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  • Writer's pictureLo Flux Media Staff

Downstream: Upstream Counter-Programming Returns for Third Year

Editor's Note: FLUX-ers, our friend, editor in chief Matt Ashworth interviewed our other friend, TBASA (aka Tim Basaraba) about Downstream, Basaraba's answer to the now-on-hiatus Upstream. Get all the inside dope and get over to Darrell's Tavern in Shoreline next weekend for the three-day extravaganza!

Matt Ashworth ( Q&A with Tim Basaraba (TBASA)

As Seattle mourns the loss of local music gatherings like Sasquatch and Upstream, I’m glad my friend Tim “TBASA” Basaraba will hold his third annual Downstream festival (AKA “The Ankle Biter Series”) Friday, May 10 through Sunday, May 12 at Darrell’s Tavern.

Like other small, independent festivals like InScape Arts and the Mercer X Summit Block Party, Downstream gives the city a glimpse of a diverse range of emerging local artists in a compact and concentrated format for a really low cost. These are the kind of events that inevitably give people the chance to one day boast things like “remember when we saw DoNormaal in that tiny club with just 75 other people?”

After two years at Ballard’s Substation venue, Downstream 2019 moves to Darrell’s, a bar on Aurora that gives local acts the opportunity to hone their craft year-round.

I asked Tim about Downstream and here’s what he said.

NM: What did bands have to submit this year in lieu of the Downstream rejection letter you required in in 2017 and 2018? TB: Any act that reached out and asked, “are you still doing Downstream?” was moved to the top of the list. Sound guy extraordinaire Scott Walker and I also sent invites to a wish list of bands we wanted to perform. Most of them said yes.

NM: Who was on your wish list that said "no?" TB: Klaw, Stereo Creeps and Bellwitch. They are all dead to me now.

NM: You still managed a pretty great lineup. Who are you most excited to see? TB: Whispah the Ruler was amazing the one time I caught his set. Also excited to hear Ghost Power again after a more than four-year hiatus. Oh, and Maklak.

NM: Yeah. Maklak are pretty great. I remember seeing them nail it at your Nevermind cover night at the Skylark and then saw them live at Substation after we put them on our #41for2017 list. Have you listened to their new record? It’s good. TB: Yes. I have a hard copy CD in this day of digital music do you know how rare that is? The album is a sonic tour de force.

Maklak - Photo by Jake Hanson

NM: How come my favorite local band Downtown (#41for2016) aren't playing Downstream again this year? TB: I asked them they said “no.”

NM: You were one of the first bookers in town to champion DoNormaal. It's great that she's still down to play small fests even after doing big festivals and getting KEXP love. How have you maintained that relationship? TB: Facebook and Instagram messages. She was like “oh, you again 🤪?”

DoNormaal - Photo by Sunny Martini

NM: You’ve got a band on the bill called “Judd Nelson and the Loose Cannons," which sound like the name of a band that would be in a good Burt Reynolds movie. What do they sound like? TB: I have yet to see them perform, but their front man is my current favorite singer songwriter in a city full of talented singer songwriters, his name is Judd and he can whistle with the best of them.

NM: If Judd is so great how come you don't have him play at the airport for your Gigs4U thing? TB: He does play at the airport.

NM: Did anyone from Upstream ever reach out and ask you to stop? Or were they smart enough to know that a festival has to be pretty prominent to inspire counter-programming in its first year? TB: No one reached out. Big festivals are like big countries. They don’t negotiate with terrorists.

NM: What's your take on this whole "the tech bros are ruining the arts in Seattle" narrative? I get it that change can be hard and I hate seeing clubs and venues we love go away, but it also seems like the local scene is alive and well. And clubs like Substation and Clock-Out and the Sunset still provide mid-sized venues where local artists can hone their skills. TB: I find it is easier for people to complain then make change.

NM: Isn't it hilarious how Seattle P-I publisher Hearst Communications syndicated the write-up they pulled from our press release across their regional properties including the Houston Chronicle? Good to know the folks in Houston are in the loop on this small local festival. TB: Idiots.

NM: Changing gears here…You don't drink. Why are you having your show at a bar for dads who like to drink? TB: People that don’t drink alcohol still drink something. If they didn’t they would die.

NM: Fair enough. Given Darrell’s says it’s a place where dads drink, do we get in half price if we bring our dads? TB: No, but grandpas can get a prune juice shot for free.

NM: Are you providing on-site child care for parents? TB: No.

NM: Do dads at least get in free? TB: Nope.

NM: OK, well how many pairs of VIP guest list can Nada give out for each night then? TB: Two.

NM: Have you made any playlists Downstream artist playlists on BandCamp or Soundcloud or Spotify or YouTube? TB: No, but that is a great idea.

NM: It is. So great in fact, I made you a playlist. Not all of the artists have tracks on Spotify which is probably a good sign.

NM: For people who don’t like to see a bunch of bands they’ve never heard of, do you have any ideas for other things they could do the weekend of May 10-12? TB: Stay at home and binge Handmaid's Tale season 2.

More information on Downstream

Tickets for each night are $10 at the door for 7-9 performances depending on the night.

  • 5/10 FRI – Headlined by hip hop darling DoNormaal with Ultra Hustler Fantasy A.

  • 5/11 SAT – Features 9 Rock acts Headlined by new stoner metal trio Wet Temple.

  • 5/12 SUN – The Downstream Cool Down starts at 3 p.m. and Day 3 features recently signed to Capacitor Records-Maklak (#41for2016)


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