Queen Creole: Mélissa Laveaux on telling Haiti’s story through folksong, spirituals and Vodou

The Canadian singer’s striking new album is themed around the US occupation of her parents’ homeland – but is a lilting, joyful record about omens, civil treachery and sexuality

Mélissa Laveaux: ‘One of my dreams is to write a song for Eurovision.’

Mélissa Laveaux: ‘One of my dreams is to write a song for Eurovision.’
Photograph: Romain Staropoli

On a dull January afternoon, Mélissa Laveaux arrives at her record label’s Paris office apologising for her lateness. Disorganisation is, she says, a lifelong affliction.But the 33-year-old is in the middle of so many self-directed projects that it’s hard to take her claims too seriously. It takes a polymath to simultaneously mastermind a play about Haitian spirits, a multimedia project about a 19th-century sculptor and an album about the American occupation of Haiti in the early 20th century.

The album is Radyo Siwèl, Laveaux’s third: a lilting, burnished, joyful full-band collection that combines Haitian kompa guitar with calypso and soca, courtesy of Toronto-based Trinidadian guitarist Drew Gonsalves.

Laveaux moved to France 10 years ago when Paris-based label No Format offered to release her music. Born to Haitian parents in Ottawa, she describes her childhood as traditional, though with one missing aspect – her parents wanted Laveaux and her sister to assimilate and speak perfect English and French, so refused to teach them Creole. “All the cool Haitian kids spoke Creole. It felt like a sorority we didn’t have access to,” says Laveaux. “It felt like something was missing.”

Immersion in Creole culture was one of the prompts to make this album. The other was a childhood love that Laveaux’s parents did foster, of the Haitian singer and activist Martha Jean-Claude. Laveaux first heard her aged six, and started playing her songs after she got her first guitar following her first trip to Haiti, aged 12. “When I moved to Paris, one of the artists that still carried me was Martha Jean-Claude,” she says. An invitation to perform her songs at a benefit for the 2010 Haitian earthquake didn’t pan out, but it did turn into an obsessive research project.

But the more she learned about Jean-Claude, the bigger the project got. She hadn’t known that the country was under American occupation between 1915 and 1934. “Nobody had told me!” Laveaux says. “I felt very cheated by my parents.” She decided to make her second trip to Haiti, researching at institutions including the Centre d’Art, still in a state of disrepair following the earthquake. “I was afraid I wouldn’t be claimed by other Haitians, but people kept thinking I was somebody’s daughter, and urging me to speak Creole. I felt claimed,” she says. She took pride in finding that her music had been bootlegged, distributed and stored in the National Archives.

Listen to Lè Ma Monte Chwal Mwen, the opening track on Mélissa Laveaux’s new album

Laveaux returned to Paris overwhelmed with books and CDs of traditional songs: voudou spirituals such as Legba Na Konsole, and folk songs, including Kouzen, which Jean-Claude recorded during her exile in Cuba. She decided to parse the “chaos”, as she calls it, by taking inspiration from sci-fi and refashioning her own narrative of the US occupation from the songs she found, referencing omens, civil treachery and voudou’s exuberant, complex depiction of sexuality, which the occupiers had tried to suppress. The album contains one track of her own, Jolibwa, about the population protesting the imprisonment of journalist Joseph Jolibois by dancing outside his cell (Jolibois died in jail in 1936). She was pleased by recent footage from New York that saw a group of Haitians protesting outside Trump Tower by dancing in the streets after news emerged that the President had allegedly called Haiti a “shithole”.

‘There’s not a lot of visibility for black women with guitars unless you’re playing blues or singing gospel.’

‘There’s not a lot of visibility for black women with guitars unless you’re playing blues or singing gospel.’ Photograph: David Wolff – Patrick/Redferns via Getty Images

Despite its heavy historical themes, Radyo Siwèl is a beautifully light record. Levity is key to sustaining the energy to fight, says Laveaux, who calls France “a super-sexist country” and says she wasn’t at all surprised by the recent backlash against #MeToo by certain French actresses. “This meme keeps going around online, ‘I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams’ – and I’m like, I hope I am! They couldn’t have gone through all that sacrifice without thinking something better’s gonna come.”

Laveaux struggles with her place in an industry where she doesn’t see herself represented. “There’s not a lot of visibility for black women with guitars unless you’re playing blues or singing gospel. And if I wasn’t playing guitar, then people are like: ‘Cool, R&B!’ If I don’t make R&B, do I have any longevity in my career?” But she keeps the faith that “if I just make really good work, people will listen to it”.

In the absence of contemporary peers, Laveaux is looking to history for inspiration. She recalls as a child seeing an image of Sister Rosetta Tharpe. “Without that, I wouldn’t have thought I could play music.”

Last summer, she participated in a Rome residency to pursue a project related to Italian culture. She chose as her subject Edmonia Lewis, a black, queer, Ojibwe sculptor who moved from New York to Rome in 1866 and became a noted artist, despite being fetishised and tokenised by the locals. “That resonated with me so much,” says Laveaux, who interviewed other black artists working in Italy for a film that will accompany an eventual record. “They had similar hurdles to what I read in Edmonia Lewis’ diary. In 150 years, nothing had changed.”

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She laughs as she says this, more bemused than crushed. On her right arm is a tattoo of Cleopatra in tribute to a Lewis sculpture, surrounded by a Kara Walker image of a young girl setting herself on fire, and Tina Turner astride Ike, inspired by the tarot card for strength. “That card is about taming your demons and having guidance from the spiritual world to overcome a great fear,” says Laveaux.

Until the gods stage a divine intervention, she has another idea of how to challenge racism and cultural imperialism. “One of my dreams is to write a song for Eurovision.” she says. “You can influence millions of people’s ways of listening to music.” If anyone can fit it in, she can.

An EP featuring the first three tracks of Radyo Siwèl is released today. The album is out on 23 March on No Format. Mélissa Laveaux plays Richmix, London, on 13 April.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Ricardo Cordova prepares food donation for the homeless

Ricardo Cordova

Ricardo Cordova

In 2017, the number of homeless individuals living in the US increased for the first time in 7 years.

SARASOTA, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES, February 1, 2018 /EINPresswire.com/ — According to a report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, over 550,000 Americans are now considered homeless.

It’s a startling figure and one which has not gone unnoticed by Sarasota businessman Ricardo Cordova.

“It’s hard to wrap your head around,” says Cordova. “The figures reveal that over 190,000 people in the US have zero access to any kind of nightly shelter. They’re literally living on the streets completely devoid of warmth, food or any kind of comfort.”

Charities and organizations across the country have worked tirelessly in recent years to provide shelter and accommodation for around 65 percent of those currently without a permanent home.

“They’re doing amazing work,” notes Cordova, “but what about those without access to such charities, or those who have fallen completely off the radar?”

“I think one of the hardest things to grasp is that they’re not only without a home or regular shelter, but they’re often going days without even a bite to eat.”

With this in mind, Cordova has vowed to help in providing food donations for some of those most in need, both locally and in surrounding areas.

“I give to homeless charities, in an effort to help provide shelter for those who need it,” says the Florida native, “but I want to be more hands-on… I feel like I could be doing more.”

By providing food and meals to as many of Sarasota County’s homeless population as he can, Cordova hopes it will drive others to do the same.

“If everyone followed suit, we could work towards ensuring that America’s truly homeless population, while without shelter, do not need to go without food too,” he says.

Cordova’s point is extremely valid. In a recent poll of previously homeless persons across the US, the struggle to find nutritious food was second only to the struggle to find safe and reliable shelter.

“Without sustenance, how will these people ever pick themselves back up from being left homeless?” laments Cordova.

“I urge anyone with the resources to donate to local food banks or to offer their time or donations of food to a homeless charity or shelter in their area. Homelessness is now an epidemic, but together we can begin to fight it, one meal at a time.”

Eric Ash
Web Presence, LLC
email us here

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Art Di Nick Consulting and American Offshore to be Featured on CUTV News Radio

EL LAGO, TEXAS, UNITED STATES, February 2, 2018 /EINPresswire.com/ — If you take a look at Arthur Di Nicolantonio, popularly known as Art Di Nick, and his hobbies as a youth, you could almost predict his successes today. There he was racing go karts and little boats, and at 15 years old, he used his engineering instincts to modify and improve the boat. His love of speed, risk taking, and winning set the course for his future career and life. For Di Nick it’s all about problem solving; finding the route to do it better or faster.

Di Nick had a career as a Mechanical Engineer with Exxon that spanned nearly 35 years and gave rise to more than 20 patents. Then he retired, only to continue work as an engineering consultant. He also bought a powerboat company (so he could make the boats better, of course.)

Di Nick sounds like a genius, but wasn’t really viewed as one, especially not by the company that tested kids in his High School. They told him not to go into his planned field of engineering. He proved them all wrong: he was the Valedictorian in High School and finished number one in his undergraduate class (BS Engineering) at Villanova. He also won a National Science Foundation Fellowship in 1964.

“I’m not who people think of as the typical Engineer.” Di Nick began doctoral studies at Lehigh University but didn’t finish because his first child came along. Instead, he earned a Master’s in less than a year, beating the odds. Next, he went to work for DuPont and then Exxon in 1965. That’s where Di Nick gained his oil and gas industry expertise.

Di Nick had a stellar career and now works as a contractor for Night Hawk Engineering while running a boat company. He is proud to do it all. The powerboat company is almost as much a hobby as a business, since he so loves boats and racing. American Offshore www.americanoffshore.net, builds both performance-type powerboats and family powerboats and his engineering genius is behind them.

What makes Di Nick so successful in all these ventures? The willingness to take a risk! Early in his career at Exxon, he came up with an idea on how to improve reactors and the yield of polyethelene plastics. Management didn’t want to try the ground-breaking idea; it would cost $4 million to even create the test plant! The rest is history (tune into the show to hear it all) and inspired the first of many patents he won in the Exxon name, including MVP in 1992.

“I look at something and strive to improve it. I come up with an idea. I’ll take the risk to make it happen.” This separates Di Nick from other consultants. Problem solver. Risk taker. Speed demon. Any one of those could define this brilliant engineer and business owner.

Lou Ceparano
Close-Up TV News
(631) 850-3314
email us here

Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport Line Gets Racing Stripe and Sports Suspension

One of the most appreciated vans on the market, the Mercedes Benz Vito, is getting a boost in the beginning of the year with the launch of the Sport Line equipment package, announced on Friday the German group.
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Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport Line
To be priced between 2,500 and 4,100 euros, depending on the options chosen, the Sport Line brings exterior and interior upgrades, as well as some technical improvements. The package will be available on the European market starting this month for the Panel Van, Mixto and Tourer versions of the Vito.

The Sport Line will ride on sports suspension and 18-inch light-alloy wheels (there is a 19-inch option as well) for weight variants 2.8 tons, 3.05 tons and 3.1 tons. Also as an option, Mercedes-Benz will offer permanent four-wheel drive.

The exterior gets a racing stripe from an adhesive film on the bonnet and doors, sport side skirts and bumpers, and detachable parts in the body color. A large panoramic roof is also optionally available. At the interior, upgrades available with the pack are seats in black artificial leather, the chrome Interior, leather steering wheel and gearshift lever and velour floor mats.

“The Vito SPORT Line combines numerous sporty items of additional equipment to offer a dynamic and attractive overall package for our successful model,” said Klaus Maier, Head of Sales and Marketing at Mercedes-Benz Vans.

Vito will remain one of the core models for the German manufacturer as it braces for another great year ahead. On Thursday, Mercedes-Benz posted record numbers for 2017 and announced a record profit-sharing sum for 130,000 of its employees in Germany: a total of about 74 million euros ($91 million) will be paid. That is 5,700 euros ($7,070) for each of the carmaker’s entitled tariff-scale employee.

Last year, the Daimler Group sold 3.3 million vehicles, amounting to record revenue, record earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) and record net profit.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

What’s on tap for this week


Those who are looking for an alternative to pre-gaming for the Super Bowl have an option with the annual Alexandria Warehouse sale, which takes place Saturday at the Westin Hotel in Carlyle. 

That’s far from the only thing happening in Alexandria this week, though, with options that are sure to appeal to anyone who is interested in history, crafts, art and more. Don’t forget to patronize a local restaurant while you’re at it – Alexandria Restaurant Week continues through this weekend, ending Feb. 4. 

Here’s a selection of events in Alexandria throughout the next week.


First Friday: Chinese New Year

Time: 6 to 10 p.m.

Location: Durant Arts Center, 1605 Cameron St.

Get into the spirit of the Chinese New Year by celebrating the Year of

Courtesy photo

the Dog with the Fairfax Chinese Dance Troupe. The evening will include the Fairfax Chinese Dance Troupe performing several traditional Chinese Folk Dances, accompanied by Alice Guzheng Ensemble, Mr. Zhang on a traditional instrument called hulusi, and a vocalist Mr. Lin. The event also includes a Chinese kung fu and martial arts demonstration and interactive art activity led by the city’s mobile art lab. Traditional Chinese outfits are encouraged.

A meet-and-greet begins at 6 p.m and festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $9 per person and can be purchased in advance at https://tinyurl.com/y9ygd6vr.

Read more about the event here.


13th Annual Alexandria Boutique Warehouse Sale

Time: 9 to 4 p.m.

Location: The Westin Alexandria, 400 Courthouse Square

Find clothes, shoes and accessories from your favorite local boutiques at deep discounts this weekend at the 13th annual Alexandria Boutique Warehouse Sale. 

This year’s event will include giveaways and prizes from boutiques participating in the event valued at $1,000, complimentary pilates and yoga classes between 8 and 9 a.m., hands-on classes for creating custom home decor from AR Workshop Alexandria between 8 and 10 a.m., a Truly Spiked & Sparkling Hard Cider tasting bar and a complimentary glitter and mini braid bar from Salon DeZen from 8 to 9 a.m.

Read more about the event here.

Freedom House Tours

Time: 1 to 5 p.m.

Location: Freedom House, 1315 Duke St.

A partnership between the Northern Virginia Urban League and the

A plaque outside of the Freedom House Museum (Courtesy photo)

Office of Historic Alexandria will allow history enthusiasts to tour the Freedom House Museum in honor of Black History Month. Attendees will get a rare look inside the Freedom House Museum, a museum that is located in the basement-level of one of the most infamous slave trading companies in the country, which also has a connection to the story depicted in the Oscar-winning film “12 Years a Slave.”

The museum is small, but powerful with original artifacts and first-person narratives told through video and exhibits. Public access to the museum is normally limited, but exclusive Saturday access will be offered each weekend in February. The tour costs $5 per person.

More information here.

John Carlyle Celebration

Time: Noon to 4 p.m.

Colonel John Carlyle

Location: Carlyle House, 121 N. Fairfax St.

Join the Carlyle House as it wishes a happy birthday to Alexandria’s founder, Colonel John Carlyle. Festivities will include 18th-century dancing, live music and a birthday treat. There’s no admission or advanced registration required for this free event. 


Valentine’s Cupcake & Crafts Party

Time: 9:30 to 11 a.m.; 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Location: AR Workshop Alexandria, 107 N. Fairfax St.

This family-friendly event is hosted by AR Workshop Alexandria. This kid-friendly event invites attendees to create standing mini block signs. 
While at AR Workshop, you can enjoy complementary mini-cupcakes and check out home decor, gifts, jewelry and accessories. Pre-registration is required and admission to the event is $14.

More information here. 

Walking with Washington Tour

Time: 2 to 3:30 p.m.

Location: Alexandria Visitor Center, 221 King St.

Walk in George Washington’s footsteps through his hometown: historic

File photo

Alexandria. View some of the sites connected to Washington, including his pharmacy and houses where he stayed. This free tour begins at the Alexandria Visitor Center every Sunday of the month until Feb. 25.

More information here. 


Penny Post Valentine’s Day Workshop

Time: 6 to 8 p.m.

Location: Penny Post, 1201 King St.

Join Penny Post in welcoming Annie Howe back for a special Valentine’s Day paper cutting workshop just in time for Valentine’s Day. Learn how to make a custom Valentine for yourself or your sweetheart. Workshop participants will leave with at least one finished paper cut, templates and the skills to keep paper cutting at home. The space for this event is limited to 10 participants. Ages 16 and up are welcome. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

More information here.


Torpedo Talks: Diaspora in African-American Art

Time: 8 to 9 p.m.

Location: Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union St.

Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell (Courtesy Photo)

In collaboration with Target Gallery’s Passages exhibition, cultural programmer Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell discusses the effects and influence of diaspora in African-American art. Torpedo Talks feature some of the region’s best-known artists, curators, and creatives. Find them every month at 8 p.m. during Second Thursday Art Nights

 Read more about the event here.

Check out a full list of events in Alexandria by visiting our calendar.

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The 15 most controversial Super Bowl halftime performances of all time, ranked

nipplegate super bowl janet jackson justin timberlake 2004The “wardrobe malfunction” seen ’round the world.Donald Miralle/Getty Images

While the Super Bowl halftime show is the most-watched event on television every year, it wasn’t always the massive institution it once was.

Until the 1990s, the show was pretty lame. The NFL just booked a local marching band or some other kind of wholesome entertainment. There’s a lot of Elvis Impersonators and trombones in halftime history.

But in the current era, the event is so big that the NFL has enough leverage to make performers pay to be there. And with scale comes a lot of uncontrollable factors. Year after year, the NFL struggles to entertain tens of millions of people and make a gigantic 12-minute show run smoothly.

The most famous Super Bowl performance is from 2004, where an “indecent exposure” from Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson changed the direction of the show forever. But it’s not the only halftime show controversy.

Here are the 15 most controversial Super Bowl halftime show performances of all time.

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15: The Who was aggressively mediocre in 2010.

15: The Who was aggressively mediocre in 2010.

The Who’s Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend at the 2010 Super Bowl halftime show.AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

For whatever reason, the NFL hired a way-past-their-prime The Who to perform. The whole time, they seemed nearly bewildered to be onstage and were seemingly unprepared. The band never managed to connect to the audience, mumbled through a medley of some of their old songs, and Pete Townshend’s stomach was visible for much of the show.

14: The Rolling Stones played some old stuff in 2006.

14: The Rolling Stones played some old stuff in 2006.

Mick Jagger performing with the Rolling Stones at the 2006 halftime show.AP Photo/David J. Phillip

In the wake of the Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson fiasco of 2004, the NFl instituted a five-second tape delay that allowed them to censor phrases like “you made a dead man come.”

For the most part, the Rolling Stones show was a mixed affair, with just three songs — one of them a new one, so no one could sing along. It was also a strange choice for the NFL not to have any black artists given that the game was set in Detroit.

13: The New Kids on the Block were so tepid that they were bumped till after the show in 1991.

13: The New Kids on the Block were so tepid that they were bumped till after the show in 1991.

New Kid on the Block performing at the 1991 Super Bowl.YouTube.com

In the early days of the glitzy halftime show tradition, boy band New Kids on the Block put on some slow songs, draining the room of all its energy, and performed “It’s a Small World (After All),” making approximately the entire the stadium roll their eyes. ABC News opted to give a news report on the Gulf War instead of airing their entire show live, bumping it to after the game.

12: The Black Eyed Peas were bad even for the standards of people who enjoy the Black Eyed Peas in 2011.

12: The Black Eyed Peas were bad even for the standards of people who enjoy the Black Eyed Peas in 2011.

Fergie and Slash, dressed as what seems to be a glammed-up version of The Babadook.REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The Black Eyed Peas brought plenty of energy to their 2011 performance, but they were an incongruous match with Slash and Usher, who performed with them, and the tech-leather costumes were more bizarre than fun. Rolling Stone likened it to “witnessing something magical and special — like seeing a unicorn cough up blood.”

It’s also responsible for our pop-heavy era of Super Bowl halftime shows.

10: Aerosmith, Britney Spears, N’Sync, Nelly, and Mary J. Blige all sang together in an incoherent mess in 2001.

10: Aerosmith, Britney Spears, N'Sync, Nelly, and Mary J. Blige all sang together in an incoherent mess in 2001.

Britney Spears and Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler performing at the 2001 show.Mike Segar/Reuters

9: Olympic figure skaters took over in 1992.

9: Olympic figure skaters took over in 1992.

Gloria Estefan of the Miami Sound Machine at the 1992 show.AP Photo/Bill Sikes

You know who’s a pretty good choice for a Super Bowl halftime performer in 1992? Gloria Estefan. You know who’s a bizarre choice? A bunch of Olympic figure skaters and people in hideous winter-themed costumes. We all love our Olympians, but the final result was just cringe-worthy.

7: Red Hot Chili Peppers did the rock version of lip-syncing in 2014.

7: Red Hot Chili Peppers did the rock version of lip-syncing in 2014.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers performing at the 2014 Super Bowl.Jamie Squire/Getty

When the band joined Bruno Mars onstage, fans noticed their instruments were unplugged. They played over a recording of their own song.

“I understand the NFL’s stance on this, given they only have a few minutes to set up the stage, there a zillion things that could go wrong and ruin the sound for the folks watching in the stadium and the TV viewers,” the bassist, Flea, wrote on the band’s website. “There was not any room for argument on this, the NFL does not want to risk their show being botched by bad sound, period.”

6: The NFL picked a Blues Brothers theme for some reason in 1997.

6: The NFL picked a Blues Brothers theme for some reason in 1997.

Jim Belushi performing as one of the Blues Brothers during the 1997 show.AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

The “Saturday Night Live” joke blues band, The Blues Brothers, headlined the night. Since one of the members, John Belushi, was dead, he was replaced by his brother Jim. It was weird. James Brown, the master of soul music, also showed up but got shamefully little stage time.

5: The halftime show had a cheesy “Disney Millennium Performance” in 2000.

 5: The halftime show had a cheesy "Disney Millennium Performance" in 2000.

Toni Braxton surrounded by performing in the “Tapestry Of Nations” at the 2000 show.Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Since Disney owns ABC, which broadcasted the Super Bowl, they used the halftime show to advertise their “Disney Millennium Performance” costume and dance show. It’s kind of cool — even though it invoked cultish-sounding phrases like “the gate of time” and “the great millennium walk” — but no one really wanted it.

The show also swallowed up the musical performers. Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, and Toni Braxton all performed original songs, so no one could sing along.

3: Beyoncé stole the show in 2016.

3: Beyoncé stole the show in 2016.

Beyoncé performing “Formation” at the 2016 Super Bowl.Matt Cowan/Getty Images

Beyoncé has given Super Bowl shows enormous extravaganzas multiple times, but her Black Panther-invoking 2016 show is her most significant. Her performance of the politically charged “Formation” led to a firestorm of criticism from law enforcement groups and right-wing pundits. While Coldplay was that year’s headliner, Beyoncé’s brief part was all anyone was talking about.

2: M.I.A. gave everyone the middle finger and got sued for more than $16 million in 2012.

2: M.I.A. gave everyone the middle finger and got sued for more than $16 million in 2012.

M.I.A. flipping the bird in front of millions of people.Christopher Polk/Getty Images

In the middle of an otherwise excellent performance from Madonna, LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, and Cee Lo Green, the rapper M.I.A. gave the middle finger during her dance moves. The NFL sued her for $16.6 million and eventually settled for an undisclosed amount. The FCC didn’t seek any fines.

After news of the lawsuit became public, MIA asked Madonna for help.

“@madonna ummm …. can I borrow 16 million?” she tweeted.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Job and Wage Gains Deliver a Promising Start for the Year

“We’re feeling pretty good about the start of the year,” said Becky Frankiewicz, president of ManpowerGroup, a staffing firm. “We’re seeing growth across industries.”

The question — the “bazillion-dollar question,” Ms. Frankiewicz said — has long been when strong hiring would translate into strong wage gains for workers. Friday’s report may have begun to provide the answer. Average hourly earnings rose 2.9 percent in January from a year earlier, the fastest growth of the recovery so far.

All Eyes on Wages

Lagging pay has been a persistent economic mystery. But many economists expect wage growth to accelerate in 2018, especially if the unemployment rate continues to fall, forcing companies to compete to attract scarce workers.

Economists warned about reading too much into January’s strong wage numbers — several times during the recovery, wage growth has appeared to accelerate, only to fall back to earth. But they said there was little doubt that the latest numbers were an encouraging sign.

“People have been wondering when the wages are going to start to rise in response to this tightness,” said Catherine Barrera, chief economist of the online job site ZipRecruiter. “I think that over the first six months of this year, we’re really going to start to see the wages rise.”


6 Reasons That Pay Has Lagged Behind U.S. Job Growth

Average hourly earnings were 2.9 percent higher in January than a year earlier, a hopeful sign that wages might be gaining traction in a tight labor market. Their stubborn failure to do so is one of the mysteries of a recovery now in its ninth year.

OPEN Graphic

There are also other signs that employers may be loosening their purse strings. A separate report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics this week found that private-sector wages and salaries rose 2.8 percent in the last three months of 2017, compared with a year earlier, the fastest growth since the recession. But other measures have found that pay growth is slowing.

“The tightening labor market suggests wages should be accelerating, and now we have two different reports showing that wages are accelerating,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist of the job site Indeed.

Hunting for Workers

With unemployment low, employers are working harder to find employees. They are becoming more willing to consider candidates with criminal records, for example, or to waive educational requirements. The car retailer AutoNation said this week that it was no longer refusing to hire workers who test positive for marijuana use — a sign of changing legal and societal norms, but also an indication that companies are rethinking hiring practices in a tight labor market.

“People who are marginally employable suddenly become highly employable in a period like this,” said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist of RSM, a financial consulting firm.

The strong labor market is pulling workers off the economy’s sidelines. The labor-force participation rate — the share of adults either working or actively looking for work — has edged up recently, although it was flat in January. Diane Swonk, chief economist for the investment firm Grant Thornton, said she expected to see companies start trying to draw people into the labor force by letting them work from home or offering flexible schedules.

Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes, a 100-restaurant chain based in Texas, recently started a program to help franchisees expand their marketing efforts by hiring at-home parents and others who had not been in the labor force. The jobs are meant to appeal to people who might not be looking for traditional work: They do not require being at an office every day or having a traditional schedule.

Michael Mabry, Mooyah’s president and chief operating officer, said that kind of flexibility made sense when filling full-time slots with experienced workers was harder than ever.

“Why do I have to be pigeonholed into a particular résumé or a particular experience?” Mr. Mabry said of his recruitment approach. “I’m sure there is someone out there who can bring something different to the team. It’s just having an open mind.”

Industry Breakdown

Recent job growth has been concentrated in blue-collar industries such as construction, manufacturing and energy. Different forces have been driving those trends — manufacturing, for example, has been driven by the strong global economy, while energy has been boosted by rising oil and gas prices. But the effect is the same: improving job opportunities for blue-collar workers.

That trend continued in January. Construction companies added 36,000 jobs, and manufacturers tacked on another 15,000.

January’s gains were broad-based, however. The leisure and hospitality sector added 35,000 jobs, the fourth straight month of significant growth, and the health care industry — a consistent source of job growth in both the recession and the recovery — remained strong. Even retailers, who have been cutting jobs in the face of competition from online competitors, added more than 15,000 jobs.

Political Fallout

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Trump boasted of the strength of the American economy, citing a rebound in the manufacturing sector and a decline in the unemployment rate for African-Americans, which recently hit its lowest level on record. Job growth in manufacturing continued in January. But the black unemployment rate jumped nearly a full point, to 7.7 percent, its highest level since April.

Unemployment rates for specific demographic groups are volatile, and economists caution against making too much of short-term fluctuations. Over the longer run, there is little doubt that the black unemployment rate has fallen significantly as the job market has improved, but also that it remains well above the rate for whites, which fell to 3.5 percent in January.

More generally, most economists contend that Mr. Trump deserves relatively little credit for the strong economy, which predates his election and is partly a result of a global rebound outside his control. But they say a tightening labor market will tend to benefit groups left behind by earlier stages of the recovery, including racial and ethnic minorities and less-educated workers.

Mr. Trump and other Republicans argue that the economy will also benefit from the recently passed tax law. They point to recent announcements from Walmart and other companies, which have cited tax savings in their decisions to raise wages and pay out bonuses to workers. (One-time bonuses aren’t included in the hourly wage data released Friday, but will show up in broader measures of income.)

Many economists are skeptical of such claims, regarding them as timely public relations moves. But they say the tax cuts should provide at least a modest addition to economic growth in coming years — although probably not enough to let the law pay for itself, as its backers have promised.

“I hear my clients saying the tax bill gave them more confidence in the pro-business economy,” said Tom Gimbel, chief executive of LaSalle Network, a staffing firm. “There’s confidence coming from D.C. that they’re not going to get in the way.”

Continue reading the main story

U.S. Unemployment Rate for January Unchanged At 4.1%

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 200,000 in January, and the unemployment
rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
Employment continued to trend up in construction, food services and drinking places,
health care, and manufacturing.

 | |
 | Changes to The Employment Situation Data |
 | |
 |Establishment survey data have been revised as a result of the annual |
 |benchmarking process and the updating of seasonal adjustment factors. |
 |Also, household survey data for January 2018 reflect updated population|
 |estimates. See the notes at the end of this news release for more |
 |information about these changes. |

Household Survey Data

In January, the unemployment rate was 4.1 percent for the fourth consecutive month. The
number of unemployed persons, at 6.7 million, changed little over the month. (See
table A-1. For information about annual population adjustments to the household survey
estimates, see the note at the end of this news release and tables B and C.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Blacks increased to 7.7 percent
in January, and the rate for Whites edged down to 3.5 percent. The jobless rates for
adult men (3.9 percent), adult women (3.6 percent), teenagers (13.9 percent), Asians
(3.0 percent), and Hispanics (5.0 percent) showed little change. (See tables A-1, A-2,
and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little
changed at 1.4 million in January and accounted for 21.5 percent of the unemployed.
(See table A-12.)

The civilian labor force and total employment, as measured by the household survey,
changed little in January (after accounting for the annual adjustments to the
population controls). The labor force participation rate was 62.7 percent for the
fourth consecutive month and the employment-population ratio was 60.1 percent for the
third month in a row. (See table A-1. For additional information about the effects of
the population adjustments, see table C.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as
involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged at 5.0 million in January.
These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time
because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time
job. (See table A-8.)

In January, 1.7 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little
changed from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals
were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a
job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they
had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 451,000 discouraged workers in January, little
changed from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers
are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available
for them. The remaining 1.2 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in
January had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family
responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 200,000 in January. Employment continued to trend
up in construction, food services and drinking places, health care, and manufacturing.
(See table B-1. For information about the annual benchmark process, see the note and
table A.)

Construction added 36,000 jobs in January, with most of the increase occurring among
specialty trade contractors (+26,000). Employment in residential building construction
continued to trend up over the month (+5,000). Over the year, construction employment
has increased by 226,000.

Employment in food services and drinking places continued to trend up in January
(+31,000). The industry has added 255,000 jobs over the past 12 months.

Employment in health care continued to trend up in January (+21,000), with a gain of
13,000 in hospitals. In 2017, health care added an average of 24,000 jobs per month.

In January, employment in manufacturing remained on an upward trend (+15,000). Durable
goods industries added 18,000 jobs. Manufacturing has added 186,000 jobs over the past
12 months.

Employment in other major industries, including mining, wholesale trade, retail trade,
transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, professional and
business services, and government, changed little over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls declined by 0.2 hour
to 34.3 hours in January. In manufacturing, the workweek declined by 0.2 hour to 40.6
hours, while overtime remained at 3.5 hours. The average workweek for production and
nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 33.6
hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

In January, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose
by 9 cents to $26.74, following an 11-cent gain in December. Over the year, average
hourly earnings have risen by 75 cents, or 2.9 percent. Average hourly earnings of
private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 3 cents to $22.34
in January. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised down from
+252,000 to +216,000, and the change for December was revised up from +148,000 to
+160,000. With these revisions, employment gains in November and December combined
were 24,000 less than previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional
reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published
estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors. The annual benchmark process
also contributed to the November and December revisions.) After revisions, job gains
have averaged 192,000 over the last 3 months.

The Employment Situation for February is scheduled to be released on Friday,
March 9, 2018, at 8:30 a.m. (EST).

 | |
 | Partial Federal Government Shutdown |
 | |
 |Due to a lapse in funding, some agencies of the federal government were shut |
 |down or were operating at reduced staffing levels from January 20, 2018, |
 |through January 22, 2018. |
 | |
 |All household data collection was suspended during the shutdown. Household |
 |survey data collection resumed on January 23, 2018, and was conducted through |
 |January 26, 2018, to allow for the usual number of collection days. The |
 |response rate for the household survey in January 2018 was slightly below the |
 |average rate for 2017. |
 | |
 |In the establishment survey, collection of data by interviewers was suspended |
 |on January 22, 2018, and resumed on January 23, 2018. Electronic data collection|
 |was not interrupted. Collection rates for the establishment survey for this |
 |collection period were within the normal range. |
 | |
 |Overall, there were no discernible effects on the national unemployment rate |
 |and other major household survey measures, or on the estimates of total |
 |nonfarm payroll employment, for the month of January. |

 Revisions to Establishment Survey Data 
In accordance with annual practice, the establishment survey data released today have
been benchmarked to reflect comprehensive counts of payroll jobs for March 2017. These
counts are derived principally from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW),
which counts jobs covered by the Unemployment Insurance (UI) tax system.

In addition, the data were updated to the 2017 North American Industry Classification
System (NAICS) from the 2012 NAICS. This update resulted in minor changes to several
detailed industries. The normal benchmark process revises not seasonally adjusted data
from April 2016 forward and seasonally adjusted data from January 2013 forward. However,
some data were also revised further back in their history than normal due to the
implementation of 2017 NAICS and other minor technical changes related to rounding and
re-aggregation of some series.

The total nonfarm employment level for March 2017 was revised upward by 146,000 (+138,000
on a not seasonally adjusted basis, or +0.1 percent). On a not seasonally adjusted basis,
the average absolute benchmark revision over the past 10 years is 0.2 percent.

The effect of these revisions on the underlying trend in nonfarm payroll employment
was minor. For example, the over-the-year change in total nonfarm employment for 2017
was revised from +2,055,000 to +2,173,000 (seasonally adjusted). Table A presents
revised total nonfarm employment data on a seasonally adjusted basis from January to
December 2017.

All revised historical establishment survey data are available on the BLS website at
www.bls.gov/ces/data.htm. In addition, an article that discusses the benchmark and
post-benchmark revisions and other technical issues is available at

Table A. Revisions in total nonfarm employment, January-December 2017, seasonally
(Numbers in thousands)
 | | 
 | Level | Over-the-month change 
 Year and month | As | | | As | | 
 |previously | As | Difference |previously| As | Difference
 |published | revised | |published | revised | 
 | | | | | | 
 2017 | | | | | | 
 | | | | | | 
 January.........| 145,541 | 145,696 | 155 | 216 | 259 | 43 
 February........| 145,773 | 145,896 | 123 | 232 | 200 | -32 
 March...........| 145,823 | 145,969 | 146 | 50 | 73 | 23 
 April...........| 146,030 | 146,144 | 114 | 207 | 175 | -32 
 May.............| 146,175 | 146,299 | 124 | 145 | 155 | 10 
 June............| 146,385 | 146,538 | 153 | 210 | 239 | 29 
 July............| 146,523 | 146,728 | 205 | 138 | 190 | 52 
 August..........| 146,731 | 146,949 | 218 | 208 | 221 | 13 
 September.......| 146,769 | 146,963 | 194 | 38 | 14 | -24 
 October.........| 146,980 | 147,234 | 254 | 211 | 271 | 60 
 November........| 147,232 | 147,450 | 218 | 252 | 216 | -36 
 December (p)....| 147,380 | 147,610 | 230 | 148 | 160 | 12 
 (p) = preliminary.

 Adjustments to Population Estimates for the Household Survey

Effective with data for January 2018, updated population estimates were incorporated into
the household survey. Population estimates for the household survey are developed by the
U.S. Census Bureau. Each year, the Census Bureau updates the estimates to reflect new
information and assumptions about the growth of the population since the previous
decennial census. The change in population reflected in the new estimates results from
adjustments for net international migration, updated vital statistics, and estimation
methodology improvements.

In accordance with usual practice, BLS will not revise the official household survey
estimates for December 2017 and earlier months. To show the impact of the population
adjustments, however, differences in selected December 2017 labor force series based on
the old and new population estimates are shown in table B.

The adjustments increased the estimated size of the civilian noninstitutional population
in December by 488,000, the civilian labor force by 333,000, employment by 318,000, and
unemployment by 15,000. The number of persons not in the labor force was increased by
154,000. The total unemployment rate, employment-population ratio, and labor force
participation rate were unaffected.

Data users are cautioned that these annual population adjustments can affect the
comparability of household data series over time. Table C shows the effect of the
introduction of new population estimates on the comparison of selected labor force
measures between December 2017 and January 2018. Additional information on the
population adjustments and their effect on national labor force estimates is available
at www.bls.gov/web/empsit/cps-pop-control-adjustments.pdf

Table B. Effect of the updated population controls on December 2017 estimates by sex,
race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, not seasonally adjusted
(Numbers in thousands)
 | | | | | | | 
 | | | | | Black | | 
 | | | | | or | | Hispanic 
 Category |Total | Men | Women| White | African| Asian| or Latino 
 | | | | |American| | ethnicity 
 | | | | | | | 
 | | | | | | | 
 Civilian noninstitutional | | | | | | | 
 population.................| 488 | 296 | 192 | 194 | 104 | 171 | 328 
 Civilian labor force......| 333 | 228 | 106 | 141 | 70 | 111 | 242 
 Participation rate......| 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.0 
 Employed.................| 318 | 219 | 100 | 132 | 66 | 109 | 230 
 Employment-population | | | | | | | 
 ratio..................| 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.0 | 0.1 
 Unemployed...............| 15 | 9 | 5 | 8 | 3 | 2 | 12 
 Unemployment rate.......| 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 
 Not in labor force........| 154 | 67 | 86 | 54 | 35 | 60 | 86 

 NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Estimates for the above
race groups (White, Black or African American, and Asian) do not sum to totals because
data are not presented for all races. Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic
or Latino may be of any race.

Table C. December 2017-January 2018 changes in selected labor force measures,
with adjustments for population control effects
(Numbers in thousands)
 | | | 
 | | | Dec.-Jan. 
 | Dec.-Jan. | 2018 | change, 
 | change, | population | after 
 Category | as | control | removing the
 | published | effect | population 
 | | | control 
 | | | effect (1) 
 | | | 
 Civilian noninstitutional population.| 671 | 488 | 183 
 Civilian labor force...............| 518 | 333 | 185 
 Participation rate...............| 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 
 Employed..........................| 409 | 318 | 91 
 Employment-population ratio......| 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 
 Unemployed........................| 108 | 15 | 93 
 Unemployment rate................| 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 
 Not in labor force.................| 153 | 154 | -1 
 | | | 
 1 This Dec.-Jan. change is calculated by subtracting the population 
control effect from the over-the-month change in the published seasonally
adjusted estimates.
 NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.

Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.

Your Complete Guide to February 2018 Events in Seattle

Yes, we’re excited for Hamilton, and you should be, too. Whether you secured your seats months ago or you’re planning to enter the ticket lottery, don’t throw away your shot to see it. Joan Marcus

February may be a short month, but there is certainly no shortage of excellent arts, music, and food events happening in Seattle. We’ve compiled the biggest events you need to know about below, including events happening for Black History Month, Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, the Lunar New Year, and the Super Bowl. You’ll also find everything from music events like Protest Fest to food events like the Seattle Wine and Food Experience to celebrity talks like Fran Lebowitz’s to film events like the Noir City festival to performances like Hamilton. If all of that isn’t enough, you can also look ahead to the rest of this year’s big events, or check out our complete Things To Do calendar.



1. Booker T. Jones
This show should be mandatory for the entire PacNW, ’cause Mr. Booker T. Jones is a bona-fide heavy! He was THE understated, always cool, conservative, and concise Hammond player for the Stax house band, Booker T. & the M.G.’s. Y’all might recognize their classic, “Green Onions”—a song that, in under three minutes, perfectly distills the moment when rock and roll and R&B met. Jones’s musical reach can’t be overstated. Anyway, I bet he’ll play “Green Onions,” along with his many well-loved Stax trax—so yeah, you should be there! MIKE NIPPER

2. Miranda Lambert, Jon Pardi, Turnpike Troubadours
Vocal powerhouse and multi-CMA winner Miranda Lambert will bring some country cool to Tacoma on her Livin’ Like Hippies Tour with Jon Pardi and Turnpike Troubadours.



3. Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Company
Bill T. Jones is a living legend who stepped confidently into the modern-dance canon with his solo piece 21, a series of poses that he describes differently each time he performs the piece, thus revealing the infinite combination of story lines and truths that the mind can tell from the same sequence of movements. He’s been running his company (Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane) for more than three decades and producing great work all along. He’ll come to Seattle to present the Analogy trilogy over three nights, featuringDora: Tramontane on Thursday, Lance: Pretty AKA The Escape Artist on Friday, and Ambros: The Emigrant on Saturday.



4. Two Trains Running
Everyone should be well aware of Fences, August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece about black family life in the 1950s. But everyone—especially Seattleites concerned with issues of gentrification, activism, rising racial tensions, and economic inequality—would also do well to spend as much time thinking about Two Trains Running, the next in Wilson’s 10-play cycle. Set in a Pittsburgh diner, Wilson reckons with the revolutionary decade of the 1960s, when expectations for the future of the civil rights movement were as high as they were uncertain. Everyone should also know that Wilson’s a hometown hero, having spent the latter years of his life writing in the Victrola on 15th or the (old) Canterbury on 19th. Seeing his plays at the Rep, where his cycle of plays was produced in full, carries a special resonance. Juliette Carrillo will direct. RICH SMITH



5. Frost/Nixon
There are about 27 reasons to see Strawberry Theatre Workshop’s all-female production of Peter Morgan’s classic play about the disgraced president reflecting on the Watergate scandal for the first time on television, and Stranger Genius Award winner Amy Thone playing Nixon is like 14 of those reasons. Alexandra Tavares grilling Thone/Nixon as the ever-intrepid Sir David Frost is about 10 of those reasons. The other three have to do with the fact that Trump would never be, in any kind of hell, least of all this one, as forthcoming, as deviously charming, and as disarmingly honest as Nixon was in this absorbing and infinitely fascinating interview. RICH SMITH



6. Black History Month
The U.S. and Canada observe Black History Month in February to honor the lives of African Americans whose stories have been omitted from history textbooks. In the U.K., and the Netherlands, October marks Black History Month. For events in Seattle, see our Black History Month calendar.



7. Lights, Chase Atlantic, DCF
Canadian alt-pop project Lights is on tour promoting her fourth record, Skin&Earth, and will be joined by support acts Chase Atlantic and DCF at this Seattle stop.


8. An Evening with Terese Mailhot and Tommy Orange
Prolific and entertaining novelist Jess Walter will chat with novelist Tommy Orange, essayist Terese Mailhot (whose highly anticipated Heart Berries is due out soon), and Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Youth Poet Laureate Namaka Auwae-Dekker.



9. Laurie Kilmartin
Despite the prevailing trend of contemporary stand-up comedy to be youth-focused, mundane, and not even amusing, Laurie Kilmartin is a 20-year veteran performer and writer (books and TV) with killer jokes and a perspective that—at the risk of sounding like a total grandpa—doesn’t make you feel like you’ve been left behind on a planet full of people who will only laugh at things that aren’t funny. In a time when the comedy world is lacking for novel things to say about family, Kilmartin is great on parents and on being a parent, and on a million other things besides. SEAN NELSON


10. Crosscut Festival
Leaders in politics, business, and social justice will be interviewed live on stage by local journalists at the Crosscut Festival. The star-studded lineup includes Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Obama speechwriter David Litt, George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, and more.



11. Swan Lake
It doesn’t get more ballet than Swan Lake, but that isn’t a bad thing. You’ve got Tchaikovsky’s signature score. You’ve got choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov’s translation of the dramatic swoops and lines of the eponymous pond-dweller into a high-velocity revenge narrative. And, with Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production, you’ve got Kent Stowell’s streamlined reconfiguration of all that, repackaged and redesigned by the great Ming Cho Lee. It’s going to be hard to top Carrie Imler’s version of the Black Swan’s space-time-defying fouetté series, but if there’s anyone who can at least meet Imler’s power and control, it’s Lesley Rausch and Noelani Pantastico, both of whom absolutely nailed the challenging principal role in Balanchine’s “Diamonds” in the fall. RICH SMITH



12. Susanna’s Secret: A BDSM Opera
Samantha Gorham’s BDSM adaptation of Enrico Golisciani’s early-20th-century intermezzo Susanna’s Secret is, according to Rich Smith, “one of the most rousing performances on offer this season.” It stars Gorham and Darrell J. Jordan of Operamuse, a new collective of local singers who translate operas into contemporary English and perform them in intimate spaces. In the original opera, Susanna’s secret is simply that she’s cheating on her husband, Gil, with her servant, Sante. In Gorham’s version, the setting is present-day Seattle and Susanna is concealing a Dom/sub relationship with Sante, who’s been recast as a friend who comes around and smokes a lot of weed on the couple’s couch. On Valentine’s Day, Barry is offering a special ticket that includes a rose, champagne, and (!) a whipping from a cast member of your choice.



13. Mamma Mia!
This is a new version of the endlessly popular Abba musical about a bride-to-be and her desire to meet her unknown father.



14. Ibsen in Chicago
This is the world premiere of a new play by David Grimm. Through his 2000 production Kit Marlowe, Grimm created a dramatized version of theatrical history that focused on the man surrounded by myth and rumor: Marlowe might have been a spy, or a heretic, or even the person who wrote Shakespeare’s best-known works. This new play, Ibsen in Chicago, also deals with history and theatrics—this time, it’s about Scandinavian immigrants putting on an Ibsen play in Chicago in 1882. Look forward to direction by Seattle Rep Artistic Director Braden Abraham.



15. Antonio Sanchez: Birdman Live
Regardless of one’s opinion on Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 2014 film Birdman, it was unusually inventive for a best picture Oscar winner. Much was made of how it was filmed in a single continuous shot, but Antonio Sanchez’s score is just as essential. A jazz drummer, Sanchez improvised to the film, and then edited and layered the recordings. The brusque, clattering score is untraditional, but the way Sanchez’s drums punctuate and play off of the action makes it hard to imagine anything else working as well. Here, he’ll play the music to a screening of the film. ANDREW GOSPE

16. Dave East, Guests
Repping East Harlem, rapper Dave East has shown up on XXL‘s 2016 Freshman Class and been signed to Def Jam Recordings in part due to his attention-getting 2014 mixtape Black Rose. He’ll perform tracks from that and newer works tonight with additional guests.

17. Drive-By Truckers, Lilly Hiatt
Mad props to Drive-By Truckers for making an opera out of Southern-fried rock, and for backing up Booker T. Jones (playing at Triple Door two nights earlier). The Truckers’ latest album, American Band, finds the flag at what looks like, from the cover, half-mast. They love their country, but they don’t like what they see—and what they see is Big Orange dissolving into the amber waves of grain like toxic waste, until we just plain take him for granted and stop talking about the poison. Or at least take it for granted. And they’re American mad about that. ANDREW HAMLIN

18. Katy Perry, Carly Rae Jepsen
Katy Perry has so many issues, I don’t even know where to start. Should I begin with her rampant cultural appropriation and textbook white entitlement, or perhaps her bizarre proclamations of color-by-numbers rebellion against the very system that pays her bills, or simply remind everybody of that time Missy Elliott and a guy in a shark suit ripped the dance floor out from under her Super Bowl set? She is all over the place, and her music, the one thing she’s supposed to be able to do, shows that mightily—it’s as if she and her production team threw everything at the wall and planned on recording what stuck, only to watch it all slump to the ground in a wet heap. Perry’s 2017 album, Witness, is a perfect example of this free-for-all free fall, desperately slashing through cliché after cliché, each track set to overblown symphonic warbles or disjointed trap beats ill-fitted for her earnest attempts at domming each ballad and banger alike. If you have to go to this show, go early—the real pop star here is opener Carly Rae Jepsen, who, for some reason, is not headlining her own arena tour. KIM SELLING

19. Shelby Earl, Sean Nelson
There’s something ethereal yet earthy about the vocals of Seattle singer-songwriter Shelby Earl—they can be delicate and sultry or given to powerfully piping serenades. Her sound is easygoing, melodious folk rock flavored with elements of dusty Old West Americana, urgent driving indie-rock, and even a bit of gospel-tinged soul. I’m reminded of Carole King, not because they sound anything alike, but because they have a similar effortlessness to their music while infusing it with something indescribably their own. This “Songs for Singing” performance by Earl—who is fresh off releasing her third full-length, The Man Who Made Himself a Name—finds her performing a stripped-down set list in American Songbook style, accompanied by Billy Brush on piano and the Passenger String Quartet. Harvey Danger alum and elder statesman of fine quality Seattle rock ’n’ roll (and Stranger editor-at-large) Sean Nelson opens. LEILANI POLK



20. Seattle International Dance Festival Mini Winter Fest
Mexico’s Compania Cuidad Interior will join Seattle’s Khambatta Dance Company for two weekends of “internationally inspired” dance performances.



21. Lunar New Year
Ring in the Year of the Dog at a variety of Seattle events, including the Lunar New Year in Chinatown festival on the 11th, the Wing Luke Lunar New Year Fair on the 10th, and Lucky Envelope Brewing’s celebration on the 16th and 17th.



22. Super Bowl LII
See the Philadelphia Eagles play the New England Patriots in the 52nd annual Super Bowl, with a halftime show by Justin Timberlake. Stock up on chicken wings and tune in on NBC for the biggest football event of the year. Find our list of where to watch the Super Bowl in Seattle here.



23. 107.7 The End Endsession with Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
107.7 The End and Elysian Brewing will co-sponsor this “Endsession” with heavy-hitting, hip-shaking bluesy Americana group Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. The event is free and open to the public, and if you’re one of the first 50 people there, you may even get to meet the band.


24. Robert Gates
As part of the Unique Lives & Experiences series, hear from former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who served under Presidents Bush and Obama.



25. Jojo Moyes: Still Me
In this new book by the author of After You and Me Before You, Louisa Clark penetrates the ultra-rich world of a New York family and meets a man who makes her remember her past.



26. Hamilton
Lin-Manuel Miranda is responsible for Hamilton‘s book, music, and lyrics, and he has squashed a dizzying number of words and concepts into this stunning production. You don’t like musicals? Fine. Try Hamilton—its hiphop, jazz, and rap numbers have made people all over the country rethink their rigid anti-musical stance, and offered them juicy, controversial history about one of their Founding Fathers. The wildly popular show will be here for more than four glorious weeks. Joseph Morales and Nik Walker will star as Hamilton and Burr.



27. Varla Jean Merman in: BAD HEROINE
Glamorous drag chanteause Varla Jean Merman (aka Jeffery Roberson) has had a Broadway run in Lucky Guy, guest-starred on Ugly Betty, and even sung in a Giancarlo Menotti opera in the title role of The Medium. See her wield her bizarre comedic and vocal talents.


28. Gregory Orr
Gregory Orr is a legendary and much beloved poet who I once used as an example of bad poetry reading in an essay called “Stop Using Poet Voice.” I just want to stress here that Orr’s work is much bigger and better and more important than his reading voice, and you really should check out The Caged Owl (published by Copper Canyon Press—they’re local, guys!) if you’re looking for a lesson on how to turn your trauma into poems without discrediting either. RICH SMITH



29. Northwest Flower & Garden Festival
This huge conference and exhibition gathers landscapers, speakers, vendors, and other garden professionals. See show gardens, learn about subjects such as locavorism, permaculture and sustainability, home decor, and regional gardening at special seminars, buy books and meet authors, and generally immerse yourself in a haven of green wholesomeness.



30. Bermuda Triangle
Newest and soon to be best supergroup Bermuda Triangle is a high-energy rock trio comprised of Alabama Shakes powerhouse Brittany Howard, sunbaked singer-songwriter Becca Mancari, and Great Plains scribe Jesse Lafser. Formed unintentionally, the group is all about sharing the fun they had making this music with their audience.

31. Dark Star Orchestra
Dark Star Orchestra keep the indomitable legacy of the Grateful Dead twinkling with their spot-on tribute concerts. They plunder the mother lode of the jam-band progenitors’ vast output for Deadheads who miss the real deal or for those unfortunates who never had the chance to witness them live. DSO’s MO is to replicate momentous Dead set lists from the group’s deep archives, and then nail every facet of the music. Clearly, DSO have their inspiration’s wonderfully tight/loose chops, fluid sense of time and space, and that all-important stamina to keep on truckin’ through the transitive nightfall of diamonds. DAVE SEGAL

32. Destroyer, Mega Bog
The rest of the world has started to discover Mega Bog, the project of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Erin Birgy. Until a 2015 move to New York, Birgy was a longtime fixture in the Olympia and Seattle DIY music scenes, where she played in dozens of bands and cultivated an inclusive, iterative approach to music-making. Last year’s striking Happy Together is a patchwork of soft rock, lounge jazz, and cacophonous psych excursions that doesn’t shy from complexity. An opening slot for Destroyer—the work of another creatively restless polymath, Dan Bejar—suits Birgy well. ANDREW GOSPE



33. Hippie Sabotage, Melvv, Azizi Gibson
California’s Hippie Sabotage, much like our own local boys gone grand Odesza, perform the sort of sun-baked beachtronica that will make you feel like cracking open a Corona and playing hooky for a week. If you’re looking for a techno-pop fix on a Saturday night, it wouldn’t be wrong to steer you here, but why would you ever need a fix of techno pop? Just watch the ads before YouTube videos. KYLE FLECK



34. Fifty Shades Freed Opening
The wrap-up of the Twilight fanfic trilogy about nipple clamps, expensive ties, and heterosexual love. The first words of the trailer are “Good morning, wife!” “Good morning, husband!” And that, my dears, is exposition.


35. Judy Collins
Since her first album in 1961, A Maid of Constant Sorrow, graceful songstress Judy Collins has released and been a part of more than 50 albums, with additional career successes as an author, filmmaker, social activist, guitar designer, and record label founder. She’s been gigging for over 50 years, so this pre-Valentine’s Day four-night set of romantic pop, cabaret, and folk classics will be a drop in the bucket for her. TRENT MOORMAN



36. The Maltese Falcon
Book-It Repertory Theatre and Cafe Nordo will collaborate on a stage version of the lush and gritty noir classic The Maltese Falcon, adapted by Jane Jones and Kevin McKeon. As private dick Sam Spade seeks the priceless jewel-encrusted falcon for some sketchy clients, you’ll tuck into Nordo’s special themed menu.



37. Romeo & Juliet
This cozy speakeasy, tucked under Pike Place Market, specializes in charismatic, cheese-cakey, nearly-nude entertainment (plus more covered-up brunch shows for the young and the prudish). Expect something a little sexier than your typical Shakespeare adaptation at this modernized cabaret show version of the tragic tale, paired with an original soundtrack. Make it a dinner date and order food and cocktails. If you want to go on Valentine’s Day proper, be prepared to spend the big florins.



38. Brewology
What if your sixth-grade museum field trip grew up to be the boozy evening of your dreams? Such is the premise behind this geeked-out craft beer fest, where you’re invited to imbibe as many four-ounce samples as you can handle from 25 breweries and cideries and learn the science behind your favorite beverages. Talk to the brewmasters to get the scoop on their processes, take a toasty trip through the Science Center, and participate in hoppy hands-on activities and demonstrations that would make Bill Nye proud. JULIANNE BELL


39. Ann Wilson of Heart
Reasons to go see Ann Wilson (once and future singer of Heart): She boasted one of the purest, soaringest operatic voices in all of pop music and she might well still have it. She tried to take it when the Seattle Times’ Patrick MacDonald kept making fun of her weight, but eventually let Heart’s manager take ads out in the paper (sample counterpunch: “Get a grip, boob brain”). People called Heart “Little Zep,” as though that solved the case, never mind that Heart came on somewhat more melodic and considerably less bombastic. Then the band hit the 1980s and embraced synths and song doctors. If they were ever hip, that sealed their tomb. For hipsters, not listeners. ANDREW HAMLIN

40. Book of Love, Year of Death
This rare live performance from 1980s synth-pop act Book of Love is guaranteed to bring nostalgia-seekers back to a time when MTV was cool and vinyl reigned. The NYC-by-way-of-Philly act’s infectiously buttery sound stemmed out of British new wave and primitive pop gloss indebted to early Depeche Mode and OMD. Core songwriter Ted Ottaviano said: “I was fascinated with Altered Images and other bands that were incorporating bells and chimes into their music. Long brass chimes, tubular bells, whatever.” The band scored a club hit in 1984 with their first single, “Boy,” a bell-dazzled feminist anthem, followed with more hits that sent bubblegum goths into a rapture of pop ecstasy, including “I Touch Roses” and “Pretty Girls and Pretty Boys” (one of the first songs to openly address the AIDS epidemic). BRITTNIE FULLER

41. Gramatik, Haywyre
Slovenian electronic music producer and DJ Gramatik, also known by his birth name Denis Jašarević, is billed as the world’s first “crypto-artist,” meaning he champions peer-to-peer file-sharing as the reason for his catapult to stardom, and he’s the first artist to sign with SingularDTV in an effort to decentralize the power of the traditional music industry and get his music to his fans by utilizing blockchain technology.

42. The Helio Sequence, Headwaves, I Will Keep Your Ghost
The Helio Sequence have always been masters of texture. Guitarist/singer Brandon Summers and drummer Benjamin Weikel began their career in the deep end of the sugary-sweet pop pool, amid sparkling synths, heavily effected vocals, and whizzing bleeps and bloops. Over time, however, the Portland band’s dreaminess has darkened and become more thoughtful, its layering more restrained, its effects more minimal. On its sixth self-titled album, the band feels like it’s settling into the apex of its career, balancing just the right amount of dark to light, quiet to loud. It sounds gorgeous. KATHLEEN RICHARDS

43. Mike Gordon
Forget that Mike Gordon is a member of Phish, which is one of the greatest rock bands of all time. But I digress. You mustn’t judge him because you have preconceived—and incorrect and likely ignorant—ideas about Phish. Instead, focus on Mike Gordon being the member with the most creatively intriguing solo output. His 2003 debut full-length, Inside In, is a cowboy-space-funk odyssey studded in pedal steel, banjo, and horn weirdness. It’s perfect from start to finish, and remains one of my all-time favorites 15 years later. Gordon’s new outing, OGOGO, is marked by his usual moments of avant-rock instrumental and vocal bizarreness, as well as his characteristic employment of unexpected time signatures while still laying down swinging, fart-ripping bass grooves (see the magnetic head-bobber “Crazy Sometimes”). My point is, whatever your opinion of Phish, you might just love Mike Gordon. LEILANI POLK



44. The Atomic Bombshells: J’adore
The saucy vixens of the Atomic Bombshells troupe will celebrate 10 years of busty, feathery, glitzy fun in a show featuring Cherdonna, Ernie Von Schmaltz, the Purple Lemonade, and the Haus of Hop.



45. Trump’s ABC
Ann Telnaes is the Washington Post‘s editorial cartoonist, and her view of our glorious executive leader is, shall we say, dim. Celebrate her art with the launch of this book “featuring sing-songy rhymes and beguiling watercolor drawings.” Supposedly, it’s a collection that would hold the attention of the President himself.


46. MØ, Cashmere Cat, Darius
Singer MØ and producer/DJ Cashmere Cat, from Denmark and Norway, respectively, and co-headliners on this tour, both create electro-pop well suited for the Coachella main stage or a smartphone commercial. Cashmere Cat has made great hay of his signature sound—chiming software bells, harps, and flutes atop contorted digital rap beats—collaborating with pop stars like Ariana Grande and the Weeknd. MØ has a wider range, and her solo output is more interesting than what she’s done as an EDM voice-for-hire, most notably on Major Lazer’s “Lean On.” That song was in a Google ad—go figure. ANDREW GOSPE

47. Nef the Pharaoh, OMB Peezy, MkF, Mo Money, UC Lil Kayla, Salsalino
Rap out of Northern Califoolya, as godfather E-40 termed it, is way too active these days—and Vallejo’s Nef the Pharaoh and Sacramento’s OMB Peezy are two of the region’s finest, both signed to 40’s Sic Wid It label, and a natural team. Both have done EPs with producer Cardo (aka Cardo Got Wings), who has a penchant for bringing the best out of up-and-comers. The Cardo-backed Neffy Got Wings and Humble Beginnings are the two best starting points to jumping on showcasing both young rappers’ gifts of descriptive grit. Nef and Peezy both draw heavily from legends they grew up on, sounding something like the second comings of Mac Dre and Lil Boosie, respectively. So I say all that to say this: Let’s get that supergroup popping—throw in Yhung T.O. and Mozzy, and you’d have NorCal’s true answer to N.W.A. Just spitballing here. LARRY MIZELL JR.


48. Craig Johnson: The Western Star
Craig Johnson is the author of nearly 20 novels and story collections that feature one Walt Longmire, a well-educated but taciturn former college football star and Marine veteran who now works as the sheriff of a remote county in Wyoming. Longmire also inspired six seasons of a fantastic TV show that ran until last year. It’s rare to find a character/series/author in the western tradition that satisfies the twin requirements of feeling both contemporary and timeless, but Johnson’s work does, and his reading voice is pleasing, too. SEAN NELSON



49. Chocofest 2018
Dive headfirst into chocoholic bacchanalia with 10, count ’em 10, drink tickets in tow at this annual pre-Valentine’s Day bash. Indulge in libations from dozens of breweries, cideries, wineries, and distilleries and sate your sweet tooth with confections from Fran’s Chocolates, Theo Chocolate, Chukar Cherries, Gelatiamo, and more. When you need to cut your sugar rush with something savory, there will also be bites from local restaurants and a cask beer section with unique ales available just for the evening. And know that all your hedonism supports a good cause—proceeds benefit Puget Soundkeeper Alliance’s efforts to protect Puget Sound waters. JULIANNE BELL

50. Northwest Women Stars of Food & Wine
This annual reception gathers tastemaking women chefs, winemakers, and sommeliers of the Pacific Northwest (and their fans) in the Columbia Tower for a night of bites and drinks. The lineup this year includes Chera Amlag of Hood Famous Bakeshop (she of the beloved ube cheesecake); chef and “hummus maven” Kristi Brown, owner of That Brown Girl Cooks!; Carrie Mashaney, Top Chef alum and executive chef of Mamnoon; chef Nicole Matson of How to Cook a Wolf; Tamara Murphy, chef and owner of Terra Plata; and many more. The event raises funds for Women’s Funding Alliance, a nonprofit whose mission is to “advance leadership and economic opportunity for women and girls in Washington State.” JULIANNE BELL


51. Kimbra, Arc Iris
You likely know New Zealand art-pop purveyor Kimbra from her feature spot in Gotye’s relentlessly ear-wormy 2012 hit “Somebody That I Used to Know.” She has a dulcet vocal quality that delves into lower velvety timbres and higher-reaching coos when she sings, her sound mixing catchy melodies with jazzy R&B, soulful pop, and indie-dance tones. New track “Top of the World” (a single off forthcoming third album Primal Heart) has a pounding beat and pits effected singing and rhyme-slinging against femme-tribal backing chants, reminding me simultaneously of Kendrick Lamar, M.I.A., and Blondie, while “Sweet Relief” (recorded in 2016) is straight up Prince-influenced pop-funk with rubbery elastic grooves and 1980s-flecked synthesizers. RIYL: Santigold, Bat for Lashes. LEILANI POLK



52. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Steady Holiday
At the height of their popularity in the mid 2000s, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah generated controversy disproportionate to their mostly-just-fine music. The band sold a bunch of copies of their first record without PR or a label, which led to plenty of soul-searching (or perhaps navel-gazing) discussions about the changing music industry, the nascent blogosphere, and whether CYHSY were any good to begin with. Now they’re touring behind the 10th-anniversary reissue of second album Some Loud Thunder, an of-its-time indie-rock record that fits snugly next to the likes of Wolf Parade and post-“Float On” Modest Mouse. ANDREW GOSPE

53. Dan Auerbach & the Easy Eye Sound Revue, Shannon and the Clams
As the singer and guitarist of the Black Keys, Dan Auerbach formed part of the great Midwestern blues-rock revival of the early 2000s. Much to his chagrin, his counterpart is the White Stripes’ Jack White. Likewise, while the two have each pursued an odd career of group albums, side projects, producer credits, and solo LPs, White’s work with his historic project is probably the better discog. Here’s the rub: When it comes to solo LPs, Auerbach has his Detroit arch-nemesis thoroughly spanked. In fact, Auerbach’s 2017 release, Waiting on a Song, might be his best release, full stop (the other contender is the 2009 LP, Blakroc). JOSEPH SCHAFER

54. One Classy Night in Seattle
In an odd collection of affairs, Will Ferrell will gather his friends — including Brandi Carlile, Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, and personal doppelgänger Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers — for an evening of live music, comedic chit-chat, and fundraising for Cancer For College.


55. Arlie Hochschild with Christopher Sebastian Parker: Strangers in Their Own Land
By now we’re all sick of relitigating the 2016 election, but renowned Berkeley sociologist Arlie Hochschild wrote one of the more considered books on the subject, one that’s infinitely more useful than J.D. Vance’s hillbilly whatever. To write Strangers in Their Own Land, Hochschild spent five years interviewing white middle-class and lower-middle-class Tea Partiers in Louisiana. And guess what? She discovers they think immigrants, black people, brown people, and women are stealing “their” tax dollars and “cutting ahead” in line. They think the government is way bigger than it is. They’re racist, and so they wanted to vote for the racist even though the economic and environmental policies people tell him to advance destroy their own homes and food sources. We know all that, but Hochschild also reveals some surprising and not totally obvious differences between Trump and his voters, which may be of use in 2018. Christopher Sebastian Parker, professor of political science at University of Washington, will join her for a discussion of her findings. RICH SMITH

56. Box Brown: Is This Guy For Real?
Ignatz Award-winning cartoonist Box Brown (Andre the Giant) will read from a new biographical graphic novel about the incendiary comic Andy Kaufman, known for his occasionally shocking performance-art style of stand-up.



57. Mardi Gras
The New Orleans-based holiday (celebrated all over the world) is full of booze, beaded necklaces, parades, rich foods, and more booze before Lent season begins the next day, on Ash Wednesday. See our complete Mardi Gras calendar here.


58. Kim Fu: The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore
Almost everything about Kim Fu’s The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore looks like a young-adult novel, but it’s not. It’s a gripping survival story about the lives of six diverse women—Nita, Andee, Kayla, Isabel, Dina, Siobhan—who first meet at an all-girls summer camp in the Pacific Northwest. Fu renders the particularities and weird ambiguities of preteen cruelty in ways that will transport you back the fluorescent horrors of your own middle-school cafeteria. After an unexpected tragedy, some Lord of the Flies shit goes down at the camp. The girls find themselves lost and without supervision. There are bears. There are rumors of a cougar. Food supplies are low—peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, some trail mix, and exactly one joint. They’re forced to make a lot of tough calls that will end up shaping their lives in unexpected ways. RICH SMITH



59. Mindi Abair Band
Contemporary sax thriller Mindi Adair will rip through Seattle over Valentine’s Day week with her bluesy, jazzy band of bad boys, the Bone Shakers.



60. La La Land in Concert with the Seattle Symphony
Oscar-winning romantic comedy film and original musical La La Land, renowned for its fantastical treatment of the golden age of Hollywood, will be given the orchestral treatment with this glamorous Valentine’s evening pairing. The Seattle Symphony will perform the film’s score live as Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling play out their love story on screen.



61. Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day started out as a Western Christian liturgical feast honoring Saint Valentine, but today its all about candy and gooey displays of romance. In turn, it’s sparked “anti” movements that reject said gooeyness. Luckily, there’s an ample supply of drugstore chocolate for both camps. See our complete Valentine’s Day calendar here, with over 100 options for performances, concerts, dinners, and more.


62. Air Supply
Can the hedgehog still hit the high notes? And no grown-up will ever understand that this is a matter of so much importance! Well, okay, no non–Air Supply fan. Air Supply fans don’t mind or laugh off their silly clothes (me, I searched the web in vain for a bright-white dress shirt with a yellow tiger over the right breast), unapologetic use of French horns, Jim Steinman’s confession that they almost bored him to death (“but I found that fascinating”) while he recorded one of their hugest hits. Air Supply rarely bother with new albums. They’re about the hits and the memories of those tiger-shirt days. Graham Russell looks like he never leaves the beach. Russell Hitchcock’s the hedgehog. Hope he’s still got it! (That shirt, I mean, which may be too much too hope for.) ANDREW HAMLIN

63. LP, Noah Kahan
New Yorker singer-songwriter and self-styled “rock rebel” LP is all about brash honesty and soulful, stripped-down yet spirited rock. She’ll be joined by Noah Kahan.


64. Bob Roth and David Lynch: Strength in Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation
The iconic Pacific Northwest filmmaker and the CEO of the David Lynch Foundation will speak about transcendental meditation, an ageless technique that can help soothe stress. Keep in mind Lynch will only sign the book, not your much-played copy of Wild at Heart.



65. Seattle Festival of Improv Theater
Improvisors from all over will come to Seattle to participate in the Seattle Festival of Improv Theater over five days. Come for parties, master classes, workshops, and of course, lots of hilarious theater.



66. Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas Opening
Figuring History displays large-scale history paintings by African American artists Robert Colescott (1925–2009), Kerry James Marshall (born 1955), and Mickalene Thomas (born 1971), each of whom offers alternatives to—and even undermines—tradition European American depictions of pivotal moments in our country’s story. From Robert Colescott’s cartoon-like image of a black Washington crossing the Delaware to Mickalene Thomas’s feminist nudes, these artists question the chokehold of white culture on the imagination of the past.


67. Black Panther Opening
The warrior-king of Wakanda will defend his people and struggle to avert world war in this hugely anticipated, frankly kickass-looking comic book adaptation starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, and Lupita Nyong’o.


68. Colson Whitehead
About novelist and MacArthur genius Colson Whitehead, Rich Smith wrote, “He won every major award in fiction this year for The Underground Railroad, which really was that good.” In his review, Smith said the new novel was “even better than the hype.” The Pulitzer Prize committee would agree with that assessment of the novel, which blends realistic historical atrocity and sci-fi premises to explore a woman’s drive to escape slavery.



69. CannaCon
Learn about the cannabis industry and meet professionals in the trade at CannaCon, a three-day long conference that offers seminars (including “Grow Path,” “Industry Path,” and “Science Path”) and networking opportunities for cannabis entrepreneurs. Governor Jay Inslee is this year’s keynote speaker.



70. Judah & The Lion, Colony House, Tall Heights
Exuberant Americana group Judah & the Lion will showcase their style of Southern grit for this stop of their Going To Mars Tour, with opening support sets by Colony House and Tall Heights.

71. Parquet Courts, Thurston Moore, Heron Oblivion
There’s a nervous energy that distinguishes Parquet Courts’ five full-lengths to date, including 2016’s fine Human Performance. The New York-by-way-of-Texas quartet combine the crazy rhythms of the Feelies with the late-night ramblings of the Modern Lovers. It’s not that they’re paranoid or peevish. It’s more that they’re hyper-sensitive to external phenomena and eager to share their immediate impressions—before new thoughts rush in to replace the old. Lyrics tumble out in a caffeinated rush over guitars that rumble like rickety subway cars. On the new album, the first to feature songwriting from all four members, they also add new moves, like the twang of “Pathos Prairie” or the kraut-rock chug of “One Man, No City.” The phrase “don’t sleep” has never seemed more apt.  KATHY FENNESSY


72. Dave Eggers and Mokhtar Alkhanshali: The Monk of Mokha
Dave Eggers, founder of McSweeney’s, turns to nonfiction to tell the story of Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a son of Yemeni immigrants who travels back to the land of his origin to discover coffee farms. Civil war breaks out in the middle of his trip, leaving him stranded. A tale of adventure and coffee nerdery, this book and its real-life protagonist are sure to charm and inspire. Presented by Elliott Bay Book Company.



73. The Jazz Epistles with Abdullah Ibrahim, Ekaya, and Terence Blanchard
Back in the 1980s, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) only operated between five in the afternoon and midnight, and in the hour or so before programming started, their station would accompany the transmission test pattern with music. Often this music was by Abdullah Ibrahim (who in the deep past of Cape Town, South Africa, was known as Dollar Brand), and often the tunes that flowed from the TV’s speakers were either Ibrahim’s exquisitely affirmative “Zimbabwe” or his masterpiece of jazz-jive “Mannenberg.” The African sun would be in the Harare sky, insects buzzing in the bright air, the dog basking on the veranda, copper light falling in the living room, my body reposed on a sofa, and all around me the sorrowful, lyrical, loop-like jazz of the great South African pianist. What Ibrahim accomplished as an artist was to end the split between lyrical sensitivity and aggressive percussiveness. He is one of the giants of Africa. CHARLES MUDEDE


74. Walk the Moon, Company of Thieves
If you’ve turned on commercial radio at any time in the last year, you’ve heard one of Walk The Moon’s thumping, stadium-ready alt-rock-pop tracks. They’ll hit Seattle on their Push Restart Tour.



75. Los Lobos with Future Stuff
To most punters, East LA giants Los Lobos are best remembered for their 1980s Top 40 version of Ritchie Valens’s “La Bamba,” but, y’all, they were playing well before that hit and have continued on since with a brilliant catalog of cool, sunshiny SoCal mix of rock, soul, and Tejano jams. As I’ve written in this space, “Loving Los Lobos has never been a stretch, as they’ve proved to have remarkably consistent top-class songwriting skills,” thus this Triple Door residency should prove to be nothing less than total greatness. MIKE NIPPER


76. Mark Morris Dance Group: Pepperland
The Mark Morris Dance Group may have moved on to bigger stages than Seattle has to offer, but don’t worry—they come back every so often. For the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the group will frolic to new music by Ethan Iverson that elaborates on the classical and non-Western influences on the Beatles’ songs.



77. Noir City 2018
Your yearly rendezvous with wicked women, doomed patsies, brutal criminals, and cynical detectives, all playing out in alluring chiaroscuro.



78. Derrick Carter Open-to-Close
What happens when Kremwerk hosts Chicago house-music titan Derrick Carter? Droves of zealots come out to raise the roof and burn thousands of calories to the man’s expertly mixed and selected sets, honed over the last quarter century or so. But he’s no purist. Carter’s sets usually branch out into disco, soul, jazz, and electro pop, connecting the dots with these styles and the spiritual funkiness of house music proper. DAVE SEGAL

79. GTA, Guests
USC Events present a night with GTA, a DJ duo sure to get your blood pumping with their joyride-style sets that emphasize trap beats, massive bass drops, and booming electronica in an attempt to completely do away with genre divides.


80. Tavi Gevinson: Rookie on Love
Not to pit two excellent publications against one another, but while Teen Vogue has been “having a moment” lately, editor-in-chief Tavi Gevinson’s Rookie Mag has been an essential periodical for young people who want to be talked to like adults since she founded it in 2011. Now she’s touring the country with an anthology about RICH SMITH



81. Chop Shop Dance Festival
This contemporary dance festival has presented performances from troupes and artists around the world, with the goal of reaching diverse audiences and connecting people of all abilities with dance instruction.



82. Jacob Sartorius, Zach Clayton, Luna Blaise, Hayden Summerall
Teen pop juggernaut Jacob Sartorius—billed as an “all-around entertainer, musician, actor, and social media force”—will lead his Leave Me Hangin’ Tour with support sets by equally young and earnest YouTube channel talents Zach Clayton, Luna Blaise, and Hayden Summerall.

83. Lettuce
Boston-brewed funk-jazz faves Lettuce celebrate 26 years in 2018. More impressive than their longevity, however, is the fact that the septet still features the core five of its original 1992 lineup, held down by the tight dual work of guitarists Eric Krasno and Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff, ramped up by rhythm-section monsters bassist Erick Coomes and drummer/percussionist Adam Deitch, and a horn section driven by sax-juggling extraordinaire Ryan Zoidis. 2016’s Mt. Crushmore EP might be seven songs short, but it hits hard with dark shades of psychedelic soul, stealthy, chugging grooves, and 1970s-era Tower of Power–inspired brass arrangements that add an urgent quality to the instrumental propulsion. These dudes are pros, no doubt about that. LEILANI POLK


84. Fran Lebowitz
Humorist Fran Lebowitz stands at a remove from popular culture, much of which she lambastes with sarcastic wit. She’s also something of a grump. In a 1993 interview in the Paris Review, she groused, “I wouldn’t say that I dislike the young. I’m simply not a fan of naïveté. I mean, unless you have an erotic interest in them, what other interest could you have?” But she’s also an incisive observer and a concentration of New York bluntness in human skin, and she’ll be worth seeing.



85. Protest Fest 2018
Do206 presents this multi-venue, live music-focused festival on President’s Day. According to the organizers, it “will feature curators from different music communities hosting events benefiting charities of their choosing,” including Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU, and the Sierra Club.



86. Our History, Our Responsibility
Here to commemorate Japanese Americans who lived through racially motivated incarceration—and to draw attention to discrimination against American Muslims—is Khizr Khan, the “Gold Star father” who found himself the target of the Trump campaign. He’ll help honor Japanese American survivors, service members, and others, alongside musician Kishi Bashi, who will show a part of his forthcoming documentary on the internment. Densho and CAIR-WA will co-present this event.



87. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
For the last fifteen or so years, garage revisionists Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have ladled drone-heavy fuzz onto the modern rock scene, with high-key Jesus & Mary Chain influences that are very easy to spot. Their sixth studio album, Specter at the Feast, offers a chance to see them expand their sound a bit, while still holding tight to their traditional leather-&-grease mainstays.

88. Gogol Bordello
Few bands double down on jubilant spectacle as hard as Gogol Bordello. The so-called “g*psy punk” outfit, consisting of charismatic singer Eugene Hutz and a revolving door of multi-ethnic and international musicians, blends big, simple rock hooks with accordion, violin, and a quirky sense of humor that is equal parts snarky and literary. At first brush it’s the Clash for NPR listeners, but deeper listens reveal a strong dedication to George Clinton’s funk sound, as well as big Def Leppard-ish hooks. JOSEPH SCHAFER

89. Helium with Mary Timony, Allison Crutchfield
Wild Flag and Helium cofounder Mary Timony is one of the original ’90s women of rock. Billed as an “indie rock starlet” more times than most, her fearless axe-slinging, lyric-flinging ways should be respected and acknowledged past industry gender barriers and simply for the excellent pillars of modern music that they are. She’ll be joined by the fleshed-out Helium line-up and Allison Crutchfield.

90. Mat Kearney
Ubiquitous pop-crafter Mat Kearney hit billboard pay dirt with his third studio album, Young Love. He’ll bring his iTunes commercial-ready tracks to Seattle on his Crazytalk Tour.


91. Rose McGowan
Rose McGowan escaped a cult as a teen and is currently fighting back against the clutches of sexism in Hollywood. Hear her discuss her new book, Brave, in a conversation with Carole Carmichael.



92. Princess Nokia, Suzi Analogue
Princess Nokia is the early-2000s cell-phone-inspired moniker of Destiny Frasqueri. After dabbling in some other projects in the early 2010s, Frasqueri settled on Princess Nokia in 2014, using it as an alter ego to channel the multidimensional aspects of herself. Princess Nokia raps about her experiences growing up in New York—she’s confrontational and totally unafraid to say how she’s feeling (check “Tomboy” and “Brujas”). She released her debut EP 1992 twice last year, self-releasing her collection of fiery verses in January, and then as a deluxe album with eight new tracks, including her indulgent rhymes and impenetrable knocks on Rough Trade Records in September. ANNA KAPLAN

93. Real Estate, Bedouine
What sets the Jersey boys in Real Estate apart from the anonymous masses of kinda disaffected, sorta heartbroken white dudes with chiming guitars and pretty voices is that these guys know how to build an actual tune. In fact, they’ve crafted two albums of immaculately rendered jangle-pop and were poised for a hat trick with the release of their third, Atlas, in March 2014. Every song is like the Platonic ideal of an indie-rock anthem: condensed, addictive nuggets of melody and atmosphere, technically adept and never over-staying their welcome. Meanwhile, Martin Courtney’s lyrics create a sort of Rorschach test for your emotions; they’re vague enough to score a breakup or acceptance into law school. Sure, it’s polite, but damned if they don’t crank out some head-noddingly, toe-tappingly catchy music. KYLE FLECK


94. David Barsamian: Global Discontents
Hear David Barsamian of Alternative Radio, known also for his manuscript-length interviews of, among others, Noam Chomsky. Chomsky and Barsamian’s book Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy “examines the present state of things.” Get a new perspective on society with a professional interlocutor.



95. Annihilation Opening
Annihilation follows a team of women scientists—a biologist, a surveyor, a psychologist, and an anthropologist—into the mysterious X, a lush yet terrifying zone generated on earth by a mysterious presence. Here’s hoping director Alex Garland and Nathalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, et al. will do justice to Jeff Vandermeer’s hypnotic novel.


96. Mr. Pickles Thrash-Tacular with Exodus and Municipal Waste
Adult Swim is currently dragging their street team around the country to promote the upcoming new season of their animated series “Mr. Pickles.” Partnering with the grime-heavy dog house aesthetic of the show, metal bands Exodus and Municipal Waste will headline this “thrash-tastic” 13-city tour.

97. Twista, Zion I, Gift of Gab
Being a speed rapper is sort of like being a champion curler: technically impressive, sure, but potentially deadly dull for the audience. Chicago’s premier tongue twister, Twista, listed as the fastest rapper alive in the 1992 Guinness Book of World Records by packing in 11.2 syllables a second, luckily avoids such pitfalls. He’s got a wry sense of humor, an intuitively in-the-pocket flow, and an unusually keen ear for nostalgia-baiting melodic production. Many came to know the man (born Carl Mitchell) from his Kanye-assisted “Slow Jamz” in 2003, an irresistible ode to classic R&B, but one must heed his early work (check Mobstability) for a true glimpse of the beautiful interplay that occurs when triple-time rhymes meet melancholically funky beats. Similar to E-40, Twista still impresses at this late stage of his career. KYLE FLECK


98. The Moth Seattle GrandSLAM
This is the the megaslam edition of the Moth, in which 10 winners of previous storySLAMs will battle for the title of GrandSLAM Story Champion. Hear inspiring, embarrassing, enlightening, enraging stories.



99. Seattle Wine and Food Experience
The Seattle Wine and Food Experience returns with three days of feasting. The newest addition, Comfort, kicks things off at Sodo Park with an evening of cheesy and meaty favorites from local gastropubs and taverns, plus craft beer and cider. On Friday, McCaw Hall hosts the refined POP! Bubbles & Seafood, where guests can choose from over 30 sparkling wines to go with a melange of oysters. The Grand Tasting wraps up the weekend with a showcase of wines from the Northwest and beyond, along with local and regional beer, cider, and spirits.



100. Seattle Asian American Film Festival
The SAAFF will screen fictional and documentary stories of Asian American journeys, families, artistic innovations, and more—plus music videos and shorts, some of which are free to see.



101. A Fantastic Woman Opening
A trans woman and an older man fall rapturously in love—but he dies suddenly during their torrid night together. The bereaved Marina struggles to maintain equilibrium and dignity in the face of her lover’s intolerant family. This film by Sebastián Lelio is an Oscar nominee and has already won a jury prize, a Silver Berlin Bear, and a Teddy at the Berlinale, as well as numerous other awards and nominations. And—for once!—the film boasts an actual trans woman, Daniela Vega, in the role of a trans woman.


102. Miguel, SiR, Nonchalant Savant
Miguel is a truly smooth R&B thriller, with pop smarts and massive genre-crossover abilities. He’ll be joined by SiR and Nonchalant Savant on his War & Leisure Tour, named after his fourth studio album.

103. Miles Electric Band
Don’t listen to jazz purists: The albums and live performances from Miles Davis’s electric era (1969 to 1975, from In a Silent Way to Pangaea) represent some of the most exciting, innovative music in any genre, in human history. Their convergence of humid funk and volcanic psychedelia, plus Davis and producer Teo Macero’s radical use of space exploded conventional notions of how jazz could progress after hard bop. The 11-strong Miles Electric Band includes alums from the legendary trumpeter’s ensembles, such as tabla player Badal Roy, P-Funk guitarist Blackbyrd McKnight, and drummer Vince Wilburn Jr. In addition, Rolling Stones/Sting sideman Darryl Jones contributes bass. There’s no way this can’t be amazing. DAVE SEGAL


104. Word Works: Ruth Ozeki
In her novel A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki performed some next-level Being John Malkovich–style narrative judo flips. There are so many threads in the book—a journal written by a bullied Japanese teenager, the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a novelist named Ruth who eerily resembles Ozeki—that a lesser novelist would have turned in a tangled mess of knotted twine. But Ozeki demonstrates the metafictional gift of a Vonnegut or a Kundera, the ability to insert herself into her novel and in so doing transform the personal into the universal. PAUL CONSTANT



105. Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin
Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin has been collecting accolades from up and down the West Coast, and now, it’s finally Seattle’s turn. Come for a heartfelt tribute to the musical icon by writer/performer Felder, practiced performances of a variety of songs from Berlin’s repertoire, and a cheery depiction of American music as a whole. David C. Nichols at the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Indeed, the empathy, showmanship and craft on tap may just be the best match of historical figure and performing artist yet in this franchise, wholly attuned to a gratefully participating audience. Those who resist Felder or Berlin are advised to skip this one—it’ll just leave more tickets for the rest of us.”



106. Adam Ray
LA-based Adam Ray (Ghostbusters, The Heat) will return to his hometown of Seattle for a comedy set.

107. My Dad Wrote a Porno
When Jamie Morton’s dad “Rocky Flintstone” (not his real name) wrote (rather inept) erotic fiction, Jamie decided to turn it into a comedy podcast. If you love vicarious embarrassment, this is the show for you.


108. 16th Annual Hops and Props
Hops & Props celebrates of craft brews from across the Northwest (and a few from other places). Enjoy three-ounce pours from over 100 breweries and cider houses, a spread of bites from McCormick & Schmick’s, and live music.


109. Washington Beer Open House
This month, over 130 Washington breweries will open their doors for a simultaneous open house, which gives beer lovers a unique opportunity to create their own adventure. Plot an itinerary for a personalized brewery crawl, travel to a few destination breweries you’ve always wanted to try, or simply drop into the nearest participating craft brewer in your neighborhood. Each featured brewer will have their own lineup of surprises in store, including samples, tours, souvenirs, rare barrel tastings, savory food pairings, and more.


110. Corridor
Welcome to Corridor, the third annual festival of music, light, and sound presented by Elevator, with artists responsible for visual installation, performance, and movement to cover all bases of creative tangibility. Sound artists include MHYSA, Yu Su, ASDFS, C Spencer Yeh, Chloe Alexandra, Ellen Phan, ‘nohup,’ and Lushloss. Visual artists presenting light works include Cameron Shafii & Alex Boschenstein, and Anisa Jackson & Mel Carter. Visual artists presenting movement works so far include Matt Drews and Dead Thoroughbred, with many more artists of every discipline to be announced.

111. WHY?, Florist
At this point, it almost goes without saying that Yoni Wolf isn’t your average rapper. The Cincinnati native rose to prominence in the late 1990s/early ’00s backpack-rap scene as part of cLOUDDEAD, along with Doseone and Odd Nosdam, cofounders of outré rap label Anticon. While Why? had been Wolf’s stage name since 1997, in 2004 he made the unprecedented move of turning his MC handle into the name of an indie-rock band that has remained popular for more than a decade. Part of Why?’s popularity can be attributed to the fact that there’s really no other band out there like them—rap-rock this is not. Rather, Why’s dexterous, sing-songy flow proved the perfect counterpart to Wolf’s bandmate and brother Matt Meldon’s imaginative, folk-friendly, and prog-inspired instrumentation, which has earned them fans more into Bob Dylan than Biz Markie. NICK ZURKO


112. Search for Meaning Festival
Want a better world? Don’t we all. Hear from scholars, fiction writers, and poets at this annual community festival on how we can contribute.

113. Shaun Scott with Minh Nguyen: Millennials and the Moments that Made Us
Seattle writer and filmmaker Shaun Scott will reveal discoveries from Millennials and the Moments That Made Us, his new book about the perception of millennials and the traits of the generation. Minh Nguyen, a fellow writer, will help him take the audience on a tour of this generation’s formative influences.



114. Burger A-Go-Go 2018
Atlanta psycho-pop trio the Coathangers are three bands in one, which sounds like hyperbole until you dig into their five-album discography, including 2016’s swell Nosebleed Weekend on Seattle’s Suicide Squeeze. On stage, the self-described crazy-ass ladies trade instruments and lead vocals, much like Beat Happening before them. Guitarist Julia Kugel brings salty-sweet riot-grrrl attitude, drummer Stephanie Luke brings metal power and fury, and bassist Meredith Franco brings no-wave-meets-new-wave spirit. It’s as if Bikini Kill–era Kathleen Hanna joined forces with members of the Shangri-Las and Girlschool. To add to the party vibes, the Coathangers go by goofy nicknames (Crook Kid, Minnie, Rusty), sprinkle their lyrics with brand names (Nestlé, Adderall), and wear matching girl-gang outfits (white T-shirts, black leather jackets) when the mood strikes. KATHY FENNESSY



115. Beatrice & Benedict
Beatrice & Benedict is the novel adaptation of Shakespeare’s exuberant comedy Much Ado About Nothing set to an operatic score by Berlioz and paired with English text originally by Shakespeare. This theatrical hybrid produced by Seattle Opera is notable for its witty banter, fast pace, and confessional style.



116. Urban Poverty Forum
Diverse organizations—faith-based and nonprofit—will join in a discussion on problems faced by poor citizens. This time, the topic will be police de-escalation. Participants will include Reverend Harriett Warden (Mothers for Police Accountability), the Mahogany Project, educator Erin Jones, SPD Crime Prevention Coordinator Felicia Cross, and Chester Earl from Justice For Jackie. Lisa Edge (Real Change staff) will facilitate the conversation.


117. Carla Bruni
If you only know her as the First Lady of France, you’ll be pleased to find out that in addition to that title, Carla Bruni is a widely celebrated Italian-French singer-songwriter and model. Her trademark smokey coo is currently on display in her latest album French Touch.

118. Snarky Puppy, Banda Magda
Grammy-winning jazz-fusion ensemble Snarky Puppy, whose many members qualify as solo heavy-hitters in their own right, are known for taking their jams to the next level, cornering the genres of funk, world, and soul, all with a jazzy filter. KIM SELLING



119. k.d. lang, Slava Grigoryan
Essential celesbian and noted cowgirl crooner k.d. lang is back on the road for her Ingenue Redux Tour, sharing tracks from her illustrious career of almost three decades. She’ll be joined by Slava Grigoryan at this Seattle tour stop.

120. Tune-Yards, Sudan Archives
tUnE-yArDs frontwoman Merrill Garbus is just as likely to combine incongruous ingredients, like Haitian drumming and Casio squiggles. Sometimes it works (“Water Fountain”), sometimes it doesn’t (that fucking punctuation), but she excels at keeping listeners off-balance, which may be why her album Nikki Nack hasn’t generated as much hype as w h o k i l l, which topped the Village Voice’s 2011 Pazz & Jop poll. And that’s too bad, because it’s a better record. KATHY FENNESSY


121. André Aciman: Call Me By Your Name
André Aciman’s 2007 Lambda Award-winning debut novel, Call Me By Your Name, is the inspiration behind Luca Guadagnino’s Oscar-nominated film. Join the author in conversation with Shelf Awareness’ Dave Wheeler, and meet Aciman at Queer/Bar afterward for a reading and meet-and-greet.



122. Between River and Rim: Hiking the Grand Canyon
The team of writer Kevin Fedarko and photographer Pete McBridge will share their story of hiking the entire Grand Canyon in sections—without trails. Learn about their experiences and their discovery of threats to the natural wonder’s future.



123. Shamir, Pardoner, Michete
Because his first record, Ratchet, hit the streets like a glitter bomb with sassy lyrics (“Don’t try me, I’m not a free sample”), gospel-pop vocals, and video-game synths, 23-year-old Shamir Bailey might seem like an out-of-the-blue success story, except he’s been honing his craft for years. While still in grade school, the Las Vegas native decided to devote his life to music, and he’s been writing and performing ever since. First, he released 2014’s Northtown EP, then he covered Brandy Clark and Miranda Lambert, and then came his irresistible debut. Though Ratchet’s as well-crafted as Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall, Shamir told Rookie magazine that he prefers the stage to the studio, so expect a high-energy performance from a charismatic character with a one-of-a-kind fashion sense. KATHY FENNESSY

124. Superchunk, Bat Fangs
Superchunk is the beloved and forever-existing band that can be credited (or blamed) for the existence of just about every crunchy pop band formed post-1990. But unlike the majority of their catalog, which is largely bouncy and uplifting, Superchunk’s 1994 full-length, Foolish, is the perfect soundtrack for those moments in life where you feel fucked up, like you’ve been fucked over, or maybe just want to disappear altogether. It’s one of their more morose efforts (written after the band’s singer Mac McCaughan and bassist Laura Ballance broke up), so even though there are a few examples of the band’s highly revered pop tendencies (hear “Water Wings” and “Without Blinking” for examples), the real gems of the record are the fuzzy and feedback-filled anthems about being bummed out. MEGAN SELING



125. Brockhampton with Romil
Heralded as “the Internet’s first boy band,” Texas collective Brockhampton will bring their self-styled hiphop to Seattle.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Women in music to man in charge of Grammys: ‘Time’s up, Neil’

Recording Academy President Neil Portnow (the man in charge of the Grammys) told women in music they’d have to “step up” if they wanted to win more awards. Today, women in music responded by telling him he’s the one who’ll have to step up if he wants to keep his job.

The Grammys faced intense backlash this year for the staggering lack of female artists recognized at the awards show on Sunday.

In a statement to Variety, Portnow responded to the criticism by suggesting that the “women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level” should “step up because I think they would be welcome.”

His words of encouragement were just what women in music needed to finally step up, and tell him to sit his ass down and listen.

“We step up every single day and have been doing so for a long time. The fact that you don’t realize this means it’s time for you to step down,” reads the strongly worded letter addressed to Portnow, which was signed by 21 top female music industry executives.

The letter goes on to lay out the systemic sexism that causes female artists to go overlooked by gatekeepers like Portnow. Educating him on the reality of his own industry, the women generously cite a host of cold, hard statistics to inform him on the reality they live through every day.

“Time’s up,” they summarize in their sign-off.

In full, the letter says:

Dear Mr. Neil Portnow,

The statement you made this week about women in music needing to “step up” was spectacularly wrong and insulting and, at its core, oblivious to the vast body of work created by and with women. Your attempt to backpedal only emphasizes your refusal to recognize us and our achievements. Your most recent remarks do not constitute recognition of women’s achievements, but rather a call for men to take action to “welcome” women. We do not await your welcome into the fraternity. We do not have to sing louder, jump higher or be nicer to prove ourselves.

We step up every single day and have been doing so for a long time. The fact that you don’t realize this means it’s time for you to step down.

Today we are stepping up and stepping in to demand your resignation.

The stringent requirements for members of NARAS to vote reflect the distorted, unequal balance of executives and creators in our industry. There is simply not enough opportunity and influence granted or accessible to women, people of color and those who identify as LGBTQ. We can continue to be puzzled as to why the Grammys do not fairly represent the world in which we live, or we can demand change so that all music creators and executives can flourish no matter their gender, color of their skin, background or sexual preference.

Let’s take a look some facts, most of which are courtesy of a recent report on Inclusion in Popular Music from USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism division:

In 2017, 83.2% of [Grammy-nominated] artists were men and 16.8% were women, a 6 year low for female artists.

A total of 899 individuals were nominated for a Grammy Award between 2013 and 2018. A staggering 90.7% of these nominees were male and 9.3% were female.
10% of nominees for Record of the Year across a 6 year sample were female.
Over the last six years, zero women have been nominated as producer of the year.
Of the 600 top songs in 2017, of the 2,767 songwriters credited, 87.7% were male and 12.3% were female.
The top nine male songwriters claim almost 1/5th (19.2%) of the songs in the 6 year sample.
The gender ratio of male producers to female producers is 49 to 1.
Only 2 of 651 producers were females from an underrepresented racial/ethnic group.
42% of artists were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups.
The top male writer has 36 credits, the top female writer has 15 credits.
Of the newly released Billboard Power 100, 18% were women.
In publishing history, there has been only 1 female CEO and 1 male of color CEO. They currently hold these positions.
The position of President of a Label, is currently only held by one woman of color.


We are here not to merely reprimand you, but to shed light on why there is such an outcry over your comments and remind you of the challenges that women face in our country and, specifically, in the music industry. Your comments are another slap in the face to women, whether intended or not; whether taken out of context, or not. Needless to say, if you are not part of the solution, then you must accept that YOU are part of the problem.

Time’s up, Neil.

Importantly, the letter is not an excuse to lambast Portnow, but a demand for action. As the last paragraph makes clear, these women are giving him an ultimatum, rather than calling for his public execution. 

Portnow is welcome to keep his job, the letter says — if he can demonstrate the capacity to recognize and fix the issues that not only hold women back, but the industry as a whole from reaching its full potential.

Many feel SZA was robbed for not being recognized for her critically acclaimed debut album

Many feel SZA was robbed for not being recognized for her critically acclaimed debut album

Image: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS

Ironically, their letter was sent only minutes after Portnow sent his own addressing the music community. In it, he said the Recording Academy had to “overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community.”

His letter reads in full:

After hearing from many friends and colleagues, I understand the hurt that my poor choice of words following last Sunday’s Grammy telecast has caused. I also now realize that it’s about more than just my words. Because those words, while not reflective of my beliefs, echo the real experience of too many women. I’d like to help make that right.

The Recording Academy is establishing an independent task force to review every aspect of what we do as an organization and identify where we can do more to overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community. We will also place ourselves under a microscope and tackle whatever truths are revealed.

I appreciate that the issue of gender bias needs to be addressed in our industry, and share in the urgency to attack it head on. We as an organization, and I as its leader, pledge our commitment to doing that. We will share more information about the steps we are taking in the coming weeks.

Sincerely, Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy.

Those are some nice words. And before, words might’ve been enough to get Portnow off the hook. But now, men are finally being held accountable for their actions, and the results of those actions. 

Because this year’s Grammys continued a 9-year streak of record low viewership. Under Portnow’s leadership, the awards show has only continued its downward spiral into irrelevance by failing to recognize the women and black artists who’ve proven to be the future of music.

As president of the organization tasked with awarding and protecting artistry in music, it’s Portnow’s literal job to deliver better results than that. So he’ll have to find the creativity in his heart and soul to do it. Or step down.

Portnow tried to tell women that they failed the industry. Instead, women in the music helpfully showed him exactly how the industry has been failing them for decades. And how they only succeed in spite of its ignorant leaders.

So it’s his choice now: Portnow can either step up to meet the people he’s marginalized at their level, or he can get left behind as they soar beyond him.

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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment