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A blog for Seattle music lovers of all stripes, from hip-hop and indie rock to jazz and world music.

October 2, 2014 at 11:28 AM

Macefield fest brings The Sonics, The Posies, THEESatisfaction and others to Ballard

A bastion of live-music tradition in a gentrifying city, Seattle’s tight-knit Ballard neighborhood is like a big house with different artists making different work in different rooms.

Fitting, then, that this weekend’s Macefield Music Festival honors the late Edith Macefield, a local musician and folk hero for refusing high-rise developers’ millions to stay put in her 100-year-old cottage. (Think the house in the 2009 Pixar film “Up.”)

From early Friday evening to Sunday after-hours, the original sounds of 60-plus performers will fill the bars, restaurants and storefronts of the Ballard Avenue Historic District.

Seattleites make up the bulk of the lineup; of the rest, some hail from nearby towns (Everett’s Fauna Shade, Olympia’s Survival Knife), others from foreign countries (Victoria, B.C.’s Carolyn Mark; Christchurch, New Zealand’s Delaney Davidson).

For two beloved expat power duos — Sub Pop soul mavens THEESatisfaction, now living in Brooklyn, and heavy-hitting Melvins offshoot Big Business, up from Los Angeles — MMF is a homecoming.

And for fans of the veteran headliners like Tacoma’s Sonics and Seattle’s Posies, it’s a chance to celebrate old favorites while discovering new ones.

The Sonics pioneered the Northwest rock ’n’ roll sound back in the 1960s, and their mark is all over the bill, from followers like garage punks Deep Creep and the surfy Boss Martians to actual descendants like Jason Kertson — grandson of sax player Rob Lind — who, at 17, fingerpicks like John Fahey and croons like John Mayer.

Posies enthusiasts, meanwhile, would do well to check out the similarly mercurial power pop of Gibraltar, or the more British Invasion-inspired Stag.

Elsewhere, there’s dyed-in-the-wool alt-country (Ganges River Band), populist pub rock (Massy Ferguson), elegant R&B (Breaks & Swells), angsty hip-hop (Ugly Frank, from Tacoma’s ILLFIGHTYOU), even sketch comedy (John Keister, of ’90s “Almost Live” fame).

Although technically MMF’s second installment, it’s the first one Ballard-based organizers Michael Stephens and Kwab Copeland built from the ground up.

Since ’07, the pair — who sport matching tattoos of the Macefield house — booked Seattle Weekly’s annual Reverb Festival, until the paper pulled back funding last August.

In lieu of canceling Reverb entirely, they rethought and rebranded it as a neighborhood-centric affair — no corporate sponsors — more akin to Carnation’s Timber!, or Boise’s Treefort than, say, Bumbershoot.

Weekend passes cost a reasonable $40 — less than a dollar per artist — but cash-strapped showgoers can still partake in free events including a record swap and craft fair with beer, food, DJs and bands.

For this music-loving community, MMF looks to be the party of the year. Its namesake would be proud.

Friday, Oct. 3, and Saturday, Oct. 4, locations throughout the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle; $25 one-day passes, $40 two-day passes, $15 one-day youth pass, $20 two-day youth pass (macefieldfestival.com).

Charlie Zaillian: @czaillian

Comments | Topics: Macefield Festival, Posies, The Sonics

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