We're partnering with Upstream Music Fest + Summit to bring the Pacific Northwest a whole new style of music festival we've never seen. Once a week for the next two months we'll be profiling local artists playing at the Festival, and speakers talking at the Summit - to start getting us all pumped up! If you're not recognizing any names - we encourage you to read on anyways. One of the main goals of Upstream is raising awareness of amazing local bands - that might not be on your radio (yet) - but are worth our time and attention.
Upstream is shaping up to be one of the biggest music festivals in the Northwest. And one thing you may not know is that there are literally dozens of guest curators helping to book the festival. These are people on the front lines of the local music scene working hard to bring the best and brightest musical acts to the show. We caught up with one of them at J&M Cafe in Pioneer Square (which will actually be one of the Upstream venues).
Michael Gill is one of the many guest curators for Upstream - in charge of booking individual stages, ensuring creatively deep and strong musical lineups throughout the festival. He also runs a company called Plus One Presents.
"Plus One has one night of kind of Punk Rock stuff and a night more on the Americana side," said Gill. "So we have a stage that the announced artists currently are Motopony and Boots to the Moon - and we have Lonely Mountain Lovers and... that's the only ones I can say right now."
Beyond creating an amazing festival for music lovers to attend, Upstream has its sights on growing the music industry here in Seattle and making connections with the tech community.
"To have the tech community and the music community really start locking in and start supporting each other... the potential there is really really huge," said Gill. "And I think it's kind of essential to Seattle right now."
Seattle has an amazing number of talented bands with breakout potential. Among them is Motopony.
Motopony is a five piece rock n roll band from Seattle.
"We play loud, fun shows," said Daniel Blue of Motopony. "Yeah! We play sort of folky, Northwest rock n roll."
They're actually going to release a single right after Upstream and tour a little bit in June, so needless to say they're getting excited for the summer. One of the members of Motopony fronts his own band, Boots to the Moon - which is also playing the festival.
"Boots to the Moon is a four piece rock n' roll group, we go by non-traditional space folk rock n' roll," said Josef Castor of Boots to the Moon. "We're excited to play Upstream! We just released a record a couple of months ago. We're working on a new one."
Unlike many festivals, Upstream will take place in lots of small clubs and non-traditional venues in and around Pioneer Square. Needless to say, it's awesome to see Pioneer Square putting some life and some live music back into its soul.
"It's really exciting," said Blue. "I think Upstream is kind of a showcase for some of the venues that are happening and also a lot of the local talent that's been brewing and feeding over the last couple of years."
And that local talent has high hopes for what this festival could mean for them.
"It feels like there's an investment, and I'm talking about green dollar bills - into the infrastructure and the economy of music," Blue continued. "And to have a live music town or a place where arts can shine - you need a platform, and things are expensive. Sound systems and venues are expensive are expensive things to run. And so people understanding that that is an investment that can grow and will return and actually putting their money where their mouth is is like - okay, like maybe this is going to like - maybe we'll be a rock star town. It'd be really exciting."