From modest beginnings as a sidewalk sale 32 years ago, the West Seattle Summer Fest has grown into a full-fledged fam-friendly happening with three days of music, art, beer, food, and face painting (so essential)—all in a neighborhood that remains one of my favorites of the ones you have to cross a bridge to reach. Not too big, not too small, West Seattle is like your chill friend you wish you saw more—it's got its own thing going on, but it doesn't go out of its way to be too rich, too funky, too scummy, or too hip. It's just happy you're hanging out.
This year's Fest features a (mostly) local music lineup spanning sweaty rock 'n' roll to tender folk to spacey electronic to sparkly indie rock with all sorts of weird and wonderful in between, AND it's totally free. Sound fun? Let's meet everyone:
Squirrel Butter: This duo, comprising Charmaine Li-Lei Slaven and Charlie Beck, performs folk, blues, Appalachian, and other old-timey music (and Li-Lei Slaven is also a talented buck dancer)!
Rat City Brass: Herb Alpert was so inspired by a mariachi band playing at a bullfight in Tijuana, Mexico, that he made Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass (and subsequently some of the funniest album covers you'll find in used bins); Rat City Brass are seven musicians so inspired by Tijuana Brass, they formed to bring you "mid-century pop" for your dancing pleasure.
Vaudeville Etiquette: A handsome quartet making finger-snappy, bluesy, swingy folk/country with bittersweet twang and tightly drawn harmonies.
Killer Ghost: Shaggy, surfed-out graveyard garage with spazzy reverb in the vein of the Growlers and the Black Lips.
Magic Mirrors: Lanky rock 'n' roll with the swagger of Marc Bolan and Tom Petty wrapped in an American flag from the early '70s.
Country Lips: A sweaty, honky-tonkin' country-music band that our own Trent Moorman once accurately described as a "merry band of shitkickers," the Country Lips want all the spots on your dance card.
Hobosexual: Two dudes (Ben Harwood, Jeff Silva) with great hair making loud-ass, VHS-inspired, hot-blooded, sensual-chain-saw rawk with sizzling riffs and a sense of humor, god damn it.
Yada Yada Blues Band: A quintet aiming to blow the dust off deep, slow-burning blues cuts from the '60s and '70s—they describe their repertoire as one that "dips in the well of Freddie King's Leon Russell days."
Two Story Zori: Northwest reggae by way of the Pacific Islands, with members hailing from Hawaii, Samoa, Guam, Vietnam, and the Philippines (and Oklahoma!).
Sundae + Mr. Goessl: A 1930s-inspired duo of guitarist Jason Goessl and singer Kate Voss (whose sugary-cool voice absolutely nails it).
Fysah and the Soul Acoustic: Sultry and sparkly soul courtesy of the very talented singer/guitar maven Fysah Sands.
Sweet Jesus: Sweet Jesus is the fictional protagonist in the New Testamen—er, oops, no wait. The band Sweet Jesus are a folk/psych group with modern indie-rock sensibilities.
Charms: A trio making melodic, indie-leaning, noisy pop that one might put in the "glimmering post-punk" category (pretty sure that's a category).
The Fabulous Downey Brothers: Hilarious/terrifying (hilarifying!), hard-tripping, Oompa-Loompa/Weird Al/Fred Schneider spazz-core freak pop with a cherry on top.
Spinning Whips: Hard-edged, slinky psychedelic soul featuring the incendiary energy of frontman Jordan West of Iceage Cobra.
Dude York: Rock 'n' roll mixed with handfuls of punk, pop, sadness, happiness, freaking out and then getting it back together, and emotional fun, all tied together with top-notch "my heart is on fucking fire" vocals.
Vox Mod: Galactic shaman Vox Mod is an electronic musician/producer about whom The Stranger's Charles Mudede recently wrote: "He is about the future of our city space and the future of our outer space—planets, starships, astronauts, and glittering rings of Saturn." A sentence I will not attempt to top.
The Moondoggies: Gracefully rugged vintage rock with faded-bell-bottom riffs and masculine harmonies.
The Helio Sequence: A duo of singer/guitarist Brandon Summers and keyboardist/drummer Benjamin Weikel making tried/true bright/shiny indie for relaxing in the sun with a melty rocket pop.
Carrie Akre: The stripped-down and serenely emotional solo works of golden-voiced singer/guitarist/badass Ms. Akre (of '90s Seattle underground bands Hammerbox and Goodness).
Stag: Energetic power pop with an all-star cast including Ben London of Alcohol Funnycar, Steve Mack of That Petrol Emotion, Pete Everett of Tuffy, Rob Dent of Jackie on Acid, and Lincoln Barr of Red Jacket Mine.
The Darci Carlson Band: The sultry-voiced Darci Carlson knows her way around an acoustic guitar and a classic country ballad, channeling a little Stevie Nicks and Courtney Love while she's at it.
The Foghorns: The alt-folk project of Bart Cameron and friends that matches simple roots tunes with sadly sweet and honest lyrics sung with an open heart and a wobbly voice (the best kind of wobbly).
Billy Dwayne and the Creepers: Ballard-based no-bullshit rolled-cuffs rockabilly.