The Vera Project is very excited to host the Music Journalism Class Series: Writing About Music. In this series, students will get insight and teachings from some of the best and most experienced in the business. All ages and experience levels are welcome.
Mondays 7:00-8:30 PM
September 22 - October 27
This comprehensive 6-class course focuses on practical musical journalism. Students will explore the history of popular music journalism, learn the craft of writing, and begin developing the tools needed for a career writing about music and the arts.
Mark Baumgarten (Seattle Weekly editor-in-chief, former editor of City Arts Magazine)
Chris Nelson (former music journalist for New York Times, Rolling Stone, sonicnet.com, Seattle Times, Seattle P-I)
Michaelangelo Matos (Writer for Village Voice, Capital New York, Resident Advisor)
Jessica Hopper (Music Editor for Rookie Magazine, Senior Editor of the Pitchfork Review, writer for Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Spin)
Ann Powers (Music critic for NPR; former pop music critic for LA Times, Author of Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America and coeditor of Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Pop, and Rap, and co-author with Tori Amos of Piece By Piece.)
For more information and registration Click Here
Summit Block Party(SBP)
We are excited to announce that The Vera Project is partnering with Summit Block Party this year and will have our very own Vera Stage! The event is Saturday August 9th from 11:00am to 9:30pm between E Olive & Howell Street. There will be plenty of great DIY music, crafts, art, and more!
Here is this year’s lineup:
The Pharmacy // Ecstatic Cosmic Union // Snuff Redux // Great Spiders // Kleine // Kelli Frances Corrado // Wayfinders // Parker Edison //
Bad Tats // CMRTYZ // Diogenes // Carnotaurus //Lifeslow // Funky Photos // Nightspace // Spread Thick Crew
Official Website: www.summitblockparty.com
Facebook Event Page: www.facebook.com/events/847192731977590/
By Danyka Tagg
A rising act in the world of Alternative Rock, Kongos have formed a distinct style with influences ranging from all different grounds. The band is composed of four brothers including Johnny, Jesse, Dylan and Daniel Kongos. Having endured life shaping steps moving from London to South Africa, and now to Arizona, the band is cultured from various different roots. With a collective South African inspired sound and a funky accordion beat, their songs have been rising to top the charts in the past weeks. They recently sat down with The Vera Project at Sasquatch! Music Festival 2014 to talk about their experiences on tour and at the fest.
Danyka: Tonight’s your last night on tour, how long has the journey been?
Kongos: We’ve been touring since the middle of April, and we’ve got a few days off after Sasquatch. After that we’ve got a show in Tucson, then it’s back on the road again until November. It’s not our first US tour, but a very extensive one.
D: Have you guys played South Africa a couple of times? Has it been a stop on one of your tours?
K: Not this year, but 2012 was the last time that we played there. I’m not sure when we’re going back, but definitely we’re going back. But, we haven’t played there since 2012.
D: How did you guys find your musical roots in Phoenix?
K: It is sort of isolated, you’re out there on your own in the desert. We were able to sort of get into the studio and do our own thing, not be too influenced by what was going on in any particular scene in LA or New York, any of the music hubs of the world.
D: How has your Sasquatch experience been like? Has it been a different experience?
K: The crowd was great, festival crowds are always great because they’re here to just see music and nothing else. It’s different because you’re reaching to a whole bunch of people, not just preaching to the choir. You’re getting new fans, and people that are kind of open minded. I like playing festivals, although we had some technical issues. But, the crowd makes up for it.
D: What are some of your favorite bands right now? What was the last show you saw here?
K: Queens of The Stone Age. I’m bummed we’re not going to be able to see them.
We just listened to the new Michael Jackson album. It’s pretty good and I like it. Also, a band called Darkside that I just started listening to.
I listened to some old school Prince, Stevie Wonder, also Michael Jackson as well. I’m into those kinda grooves right now. Drum wise, there are some gospel drummers that I really like and are just killin’ it.
D: What was it like moving from South Africa to Arizona?
K: We’ve been in the states for 17 years and we were all kids, so it was a parental choice. It wasn’t much of a choice, and a bit of a culture shock. I think that most of world grows up more exposed to American culture rather than the other way around. So, you kind of know what to expect. We’ve seen all the teen movies.
D: What’s your favorite teen movie?
K: I don’t know about favorites, but I watched that movie “Kids” before I moved here. I don’t know if you’ve seen “Kids”, it’s a f****ed up movie and I thought high school was going to be like that, and it wasn’t.
D: They always sugar-coat it, high school.
K: No, this wasn’t sugar-coated. It was the exact opposite of sugar-coating. Check it out, it’s disturbing. Yeah, we all came prepared with letterman jackets and it just didn’t work out.
D: Who’s the favorite child? Who’s the least favorite?
K: Depends on the day, whoever cooks that day. It’s the same.
D: We’re an all ages music venue, there’s not many in Arizona. Why do you think all ages music is important?
K: Well, I’ll tell you the difference between when you have younger kids at shows. They are generally more amped up and excited and because they aren’t “too cool” yet to stand there. In South Africa, the drinking age is 18. So, you’ve 18 to 21 year-olds that you don’t have at most shows in the states. I think that really helps it out. I don’t know how all ages venues work in Seattle, but in Phoenix they are so segregated they’re off on the other side of the bar and it just messes up shows. When they make it simple and give everyone wrist bands and everyone can stand together it makes for such a better vibe. Because, when you’ve got half the crowd in one part of the venue, no one can connect properly with the music. Half the people are drunk and half the people are stone cold sober.
D: What’s been your favorite memory of this tour so far?
K: Indian food.
D: Where at? Good or bad?
K: Every city, every time we get a chance we go and get Indian food. Cause, a lot of times the venue will have catering or we’ll just eat something quickly. But, when we have a day off and we can go find a restaurant, we really like it.
D: What city has had the best Indian food?
K: Nashville had great Indian food. St. Louis? No, we had Ethiopian food in St. Louis and Detroit, maybe. All I can say is, thank goodness for Indian food when you’re traveling the Midwest.
THE BEST WEEK OF THE SUMMER IS BACK!
The Vera Project is excited to announce the 12th annual drinking fundraiser A Drink for the Kids! Happening just in time to gear up for the best week of the summer, when the sun shines the longest and the cocktails are the most refreshing, we invite Seattle’s 21+ music and arts loving community to support programs for all ages at the Vera Project just by drinking at their favorite neighborhood bars!
Vera is excited to welcome Tito’s Vodka and local distillery 3 Howls as A Drink for the Kids’ liquor sponsors, and welcomes back Eugene, Oregon’s Ninkasi Brewery as beer sponsor. During A Drink for the Kids, 100% of the proceeds raised from the purchase of any Tito’s, 3 Howls cocktails, or Ninkasi beer directly benefit The Vera Project. Each night will feature raffles with fun prizes from partners like Seattle Theatre Group, Sub Pop, the Show Box, Bon Voyage Vintage, and more, with the Linda’s Tavern night also featuring a small silent auction of sought after items.
Humorously named by Vera founder James Keblas (former Director of Seattle’s Office of Film and Music, recently announced as the President of the marketing firm Creature), A Drink for the Kids encourages the 21+ crowd to come out and raise funds in support of The Vera Project and its music and arts programs for all ages. The Vera Project is a volunteer-fueled non-profit music and arts space located in Seattle Center that offers popular music concerts, arts programs, classes in silkscreening, audio production, DJing, and more, as well as experiential learning and volunteer opportunities. Programs are open to all ages with a focus on young people ages 14 to 24. The skills participants gain at Vera activate future creativity, careers, and leadership within Vera as well as in the greater creative community. Vera engages thousands in the arts, develops the future of the music industry and supports a vibrant Seattle culture.
June 18 | The Neighbor Lady
Grab a drink with these hosts:
Skate Like a Girl
Hollow Earth Radio
Nicolas H. Botka
Michael R. Dellinger
June 19 | Linda’s Tavern
Grab a drink with these hosts:
Emily Nokes & Kelly O of The Stranger Seattle
Sub Pop Records
The Recording Academy - The Pacific Northwest Chapter
June 20 | Redwood
Grab a drink with these hosts:
Sasquatch! Music Festival
Amber Rose Jimenez
Rachel Palangio Kramer
Hush Hush Records
By Shaun Mejia
Eugene Mirman has had an unconventional rise in the past few years. After moving from Russia to Massachusetts, he graduated from Hampshire College with a Bachelor of Arts in Comedy (the college offered a “choose your own major” program). From performing festivals and opening for bands like The Shins and Modest Mouse to starting his own comedy festival as a joke, Mirman has paved his own path in a career that spans over 20 years. While polishing his stand up, he landed small roles like Bret and Jemaine’s landlord Eugene on Flight of the Conchords and Russian mobster Yvgeny Mirminsky in Delocated. Currently, he voices the character Gene on Fox’s series Bob’s Burgers, a kid who loves music as much as he loves farts. He is also involved with Cosmos host Neil Degrasse Tyson on a podcast called Star Talk. The Vera Project got a chance to talk to him at the Sasquatch Festival about why people at the Gorge have it together, possible alien life, and yelling jokes at an audience.
The Vera Project: Who are your biggest influences?
Eugene Mirman: I feel like I had people that I really loved growing up both comic and musicians. I really loved the comic Emo Phillips & the music of Robert Hitchcock and continue to enjoy both of them. Also, Steve Martin and Bobcat Goldthwait. There’s also Lou Reed. I liked a lot of music that had sincerity and sarcasm and similarly comedy that was earnest and funny or silly and weird. There’s a comedy duo called Coyle and Sharpe that did a lot of weird street pranks that were amazing. Yeah, that’s a handful of artists.
TVP: Any advice for up and coming comedians?
EM: My advice to any comedians is to do it for a long time. A lot of it is tenacity and there’s nothing that replaces trial and error meaning you get on stage and you try it and if something works you keep it and it if it fails you get rid of it and fix it. You do that for 10-15 years. For some artists, that’s the process. There are very few acts that you go watch and make you laugh for half hour to an hour that people won’t hire to do that. It’s not like someone sees someone for a half hour, laughs a lot, and is like, “Too bad because I don’t want to see that again.” A lot of is tenacity, focus, and trial and error.
TVP: Are there any benefits to performing at a festival?
EM: The advantages are that people might happen upon you who normally wouldn’t necessarily, but, in terms of an ideal environment, a club that is air conditioned and everyone is tightly packed in is probably preferable to a giant tent. The thing that was interesting about yesterday [his set at Sasquatch] is that the people were totally into it and there wasn’t music that was too loud and everyone could hear me in the tent. As far as festival shows go actually, it was very pleasant for me and the audience. But when you do a festival you’re always at the risk of noise pollution. I mean I’m yelling interviewing answers right now. The fun thing about festivals for me is I get to see comic friends I haven’t seen in a while and we get to see a bunch of bands. I’ve done music festivals where I’m literally yelling stand up as a really loud band is playing. It’s very easy to do an interview now, but if you were actually trying to be like, “SO I WAS IN A CAR DRIVING,” you seem insane especially for an art form that is meant to be conversational. There’s always that risk, but I think festivals are aware of that and coordinate that so everyone has a nice time. And Sasquatch seems to do that well.
TVP: What was your favorite festival you performed at?
EM: It’s funny, one answer is partially Bumbershoot because it is a festival but you perform inside a theater with air conditioning and seats and there’s zero noise pollution. That’s also a festival in a city and you don’t camp – not that I’m camping - and go to a hotel like SXSW. In general, it’s all kind of the same. It’s fun to see old friends and bands you like and nonprofit stuff like The Vera Project. It’s funny because here it seems like people are not (laughs) fucked up. I’ve been to festivals where you’re like, “Oh Jesus, you’re dancing and there’s nothing happening and your hands are covered in glowing paint and I hope you’re safe.” But here, it’s like people clearly have had a lot of lime beer but seem pretty together and safe.
TVP: Your first few albums were released on popular Seattle labels Suicide Squeeze and Sub Pop. How did you get involved with them and do you hang out in Seattle a lot?
EM: I do somewhat. I’m recording my next record for Sub Pop in a few weeks in Seattle. My booking agent, Robin, who books a lot music and who I met over 10 years ago, hooked me up with David from Suicide Squeeze. That was a wonderful experience. Then Sub Pop put out my record after that. I met some people through Robin and David Cross so I knew about them for several years. I love working with them. They are a combination of the sweetest people and very up for fun interesting projects. In general, all the stuff I work on, from TV to standup, I mostly tour with friends and work on TV show with friends. It’s important to work with people I like collaborating with or just being in business with.
TVP: Was there any connection with Flight of the Conchords, who also released albums through Sub Pop?
EM: I was on Sub Pop before Flight of the Conchords. I met them a long time ago in New York in Edinburgh. They used to play on my weekly show so I knew them before their show. They had written in people they knew that were American comics and casted me playing a weirdo version of myself.
TVP: Who are you excited to see at The Gorge?
EM: There’s a comic Bridget Everett who’s amazing. I’m excited to see Violent Femmes, Neko Case, Demetri Martin – oh wait, I’m not gonna see him but I get to hang out him so that’s fine. We used to live in New York together then he moved to LA so it’s fun to hang out. There’s a bunch of others, but offhand without looking at the schedule, not bad.
TVP: What drew you into Bob’s Burgers?
EM: Brendan Small and I were roommates when he got Home Movies and sort of knew Loren Bouchard [co-creator of Home Movies with Small, creator of Bob’s Burgers] from Boston. When Bouchard did Lucy: The Daughter of the Devil, he cast me and John Benjamin so he cast everyone for Bob’s Burgers. In terms of Gene, we recorded for 2 years this 8 minute demo and we kept tweaking and improvising it. And, to our surprise, Loren told us it got picked up. A lot of cartoons, you go into a studio and do your lines and leave, but this was very different for a cartoon. It’s rare for an entire cast of a cartoon to record altogether but we do. So we spend a day together doing all the scenes together and get to improvise scenes. Sometimes we go back in and tweak more lines and the writers rewrite a little bit, but we do the essential meat of the script all together. It’s so fun to work with Jon, Larry, Dan, Kristen and people always drop in. It is obviously a dream job of sorts.
TVP: How did you get involved with Neil Degrasse Tyson and Star Talk?
EM: We went to high school together. That isn’t true, that would be fun to say (laughs). I taught him everything he knew about math! His producer came to a show that I used to do in New York and asked if I was interested in this thing Star Talk with Neil. A year later they reached out and asked if I wanted to meet with Neil. I thought it’d be like 20 mins but it turned into a 2-3 hours meeting and at the end of it, he was like, “Let’s get a microphone and practice” and I was like “Okay!” So we recorded this thing in his office in front of four people and a few months later they called me and asked if I wanted to do it in a studio. Then at some point, I thought we should do this live. It’d be a fun live show and we did it a festival that me and my friends do as a joke called Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival. Neil’s amazing and it’s such a delight to work with him. And also when he’s busy with Cosmos, Bill Nye the Science Guy fills in for him sometimes and Bill’s a joy. Both are so passionate about science. It’s a combination of education and comedy and it’s one of the most joyous things I get to do.
TVP: Any cool space facts?
EM: Yeah I don’t think it’s live yet, but it was from one with Bill Nye in San Francisco Sketchfest. One thing that was real interesting is this guy from SETI, the institute that actually searches for alien life, says that in the next 25-30 years, he believes that we will get a signal from another civilization that is about as advanced as us. We’re constantly aiming rays at space at things that we think are earthlike planets and based on something called the Drake Equation, which is the statistical look at the chances of a particular level of alien life, he believes in 25-30 years we’ll get a signal from a world, which is kind of amazing. It’s not that long from now. It would be almost impossible to reach that place and for them to reach us. The technology needed to reach a place like that would involve folding space and the energy of all the stars and it’d be insane. But to send a signal and receive a signal, not that crazy. That’s maybe the most mind blowing thing - that there is a person whose real job is to look for alien life and believes a really reasonable thing based on a very specific algorithm. What’s neat about Star Talk when you hear about weird conspiracy theories like Area 51, there’s actually a science of how you travel through space or how you would go to another civilization. To travel light years is insane. So that is really fun.
TVP: Any upcoming shows to promote?
EM: I have a show in New York on June 5th with Neil Degrasse Tyson. I am recording an album in Seattle over three nights at Columbia Theatre on the 6th, 7th, and 8th. I think tickets are sold out for the first two, but there are some for the 8th. I think that’s all for my shows. I am very excited to return to Seattle!