With 345 acts on deck for the inaugural Upstream Music Fest + Summit, how to choose?
Three hundred and forty-five acts are on deck for the Upstream Music Fest + Summit 2017, a three-day celebration of Seattle music and visiting guests that takes place in 25 Pioneer Square venues Thursday-Sunday, May 11-13.
Obviously, no one can see more than a fraction of the talent on offer, but here is a list of 10 groups that may interest you, many with jazz or world music inclinations.
Thursday showcases two first-rate Seattle acts. The indie jazz band Industrial Revelation (8 p.m. Thursday, Court in the Square), with trumpet player (and performance artist) Ahamefule Oluo out front and drummer D’Vonne Lewis in back, specializes in an original brand of non-bebop-inspired jazz driven by rock and folk pulses that swell with melodic and rhythmic intensity.
Upstream Music Fest + Summit 2017
Thursday-Sunday, May 11-13, at CenturyLink Field and various other Pioneer Square venues; multiple ticket packages from single-day festival pass, $40, to three-day festival plus summit, $425 ( upstreammusicfest.com).
Thursday also brings Dave B (10 p.m. Thursday, Trinity Nightclub), whose atmospherically smooth, soul- and jazz-inspired mix of rapping and singing make him the one Seattle hip-hop artist likely to bust through the Emerald City ceiling soon.
RELATED: North by Northwest? Paul Allen’s Upstream music festival could be Seattle’s answer to Austin
Friday afternoon, Deep Sea Diver (5 p.m. Friday, Century Link Field, aka Main Stage), with scintillating ex-Shins singer/guitarist Jessica Dobson at the helm, brings its recently more dreamy rock to the spotlight, followed that evening by Seattle trio (9 p.m. Friday, Buttnick Building), whose infectious ear candy draws on surf pop, but has hints of R&B and good-natured ’80s New Wave.
The 10 p.m. Friday time slot may prompt some fans to split the difference between two worthy visitors. Fans of world music (and/or Pink Martini) should not miss Banda Magda (10 p.m. Friday, 88 Keys), an award-winning eight-piece formed in New York in 2010 and fronted by the perkily seductive Greek singer and accordionist Magda Giannikou, who covers the waterfront from French chanson to Columbian cumbia.
Most likely, bigger crowds will drift toward the brilliant rapper-producer (and grandnephew of John Coltrane) Flying Lotus (10 p.m. Friday, Mainstage), whose jagged, jazz-inspired collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg and his own album, “You’re Dead,” have catapulted him to stardom.
Bring it down a few notches Saturday afternoon with Seattle indie pop singer-songwriter Ings (4:15 p.m. Saturday, Court in the Square) who calls her fetchingly intimate, Bjork-like whispering and smart lyrics “lullaby rock.”
In the evening, catch Chimurenga Renaissance (7:45 p.m. Saturday, 88 Keys), an innovative pair that melds rap with atmospheric tradition. It’s a collaboration between percussionist and vocalist Tendai Maraire (of Shabazz Palaces) and guitarist Hussein Kalonji, both of distinguished lineages – Maraire’s father Dumi popularized Zimbabwean marimba music in the Northwest and Kalonji’s father Raymond “Braynck” Kalonji is a legendary guitarist of Congolese soukous music.
This is another time slot you may want to split, the better to catch expressive trombonist Naomi Moon Siegel (7:45 p.m. Saturday, Café Nordo), whose jazz background, like Industrial Revelation’s, is tempered by a folkish feel for melody.
Finally, do try to see En Canto (9:15 p.m. Saturday, 88 Keys), Seattle’s Brazilian group that specializes in the rhythmically galloping traditions called forró and choro, with compelling vocalist Adriana Giordano out front and accordion and flute percolating below.