Three years ago, Nathan Donnell attended the first official meeting of Seattle DIY, a local collective dedicated to community building and the do-it-yourself ethos. "I went expecting to be quiet among a ton of people, but there was almost no one there," said Donnell. "I proposed the idea of a DIY festival, and we all knew that it had to happen."
The freshly minted collective got to work on what would become the first Carousel Festival, a weekend of house shows and workshops with all of the proceeds going to local nonprofits. The first two years of the festival, Donnell found the responsibilities of planning a multivenue weekend of music—on top of a full-time job and the responsibilities of booking weekly house shows—overwhelming. But with two years of experience booking the festival and a team of volunteers helping out, things have gotten easier. "The first year was sort of a test run," he says. "Every year has gotten better and better."
Each year the bands have been more amazing than the last, the size of the festival has grown, and Seattle DIY has raised money for local nonprofits such as Country Doctor, Home Alive, and CARA—groups the collective believes are making the city a better place.
This year's Carousel Festival takes place August 22 to 24 at six venues across the city, with most of the weekend's all-ages shows happening at various houses. Its third year is going to be better than ever, with a bigger and more diverse lineup of bands that easily blows away last year's.
Forty bands from around the Pacific Northwest will be playing, including Karl Blau, Starfucker, BlöödHag, TacocaT, Seahouse, Futurephones, the Helm, Cutloose, the Pharmacy, Wah Wah Exit Wound, to name a few. Alaskas, the solo project of charming, emotional guitar guru Dylan James, plays the festivities on Friday; Seattle party band Champagne Champagne will destroy a sweaty basement Saturday night; and local folk hero and recent megastar Kimya Dawson performs Sunday's festival show at the Fusion Cafe, a gig for which she turned down an opportunity to play at Bumbershoot.
It's been an exciting summer of festivals and shows, but, with its DIY approach and community spirit, none are more inspiring than this weekend's Carousel Festival.