Report: Music is a $1.8 billion industry in Seattle… and growing

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Projections on A Wall plays Chop Suey, one of the venues to sign the Fair-Trade Music Pledge. (Image: CHS)

An infographic from the study

An infographic from the study

If Seattle’s music scene were its own city, it would have an economic output roughly the size of the Mt. Vernon metropolitan area. Which would put Pike/Pine, what? Somewhere around Aberdeen? And yet many musicians are struggling to stay afloat. That’s the conclusion of a study officially released Tuesday from the Musicians’ Association of Seattle and the American Federation of Musicians.

“It’s a much heavier economic footprint than many would imagine,” said AFM organizer Paul Bigman.

Researchers found the music industry directly employs over 16,600 people in Seattle, creating a “direct economic output” of $1.8 billion and growing. Since a similar analysis was done 2008, Seattle has added some 5,500 music-related jobs. The report doesn’t breakdown the numbers by neighborhood, but the findings are noteworthy for Pike/Pine given its outsized share of venues. Continue reading

Pike/Pine’s Rhino Room planning second-level expansion

Capitol Hill’s dance club scene looks to be strong enough to warrant a doubling-down at the Rhino Room.

The two-year-old club’s ownership declined to comment about a possible expansion but plans on file with the city indicate Rhino Room is sizing up another level for dancing in the night spot’s 3,000 square-foot basement.

The new plans went into motion after the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board voted to extend protections to the auto row-era building the club and Capitol Hill media group The Stranger call home. CHS reported on the decision from the building’s longtime owner to drop plans for a redevelopment of the property in the wake of the decision. Meanwhile, 11th Ave’s Value Village building that was slated to be part of the development remains shuttered after the thrift store’s late 2015 closure. So far, there has been no sign of a new retail tenant moving into the space.

The Rhino Room opened in the former bike store space at 11th and Pine in spring 2014 and has since grown into a popular Pike/Pine venue on the weekends, joining the scene’s longtime gay clubs like Neighbours and R Place and big-time newcomer Q in maintaining Capitol Hill’s dance scene. 11th Ave’s spot in the scene also includes the action above Grim’s where The Woods also lines up clubbers looking to get down and get funky after paying a nominal $10 to $25 cover for the privilege. Grim’s was acquired in 2014 by an ownership group behind the Comet Tavern and Lost Lake.

While the Rhino ownership is remaining quiet on the possible downward expansion, it wouldn’t be the first time the group kept its cards close to its chest. As word first spread about the 11th and Pine project in 2013, they described the coming club in the most modest of terms:

So the idea was simply to open a bar. Everything has gotten overconceptualized these days… The only thing that we want to do is have fun at what we do.

“We will, from time to time, have a DJ or do something wacky, or throw a fun party, but the foundation of the concept is to host a good time for all every day—which isn’t a concept at all,” the message about the new venture read.

CHS Pics | ‘There’s a starman waiting in the sky…’

Bowie Remembered_9347Donning Ziggy Stardust makeup and appropriately bending their gender, Capitol Hill DJs and karaoke singers paid tribute Monday night to the passing of rock icon David Bowie.

Hours of Bowie’s hits played back-to-back at Pony and The Crescent Lounge (with the exception one guy belting out Sweet Home Alabama to celebrate yet another championship win for the Crimson Tide).

One Crescent signer, who identified herself as Lola Dangerzone, said Bowie was a liberating force in her life, the first to introduce her to glam rock, the concept of gender fluidity, and a group of friends who were similarly inspired by the prolific musician.

“It’s about the experiences I’ve had while listening to his music,” she said. “That’s the kind of thing that will outlive his existence.”

If you didn’t make it out Monday night, there are still plenty of opportunities to celebrate Bowie’s life, including a Wednesday showing of Labyrinth at Central Cinema. You can find more Bowie events across Seattle over the coming days here.

Shouting over a rendition of Rebel, Rebel, Alyson Raye said heading to a bar to belt out Bowie classics just felt like the right way to honor his passing. “We got to do right by him,” she said.

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Chop Suey upping food game with help from LA sibling The Escondite

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

When CHS first learned about the Skid Row club owners and LA musician taking over the Chop Suey, we wondered if they were bringing the food component of their Southern California club business with them to Seattle.

E. Madison at 14th’s Chop Suey re-opened in early 2015 with a new look and new dedication to live music and booze. Plans are to end the year with a new take on the club’s food.

Co-owner Brianna Rettig tells CHS that a food operation from her partners’ Los Angeles club The Escondite is taking over the Chop Suey kitchen.

Rettig said the plan is to do things “food truck” style with ordering at a counter window inside the Chop. Hours are still being worked out but the owners are “shooting to have It open” for happy hours and late night food service by the new year, Rettig said.

“The Escondite means hideout, so the idea of having a hidden gem where you can get good food inside a rock club, only seemed fitting,” Rettig writes.

Rettig, Erin Carnes and Brian Houck took over the Chop Suey as its Tokyo-based ownership bailed on Capitol Hill’s live music scene. The club has continued to feature a robust calendar of live acts and has, so far, kept the focus on music and nightlife over burgers or brunch.

The new restaurant plans don’t appear to indicate a major change of direction for the club. Plans call for a smaller menu than the original Escondite currently offers. According to the club’s website, The Escondite features a menu of burgers that Yelp reviewers appear to think are pretty swell. Rettig said there will be a few “Seattle specific” items also added to the mix. “Brian is serving up free trial items every happy hour right now with every drink purchase,” Rettig said. “So far the favorite is Meatball Mondays. His meatball sandwich is pretty next level.”

You can learn more at chopsuey.com.

Why you should help create Central District’s KHUH 100.3 FM

Hollow Earth Radio — the budding nonprofit, community radio station based in the Central District — has launched an Indiegogo fundraising campaign to raise money for the transition from online-only to a fully fledged, licensed, low power FM radio station, broadcasting underrepresented music and voices across much of Central and South Seattle.

So, why should you consider throwing your money into the $25,000 campaign? 61 people have so far, donating just over $3,800 and putting the nonprofit on pace for just barely making its goal.

Having obtained its low power FM license from the Federal Communications Commission back in 2014 (the official broadcast license is for 100.3 KHUH), Hollow Earth is now hoping to raise $25,000 or more by February to purchase equipment and pay permitting and licensing fees crucial to meeting their March deadline for getting on the air. Among the items needed are an antenna and transmitter (to be placed on a different roof somewhere in the Central District — other airwaves would interfere with an antenna located on the Hollow Earth Radio building), leasing the roof, city permit fees for the antenna, a studio-to-transmitter link, and music royalty fees. Continue reading

CHS Pics | A sunny dB in the Park

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(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

IMG_2267Summer has been over for a week but you wouldn’t know it by the sunny afternoons we’ve been enjoying so far this fall. And you wouldn’t have known it Sunday as the 12th annual Decibel Festival wound down by turning the beats up at the free dB in the Park party at Volunteer Park.

While the thumping bass inspired many to dance and all to do the bum-bum-bum head nod, some in the CHS comments aren’t fans of the outdoor DJ performances. We expect further inspiration for those some come October 15th as the Volunteer Park Trust holds a community meeting to discuss the project to replace the park’s aging stage. If you’d like to speak up in favor the bass, mark your calendar.

In the meantime, enjoy the pictures, below. And the sunshine, above. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Summit Block Party 2015

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Here’s a look at Saturday’s 2015 Summit Block Party — it’s a view of Capitol Hill culture, art, and music armies of developers desperately want to embrace and extend. The fourth annual day of music and art matured, reportedly, in 2015 under new leader Adam Way. “On the whole, there is a (push) for quality,” Way told CHS, with a wink. “I don’t want people to feel like the free admission wasn’t worth it.” Of course, this year there were still irate neighbors, some occasional bursts of loud and obnoxious rock, and various shenanigans that are likely to accompany a grassroots music festival in the middle of some of the densest blocks in the densest neighborhood in the PNW. Like the lined-up-for-upgrades Summit Inn apartment that partly inspired it, Summit Ave is also going to see more change. In the meantime, its street festival manages to grow along with the rents.

More pictures, below.

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Summit Block Party matures along with the building that helped inspire it

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

IMG_22122015 could be the start of a new era for the Summit Block Party. In his second year as lead organizer, Adam Way is taking a more professional approach to the fourth annual day of free music, food, and beer happening this Saturday.

Special events permits have been acquired, t-shirts and other merchandise produced, and liability insurance purchased. Way even got the city to close street parking on the Summit Ave block between Howell and Olive for the party and secured a $1,000 Department of Neighborhoods grant to help offset costs.

“On the whole, there is a (push) for quality,” Way said. “I don’t want people to feel like the free admission wasn’t worth it.”

“I don’t want people to feel like the free admission wasn’t worth it.”

At the same time, the building on the block that had been the street party’s creative source is undergoing a similar transformation. The DIY madhouse days of the Summit Inn came to an abrupt end last year after it was bought out by developer Brad Padden who plans to renovate the entire building next year.

The Summit Inn and its resident community were key in getting the block party off the ground, but when Padden increased rents by $100 with promises of further increases, many tenants moved out. The original Summit Block Party organizers also decided to step away from the event this year. That doesn’t appear to be dampening the party. Way has made peace with the City and the new Summit Inn owners, who have agreed to provide electricity for the day-long event. “We’re just trying to do our part,” Padden said. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Sunny Vibrations in Volunteer Park


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(Images: Justin Carder and Stephen Jackson for CHS)

Consider the 50 bucks and fees you slap down for a day at the Capitol Hill Block Party as the price of admission for not only the fenced-off, E Pike festival but also August’s slate of free Capitol Hill music events. And, if you didn’t pay for CHBP, well, consider yourself well ahead — if you made it out for some sun and fun at Vibrations 2015 Sunday.

The annual arts and music event from Capitol Hill’s Cairo once again brought an eclectic mix of bands and styles, along with a few local businesses like Analog Coffee and Six Strawberries ice pops to the eventually-to-be-upgraded Volunteer Park amphitheater stage. The grass wasn’t quite as green this year thanks to Seattle’s hottest summer ever and shade was at a premium — pro tip: next time, try the bower.

Continue reading