The Weekend List, Festival Edition: NW Folklife, Black Box 2.0, Sasquatch! - and Bettye LaVette at Jazz Alley

By Florangela Davila, Nicole Capozziello and Joseph Sutton-Holcomb
Crosscut archive image.

Bettye LaVette performing in Leuven, Belgium in 2006

By Florangela Davila, Nicole Capozziello and Joseph Sutton-Holcomb

* Denotes items that are $15 or less

ShortsFest at SIFF *

Looking at the SIFF schedule can be overwhelming but ShortsFest is always a good bet. These short films, spanning cultures and genres, are collected into one weekend of fast-paced, original programming that provides an excellent snapshot of the entire 25-day festival. I always love the choice of themes: "Saved by the Bell" (how a life can be changed by a single moment); "Animation4Adults"; "Shoot to Thrill" (films driven by tension). This year, there’s also a sampling of films about the unique history and evolution of Yesler Terrace. Discover a new artist and a new appreciation for the short film art form.

If you go: ShortsFest at SIFF, Check schedule for venues, May 21 through May 25 ($13) — N.C.

Black Box 2.0 *

Ok, so here’s another festival if SIFF, Folklife and/or Sasquatch don’t already have you booked solid — and if the words “digital culture” send you to your secret happy place. The nice thing about the Black Box 2.0 festival is that it’s not limited to Memorial Day weekend. It started on May 6 and continues through June 7.

So what’s Black Box? It’s a showcase for experimental film, video and new media art by a group of international artists. Seattle-based Aktionart is the organizer; the festival debuted last year. The videos are screened in somewhat alternative Seattle venues like a shipping container in Ballard. If you’re a traditionalist, how about a screening of "Waves" at Cornish’s Raisbeck Performance Hall. The 19-minute video is about geology and meteorology and Virginia Woolf and invisible jellyfish and a painting by Courbet and, well, just go see it.


If you go: Black Box 2.0, Seven venues throughout Seattle; check schedule for details. Through June 7 (free) — F.D.

Bettye LaVette

She's the Joe Cocker of soul music: a woman who has mastered the art of the cover in a way few artists can. Honestly, that comparison might be unfair because unlike Cocker, LaVette has scads of original material. LaVette, now 69, has made music for decades, but she was a bit of a late bloomer on the commercial scene. She didn't achieve widespread recognition until she hit her 50s. Her 2012 album, “Thankful N’ Thoughtful” showcases her talent for interpreting the work of other artists, including covers Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” Bob Dylan’s “I’m Not There” and The Black Keys’ “I’m Not The One.”

About that Black Keys’ cover: “I find it interesting," she said, "and thoroughly entertaining to add age and experience to young writers’ songs and inhabit them myself ... I’m not sure what he (The Keys’ Dan Auerbach) was talking about, but I’m saying ‘Don’t fuck with me.’ ” LaVette's voice, like other contemporary greats Sharon Jones and Mavis Staples, has a smokiness and gravely quality that easily lends itself to soul, blues and rock.  She’s doing a four-day stint at Jazz Alley this week, so there are ample opportunities to catch her live.

If you go: Bettye LaVette, Jazz Alley, May 21-24 ($30.50). All ages — J.S.H.

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Credit: paulkuniholmpauper

Garden Party Theatre Sculpture Pop Up *

Ok, this looks fun: It’s Garden Party Theatre by Seattle artist Paul Kuniholm Pauper, who creates wearable artwork while championing the takeover of public spaces for the purpose of art. As if (some) folks on Capitol Hill don’t already demand a double take; expect to stare respectfully or participate yourself.

If you go: Garden Party Theatre, Cal Anderson Park in Seattle, 6 p.m. May 22 (Free) — F.D.

Northwest Folklife *

Japanese Taiko drumming, break dancing, funk music, artists from all over the globe and, of course, more “string” bands than you can shake a gnarled walking stick at. Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Folklife 2015!

The festival turns 44 this year and still takes place at Seattle Center. Wikipedia calls it the “largest festival of its kind” in North America, but that’s sort of an empty claim; there are no other festivals quite like Northwest Folklife. Simply showing up and walking around exposes you to a potpourri of music, dancing, food, etc. that almost defies explanation. You may find yourself wandering around for a while before you find something that truly piques your interest, but that’s all part of the fun. A few musical acts worth noting this year: Funky 2 Death (Friday), Pickled Okra (Saturday), Otieno Terry (Saturday), Baby Gramps (Saturday), Tomo Nakayama (Sunday) Low Hums (Monday) and Magical Strings (Monday).


If you go: Northwest Folklife Festival, Seattle Center, May 22-25 (Free). All ages — J.S.H.


This festival has an awe-inspiring lineup this time around, and this is the first time in recent memory that Sasquatch! has not sold out (as of May 20). If you like blazingly hip pop music and can handle rowdy, debaucherous crowds, Sasquatch is an incredible opportunity to see a ton of musicians in one place.

Many artists appearing here charge $30-$60 a ticket for exclusive performances the rest of the year, so as long as you keep moving from stage to stage, these tickets are a screaming deal at $350 for four days of music. It is true that music festivals feature shorter band sets and (sometimes) questionable audio quality. The trick is to get lost in the experience and accept it. Where else can you see Chromeo, Modest Mouse and Spoon all in one day? Here's a quick, day-by-day breakdown of (non-conflicting) acts worth catching:

Friday: Ayron Jones and the Way, Jungle, Slow Bird, Gogol Bordello, Little Dragon, Sleater-Kinney, Flume

Saturday: Murder Vibes, Acapulco Lips, The Budos Band, The War on Drugs, Chromeo, Glass Animals, Fuzz, Father John Misty, Modest Mouse, Spoon

Sunday: The Maldives, Kinski, Strand of Oaks, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Shaprece, St. Vincent, Jose Gonzalez, James Blake, SBTRKT

Monday: THEESatisfaction, Courtney Barnett, Broncho, Future Islands, Schoolboy Q, Tame Impala, Run The Jewels, Kendrick Lamar, Hot Chip


If you go: Sasquatch! The Gorge Amphitheatre, May 22-25 ($350). All ages — J.S.H.

Gastropod’s Chef Replacement Pop Up

In the not-too-distant future, my favorite Seattle restaurant — the Gastropod, food companion to Epic Ales — will be expanding to South Lake Union with its new curry and brew house, Mollusk. While the folks at Gastropod prepare for Chef Travis Kukull to move over to Mollusk, they’ll be hosting a couple of new chefs in their tiny, wonderful SoDo spot. If you sit at the counter, you can watch the chef bake Hama Hama oysters, salmon and Crème brûlée in just one small oven, putting the finishing touches on dishes with a torch, and harvesting a few microgreens from their perch in the window. Chef Sasha Rosenfeld (Artusi, Spinasse) stands in the weekend of May 19th, followed by Kim Sturts (of the former Carmelita) on Memorial Day weekend. The magic is always in the details (and imagination) at this micro-eatery­ — think sous vide beet egg, honey jalapeno kewpie mayo and carrot peach mostarda — and it will be fun to see how each guest chef plays.

If you go: Gastropod’s Chef Replacement Pop Up, Sasha Rosenfeld from May 19 to 23; Kim Sturts from May 25 to 29. — N.C.


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