Capitol Hill Block Party a little more Capitol Hill as festival turns 19

(Image: Ashley Genevieve/CHBP with permission to CHS)

(Image: Ashley Genevieve/CHBP with permission to CHS)

 

(Image: Ashley Genevieve/CHBP with permission to CHS)

(Image: Ashley Genevieve/CHBP with permission to CHS)

This year, Capitol Hill Block Party won’t be competing with the Timber Outdoor Music Festival in Carnation, as the 2015 edition of yet another Pacific Northwest music festival took place last weekend. Still, CHBP owner and producer Jason Lajeunesse said the flood of music industry cash into festivals — one of the few highly profitable corners left in the business — is increasingly having an effect on CHBP. “It’s been challenging to book the types of acts that we want to attract,” he said. “Overall, expenses have doubled over the past five years.”

In response, CHBP is looking a little more Capitol Hill in 2015. It started in March, when organizers rolled out new branding for the festival’s 19th installment, featuring a map-inspired logo representing CHBP’s Pike/Pine venue.

Some familiar neighborhood groups are also playing a bigger role in this year’s festival. In an effort to bring back visual art elements to the weekend, CHBP is teaming up with Capitol Hill Art Walk and Capitol Hill Arts District. CHBP commissioned a large mural that was unveiled during this month’s Art Walk and supported a poster show at Grim’s, which featured 40 different prints inspired by CHBP bands. The festival is also earmarking $10,000 to support the neighborhood Art Walk.

“We found it challenging (in past years) to do scalable art that would work in the festival setting,” said Lajeunesse. “It’s important that we don’t lose it.” Organizers are meeting the challenge this year with a 25-foot inflatable installation dubbed “The Lone Ranger.” UPDATE: Due to installation issues, CHBP is postponing the giant inflatable cowboy. Better luck next year, partner.

IMG_5824Of course, Block Party will also have some spiffy new Capitol Hill crosswalks coloring the festival streets.

In the meantime, Lajeunesse told CHS on Wednesday that everything was on pace for the weekend festivities. Without any major logistical changes over the past few years, organizers and regular festival-goers should more-or-less know what to expect. Continue reading

CHS Pics | As plans form for its replacement, Volunteer Park stage hosts ‘music under the stars’

IMG_5207There will be more music in the park Thursday night after Volunteer Park gets its summer piano. Wednesday night, the Seattle Chamber Music Society hosted another “Music Under the Stars” session at the Volunteer Park amphitheater stage.

With life in a northern town meaning no stars until the sun’s light finally fades late into the night and with an amphitheater lawn already much more brown than we’re used to seeing in Seattle, the Sempre Sisters performed Handel — “plus fiddle favorites” — as a prelude to the picnic-friendly KING FM broadcast from Benaroya Hall. The 2015 series in Volunteer Park wraps up next week with July 22nd’s night of music.

IMG_5219Meanwhile, the effort to recreate Volunteer Park’s amphitheater is moving forward with a $25,000 grant from the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods to create a feasibility study to “explore technical requirements and community preferences for a new performance space.”

CHS wrote earlier this year about the Volunteer Park Trust’s effort to recreate the outdoor performance space. According to the city, a performance pavilion was designed into the park by the Olmsted Brothers back in 1912 — but that pavilion stood where the Seattle Asian Art Museum stands today. The current stage dates to the 1970s and is showing its age.Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 3.47.22 PM

“Public input will be a major component of the year-long study, with two community-wide meetings planned as well as targeted focus groups for neighbors, arts organizations, and major park users,” an announcement from the trust on the project reads. “Once the agreed-upon design is completed, the Trust will work with Seattle Parks in seeking a combination of public and private funds to finance construction, with the goal of having a new performance space completed by 2018.”

You can learn more at volunteerparktrust.org.

Pianos in the Parks returns with keyboards in Cal Anderson, Volunteer Park

Piano in the Park

(Image: @gageacademy)

(Image: @gageacademy)

Two hand-painted pianos will begin a summer stay in Cal Anderson and Volunteer Park Thursday night in a promotion to celebrate the region’s great public spaces with the sometimes surreal placement of the bulky musical instruments in the middle of Seattle city parks. Pianos in the Park has returned. Tubas in the parks just didn’t have the same ring to it:

The Pianos in the Parks program, made possible by Laird Norton Wealth Management, encourages the discovery of parks through music and art by placing one-of-a-kind, artist-designed upright and grand pianos in parks and open spaces across Bellevue, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Seattle and other parts of King County. All pianos are made available for free public use and music exploration through Aug. 16.

Following a Thursday kick-off event at Lake Union Park, the pianos will be moved to their new homes:

  • Bellevue – Ashwood Plaza (Bellevue Regional Library), Bellevue Botanical Gardens and Downtown Park
  • Kirkland – Marina Park
  • Mercer Island – Luther Burbank Park and Mercerdale Park
  • Redmond – Marymoor Park 
  • Seattle – Ballard Commons (Ballard), Jefferson Park (Beacon Hill), Cal Anderson Park and Volunteer Park(Capitol Hill), Green Lake Park (Green Lake), Magnuson Park (Sand Point), Rainier Beach Plaza (Rainier Valley), Seacrest Park/Alki (West Seattle) and Steve Cox Memorial Park (White Center), as well as downtown Seattle neighborhood parks and open spaces including Occidental Square (Pioneer Square), Denny Park and Lake Union Park (South Lake Union) and Seattle Center (Uptown).
  • Woodinville – Sammamish River Trail

The Capitol Hill pianos are expected to be in place by Thursday night. Continue reading

The Electric Tea Garden wasn’t really dead and it’s still not but it does need a new Hill home

(Image: ETG)

(Image: ETG)

Though CHS reported its closure at 14th and Madison in October of 2013, the Electric Tea Garden wasn’t really gone. But it wasn’t really there, either. We’ll let founder and flipper of the ETG switch Bruce Mason explain.

“We were working on something different,” Mason tells CHS.

295943_291193720906938_687513709_nSome of that different emerged at one point when we noticed a new liquor license application for the eclectic dance club that made its home above the Artificial Limb Co. But, in the end, Mason says, reopening a dance club wasn’t really the direction of things, either, despite a few underground shows in the club here and there over the years since its “closure.”

In January, the venue got slapped with a land use violation and Mason with the building’s ownership started the process of looking into officially changing the use of the building and putting it in compliance for operating a club. But Mason said what followed was a growing realization that ETG wasn’t going to be able to stay in its longtime home.

“Despite some excitement from the new owner, the fire department came through and decided we needed a fire suppression system and that was really it,” Mason said.

Now Mason and his wife Suzanne are moving out of the old space — contact them for some deals on furniture, etc. — and beginning the search for something new, hopefully on Capitol Hill. “We’re trying to get away from the nightclub and get back to our gallery and internet radio roots,” Mason said. If you know of a space, drop ETG a line.

After 18 years on the Hill, Electric Tea Garden is in search of a new home. Our hope is to stay on our beloved Capitol Hill. But other up-and-coming areas of this great city are on our short list — SoDo, Pioneer Square, International District?!

To get all the lastest on ETG Events, plans, and launch date, make sure you update your email on our list at Contact Us.

In the meantime, come to the corner of East Pike Street and 14th Avenue from today until Tuesday, June 30th, to rummage through our well-loved furniture and curiosities. While our doors will not be open, feel free to drop off love letters and farewells in our mail box at the front entry at 1402 E. Pike Street.

WE LOVE YOU, MISS YOU and are SO PROUD OF YOU! HOPE TO SEE YOU VERY SOON!!!

 

Upbeat on Jackson

Upbeat on Jackson continues its captivating concert series this month with the sounds of African drumming. Join us on Sunday, June 21st at 7pm for Thione Diop & Yeke Yeke. They will perform at the Low Income Housing Institute’s Ernestine Anderson Place at 2010 S. Jackson Street in Seattle.

Thione Diop is a percussionist from Senegal, West Africa, is widely recognized for his powerfully expressive Djembe performances. He is descended from an ancestral line of Griot drummers in Senegal, West Africa, and is a master of the djembe, sabar, tama, and djun djun.

In 1998, Thione moved to Seattle to teach and perform; a year later he formed Yeke Yeke, a percussion ensemble that has performed the traditional rhythms of West Africa to delighted audiences for the last ten years.

This concert is a celebration of, and recognition of, the importance of African Music to US culture. African rhythms form the foundation of nearly all popular music in the world. African traditions of integrating rhythm, song, dance and improvisation are key to many forms of American music and world music today. As a proud part of the Central District community, and rich history of great African-American music that has come from the Central District, Ernestine Anderson Place honors African music roots with this special performance by great West African rhythm masters, Thione Diop and Yeke Yeke.
Please join us for this upbeat and energetic performance on June 21st at 7pm (doors at 6:30). The show is free and open to the public.

Three Capitol Hill-area venues among first to sign Seattle Fair Trade Music pledge

IMG_3475

Projections on A Wall plays Chop Suey’s re-opening in March (Image: CHS)

This decal coming to a venue near you soon.

This decal coming to a venue near you soon.

Talk to any working musician, and they’re bound to have at least one story about a nightmare gig caused by an unscrupulously run venue.

Paul Bigman has heard plenty of them as an organizer with the American Federation of Musicians Local 76-493. There was the bouncer who walked away with band’s share of the door and the metal venue that insisted local openers had to let touring acts use their instruments.

To help bring some uniformity and transparency to the way venues treat performers, musicians and organizers have brought the Portland-originated Fair Trade Music campaign to Seattle. Two Capitol Hill venues and one First Hill venue have signed the Fair Trade Music pledge since the effort launched in April: Chop Suey, Capitol Cider, and Vios Vito’s .

“Having everything on the table to see where everything is going is really important,” said Chop Suey owner and musician Brianna Rettig. “It’s good to know that if you’re supporting a music venue, it’s a place that’s being fair to the musicians.”

Bigman said the 21 venues that have signed on represent businesses musicians identified as the most exemplary. Neumos and most other Capitol Hill venues have yet to be approached about the pledge, Bigman said, but organizers are preparing to sign up more venues in the coming months along with a public awareness campaign.

As its name would suggest, the FTM pledge is akin to fair trade labeling in foods. Participating venues will get decals to put in their windows to show they’ve signed the pledge, which includes four major tenants:

  • Provide musicians with a written agreement that lays out the terms of payment
  • Provide musicians with a record of how many tickets were sold and how much money was made
  • Have a decent sound system and capable sound tech
  • If there are disagreements, venue owners agree to work with Fair Trade Music Seattle to resolve disputes

The pledge makes no stipulations about minimum pay as musicians and venues often agree on a wide range of “fair pay” agreements, Bigman said. However, its something that could be added down the road.

“A lot of clubs are owned by musicians, and they don’t want to mistreat musicians, they’re just not business people,” Bigman said. Continue reading

Upbeat on Jackson

Dromeno (Balkan folk artists) and House of Tarab (Arabic music ensemble) will join us for a free show on May 29th at 7pm. Double the headliners = double the fun! Drink specials will be available at a neighborhood bar after the show- must attend show for more info!

Music tech maker Sonos opens Bullitt Center office

(Image: The Bullitt Center)

(Image: The Bullitt Center)

Another tech company is making a home on Capitol Hill. California-based wireless speaker and audio technology company Sonos has announced it is opening an engineering office for 70 employees inside super green office building the Bullitt Center at 15th and E Madison.

Bullitt Center representatives said the new office makes the “greenest office building in the world” now 100% leased. Earlier this year, the center’s developers at the Bullitt Foundation celebrated the two-year-old project’s Living Building Certification. The Bullitt Center is the first office building to receive the certification awarded to buildings that essentially operate as living organisms — self-sufficient for water and energy and actively promoting the health of its occupants and surrounding environment.

UPDATE: A company spokesperson tells CHS that joining the Bullitt Center comes with added responsibilities. Tenants are expected to meet standards for energy consumption and be part of the building’s non-toxic material requirements. “We’re excited to be part of an environment that will encourage us to be thoughtful,” the Sonos representative said.

Sonos will begin with an engineering team of 10 in its new Seattle office with hopes to grow the teams working here to around 70. The engineering work done at the Bullitt will primarily focus on the company’s software, the spokesperson said.

Sonos hardware

Sonos hardware

The Sonos announcement comes amid a small wave of new tech firms finding new spaces in the neighborhood including the newly opened Chophouse Row development that Mazlo, Tectonic, and Glympse now call home.

“Our new and growing team in Seattle will take up residence at the iconic Bullitt Center, known as the greenest commercial building in the world, located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood,” the Sonos announcement on the new office reads. “We look forward to taking in the iconic ‘Seattle Sound,’ incredible music venues, the local Capitol Hill Block Party music festival, as well as the sounds of whatever the team has lined up in the Sonos queue.”

While the building has been a major success on the green construction front, it’s taken more than two years to fully lease the five-story center beyond the initial tenant roster. Like Sonos, not all tenants are environment-focused businesses or organizations but all tend to be forward looking and design focused. In 2013, for example, construction firm Hammer & Hand joined the building.

Here are the current Bullitt tenants Sonos is joining:

  • Bullitt Foundation
  • Hammer & Hand
  • Intentional Futures
  • International Living Future Institute
  • PAE Consulting Engineers
  • Point32
  • University of Washington Integrated Design Lab

Space in the building was going for $30 per square foot. Sonos is claiming about 14,000 square feet, the company representative said.

With around 300 employees, Sonos also has offices in Santa Barbara, and Boston in the United States, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Denmark, The United Kingdom, and China. The company’s vice president of software development told the PSBJ Sonos will have room for about 70 employees in the Bullitt Center office. We’ll have to follow up to find out if the Bullitt Center will be able to deploy a full Sonos music system on every floor — and still meet its green benchmarks. UPDATE: Yup — Sonos will be deploying Sonos gear on their floor and a half of office space, we’re told.

Found pianos of Capitol Hill

I was walking through Capitol Hill, Seattle one weekend, and encountered an abandoned piano at the side of the road. I decided it needed a final piece of loving, so I recorded it in my phone. The next week I found the piano had been joined by a second, and both pianos had had their keyboards smashed. So I played the strings directly. Both pieces reflect the decay and misuse of the pianos, and the environment they spent a short time in before going to their final resting place.

We don’t know anything more about it than what we found here where you can download both tracks — One piano with working keys and One piano with destroyed keys — of this very Capitol Hill music project.