Raw and more than a little vulnerable, Seattle Fringe Festival returns to Capitol Hill

By Tim Kukes for CHS

“I think the Seattle Fringe Festival is really taking on the role of mentoring and offering up opportunities for the artist to learn things,” Jeffrey Robert said.

Robert, who performs as The Gay Uncle, will be part of the 2017 version of the rebooted festival featuring “more than 30 producers of Theatre, Dance, Improv, Burlesque, Musical, Opera, Drag Performance, Solo Performance, Experimental, Clown, and Performance Art” at Capitol Hill’s Eclectic Theater and the Seattle Center Armory. Tickets run between $10 and $15 per show.

Robert is one of many local artists participating in the 2017 Seattle Fringe Festival but he may have gotten a later start than most. A standup comedian turned performance artist/storyteller, Robert didn’t dive into the artist life until his fifties.

“I always wanted to attempt it, but I was afraid to,” Robert said.  “I always wanted to do artwork and sort of toyed around with it.  I studied it in college, but I never ever made a career out of it.” Continue reading

On the List | HONK! Fest West brass band festival comes to Capitol Hill

Brass musicians march at a past HONK! Fest 4th of July show (Images: Mike Antares)

Brass musicians march at a past HONK! Fest 4th of July show (Images: Mike Antares)

HONK! Fest West is extending its reach to Capitol Hill.

The free outdoor music festival started in Seattle in 2008, and this year it runs from June 16 to 19 with a visit to Capitol Hill in the middle. Capitol Hill will have its day Friday with professional brass bands playing free live concerts at four locations on the Hill. Festival organizer Mike Antares estimates that about 26 bands will play on the Hill.

“HONK! Fest is about the accessibility of music, which is why they’re in parks, streets, and public spaces,” Antares said.

This is the first year that the festival has included Capitol Hill. Festival organizers were brainstorming earlier in the year about how to reach out to other communities in the Seattle area. “Capitol Hill was at the top of the list,” said Antares. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Pride Festival denied permit for Sunday expansion of Broadway street fair

Months of planning and seven years of growth weren’t enough — organizers of the Capitol Hill Pride Festival, an upstart celebration of LGBTQ cultures that some say harkens back to the early days when Broadway was the center of queer Seattle, have been denied a permit to expand the street fair to Sunday — the same day as the city’s huge downtown Gay Pride parade. In a spirit that also might harken back to days when Seattle was a smaller, simpler place, the organizers are vowing to fight on and go forward with their planned expansion.

“Our position is to go forward with Sunday,” a brief statement sent to media Tuesday reads. “Authorized or not.”

City officials say the festival lost out in a Pride weekend numbers game — there’s just too much going on that Sunday. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Pride Festival making plans to expand to Pride Sunday

The 2015 Capitol Hill Pride Festival reportedly drew 35,000 to Broadway (Images: CHS)

The 2015 Capitol Hill Pride Festival reportedly drew 35,000 to Broadway (Images: CHS)

The Capitol Hill Pride Festival will continue to grow into its eighth year as organizers plant to expand the Broadway street fair to a second day in 2016.

Planned for Saturday and Sunday, June 25th and 26th, the festival that got its grassroots start in 2009 has grown into an annual event that organizers say last year drew more than 35,000 to Broadway to celebrate Pride, enjoy performances and a doggie drag show, ride ponies(!), and, local merchants hope, visit restaurants and bars for food and drink.

Organizer Charlotte Lefevre, who used to operate the Seattle Museum of Mysteries on Broadway and has maintained a connection to the street’s older generations of businesses, must work with area businesses to secure approval for the second day of the festival, according to a discussion of the festival with the Seattle Special Events Committee. The Department of Neighborhoods has also asked the festival producers to invite Broadway business owners to have a “greater participation in planning” the annual event.

Capitol Hill used to be the center of Pride weekend’s activities. In 2006, the big parade moved downtown as it outgrew Broadway and expanded to be a bigger part of Seattle culture. While the parties and bar celebrations remained mostly on the Hill, the “official” events grew to spaces beyond the neighborhood.

This is the second year of growth for the Capitol Hill Pride Festival which added a Broadway parade and rally in 2015 and has continued to draw crowds despite the introduction of a competing event in Cal Anderson from the producers of the PrideFest event at Seattle Center. In 2013, Seattle PrideFest expanded its activities back to the Hill with Family Day in Cal Anderson and later added a street festival on 11th Ave. This year, PrideFest will also plans to expand its offerings on Capitol Hill on Saturday, June 25. (We’ve corrected and updated this paragraph — sorry for screwing up who was who with Seattle Pride and the year in which PrideFest returned for its first Cal Anderson family day.)

With a second day of the Broadway festival on Pride Sunday, revelers will face a choice about where to celebrate after the downtown parade — or whether to head downtown at all. A new light rail station just outside the Capitol Hill Pride Festival footprint will make the journey an easy one.

In the meantime, there are some logistics to work out. Last year, there was “sign confusion” due to high amount of construction projects in the area that caused a headache for organizers. And SDOT complained that Broadway’s Julia’s set up “a margarita cart selling to passing public.” That, unfortunately, is against the rules and won’t be allowed in 2016.

5th annual APRIL litfest brings expanded events to new Capitol Hill venues

Capitol Hill’s scrappy, all volunteer run literary festival has been an undeniable success among Seattle’s most ardent indie book lovers. As it enters its fifth year, APRIL Festival organizers are now charting course to expand its weeklong slate of events and meet a growing demand for tickets.

“We’re kind of in this awkward growth phase now,” said Francs Chiem, one of the organizers of the festival that spans multiple venues around Capitol Hill. “We’ve been around long enough to show we know what we’re doing.”

The annual festival of Authors, Publishers and Readers of Independent Literature kicks off Tuesday with an opening party at The Pine Box. Continue reading

Seattle Ice Cream Festival in Capitol Hill’s Chophouse Row will mark start of ‘ice cream season’

Timmermeister behind the Kurt Farm Shop counter inside Chophouse Row (Image: CHS)

Timmermeister behind the Kurt Farm Shop counter inside Chophouse Row (Image: CHS)

As a leader in the farm to table movement, Kurt Timmermeister is accustomed to small, simple things going big. But he’s not sure Chophouse Row and his tiny Kurt Farm Shop will have room for the more than 12,000 people so far listed as “interested” in his first ever Seattle Ice Cream Festival planned for this May on Capitol Hill:

Sunday, May 22 at 12 PM
Chophouse Row 1424 11th Ave
First annual Seattle Ice Cream Festival located at Chophouse Row on Capitol Hill. A dozen of Seattle’s best ice cream makers sampling and selling their unique ice creams. No admission fee; open to all.

The format will be exceedingly simple. A dozen or so of Seattle’s best ice cream makers set up throughout the preservation-friendly alleyways of 11th Ave’s Chophouse Row development.

A final roster of participants will be announced in the coming weeks but Timmermeister listed off a few you should expect to see including Molly Moon’s, Full Tilt, and Sweet Bumpas — and, of course, Timmermeister’s own ice cream creations from the 300-square-foot Kurt Farm Shop.

There won’t be any contests or awards. Just a chance to buy and taste great ice cream. “It’s not about who’s better or who’s bigger,” Timmermeister said.

The simple format — and timing may be part of the appeal. Though these days are gray, hope for warmer times and sunshine are ahead.

“I think people really love ice cream,” Timmermeister said Wednesday about the event. “I just picked the date as the beginning of ice cream season.”

UPDATE: Here’s the participating roster:

  • Sweet Bumpas
  • Molly Moon’s
  • Bluebird
  • Cupcake Royale
  • Gelatiamo
  • Balleywood Creamery
  • Kurt Farm Shop
  • Full Tilt
  • Parfait
  • Half Pint
  • Trove
  • Pink’s


Centered at 12th Ave’s Hedreen Gallery, Yellow Fish — Epic Durational Performance Festival starts this week

It won’t take much to help one of the only art performance festivals of its kind grow in independence for its third edition slated to start later this week at 12th Ave’s Hedreen Gallery.

The Yellow Fish — Epic Durational Performance Festival is only a few hundred dollars from its $6,000 goal to create a third year of “performances lasting a minimum of an hour and a maximum of 48 hours” — you can make your contribution here:

Artists from all over the world have been invited to perform at all moments of day and night. In its third year, the festival will have a monthlong run, made possible thanks to newly-created partnerships with Northwest Film Forum, Velocity Dance Center, Studio Current and New Tomorrow. Artifacts from all of the performances will accumulate at the Hedreen Gallery, where most of the festival’s events will take place.

“As the festival has grown exponentially since the two years of its creation, the costs have also increased. This year we were unable to receive any of the funding we had received in the prior editions,” organizer and artist Alice Gosti explains.

The festival is free to attend — so you might consider your donation a kind of spiritual downpayment for your free ticket.

The planned 2015 lineup is below: Continue reading

CHS Pics | A Hugo House full of small press all-stars on Capitol Hill


(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

RJ Casey and Ann Casey of Yeti Press

RJ Casey and Ann Casey of Yeti Press

55 small press publishers, some producing as few as six works per year, some fewer, filled 11th Ave’s Hugo House Sunday afternoon for the APRIL Book Expo, the grand finale of the 2015 edition annual festival and one of many last bows for Hugo House as we know it before a planned, literary nonprofit-friendly redevelopment of the property.

During the week, CHS also stopped through a seance at the Sorrento Hotel and APRIL’s “offsite” with the Vignettes gallery. If you missed the event but are interested in learning more about the region’s small press publishers, here’s a roster of Sunday’s participants. You can learn more about the APRIL Festival at aprilfestival.com.

More pictures below. Continue reading

CHS Crow | APRIL Festival edition — Wendy and Søren

Wednesday, APRIL did its best to summon the spirit of Alice B. Toklas from the walls of the Sorrento along with Rebecca Brown, Joshua Beckman, Jan Wallace and “musical accompaniment.” (Images: Alex Garland)

APRIL Festival 2015 has been keeping the literature calendar packed with unconventional events for most of the last week and it all wraps up today with the grand finale — APRIL’s annual small press book expo:

Sunday, March 29
Hugo House, 11 am – 5 pm
Our annual book fair, featuring more than 40 small presses from around the country.

Thursday night, the CHS Crow stopped by the independent literature festival’s annual collaboration with art gallery Vignettes — hosted at an offsite location this year — and chatted with poet Wendy Xu and artist Søren Nilsson. What read as a playfully deconstructive video by Nilsson was one of the eight works responding to Xu’s book You Are Not Dead that made up the exhibition. Works by Ripple Fang, Susanna Bluhm, Max Cleary, Francesca Lohmann, Klara Glosova, Aidan Fitzgerald and Paul Komada were also featured. Check it out. Continue reading

2015 APRIL will be ‘largest ever’ edition of small press literature festival

APRIL-logo-full-GreenThe cozy, home-like environment of Richard Hugo House’s original and current space makes it a pretty fitting last stop for APRIL Festival’s annual grassroots romp around Capitol Hill and First Hill. Add the sorta-twisted fact that the 1904 building that houses the internationally acclaimed center for writers was once a mortuary and the space might seem an even more ideal fit as a venue for the week-long literature festival known for its freewheeling spirit and often unorthodox approaches to presenting works.

However, next year APRIL will have to find another site for its capstone small press Book Expo, and other events it has traditionally held at Hugo House. The writing center’s current building will be torn down in 2016 to make way for the construction of a six-story mixed-use structure. Thankfully, the new building does promise to provide a continued home for Hugo House on the east side of Cal Anderson Park, but it will of course take some time to build. And the new space will of course be a change; a welcome change in many respects, Hugo House’s executive director Tree Swenson says, but aspects of the ambiance will certainly shift.

It remains to be seen how APRIL will adapt in 2016 and if it will return to Hugo House once the new incarnation is completed. And while thanks to generous support Capitol Hill gets to hold on to Hugo House, some fear that trends the Hugo House property revamp reflects — including the continuously rising property values and rents helping spur the rolling redevelopment of the neighborhood — may threaten to push most less-commercial artists and arts out of the neighborhood once and for all. Meanwhile, the city’s designation of Capitol Hill as Seattle’s first official Arts District represents one effort meant to help prevent that from happening.

All that said, though at its inception four years ago it may have entered a Capitol Hill already past its prime as a readily accessible place for the arts to thrive without intervention or initiatives, APRIL has nonetheless seen impressive growth since its humble beginnings. Whats more, APRIL continues to find some ways to grow in 2015, as it now looks to adapt to new challenges in the near future.

“It’s definitely getting bigger and bigger than we ever could have imagined when we started it,” said Tara Atkinson, who founded APRIL along with Willie Fitzgerald back in 2012, when the two found themselves unemployed roommates in a Capitol Hill apartment that also served as APRIL’s headquarters. The acronym they chose as the name for the festival that comes every March, and which has morphed in to an organization that also offers some smaller literary events throughout the year, is descriptive — ‘Authors, Publishers and Readers of Independent Literature.’

This year’s festival runs one day shorter than 2014’s, kicking off Tuesday, March 24, with a party at Barboza, and wrapping up Sunday, March 29, with the Book Expo at Hugo House. However, while the number of days and events is indeed slightly lower, some other numbers are up. Continue reading