Half Sister, half of whose members live in Ballard will perform at Bumbershoot this weekend.
Ballard and West Seattle artists will perform at Bumbershoot
By Sarah Wyatt
Make plans this Labor Day weekend to watch a group of zombie impersonators, nationally-recognized comedians, a country rock band, and a Shakespeare improvisational troupe.
What is this creative assortment that has landed upon Jet City, you ask? It’s Bumbershoot, the Pacific Northwest diverse annual arts event that takes over Seattle Center on Labor Day weekend. With artists emanating from a diverse range of performing, visual and literary genres, the festival demonstrates the varied nature of the arts and culture scene in the Pacific Northwest and internationally.
Dan Niven performs as a Dickens Caroler, and as a musician. Niven’s busiest performing role at the moment, however, is singing with longtime festival standout, the Total Experience Gospel Choir (TEGC), led by Pastor Pat Wright. The group performs in West Seattle regularly, including a date a few weeks ago at Hiawatha Park, attended by more than 600 people.
In years past, the chorus performed up to three different repertoires for a total of four performances over the long festival weekend, in Portland and at Bumbershoot. The group provided accompaniment to the popular music group Heart, featuring Seattle sister-act Ann and Nancy Wilson. The group is taking a break from Bumbershoot this year but plans to participate in future festivals.
Niven believes his work with the choir is an effort that addresses his artistic and altruistic interests.
“Several of our thirty-year-plus members have literally grown up in the choir,” Niven said. “Others have seen us in concert, and find themselves moving past ‘I want to listen to that’ to ‘I want to be part of that.’ We come from all walks and are a multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and multi-faith entity. We’re a choir family, raising money for worthy domestic and international causes and doing hands-on hurricane and tsunami relief work. In short, we endeavor to shrink the world, and that’s a pretty good gig.”
A few members of the eight-person improv team, Half Sister, live in Ballard.
“We've performed improv at the Ballard Underground, and we're big Sunday Farmers Market fans,” said Matt Eaton, who belongs to the team.
Half Sister will be performing a fully improvised show called Tattprov.
“What makes our show unique is that we'll ask our audience to draw tattoo designs when they enter and then one member of our group will get an actual tattoo of one of those designs live onstage,” Eaton explained. “We're working with a great tattoo artist, Joby Dorr, from Artcore Tattoo Studios. We have no idea what audience members will draw, so this could end up being a bad decision for one of us. Whatever the case, it should be an interesting time!”
The group believes performing at the festival could be a big step in the troupe’s careers.
“Bumbershoot is gargantuan,” Eaton said. “While it may be a large-scale festival, it's great that it is a place that features local acts. We're amazed that locals like us are performing in a festival that headlines the Macklemores, Billy Idols and Death Cab for Cuties of the world.”
Spoken Word and West Seattle
West Seattle resident and performance artist, Namii, will be performing "Swing" on Sunday afternoon at the Theater Puget Sound (TPS) stage.
"Namii uses her body to bring you into her bizarre world of tassel twirls and freedom marches,” explained Shane Regan, who curates the TPS programming. “In ‘Swing,’ she weaves spoken word, dance, and burlesque…"
Namii especially appreciates the diversity of the artistic offerings at the festival.
“Bumbershoot has not only launched many artistic careers, it gives local artist a chance to gain new audiences,” Namii said. “The fact that Bumbershoot not only accepts diverse talent but seeks out the queer, the abstract, the controversial, and leaves it to the viewers to decide what they want to engage in.”
Local residents who are not performing at the event are nonetheless excited about the festival. Cortney Marabetta, is web developer who lives Seaview neighborhood. She enjoys watching lesser-known music groups get their starts at Bumbershoot.
“It’s interesting that a local band will be listed on lower part of the program, but then they’ll show up again later in a few years listed on top,” Marabetta said. “I think professional development for bands, they can get it at Bumbershoot.”
Single-day tickets to Bumbershoot are $99 plus ticket fees, if purchased in advance. Single-day tickets for seniors age 70 will be admitted for free with official ID. Children ages 8 and under are admitted for free with an accompanying adult. For more ticket information, visit bumbershoot.org.