Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival 2013
Seattle Center – Seattle, Wa
Saturday, August 31
It’s a real treat when you have an entire day off to see music. This can ricochet in your mind, while desperately working up a buzz out of claustrophobia, and a true urge to embrace that carpe diem rush and pressure that one gets at large scale music festivals. Seattle‘s annual Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival was my opportunity to see soul music for the first time and catch some sweet comic book artists that I enjoy. I arrived ready to navigate its enormity. It was a day that began with half-assed scheduling to catch those “must-see” acts, eventually leading to the lesson of letting go, sitting back, grabbing whatever gigantic joint is being passed around by drunk and loudly conversating teenage delinquents at the Charles Bradley set, getting over that fact, and, finally, just enjoying the show.Fantagraphics Books‘ showcase, Fantagraphic Follies took the freaking cake. Fantagraphics is the publisher of The Comics Journal, as well as the home to some of the world’s best cartoonists. There that day were some of Seattle’s greats. It was like this handful of people had completely mastered the human intrigue and attention span, so they put together a completely fun and interesting hour with a late night show setup. Fantagraphics curator, Larry Reid, hosted a sit down-style couch-interviewing process and emceed throughout the night. Seattle resident and legendary cartoonist, Jim Woodring was there with his giant quill pen that measured seven plus feet, continuously dipping it into a huge, goofy pail of ink. Throughout the course of the show, he drew what was promised to be a chicken. Handsomely raising and furrowing his brow, and rubbing his chin, he was truly creating what reminded me of one of his “Jerry Chickens,” a sort of reoccurring creature in the magnificently philosophical and symbolic Frank comics, which I’m personally obsessed with. He promoted his last book Congress of Animals and upcoming release, Fran.
Seattle cartoonist and teacher, Ellen Forney narrated a slideshow of scenes from her new book Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Novel. It was different to see her introducing something so personal, with me only being familiar with her work illustrating the Lust Lab personals section for local weekly, The Stranger. She opened up about her personal experiences having bi-polar disorder with confidence, wit, and a point to bring awareness.
Eroyn Franklin did a shadow puppet show that was brilliant! Villages rejoiced and burned to beautiful music, while Intruder Comics‘ Max Clotfelter, Kelly Froh, and another worked together to move the story in giggly comradery. The images and color scheme were breathtaking. Eroyn Franklin and Kelly Froh are both artists who’ve founded Seattle Short Run, the city’s first indie Zine and Small Press Fest that is growing wildly more successful over time! Kelly followed up with a hilarious and charming slideshow comic about her move from Wisconsin to Seattle in the nineties. She was destitute, young, and starry-eyed, and the turn of events was familiar and hysterical. I was both moved to tears and doubled over in enjoyment. The two artists were exciting and inspiring, and I couldn’t stop thinking about them all day.
Danny Bland read from his book, In Case We Die, a sort of beat evoking grunge-era novel. And this whole time Peter Bagge, cartoonist of ‘90s alternative comic, Hate, performed sideshow music in and out of bits with Sub Pop/K Records production giant, Steve Fisk, completed with quirky female retro-pop vocals and surf qualities. Appropriately, they were called Can You Imagine? and the musical refreshment was a hoot, along with Larry Reid consistently cracking jokes and keeping the mood light. I was grinning ear to ear and shifting in my seat constantly. I have never had so much fun. I left inspired by the creativity and the format in which I had experienced everything. There is no way that there was a single ornery soul that evening.
Before Bumbershoot, I had recently watched Soul of America, the biopic about Charles Bradley released last year. I balled my eyes out while no one was home, and was completely head over heels for the sixty-something Daptone Records soul singer. It was incredible to me that I would have the privilege of seeing real live soul music in a time where his sound, primarily, only exists in deep soul blogs and reissues. I was concerned about whether or not I’d get emotional… like it mattered, like I was going to be saved that Saturday. Charles Bradley grinded, sweating and shining, while the pit in front of me floated with couples dancing and drinking. I felt like I came into the set with this 1970s romance that was quickly dampened by the audience, but once I worked my way passed that, I saw Charles as a true entertainer with an amazing endurance that was both intoxicating and infectious. The night felt sweltering and left me reeling for the Maceo Parker set that was nearing.
Though I had already heard Maceo Parker over and over, I had no idea who the seventy-year-old saxophonist and bandleader was until I arrived that Saturday. I then learned that he was a member of both James Brown‘s band and Parliament Funkadelic. He was a rippin’ soloist for these two and toured with both of them. Since the 1990s, Parker has released eleven solo albums and constantly tours Europe‘s jazz festival circuit, where music lovers celebrate his music, billing him as “the greatest little funk orchestra“–no kidding on that one, I learned. I was completely set free by his funky soul. The abundance of soloing from the ridiculously talented musicians that form his band blew my hair back. I had never really seen music like that before. Regardless of wherever we all were coming from taste-wise, I feel that Maceo took us somewhere joyous and absolutely bad! I grooved like my dad jamming to 80s audiophile music and Winamp vizualizations past midnight. I forgot where I was and felt like his band had invited me there and was happy to see me. I truly loved the transport and absorbed every vibe they threw my way.
It was a riot ending the night on such a high note. I felt completely satisfied from what was, sort of, an awesome music and arts sampler, and will absolutely do another festival thing again. I got what I came for and went home totally taxed in a dreamy, positive way.