As with every year, I am impressed with the diverse schedule of music and film, and several of the musicians in particular have been hype-worthy for me, in particular Mark Taylor, Steve Lehman, Dafnis Prieto and Agogic, and the Brian Blade Fellowship, but there really is something for everyone.
There’s some talk that the turn-out hasn’t been great for some shows, but that seems to me to be par for the course at Earshot, and an understandable side effect of a festival that can book Robert Glasper, Charlie Musselwhite, and Steve Lehman in the same festival.
In addition, you’ve got multiple shows going on at the same time sometimes, so the audiences are split, not to mention that at 20-25 bucks a pop folks like me are going to pick and choose what they can afford to go to.
I can specifically remember going to festival events in the past that were on both sides of the attendance spectrum (Manuel Valera and Kris Davis are two concerts where I remember thinking there should be way more people there, while Ravi Coltrane’s first appearance at the festival I nearly didn’t get into), and I’ve talked with some musician friends of mine that know for a fact some acts are booked for the festival with full knowledge that they might not necessarily bring an incredible amount of listeners, but the music is bad-ass, so Earshot does it anyway. I really admire that.
I’m also really happy that Earshot continues to feature local groups as well as out-of-town groups. Hardcoretet was fortunate enough to have our cd release party as part of the Festival last year, and who knows? Maybe we will have the chance again, but until then there are plenty of top-notch Seattle musicians on the schedule, all of them well worth supporting (Mark Taylor and the Teaching both come to mind).
A coworker took his family to see the Darius Jones Trio on Saturday. He didn’t know Jones’ music, he just knew that Earshot was going on and wanted to see at least one concert and take his kids too. I was able to forward him this post from Destination: OUT on the trio’s New York appearance and their most recent release. He soon realized Darius and company was a little outside of his comfort zone, but enjoyed the show anyway and was glad he went. I think it’s safe to say he never would have gone to see, much less heard of, the Darius Jones trio if not for the Earshot Festival, which is as strong a piece of testimony as I can think of for the value of the Festival (not that I ever thought its value was in question).
What does Earshot mean for local musicians the rest of the year? Not much, in my opinion. The festival is a great platform to have in the moment, but once that time is over, it doesn’t really lead to much else, and although the Earshot organization does have some concert series at other parts of the year, they don’t seem to me to do much more in terms of a band’s promotion than a gig that the band went out and booked itself would. That said, I always look forward to Fall in Seattle, I check out the artists list as soon as its announced, and I hope Earshot continues for a long, long time.