July 9, 2020
Brangien Davis

This week marks the launch of two new cultural festivals — one that calls itself a boutique approach to music-a-paloozas, and the other devoted to music, arts and culture from the Arctic Circle (now that's boutique!). I’m arts writer Brangien Davis with this week's news.


What's Thing? The Northwest's newest festival

A photo of artist Black Belt Eagle ScoutBlack Belt Eagle Scout plays the new Thing festival in Port Townsend. (Photo by Sarah Cass)

48 years after Bumbershoot’s debut as the “Mayor’s Arts Festival” on the Seattle Center campus, a new Northwest music, arts and literary (plus one magician) festival debuts in Port Townsend this weekend. Called simply, Thing, the festival is the brainchild of Sasquatch! founder Adam Zacks, who in an interview with Crosscut contributor Charles R. Cross says this boutique festival “is about my inclination to support the underdogs.” The lineup — curated with an eye toward an intriguing mix, rather than red-hot trends — includes old-school faves such as Violent Femmes and De La Soul, plus local up-and-comers like Seattle-based siblings The Black Tones and Swinomish Reservation-raised Black Belt Eagle Scout. And if you’re out there among the bunkers, don’t miss the live reading of An Officer and a Gentleman, the 1982 movie filmed in Port Townsend. Richard Gere and Debra Winger not included. (Thing festival at historic Fort Worden in Port Townsend, WA; Aug. 24-25. Single-day tickets sold out. Two-day tickets $249.50)

Get the founder's thinking behind Thing

Photo of thing arts and music festival founder Adam Zacks

Sasquatch is dead. On to the next big Thing

by Charles R. Cross

Thing founder Adam Zacks says his new boutique music festival is for the underdogs. Read more

An ad for the Port Townsend Film Festival

Port Townsend Film Festival


Film, events, filmmaker panels, food, and a free movie each night under the stars on Port Townsend's historic waterfront with special guests Stephen Tobolowsky and Cheryl Strayed. » Get tickets


Close out summer with Nordic Sól

Inuk throat singer Alexia Galloway-AlaingaInuk throat singer Alexia Galloway-Alainga is part of the indigenous lineup at the Circumpolar Hip Hop Collab during Nordic Sól. (Photo by Mads Suhr Pettersen, courtesy National Nordic Museum)

Arctic vendors, polar artisans, Inuit sports and indigenous film shorts — the inaugural Nordic Sól festival features one of the most intriguing lineups in Seattle. Held at the National Nordic Museum in Ballard, the arctic extravaganza is a rare gathering of artists, singers and speakers who hail from inside the Arctic Circle. In addition to sharing cultural traditions via food, fashion and artisanal crafts, Nordic Sól is hosting a PechaKucha event (in which each presenter is held to a strict 20 slides at 20 seconds each), where scientists, indigenous designers, writers and teachers will reveal how climate change has hit the Arctic region. Especially exciting is the Circumpolar Hip Hop Collab, a concert of Inuk and Sámi performers from Greenland, Finland and the uppermost regions of Canada. Hearty souls (who register in advance) can test their mettle during the displays of Arctic Sports by champion Kyle Kaayák’w Worl. Your reward? A visit to the aquavit garden. (National Nordic Museum, Aug. 24-25, prices vary per event.)

More PNW links to far-out regions

Photo of a spacesuit used by astronaut John Young and a F-1 rocket engine inside the Museum of Flight's Destination Moon exhibit.

The Pacific Northwest's enduring influence on space exploration

by Knute Berger

The Museum of Flight’s Destination Moon exhibit charts the history of the moon landing, but it also calls to mind the future of space travel being launched in our own backyard. Read more


Rock the roof at Pike Place Market

Photo of the band, The Head and the Heart
The Head and the Heart (Photo by Vince Aung) 

It might not have the wow factor of the Beatles playing live atop the Apple Corps HQ in 1969, or even Mudhoney playing live atop the Space Needle in 2013. Nonetheless! It’s definitely going to be a good time when Seattle-born band The Head and the Heart plays a “homecoming” show from the roof of the Pike Place Market this weekend. The indie-folk band got its start at Conor Byrne Pub in Ballard, and skyrocketed to wider fame with several infectious, tambourine-shaking hits, including “Rivers and Roads.” Sure, the band has a new album out (Living Mirage), but here’s hoping their promoter has given them this sage advice: When you’re rocking out on top of a historic landmark, you’d do best to “just play the hits!” (Pike Place Market, Aug. 25, 7 p.m. Free)

Hope to see you next year, Hempfest

A U.S. flag flies in front of a hemp leaf at Hempfest

The Pacific Northwest's enduring influence on space exploration

by Bruce Barcott

The annual "protestival" challenged the culture to think differently about cannabis. Now that it does, the future of the prominent weed festival looks hazy. Read more

Catch kiln-glass fever

Marianne NicolsonBAM director and 'Emerge/Evolve' juror Benedict Heywood calls this kiln glass piece ("Bones—Group" by Evelyn Gottschall Baker) "crazily good." (Courtesy Bellevue Arts Museum)

Despite its dominance in the Seattle glass-art sphere — thanks to legions of Chihuly devotees — blown glass isn’t the only glass game in town. Kiln glass (aka glass fusing) is a technique that involves layering panels, chunks, thin strips and ground-up bits of colored glass on top of each other, then putting the whole puzzle in a kiln and heating it until all parts fuse and form into one piece. Like a layered cake, individual elements are still visible, but the unexpected textures can result in pieces looking more like plastic, felt, wax or bone than glass. In the new exhibit Emerge/Evolve, Bellevue Arts Museum showcases some of the best new kiln glass from around the world. The 32 works on display include those by 10 award winners from the 2018 Emerge/Evolve kiln-glass competition held biennially by Bullseye Glass Co. in Portland, OR. The surprising array might just change the way you see glass. (Bellevue Arts Museum, Aug. 23-Jan. 12, $12-$15)

More miracles in small spaces

Actors perform on a stage set up to look like a bar

'The Bar Plays' serves 'full, joyful, flawed humanity' on the rocks

by Misha Berson

At Washington Hall, a Seattle theater company celebrates the comfort of a 'third place.' Read more


Penny for your thoughts

A photo of the outside of Town Hall on Seneca St & 8th Ave
The newly renovated Town Hall Seattle. (Photo by Rick Sood)

As climate change becomes ever more tangible, we’re seeing more books, more talks, more dire warnings from experts. In this installment of Penny University at Town Hall, nonexperts take the floor for a discussion of how to approach this global crisis. Participants are asked to imagine themselves as a “Climate Crisis Response Team,” suddenly put in the position of tackling a climate emergency. Guided by prompts and questions from several team leaders — including series founder and longtime Seattle arts supporter and cultural activist Anne Focke — the group will need to make quick decisions after establishing the highest priorities. What’s the best use of time, money and policy? The clock is ticking and the planet awaits your wisdom. (Town Hall Seattle, Aug. 22, free)

Another venue for big ideas

Architect David Miller looks at Seattle's partially demolished Alaskan Way Viaduct

What comes after the Viaduct? This Seattle architect has big ideas

by Brad Curran

In the latest episode of The Teardown, David Miller contemplates the role of Seattle's Viaduct in his life and his city, as well as his role in unmaking it. Read more

Thanks for reading! Please share with your friends. And if someone forwarded this to you, subscribe here

Have feedback? Let us know.

*Advertisers have no control over editorial decisions or content.