outdoor music. Nobody is likely happier than Block Party producer Jason Lajeunesse, who recently told his only regrets in 10 years of putting on CHBP were the times it rained. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Community Post | #CHBP2016 Panel Series

blockpartylogoupdate2From Capitol Hill Block Party, Porter Novelli, and the Seattle Office of Film + Music + Special Events Present: #CHBP2016 Panel Series 

Panel #1: “Pay Attention to My Band!… Please?”
Seattle boasts hundreds and hundreds of great music artists, all of them vying for attention from local press, bookers, and other influencers. Long known for its role in helping emerging local artists on their way to national acclaim – from Fleet Foxes to Macklemore to Odesza – we’ve assembled a panel of experts to help Seattle musicians learn strategies to increase their chances of breaking through the clutter and getting noticed.

Panel #2: “How to Make a Living as a Musician in Seattle”
Competing forces are working against Seattle residents trying to make a living at music. There’s the increasingly complex music industry, where retail revenues are falling and digital music services are struggling to develop viable payment models… and the changing face of Seattle, where growth is leading to a higher cost of living. This panel, moderated by Kate Becker, Director of the Seattle Office of Film + Music + Special Events, seeks to answer the question “How, then, does one make a living as a musician in Seattle?” Kate will be joined by several local musicians who’ve figured out how to make a career in music… on their own terms.

20(ish) years of the Capitol Hill Block Party

LaJeunesse hears from business partner Joey Burgess at the 2015 festival (Image- CHS)

LaJeunesse hears from business partner Joey Burgess at the 2015 festival (Image- CHS)

Old Block Party flyers courtesy Gapay

Old Block Party flyers courtesy Gopay

The 2016 Capitol Hill Block Party is being advertised as the 20th edition of the music festival, but it might be older than that.

It all depends on who you ask.

“I started the Capitol Hill Block Party in 1997 because I was frustrated with the corporate feel of Bumbershoot and the amount of baby carriages,” Jen Gapay tells CHS. “I also wanted to create more of a cool party scene in an urban environment like Capitol Hill.” Gapay said that she wanted people to have a chance to drink, listen to music, and listen to street performers “in an actual street.”

The Block Party’s origin is attributed to Gapay of Thirsty Girl Productions, though a skate shop and longtime Pike/Pine business Crescent Down Works may have hosted some version of the event before Thirsty Girl’s first party in 1997.

Meanwhile, current Block Party producer Jason Lajeunesse says he only has one regret about his reign as king of the CHBP. Lajeunesse, who has been involved in the event since 2006, says the times Block Party has gotten wet are what keeps him up at night. “I would go back and make it not rain,” he tells CHS. Continue reading

Rancho Bravo Block Party: Pike/Pine gears up for Capitol Hill music fest

13422205_1078791615489255_8095959058564414073_oCapitol Hill Block Party marks 20 years as a music festival starting next week on Friday, July 22nd but the neighborhood’s love for music is already leaking out and some wacky things are happening… like Rancho Bravo as a performance venue.

The 2016 edition of CHBP will include an expanded footprint and some free fun outside the fences. This year’s Block Party is set to feature free nightly shows at Unicorn, daytime performances and Sunday morning yoga at Chophouse Row, and a poster show at the V2 space as part of Thursday’s Capitol Hill Art Walk: Continue reading

Capitol Hill Block Party expands footprint inside Pike/Pine venues

IMG_9940113412096_10153445323016106_7333791700513337204_oFaced with limited street space and growing popularity, producers of the Capitol Hill Block Party are slightly expanding their footprint in 2016 with a new slate of programming inside neighborhood venues.

As part of Tuesday’s full band lineup announcement for the July 22-24 event, CHBP also revealed how it may continue to grow one of the few ticketed music festivals that takes place on a city’s public streets. This year’s event will include free nightly shows at Unicorn, daytime performances and Sunday morning yoga at Chophouse Row and a poster show in conjunction with the Capitol Hill Art Walk.

“Capitol Hill is the artistic and cultural epicenter of Seattle,” said owner Jason Lajeunesse in a statement. “This year, we want to activate the entire neighborhood and community to celebrate arts and culture with us.”

As usual, the 20th anniversary of the three-day event will bring a mix of big indie acts that won’t completely overwhelm the handful of dense Pike/Pine blocks. Tuesday’s full lineup announcement included the addition of rapper Mick Jenkins and the band Washed Out, who recorded the summery theme song to the TV show Portlandia.

Three-day passes are currently on sale for $174.72 (including taxes and fees) and single-day passes are $63.21. You can buy yours and learn more at capitolhillblockparty.com. See the full lineup below. Continue reading

The small Capitol Hill company behind ‘the top musical act in the U.S.’

The Lumineers play Capitol Hill Block Party in 2012. The band's new album Cleopatra has pushed them back to the top of the charts (Image: Jim Bennett/CHBP with permission to CHS)

The Lumineers play Capitol Hill Block Party in 2012. The band’s new album Cleopatra has pushed them back to the top of the charts (Image: Jim Bennett/CHBP with permission to CHS)

Before The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” became a multi-platinum hit, the band was making the rounds in Denver. They had posted a video on YouTube of themselves performing an acoustic version of the song in an apartment. In 2011, Capitol Hill management company Onto Entertainment liked what it saw — and heard.

Today, Onto’s roster includes The Lumineers, Seattle-based Hey Marseilles and poet and spoken word artist Andrea Gibson. And that’s probably as big as Onto is going to get for the time being – all three acts are touring in support of new work this year.

“I think we’re in a really good, sweet spot right now in terms of clients,” said Christen Greene, general manager and head of talent for Onto. “Our model is low-overhead, hard work and clients that we love.”

The path to becoming “the top musical act in the U.S.” and a Billboard No. 1 ranking for The Lumineers shows how it works. At the time the band was signed, Onto owner David Meinert also headed had previously organized the Capitol Hill Block Party, so convincing the folk-rock group to play the show was an obvious opportunity. Soon after they were in town, John Richards at KEXP was the first to play the group, followed by airplay on 107.7 KNDD, one of the first commercial stations to play the song, Meinert said. UPDATE: We erroneously reported Meinert was still running CHBP in 2012 — producer and Meinert business partner Jason Lajeunesse took over the festival that year.

After that, it wasn’t too long before the band blew up, and the 11th Ave-based Onto had stars on its roster. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Block Party announces 2016 20th anniversary lineup

IMG_0067CbWRQTrXEAAJlc8Capitol Hill Block Party’s producers are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the annual summer music festival with an earlier than usual announcement of the acts that will take to the stages of Pike/Pine in July.

As usual, the three-day event will bring a mix of big indie acts that won’t completely overwhelm the limited festival space — one of the few ticketed music festivals that takes place on a city’s public streets. CHBP’s full list of performers usually follows in the months leading up to the July festival.

Last year, the Block Party rolled out a new, neighborhood-focused brand. “It’s nice to have our visual mark distinguished with the geography of our footprint and neighborhood,” producer Jason LaJeunesse told CHS in 2015. “The event has become a real part of the fabric of the Capitol Hill over the last almost two decades and we wanted a proper logo and mark that, in the simplest way, could represent us and our neighborhood.”

LaJeunesse hears from business partner Joey Burgess at the 2015 festival (Image: CHS)

LaJeunesse hears from business partner Joey Burgess at the 2015 festival (Image: CHS)

Continue reading

Capitol Hill Block Party 2015: Day Three Open Thread

Images from Day Two 

We’ll start Day Three with a look back at the late night action of Day Two at Capitol Hill Block Party when the streets around E Pike looked a little like the coming pedestrian zone pilot had already started.

Capitol Hill Block Party 2015 Open Threads: Day One | Day Two | More photos!

Block Party organizers are hoping to put more feet on the streets Sunday. Tickets for the day headlined by electric folk rocker Father John Misty are being sold for $35 with a “lastchance35” promotional code.

Day Three is forecasted to be the wettest of the three-day festival with predictions of showers starting in the afternoon and continuing into evening. Temperatures will stay around 70 F, however, so it will pretty much be a warm shower. After three days of loving music, Pike/Pine could use a bath. Continue reading