For me, blogging and conducting interviews is about learning my surroundings. It gives me a reason to be out and about, talking to people. Most articles are self-selected; occasionally, I take on an assignment. A chosen topic yields a simple clarity – I have my what, where and why; no big deal. With an assignment, it’s a roll of the dice. What kind of person will it be? Do they have pure intentions? Are they total jerks?

Photo by Daniel Pellissier

Meet Austin Santiago

Luckily, from the moment I sat down next to him, my worries dissolved. Continuously emanating good vibes, this is Austin – the “connective tissue, a conduit of sorts.” Musicians, fans and community organizations are all joining ProtestFest beside him.

What is Protestfest?

“A positive protest, a protest with your presence; a protest with your support.”

Part music showcase, part political statement, Austin wants to put money back into the hands of those who have been stripped of it. Although themed as an opposition to the current administration – the name is misleading! Why?! Well what do you typically associate with protests? If you’re anything like me it’s signs, marches and megaphones. Protestfest doesn’t fit any of these characteristics.

“It’s something simple and fun that still contributes. We are all down to march here and there or donate $10/month. But why not have a day as a city to come together and say ‘This is your prerogative as the president and that’s not what I identify with.”’

The event is centered around standing up to Trump; I’m personally excited to see how the artists support this message from the stage. For now, the only guaranteed oppositional expression will be from a surprise guest. Celebrity chef Eric Rivera will be hosting an exclusive dinner the night before. Expect him to be reimagining all of Trump’s favorite dishes and creating healthy alternatives.

A funny/informative video from one of the performers PF Liars.

Diversity and solidarity

Tractor Tavern – (Indie/Folk/Rock) – Planned Parenthood (Curated by Tractor Tavern)

Woods – (Dance /House) – Southern Poverty Law Center (Curated by Upper Left + Friends)

Barboza – (Hip Hop/Urban) – American Civil Liberties Union (Curated by Barboza)

Bar Sue – (Funk/Soul/Disco) – Union Gospel Mission (Curated by Motown On Mondays)

Nectar Lounge – (Funk/Jam ) – Sierra Club (Curated by Solid Sound + Nectar Lounge)

Chop Suey – (Rock/Indie/Punk) –The Anti-Defamation League (Curated by Chop Suey + Distinction Music Management)

6 different clubs catering to 6 different audiences but all under the same ideological umbrella. Each venue is curating the evening on their terms which means they’re booking the acts, determining genre and even the charity of choice. 100% of the donations go directly to that organization. All room fees are waived and no one is getting paid.

“We all need money, but at the same time, there’s a lot of people who could use our help right now. If we have the ability to take that one night off and make a little bit of extra cash to donate, it’s a no-brainer. Especially once a year.”

What the future holds

This is the beta version, in hopes to scale it nationwide by next year. Do206, the company behind the event, has teams in all major cities; 21 to be exact.  Imagine all of that collective energy, concentrated and aimed at the president, on President’s Day! It’s difficult to predict the effect it will have, especially without experiencing the event first-hand, but the idea is inspiring!

What else can we expect in the years to come?

“We’d like to pay bands and involve some bigger name artists. We just didn’t have enough time this year to make it happen.”

Upstream added last year, now ProtestFest; is Seattle growing? What other developments can we expect from this eclectic mix of a city? I guess time will tell, but for now, I’m excited to see the show I’ve heard so much about!