Pushing 30, Looking Ahead
It’s hard to believe that Nonsequitur is about to enter its 30th year. But here we are, on the threshold of adulthood at last! Approaching this next big anniversary, it feels like a good time to reassess and make some resolutions for the future.
Seattle has a remarkably rich and diverse avant music community, with many artists across multiple generations doing excellent work that rarely attracts large audiences and finds few hospitable venues. The extent of this activity is astonishing; consider that the ten nights per month of the Wayward Music Series are consistently booked six to eight months out with challenging and innovative music and sonic art that relatively few people are aware of – contemporary classical, free improvisation, abstract electronic music, and other experimental oddities. We’d like to see those artists stick around. But as more and more Seattle artists are forced out of town by the current housing crisis, it seems urgent that we deepen our commitment to those who remain.
Seattle’s ongoing feeding frenzy of inflated home prices, skyrocketing rents, and bidding wars inevitably leads to the displacement of the working class, people of color, and artists. As neighborhood after neighborhood falls to speculative development, the entire city becomes unaffordable for anyone who didn’t buy early or isn’t making six figures. People do what they can to hang on – downsize, work extra day jobs, hustle more mainstream music gigs, get roommates, rent out rooms on AirBnB, give up studio spaces. But many are leaving, sometimes to the (slightly) cheaper suburbs (where the process repeats), and often to another city or state or country entirely.
So an adjustment of our priorities seems warranted. Nonsequitur will still subsidize the Wayward Series at the Chapel, and we will continue to present one or two shows each month as part of it. But in the coming year and for the indefinite future, we intend to shift our focus away from bringing in artists from out of town and to instead devote those resources to supporting local artists – especially those who do not own homes or have comfy day jobs – with more substantial artist fees and help with ambitious projects that they might not otherwise be able to afford to do.
We know this is a drop in the ocean, that Seattle is probably destined to become the next Bay Area or New York City, that people will still leave. But we feel obligated to show solidarity with those who are the lifeblood of our local cultural scene, and who are still valiantly trying to make a go of it.
33rd Seattle Improvised Music Festival, Feb. 10-17, 2018
Nonsequitur has long been a sponsor of what is believed to be the longest running festival of freely improvised music in North America. This year, we take on more of an organizational role. We have been awarded a generous grant from 4Culture to help fund an expanded version of the festival, which will take place over eight days in seven different venues: Gallery 1412, Hollow Earth Radio, the Royal Room, Spite House, Vermillion, Cornish, and the Good Shepherd Center Chapel.
Likewise, we’ve grown our organizing team this year from three to five people, representing multiple generations and segments of the improvised music community: along with myself (Steve Peters), the team includes Amy Denio (long-time Seattle multi-instrumentalist, veteran of many past SIMFs), James Falzone (clarinetist, recent Chicago transplant, and head of Cornish Music Dept.), Haley Freedlund (trombonist and Racer Sessions curator), and Chris Icasiano (drummer in Bad Luck and Table & Chairs co-founder).
This year’s visiting guest artists include saxophonist Logan Hone (LA), bassist Evan Lipson (Philadelphia), cellist Tomeka Reid (Chicago/NYC), flutist Jane Rigler (LA/Colorado Springs), bassist Carmen Rothwell (Seattle/NYC), and two icons of American free improvisation – guitarist Davey Williams (Birmingham, AL) and saxophonist Jack Wright (Philadelphia). They will be joined by a stellar line-up of local musicians and dancers, most of whom have never performed at SIMF before.
Please check the full festival schedule for details and updates, and follow us on Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram.
10 Years of Wayward Music!
It hardly seems possible, but January 2017 marks ten years since our first show here at the Good Shepherd Center Chapel, thus initiating the Wayward Music Series. Since then there have been roughly 1200 concerts here, presented by local producers and independent artists specializing in an astonishing range of adventurous music and sound art.
Our goals remain primarily artist-driven: to provide a hospitable well-equipped home for musics that are outside of the mainstream and lacking other venues. As Seattle becomes less and less affordable and increasingly hostile to non-commercial artists, alternative venues that aren’t about making money are endangered. The current real estate crisis only makes our mission more vital. Every time an artist moves away or can’t find a place to present their work because of prohibitively high rents, the cultural life of our city suffers.
These artists, who take risks making creative, challenging music, who typically play for small audiences and are rarely covered in the local press or heard on local radio, are who we strive to support and serve. They literally make the Wayward Series happen; without this creative community, Wayward would have no reason to exist. So if you appreciate that this project continues, thank the artists and continue to support them by coming to shows.
We are always open to new artists who have never played a Wayward show, so if you think what you do fits with what we do – contemporary classical, free improvisation, out jazz, abstract electronic and electro-acoustic music, sound art, invented instruments, etc. – please read this and drop us a note. Onward into the future!