The Urgent Care clinic where I work was closed for a few days, so we drove to the city. Seattle is home to one of the largest music festivals in the world, Northwest Folklife. Folklife features thousands of good-to-excellent performers who are not particularly famous. They sell a wide variety of food, clothes and craft goods there, but all the performances are FREE. They accomplish this through the “loaves and fishes” method. At each venue, angels carrying a sign and a plastic jug walk through gathering spare change and bills. You give according to your means and ability to appreciate the music being offered. The festival is run entirely by volunteers, and aside from tips to buskers, the artists are compensated only by the love and applause of the crowds.
It’s a good showcase for ambitious newcomers, and an opportunity for players from anywhere to network and jam together. Thousands of colorful human characters also attend, and it’s almost as much fun to look as it is to listen.
This year’s cultural emphasis was on India. It was my first time seeing traditional and classical Indian dance live. We also watched troupes perform Filipino, Polynesian, Hawaiian and Native American dances and songs.
There were about 20 stages all around the Seattle Center. I saw performances at 14 of them. The weather was fine, and there were so many kinds of good music! There were Irish pipers, Japanese taiko drummers, bluegrass, soul and funk bands on the indoor and outdoor stages. People were playing instruments I can’t even spell.
All along the sidewalks and hills small groups were trading licks and harmonizing. Mary and I danced to a Middle School swing band. I ate Kenyan food and drank Thai iced tea. Music unifies the world. It refreshes my spirit.