- Kelly O
- Bumbershoot 2014 was better than most recent Bumbershoots, aesthetically speaking.
One Reel, the company that manages the Bumbershoot Festival, has let go of its programming director Chris Porter. He had worked for One Reel and Bumbershoot for 18 years. Last year's schedule was one of the finest Bumbershoots in recent times, with artists like Negativland, the Dream Syndicate, Wu-Tang Clan, Jonathan Richman, Elvis Costello & the Impostors, Danny Brown, Chimurenga Renaissance, Mission of Burma, Jacco Gardner, and a fantastic tribute to Big Star's Third/Sister Lovers album.
Booking Bumbershoot is a very tough job and a delicate balancing act, from logistical and aesthetic standpoints. Porter acquitted himself well, year in and year out; trying to appeal to a wide range of people with diverse tastes while sticking to a budget and dealing with often-times massive musician and comedian egos sounds like a stressful occupation, no matter how you cut it.
Porter sent out an e-mail to the press, industry peers, and friends explaining the move.
As some of you may have been aware, One Reel has been going through financial challenges for a number of years now. Although we had some fantastic recent successes that put the company in a greatly improved situation, we unfortunately found ourselves in a dire financial situation late this past year in which a major business partnership was needed in order for the company as well as the Bumbershoot Festival to be able to move forward for future years. Subsequently One Reel, the City of Seattle, and AEG Live have been working toward such a partnership in recent weeks. Most aspects of this collaboration have been finalized. I suspect any further needed agreements will be taken care of later this month.
For a while it seemed that there was a good possibility for me to continue to work on Bumbershoot as I have been. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way and I now find myself in an unsatisfactory situation. So after 18 years of being Programming Director/Manager for One Reel events, I will be moving on from both One Reel and the Bumbershoot Festival.
This is admittedly a surreal and somewhat sad time for me. Bumbershoot has been my love, my art, and my living for quite a long time. The festival is the main reason I came to Seattle from Boston in 1997 and it’s one of the biggest reasons why I have remained so long. I’m truly very proud of every Bumbershoot and One Reel event I worked on and cherish my time with many wonderful colleagues and artists over the years. But nothing lasts forever and I’m frankly looking forward to a short break and a chance to explore other potential opportunities in the world. With over 25 years of music industry experience and being blessed with many great industry friends and contacts, I’m excited to make a change and see what’s next for me whether it be in Seattle or elsewhere in the world. In the meantime I will remain in Seattle working on a number of freelance event-related projects (including the main stage at the Fremont Fair and some other local events).
UPDATE: One Reel executive director Heather Smith, when asked who would replace Porter, replied: "AEGLive is booking music programming with Chad Queirolo heading that effort up. Our shared goal is to preserve the unique character of the Festival, which has a strong local flavor across many art disciplines."