The 150 Biggest Arts, Music, Food & Culture Events to Know About
It’s February in Seattle, and that’s excellent news for anyone who likes to dance, eat cake, learn new things, go to the movies, see live performances, and enjoy the wintry beauty of the Pacific Northwest outdoors. This month also marks big occasions like Black History Month, the Academy Awards, the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, the Lunar New Year, and, oh yes, Valentine’s Day. (Good thing it’s a leap year, so we have an extra day to fit it all in!) As we do every month, we’ve compiled the biggest events you need to know about in every genre, from Trixie Mattel: Grown Up 2020 to Death Cab for Cutie, from Noir City to the Seattle Wine and Food Experience, and from Brandi Carlile with the Seattle Symphony to the Asian Art Museum Reopening. Want more ideas? Check out our complete EverOut Things To Do calendar.
- Our guide to Black History Month events
- Our guide to Valentine’s Day events
- Our guide to Lunar New Year events
You may also be interested in:
The quintessential fairy tale, performed here by the dancers of Pacific Northwest Ballet, gets the Kent Stowell choreography treatment with music by Sergei Prokofiev performed by the great Pacific Northwest Ballet orchestra, a set by Tony Straiges, and fancy costumes by Martin Pakledinaz.
JANUARY 31-FEBRUARY 23
The third of 5th Avenue’s new musicals this season is Bliss, written by Emma Lively and Tyler Beattie and choreographed by Josh Prince (the Broadway choreographer of Shrek and Beautiful). It follows four sister princesses who sneak out of their castle, determined to be belles of the ball in their fairy-tale world.
- Julia Sweeney: Older & Wider
Comedian and actor Julia Sweeney starred on Saturday Night Live in the early 1990s, made a few one-woman shows about religion and other subjects after she left SNL, took a 10-year break from the entertainment industry to be a full-time mom, and is now enjoying a TV comeback on shows like Shrill and Work in Progress. As for this one-woman show at the Neptune, Sweeney says: “It’s funny. It’s my most mainstream show, where I tried to be funny the most. In my other shows, it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m going to talk about religion,’ or ‘I’m going to talk about cancer,’ or whatever. This one’s just ‘I’m just going to be funny!’” Stories include the tale of her daughter dating a Trump voter and how Sweeney and her husband “lost our minds over it.” CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
- Lunar New Year Celebration
See martial arts, music, and dance performances, and taste food from Din Tai Fung and Baron’s Xi’an Kitchen and Bar at this Lunar New Year celebration.
- Mike Gordon
The last time Mike Gordon came to Seattle, he both dazzled and baffled, and I say that in the best way possible. The low-end aficionado of Phish—who also plays a mean banjo—delivered two sets worth of his original material, a quirky-fun, groove-hawking mix of psychedelic rock, cow funk, and space-pop, studded with the occasional Phish joint and the odd cover. And I do mean odd: Rancid’s “Ruby Soho,” and an encore of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion.” Seriously had a few moments of that aforementioned bafflement. But Gordon’s band is made up of pros (keysman Robert Walter, belter and electric guitar ripper Scott Murawski, drummer John Kimock, and percussion/n’goni/programmer Craig Myers), their chemistry was palpable, and I was still getting the fuck down, as was everyone else in the packed room, so I guess it worked. LEILANI POLK
- Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra: Tribute to Billie Holiday
Eternal inspiration, muse, and icon Billie Holiday will be served up a fitting tribute by Seattle chanteuse Jacqueline Tabor, in concert with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra.
- Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1
One of the best things about having Thomas Dausgaard as Seattle Symphony’s music director is that we now get to watch him conduct the music of his Danish compatriot, Erik Nielsen, all the time. His Symphony No. 1 is a thrilling epic, full of intense moments that could score a viking raid. With Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto also on the menu, the Nielsen work will add some much needed excitement. The program also features Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46, which is one of those pieces of classical music you’ve heard a million times without knowing the name of it. Looney Tunes used the first movement, Morning Mood, extensively, so it’s buried deep in your childhood brain. RICH SMITH
- Brian Brooks Moving Company
UW Creative Research Fellow Brian Brooks has developed dance pieces inspired by bodies on stage and within the realm of “immersive technologies.” For this program, see three world premieres, including a solo by Brooks, a duet called MOTOR, the premiere of Torrent, and the ensemble piece Closing Distance, set to Partita for 8 Voices by Pulitzer Prize-winning violinist/singer Caroline Shaw.
READINGS & TALKS
- Anna Wiener with Kristi Coulter: Uncanny Valley
People Who Matter In East Coast Media and my social-media feed have made it very clear that we all must set aside a couple days to read Anna Wiener’s Uncanny Valley, a memoir about a young woman who flees the burning ship of the New York publishing industry for the million lifting boats of San Francisco’s start-up world. In this case, the People Who Matter are not wrong. Wiener takes an anthropological approach to her three-year stint in tech, cataloging with scientific detail the habits and fashions of the twentysomething gold-rushers and the thirtysomething corporate warriors who descended on the Bay Area to optimize the living fuck out of their lives. Wiener’s perspective as an outsider’s insider makes her sellout narrative feel fresh. Suffice it to say that after 50 pages, you’ll want to throw your computer and your phone and your Amazonian spyware out the window. RICH SMITH
- The Best of Everything
2014 Stranger Theater Genius Valerie Curtis-Newton directs UW graduate actors in Julie Kramer’s adaptation of Rona Jaffe’s novel about an ambitious woman in a 1950s typing pool who’s determined to make her way to the top.
FEBRUARY 1-MARCH 15
- Jacob A. Riis: How the Other Half Lives
In this era of extreme inequality, the work of groundbreaking Danish American photojournalist Jacob Riis reminds us that the desperation of the urban poor is nothing new. Exploiting newly invented flash powder to explore night scenes, Riis documented life in tenements, sweatshops, and city streets. The exhibition Jacob A. Riis: How the Other Half Lives reveals moving photos by Riis and other photographers of the time, as well as excerpts from his journals and letters.
FEBRUARY 1-MAY 10
- The Naturalist and The Trickster: Audubon/RYAN!
In anticipation of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, artists John James Audubon (1785-1851) and RYAN! Feddersen (very much alive) show work inspired by animals and the natural world.
FEBRUARY 1-MAY 24
- Body of Work: Tattoo Culture
Immerse yourself in the history and art of the tattoo—from First Nations practices to counterculture trends—with artifacts, films, interactive stations, and photos.
THROUGH FEBRUARY 2
Sound Theatre Company kicks off its 2020 season with the world premiere of Darren Canady’s Reparations, a speculative drama about healing inherited traumas using a device that transforms your blood into a time machine. The cast features Allyson Lee Brown, whose turn as Serena Williams in Citizen: An American Lyric drew effusive praise from Stranger editor Christopher Frizzelle: “[Brown is] such a captivating presence onstage, it’s hard to look away from her.” Jay O’Leary, who did such a great job pulling the good acting out of the players in Washington Ensemble Theatre’s B, will direct. This production is stacked with so much talent—it is certainly one of the most highly anticipated shows of the season. RICH SMITH
- The Rivals
George Mount will direct Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 18th-century comedy of manners, full of false identities and well-meaning deceptions, and, as the producers say, “duels, dandies, deceptions, and dudes with daddy issues.” It’s the play from which the term malapropism is derived, thanks to Mrs. Malaprop, a comic character who uses the wrong words that sound like the right ones. The more you know!
- Super Bowl LIV
The San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs will compete in the 54th annual Super Bowl in Miami, Florida. See a full list of watch parties on our Super Bowl calendar.
- Sarah McLachlan
Grammy- and Juno Award-winning Canadian treasure Sarah McLachlan will jump out of her heart-wrenching ASPCA commercial for an evening of angel-voiced songs.
THROUGH FEBRUARY 3
- Dance Nation
Washington Ensemble Theatre’s press materials promise “intense feminine energy” from Dance Nation, a Pulitzer Prize–nominated play by Clare Barron about a preteen dance troupe gunning for nationals under the guidance of their frazzled coach. In an interview, Barron, a Yale grad who hails from Wenatchee (!), says the show was inspired by the complex portrait of ambition presented in Lifetime’s reality television series Dance Moms, which means there’s no way this isn’t going to be good. Extra insurance for this prediction comes from the fact that Bobbin Ramsey, who has a gift for organizing chaos onstage, is codirecting the performance with Alyza DelPan-Monley. RICH SMITH
FOOD & DRINK
- Black History Month with Chef Edouardo Jordan
For Black History Month, James Beard Award-winning chef Edouardo Jordan of Junebaby, Salare, and Lucinda Grain Bar has planned a month-long series of events, including interactive food events, seminars, and community service, in collaboration with the Urban League of Seattle. Chefs, authors, “culinary dignitaries,” and other community figures will be featured. The month kicks off with Cocktails and Conversation with Leaders of Color (Mon Feb 3), including chef Nina Compton, police chief Carmen Best, fire chief Harold Scoggins, Percy Abram Head of The Bush School, and Jordan himself. Next, Soul of Seattle (Fri Feb 7) will showcase 10 Seattle-area chefs of color who “embody the diverse fabric of Seattle’s food scene,” including Makini Howell of Plum Bistro, Trey Lamont of Jerk Shack, and Kristi Brown of That Brown Girl Cooks. Other events include a wine dinner with Bertony Faustin of Abbey Creek Wines (Thurs Feb 13), the first noted black winemaker in the Pacific Northwest; a chef dinner with prominent food justice activist and author Bryant Terry (Sun Feb 16); and a chef dinner with former Top Chef contestant Nyesha Arrington (Thurs Feb 27).
- Sinead O’Connor
Sinead O’Connor needs no introduction, but in case you have a serious case of name and face evasion, she’s a legendary Irish songstress who could slay a dragon with a single tear. She’ll stop in Seattle on this much-anticipated North American tour.
- SuperM: We Are The Future Live
Korean pop supergroup SuperM’s We Are the Future Live world tour will be their tour since their formation in 2019. Their seven members include Taemin from Shinee, Baekhyun and Kai from Exo, Taeyong, Ten, and Lucas and Mark from NCT.
FEBRUARY 4-MARCH 2
FOOD & DRINK
- Li’l Woody’s Burger Month
As part of their yearly Burger Month collaboration, Li’l Woody’s has assembled a crack lineup of four local chefs to each create their weekly burger specials for February. This year features the “Good Old Burger” with fry sauce, American cheese, and yubeshi onions from chef Brady Williams of Canlis (Feb 4-10); the Puerto Rican-inspired “Boricua Burger” with two picadillo patties, Sazon, plantain chips, and sauce from chef Eric Rivera of Addo (Feb 11-17); the “Homersapien” with a lamb patty, chanterelle mushrooms, whipped garlic, zaatar-spiced Tim’s potato chips, and date ketchup from chef Logan Cox of Homer (Feb 18-24); and the “Manolin Sandwich” with a breaded pork cutlet, onion, and a sweet bun from chef Liz Kenyon of Manolin and Rupee Bar (Feb 25-March 2).
- Loudon Wainwright III
There’s a whole generation of folks (myself included) for whom Loudon Wainwright III is more familiar as an actor (having appeared in M*A*S*H, three Judd Apatow productions, and G-Force—2009’s Jerry Bruckheimer production about guinea pig secret agents). Wainwright the actor, while delightful, is nowhere near as interesting as Wainwright the musician, who’s been recording and performing sardonic folk commentaries since his beatific 1970s self-titled debut. His long and storied career is still going strong, even if his new material is no longer about growing old (like his early stuff was) so much as it just plain sounds old (now he sings about things like “Cash for Clunkers”). Still, it would be worth it to hear some of Wainwright’s older gems. JASON BAXTER
Back in 2012, Queensryche publicly feuded over the use of their name with former vocalist Geoff Tate. After securing the copyright to the well-established name, the remaining members made a risky move, hiring former Crimson Glory singer Todd La Torre. Many feared this change, as Tate’s voice was synonymous with Queensryche’s prog-rock sound. What fans received was a love letter to the vintage Queensryche years, shying away from their softer, more ballad-driven material and embracing their original soaring, power-metal-esque anthems with 2013’s self-titled album and 2015’s Condition Hüman. There’s no end in sight for this old-school Northwest rock institution. KEVIN DIERS
- Young Dolph & Key Glock
Special in that he is probably one of the few people with a similar first name to that German dictator born in the last half century, Adolph Thornton Jr., aka Young Dolph, is major, bringing his syrup-drenched rhymes and Southern swagger to our rainy, gray corner of the country. Having been the target of not one but two shootings in 2017, and dropping several chart-topping albums, the Memphis rapper has experienced both the bitter and the sweet sides of life—and this comes out in his music. Dolph’s songs are catchy, and there’s really nothing like seeing an artist on the come-up. JASMYNE KEIMIG
- Trixie Mattel: Grown Up 2020
Trixie Mattel once said that all her jokes are cries for help. If that’s true, the poor girl needs an intervention. The drag queen and winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars has built an empire on morbid and strange drag humor, racking up impressive accolades inside and outside the cult of RuPaul, like a TV show on Viceland, a top-selling country album, and a sell-out tour with music from said country album. Mattel, a small-town clown from Wisconsin, has become the gay world’s popular girl. CHASE BURNS
READINGS & TALKS
- Lidia Yuknavitch: Verge
Lidia Yuknavitch was lauded for her book The Misfit’s Manifesto, the author’s “love letter” to anyone who has ever struggled to find their place in the world. She’ll return to Seattle with her new book of stories that press materials call “A fiercely empathetic group portrait of the marginalized and outcast in moments of crisis, from one of the most galvanizing voices in American fiction.”
- Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn don’t just share a home (they’ve been married for over 30 years); they also share a Pulitzer. The couple, who won the most coveted award in journalism for their coverage of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1990, is out with a new book, Tightrope, about economic devastation ravaging American communities. In Yamhill, Oregon, where Kristof grew up, a quarter of the kids who rode his school bus eventually died from drugs, alcohol, suicide, or some kind of accidents. This book is about what happened in Yamhill, and other oft-neglected places in this country. KATIE HERZOG
- Marisa Williamson: ‘The Angel of History’ and ‘The Runaway’
Once again, Jacob Lawrence Gallery and SOIL Gallery display work by a resident Black artist. This year, internationally exhibited artist Marisa Williamson, who works in video, performance, and installation, has been selected to introduce Seattle to her work about “themes of history, race, feminism, and technology.”
- Norm Macdonald
Macdonald is simultaneously somewhat curmudgeonly and also, strangely, an avant-garde master of anti-humor. His delivery is something to behold—watch his moth joke on Conan for a primer.
- Kijiji Night
The Seattle Art Museum and One Vibe Africa (a local nonprofit that aims to educate the general public about African culture and promote social welfare and economic empowerment) present this free art, music, poetry, and performance festival whose name means “village” in Swahili. This year’s edition will include a fashion show curated by African firm KOELES, dance by Etienne Cakpo, and music by Jemere Morgan, Alana Bell, King Khazm, Kama, Nje, the Ancient Robotz, and DJ Topspin aka Blendiana Jones.
- ‘Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)’ Opening
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), no more the Joker’s abused handmaiden, teams up with some superheroes to protect a little girl.
- 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
- Dweezil Zappa
The foremost torch-bearer of experimental-rock musician/guitar iconoclast Frank Zappa, son Dweezil will resurrect poppa’s second solo LP, Hot Rats, on this tour, along with highlights from the vast FZ catalog. Hot Rats recently received the deluxe box-set treatment for its 50th anniversary, and hardcore fans will delight in hearing that record’s soaring jazz-rock convolutions (and the filthy blues-funk of “Willie the Pimp”) reanimated by the devoted Dweezil and his “rocking teenage combo.” Not sure who’s going to be tasked with trying to replicate Captain Beefheart’s lascivious growl for “Willie the Pimp,” but they have their work cut out for them. DAVE SEGAL
READINGS & TALKS
- Paisley Rekdal
In 2017, Rich Smith wrote, “The best essay I read this year was called ‘Nightingale: A Gloss,’ and it was written by Seattle writer (but current University of Utah prof) Paisley Rekdal and published in the American Poetry Review. In a straightforward, no-bullshit tone, and with her characteristically sharp eye for scholarly associations, Rekdal weaves the story of a sexual assault she experienced while hiking alone in Loch Ness with Ovid’s story of Philomela, other rapes of antiquity, and also with the story of her writing a poem called ‘Philomela.’ Her reckoning of the assault, and her reckoning of her own reckoning, reveals sexual violence for what it is: a pillar, not an aberration, of Western civilization. She has two new books coming out: a book of poems from Copper Canyon called Imaginary Vessels and a book-length essay called The Broken Country: On Trauma, a Crime, and the Continuing Legacy of Vietnam. So if she doesn’t read ‘Nightingale’ at this event, seek it out.”
- Westerlies Fest 2020
Brooklyn-by-way-of-Seattle jazz, roots, and chamber-influenced brass quartet the Westerlies (trumpeters Riley Mulherkar and Chloe Rowlands, and trombone players Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch) have never forgotten their Emerald City roots. They’ll return this first full weekend in February to host their second eponymous music fest, which, according to press materials, was created “to give back to the musical ecosystem that raised them by engaging local students, highlighting local talent, and facilitating explosive collaborations between artists from Seattle and beyond.” Basically, workshops at area schools by day, and concerts that find the Westerlies performing with a different guest artist by night: singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Celisse at the Royal Room on Thursday; Seattle-based pianist, composer, and singer Robin Holcomb at the Chapel Performance Space on Friday; and NYC poet duo Phil Kaye and Sarah Kay alongside local spoken word artist Troy Osaki at Town Hall Seattle on Saturday. Sunday closes with the Westerlies Fest JAM-boree of workshops, activities, a listening session, and an open rehearsal followed by a late afternoon Westerlies concert, all at Nickerson Studios. LEILANI POLK
Canadian instrumentalist and producer Ekali will return to Seattle once again with fresh and futuristic electronic tracks.
- Solo Fest 2020
Rich Smith has written that solo performances “hold the attention of a room like nothing else in the world of performance,” and this is true in theater as well as in dance. These four plays—Over 140 Lbs. by Susan Lieu, Dare to Claim the Sky by Sharon Nyree Williams, Left on Yellow Brick Road by Sherif Amin, and Bread Crumbs by Jasmine Joshua—allow a single actor/playwright to delve into deeply personal experiences. From deadly beauty standards to non-binary identities, from Oz-ian fantasy to Black American trials and joys, the Solo Fest will invite you into others’ realities.
FEBRUARY 6-MARCH 8
- Snow White
Two actors will portray Snow White, the evil queen, seven dwarfs, the talking mirror, and the huntsman in this ambitious children’s theater production written by Greg Banks and directed by Desdemona Chiang.
FEBRUARY 6-MARCH 21
- Pao Houa Her and Sadie Wechsler: The American War
What we in America call the Vietnam War is known as the American War in Vietnam, which makes perfect sense. Pao Houa Her and Sadie Wechsler’s exhibition, comprising photography, video, and found objects, brings the war’s terrible legacy (three million dead, 30 percent of the countryside destroyed in Laos, mass refugeeism from Laos and Cambodia) to our consciousness. Attendees can pick up a free poster featuring a poem by Hmong American writer May Lee Yang and artwork by Her and Wechsler.
- 2020 International Clash Day: Clash Cover Night
Get ready for a bunch of obscure references and English puns with KEXP’s Clash Cover Night. Naked Giants, Tres Leches, Duke Evers, and others will perform tracks from across the Clash discography.
READINGS & TALKS
- Eoin Colfer: Highfire
Meet the progenitor of the kid super-criminal Artemis Fowl as he presents his new book Highfire, his first fantasy for adults.
FEBRUARY 7-MARCH 1
- Disney’s ‘Frozen’
I’ve written in the past that I have a warm spot in my heart for Frozen, Disney’s second-highest-grossing animated film, about a princess who sets out on a quest (with a group of helpful sidekicks, of course) to find her estranged older sister after said sister’s icy magical powers accidentally bring eternal winter to their kingdom. Now the Tony-nominated Broadway show from Disney Theatrical Productions, directed by Michael Grandage, is coming to Seattle for an engagement that promises “sensational special effects, stunning sets and costumes, and powerhouse performances.” Expect all those earwormy songs (including the relentlessly triumphant, hard-not-to-sing-along-and-make-dramatic-hand-gestures-to “Let It Go”), plus an expanded score that features a dozen new numbers by the film’s songwriters, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and EGOT winner Robert Lopez. LEILANI POLK
FEBRUARY 7-MARCH 15
- The Children
In this Tony Award-nominated play by Lucy Kirkwood, two retired nuclear scientists on the coast of an environmentally devastated England receive a disruptive visit from an old friend.
FEBRUARY 7-APRIL 26
The new indie arts space Museum of Museums’s first-ever group show focuses on a trendy topic: magic and its relationship with contemporary art. It’s curated by occult artist Hoodwitch and includes work by horologist Brittany Nicole Cox, among others.
- Gary Gulman: Peace of Mind
Local rising comic Nikita Oster recently singled out Gary Gulman as one of the world’s greatest comedians, especially for his 2019 special The Great Depresh. The show earned a rare 100 rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It depicts how Gulman overcame clinical depression’s daunting effects, and proves he can wring poignant humor from some of life’s darkest sources. On other topics, he’s the poet laureate of mundane details and laziness, and a scintillating storyteller whose parenthetical thoughts and tangents are as hilarious as his punch lines. Hear him go off on grapefruit: “The only reason grapefruits were invented was because god wanted us to have something to compare the size of a tumor to.” DAVE SEGAL
- Chinatown-International District Lunar New Year
Ring in the Year of the Rat at this massive Lunar New Year celebration that showcases the diversity, richness, and culture of the Asian community. See traditional dragon and lion dances, Japanese Taiko drumming, martial arts, and other cultural performances on the Main Stage, plus arts and crafts and family activities—and don’t miss the $3 food walk.
- American Authors, Magic Giant, Public
Massive alt rock group American Authors will continue their hot streak with a tour stop supported by Magic Giant and Public.
- Gregory Porter
Gregory Porter’s voice is a baritone that makes you feel right at home; as for his style of phrasing, it feels very familiar (Lou Rawls, Johnny Hartman, Nat King Cole), but it is also like nothing you have heard before. And this is why the greatness of Porter is not easy to describe. If you listen to him one way, he seems to be rooted deeply in the tradition of jazz song, but if you listen to him another way, you hear a big, warm, blue voice that moves about the music like some liberated balloon rising and falling in the wind. Porter is not conventional, yet he is, and for some reason he easily manages to be both without settling on one or the other. CHARLES MUDEDE
The only DJ/producer big enough to name himself after the land of a thousand lakes, Minnesota will take over the stage.
READINGS & TALKS
- Garth Greenwell: Cleanness
The award-winning novelist Garth Greenwell follows up his intense and heartbreaking gay love story What Belongs to You—about an American teacher in Bulgaria and a young man he meets in a bathroom—with a second novel, Cleanness, narrated by the same guy. Representative sentence: “Sex had never been joyful for me before, or almost never, it had always been fraught with shame and anxiety and fear, all of which vanished at the sight of his smile, simply vanished, it poured a kind of cleanness over everything we did.” CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
The author will be joined in conversation by Christopher Frizzelle
SPORTS & RECREATION
- Cupid’s Undie Run
One of a couple of Valentine’s Day-themed runs, this may be the most attention-grabbing, as you’re encouraged to wear your cutest/comfiest underwear (and nothing else). After a kickoff party with music, drinks, and mingling, lace up your sneakers for a “mile-ish” run followed by a dance party. All proceeds will benefit neurofibromatosis research through the Children’s Tumor Foundation.
- Daniel Clowes
Daniel Clowes, the author of Ghost World and Patience and a living legend in the realm of graphic novels, will sign the new Fantagraphics Studio collection of his work called Original Art: Daniel Clowes. Get a copy of this compendium of pieces from the past 30 or so years, complete with a freshly scrawled signature from the man himself!
- Asian Art Museum Reopening
The Seattle Asian Art Museum will finally reopen to the public, after a $56 million, almost three-year renovation. The refurbished museum—which had not been significantly overhauled since its building’s construction in 1933—features a new gallery, education studio, conservation center, and community room; a climate-control system so things don’t rot on the walls; a new glass-enclosed park lobby; and the restoration of one interior and two exterior fountains. Another major change: The permanent collection will not be organized by country or time period, but by theme. Curator of Chinese art Ping Foong and curator of Japanese and Korean art Xiaojin Wu (both from Seattle Art Museum), along with consulting curator of South Asian art Darielle Mason, collaborated on refiguring SAAM’s permanent collection into 13 different themes. They grouped the objects according to their relationship to concepts like spirituality, fashion, divinity, material, text, and storytelling—mixing contemporary work with the ancient across cultures and regions. JASMYNE KEIMIG
FEBRUARY 8-MARCH 8
- The Angel in the House
During the Victorian era, Coventry Patmore wrote a poem describing the ideal wife as an “angel in the house” who lives to please her man, as it were. Nobody liked the poem at the time, but it became popular around the turn of the century, and its ideology was pervasive enough to spur Virginia Woolf to write a whole essay collection critiquing it. “Killing the Angel in the House was part of the occupation of a woman writer,” she wrote. Quadruple-threat Sara Porkalob, who has built her career on a biographical trilogy about her cool family, said her love of Victorian-era literature and her passionate agreement with Woolf’s takedown inspired her riff on this cursed character. Like her Dragon Cycle, The Angel in the House will serve as the first installment of a new play cycle based on “magic, the occult, revenge, blood, and sacrifice.” Unlike the Dragon Cycle, the show is a thriller that looks like a murder mystery at first but ends up being something else entirely. Major reasons to be excited include local stars Ray Tagavilla and Ayo Tushinde, plus the joy of watching a writer/director exploring completely new territory. RICH SMITH
- 92nd Academy Awards
Snub as it will, the Academy Awards honor what the panel deems the best films of the year and all that went into making them. Check out our Oscars calendar for a list of places to watch the ceremony at Seattle bars and restaurants, or check out our guide to where to watch the nominated movies in theaters.
FOOD & DRINK
- Chocofest 2020
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 local breweries, cidermakers, wineries, and distilleries, and sate your sweet tooth with confections from Fran’s Chocolates, Theo Chocolate, Joe Chocolate Company, indi chocolate, and more. When you need to cut your sugar rush with something savory, there will also be bites from local restaurants like Honest Biscuits and Tankard & Tun. And know that all your hedonism supports a good cause—proceeds go to Long Live the Kings, a local nonprofit working to restoring wild salmon and support sustainable fishing practices in the Pacific Northwest. JULIANNE BELL
- Violent Femmes
Few rock bands have emerged on the scene with more raw vitality than did Milwaukee’s Violent Femmes with their self-titled 1983 album. The platinum-selling Violent Femmes abounds with instantly catchy, immediately engrossing songs about young-person angst, all stripped down to their most crucial essentials. Front man Gordon Gano channeled Lou Reed and Jonathan Richman vocal tics and lyrical tropes with very relatable results. Tough act to follow, but 1984’s Christianity-haunted Hallowed Ground proved the Femmes could go darker yet. I stopped following them after 1986’s The Blind Leading the Naked, but one listen to 2019’s Hotel Last Resort reveals that Gano and bassist Brian Ritchie’s flair for spare, infectious folk rock hasn’t diminished much over the last 37 years. DAVE SEGAL
READINGS & TALKS
- Designed By Nature (National Geographic Live)
Kakani Katija is quite a character—once part of the US figure skating team, she’s now a bioengineer who specializes in studying organisms that live in ocean midwaters. In this multimedia presentation, learn how scientists like Katija model robots on jellyfish and other sea denizens.
- Bat for Lashes
English singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Bat for Lashes (aka Natasha Khan) makes indie dream pop and folktronica that’s exceedingly emotive. Having established herself as a powerhouse star in the past by touring with Radiohead in 2008, and making big money moves like collaborating with Beck on “Let’s Get Lost” for the Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack in 2010, Bat for Lashes also put out five solid albums between 2006 and 2019. Now she’s kicking off a new era in 2020 by touring in support of her latest full-length, the ’80s-reminiscent Lost Girls, which sees her pulling inspiration from Cyndi Lauper, Bananarama, and legendary film composer John Williams. JENNI MOORE
READINGS & TALKS
- Ezra Klein: Why We’re Polarized
In the late 1960s and 1970s, the Democratic and Republican Parties were more ideologically, religiously, and racially diverse than they are today. Back then, for instance, some Republicans supported abortion, and some Democrats were virulent, fearmongering racists. As Vox cofounder Ezra Klein argues in his new book, Why We’re Polarized, that dynamic has radically changed. Over the last several decades, American political parties have sorted themselves into two teams based on identities. For the most part, the blue team is a godless, multiracial coalition of city dwellers, and the red team is a Christian army composed largely of white men from the suburbs and rural areas. Given this reality, Klein argues, a democratic system based on compromise has become nearly impossible to maintain. When groups feel like their identity—their very being—is under attack, they’re less likely to try to work out differences, and much more likely to try to wipe out their rivals. If you listen to Klein’s podcast, The Ezra Klein Show, you know this book is essentially a product of the conversations he’s had with political scientists, researchers, and Big Thinkers over the last several months. What I like about Klein’s approach to this topic is that he doesn’t merely point to the “divide” in American politics as a roundabout way to bemoan some perceived decline of “civility.” He looks at the larger structures powerful people have built to break us up, and then shows us how they work. If we really want to create a less polarized society, it’s going to take good, clear analyses such as Klein’s to figure out how to improve those structures, or else dismantle them entirely. RICH SMITH
FOOD & DRINK
- Seattle’s Filipino Food with Chef Marcus Samuelsson
KCTS 9 welcomes celebrity chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson, who you likely know from his appearances on shows ranging from Top Chef Masters (he won the competition in 2010), to Chopped (on which he’s a regular guest judge), to his PBS food and travel show No Passport Required. Seattle’s Filipino food scene (and places like Hood Famous Bakeshop, Knee High Stocking Co, and Archipelago) was featured in the season two premiere of No Passport Required that aired in December. In a recent interview with The Stranger, Samuelsson said he’d been to our city countless times but had no idea that almost 3 percent of our population is Filipino until he started filming. “With the show, I’m always learning about new communities,” he said. This event celebrates the Seattle Filipino community’s food and culture, with Samuelsson in a round table discussion with the chefs and restaurateurs who were featured in the episode, a Filipino Night Market, and Filipino food tastings. LEILANI POLK
- Sángo, Savon
Seattle-based DJ and producer Sángo pulls from Brazilian funk, hip-hop, rap, and R&B to create sounds that get worked into your brain. His New Orleans bounce remix of Frank Ocean’s “Nights” keeps the melancholic mood of the original, but adds a beat you can throw your ass around to. It’s a master work. His “Thank You Weezy” track flips Lil Wayne’s “Cannon,” giving it a throbbing bass line and some soulful, pitched-up vocals. It has definitely saved my life at least a couple of times. Recently, Sángo dropped a second album with R&B singer Xavier Omär, Moments Spent Loving You and produced Grand Rapids rapper Waldo’s Grove. JASMYNE KEIMIG
- Wolf Parade, Land of Talk
The Montreal art-rock band that’s not Arcade Fire (but has some early ties to it), Wolf Parade had a well-regarded, Polaris-nominated debut in 2005’s Apologies to the Queen Mary (which introduced Spencer Krug’s wildly dramatic and idiosyncratic vocals in the roiling, synth-driven “I’ll Believe in Anything”), and then followed it with two more solid LPs before taking a hiatus in 2011. Wolf Parade returned in 2016 and dropped a fourth studio album in 2017, Cry Cry Cry, which has definite David Bowie appeal but is starker, darker, and more post-punk groove-oriented than past efforts. LEILANI POLK
- Noah Reid
Schitt’s Creek star, singer-songwriter, and soft Canadian-American heartthrob Noah Reid will bless Seattle with his folksy presence on his first official tour.
- Pinegrove, LAKE
New Jersey-based experimental rock band Pinegrove get a little alt-country on their Rough Trade Records debut, Marigold—their first major venture since frontman Evan Stephens Hall posted on Facebook about being accused of “sexual coercion” in 2017, resulting in a full year of silence and another year of sporadic shows and interviews. Join them in Seattle with Olympia indie-poppers LAKE.
READINGS & TALKS
- Diane Rehm: When My Time Comes
The cherished NPR and WAMU radio show host Diane Rehm (she started in 1979 with Kaleidoscope, which later became the Diane Rehm Show) will present her book on death, the right-to-die movement, and end-of-life care.
- Renee Gladman
Experimental prose writer, poet, visual artist, and teacher Renee Gladman has built her long and celebrated literary career at the edges of genre. Calamities, the last book she wrote for Seattle/NYC outfit Wave Books, was a critically acclaimed long essay about the connection between writing and natural disasters that moved like a poem. For this Bagley Wright Lecture, Gladman will apply her formal innovations to the normally humdrum genre of academic public speech. Press materials say she will talk about the four books that compose her Ravicka series, and “conclude with the premiere of a sound piece, specifically commissioned for this project, composed and performed by Mauricio Pauly.” I’m normally suspicious of any sort of “sound piece,” but if Gladman is involved, and if it’s happening at the Olympic Sculpture Park, then there’s no way it’ll end up being some kind of endurance test. RICH SMITH
- Seattle Festival of Improv Theater 2020
Rejoice in the local, national, and even international improv scenes with dozens of performers making up excellent improv groups, all of whom share a love for making up stories onstage. Local favorites include Death & Taxes, Book Club, Fat Cats, and B-Rated; the headlining act is Theme Park from LA, composed of John Michael Higgins (Best in Show, Pitch Perfect), Michael Hitchcock (Best in Show, Bridesmaids, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Jessica Makinson (Jimmy Kimmel Live!, South Park), Cole Stratton (RiffTrax), and Janet Varney (You’re the Worst).
FEBRUARY 12-MARCH 8
- The Turn of the Screw
Book-It will adapt Henry James’s chilling and ambiguous Victorian ghost novel about a naive governess who discovers what she perceives as evil supernatural influences trying to possess her two charges. Carol Roscoe will direct an adaptation by Rachel Atkins.
- ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Opening
The blue guy from the Sega game, altered from his initial CGI form to have less creepy teeth, flees from government agents.
- ‘The Photograph’ Opening
Stella Meghie’s romance stars Issa Rae as a woman investigating her deceased mother’s life and LaKeith Stanfield as the hot journalist she falls for.
- Tones and I
Australian pop crafter Tones And I will bring her hugely popular single “Dance Monkey,” among other hits, to Seattle.
- The Atomic Bombshells in…J’ADORE! A Burlesque Valentine
Some of Seattle’s most beloved burlesque dancers—like Kitten N’ Lou, Reigning Queens of Burlesque Inga and Indigo Blue, Reigning King of Boylesque Lou Henry Hoover, and more—make up the boisterous Atomic Bombshells troupe, which has been sexing up international stages ever since Kitten LaRue founded it in 2003. For lovers of feathery, busty, glitzy fun, complemented by the antics of special guests Cherdonna, Woody Shticks, and the Purple Lemonade Collective, there’s no better spectacle to attend with your friends or sweetie(s) on the most romantic day of the year. JOULE ZELMAN
- Valentine’s Day
You can thank (or curse) the flourish of courtly romance brought on by Chaucer and his 14th-century contemporaries for the insufferably gooey romantic connotations that have come to define Valentine’s Day. Or, you can follow the lead of Leslie Knope and trade a date with your crush for a night with your best pals. Whatever you’re feeling, you’ll find tons of options on our complete Valentine’s Day calendar.
FOOD & DRINK
- Flannel Formal
Break out your fleeciest flannels and your party tartans for this dressed-down Valentine’s Day formal, which bars entry to anyone not clad in plaid. Tickets include a cool mug, access to a s’mores party, a live set from DJ Supreme La Rock, and more. Kahlúa will provide cozy cocktails like boozy hot cocoa and espresso martinis.
- Blake Shelton
Dad-joke-shiller and ex-mulleted country crooner Blake Shelton will bend Tacoma to his Top 40 appeal with additional guests on his Friends & Heroes 2020 nationwide tour.
- Dr. Dog, Michael Nau
Fuzzy, often twangy indie-rock outfit Dr. Dog will swing through town on their Winter 2020 Tour with opening support from Michael Nau (of psych-folk band Cotton Jones).
- The Joe Kay Experience
Joe Kay, the CEO and cofounder of Los Angeles record label and artist collective Soulection, locally known for giving us beloved Seattle sound producer Sángo, will hit the road with his own special set.
- Dani Tirrell: Black Bois
In Black Bois, which sold out its 2018 world premiere run at On the Boards pretty quickly, choreographer/dancer Dani Tirrell assembles a many-gendered supergroup of Seattle performers, each of whom could easily carry their own full-length show. Together they create a show about the irreducibility of black experience. Tirrell and the cast fight back against a world that tends to flatten and fragment blackness into digestible, dismissible bits and instead, gives you all of it—the pain, the rage, the joy, the grief, the eroticism, the spirituality, the madness, the clarity, the multiplicity of the individual, and the deep-rooted particularities of the communities. RICH SMITH
- Tyra Sanchez: Fatal Attraction
Tyra Sanchez, who won the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, will headline this extra-sexy Valentine’s Day show alongside resident MX queens and DJ Nitty Gritty.
- USC Loves You
High-powered dance music crew USC loves its community so much that they’re throwing a two-night Valentine’s Day bash with double-digits’ worth of talent to keep the decks warm and the floors full for 48 hours. Selectors on Friday night will include Timmy Trumpet, CRANKDAT, Akoma b2b Pandemic, Coltan Johnson b2b Faraday, Graymatter b2b James Gatz, and Frida K b2b Hherb. You’ll hear from Valentino Khan, BIJOU, Inaudible b2b Auxcent, Lowsh b2b Thomas Crown, Mortals b2b Kiba, and Alex Bosi b2b Starla on Saturday night.
- The Best of Quincy Jones
The catalog of Seattle’s favorite musical icon—well, maybe after Jimi Hendrix—presents a vastly enjoyable smörgåsbord of music for a symphony to plunder. Hell, you could build a long, rewarding program strictly around Q’s output for film (In Cold Blood, The Hot Rock, In the Heat of the Night, etc.) and TV (“Sanford & Son Theme [The Streetbeater]” is a zenith of the latter medium). The guy may have worked with Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra and produced/conducted the aesthetically egregious “We Are the World,” but Jones is also responsible for loads of sublimely soulful and funky compositions that have gone under the radar, despite his global fame. Let’s hope his lesser-known works get some love from the Seattle Symphony and guests over these three nights. DAVE SEGAL
- Noir City 2020
Charles Mudede has written, “If you love film noir, then you must love the Noir City festival, which will feature a number of known and less known movies in this genre that has lots of spiderlike women, lots of long knives, lots of rooms with dark curtains, lots of faces of the fallen, and lots of existential twists and turns.” All of these will be delivered at the 2020 edition, which will focus on dark crime cinema from outside the US: The Beast Must Die and The Black Vampire (an adaptation of Fritz Lang’s M) from Argentina, Panic and Finger Man from France, A Colt Is My Passport and Branded to Kill from Japan, Victim (on 35mm!) from Britain, and many more.
- Pee-wee’s Big Adventure 35th Anniversary Tour with Paul Reubens
Revisit the cult classic Pee-wee’s Big Adventure on its 35th birthday, presented by none other than Pee-wee himself, aka Paul Reubens, who’ll have plenty of behind-the-scenes stories to tell.
FOOD & DRINK
- Seattle Night Market: Lunar New Year
This massive indoor night market will pop up for the Lunar New Year, bringing over 100 local Asian-inspired vendors and food trucks, plus a live DJ, to Magnuson Park.
- Chop Shop: Bodies of Work
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. This year’s festival will bring Seattle and world premieres by OcampoWang Dance (New Jersey), Adam Barruch (New York) with Daniel Costa (Seattle), Eva Stone (Eastside), Omar Román De Jesús and Nicole von Arx (New York), Seda Aybay (Los Angeles), Ramona Sekulovic (Brooklyn), and Spectrum (Seattle).
- Sound Off! 2020 Finals
For the 19th year, MoPOP’s Sound Off! will pit local, under-21 bands against each other in this concert series that rewards the first-place winner with a performance slot at Bumbershoot. Throughout these three nights, each band will get the chance to show off their skills in an effort to win the big prize.
FEBRUARY 15-APRIL 11
SPORTS & RECREATION
- Seattle Dragons XFL 2020 Season
Seattle’s brand-new XFL team (an alternative football league to the National Football League), the Seattle Dragons, will have their home games at CenturyLink Field from February to April, starting with a game against the Tampa Bay Vipers (Feb 15). There will also be a game against the Dallas Renegades this month, on the 22nd..
FEBRUARY 15-APRIL 19
- Agnieszka Polska: Love Bite
Krakow and Berlin-based audiovisual artist Agnieszka Polska revels in the digital, the hallucinatory, and the ASMR-ish to create her seductive video works. Interested in the intersection of language, history, and scientific theory, she examines individual and social responsibility. The show will also mark the U.S. debut of two of Polska’s video installations that address climate change and mass extinction: one being a giant projection of a childlike sun with huge eyes witnessing the environmental collapse of our own blue planet, the other an immersive video that recreates a lush and ancient prehistoric environment that contemplates “humanity’s potential to overcome enormous threats like the current climate crisis.” JASMYNE KEIMIG
THROUGH FEBRUARY 16
- True West
America’s favorite masc4masc playwright Sam Shepard is dead. He passed away in 2017, but the swaggering cowboy, called the “greatest American playwright of his generation” by New York magazine, is continuing to get a retrospective on stages across the country. Now the celebration comes to the Seattle Rep, with the theater putting on True West, a gritty and funny play about two brothers and some identity theft. Expect brawls and belly laughs. CHASE BURNS
- Middleditch & Schwartz
Improv unfolds on the big stage when Emmy-nominated Thomas Middleditch (Richard Hendricks on Silicon Valley) and Emmy-winning Ben Schwartz (most famous for playing Jean-Ralphio Saperstein on Parks and Recreation, but also in House of Lies and co-author of Things You Should Already Know about Dating, You Fucking Idiot) put on a two-person longform show.
FOOD & DRINK
- Alki Oyster Fest!
At the third annual Oyster Fest on Alki Beach, slurp fresh Hama Hama oysters alongside a glass of wine or craft beer from West Seattle Brewing Company, Alki Beach Pub, or Harry’s Beach House while listening to live music. Net proceeds benefit the Puget Sound Restoration Fund, whose mission is to “restore marine habitat, water quality, and native species in Puget Sound through tangible, on-the-ground projects.”
- Yola, Amythyst Kiah
Already dubbed the “queen of country-soul,” Yola will perform heady tracks from her heavily lauded debut album, Walk Through Fire.
FOOD & DRINK
- Seattle Cake Con & Dessert Showcase
Finally, a convention centered on towering frosted confections! But that’s not all: Seattle Cake Con will also showcase ice cream, chocolate, macarons, doughnuts, and other sweets. In addition to tasting a plethora of sugary delights, attendees can enter decorating competitions, take in live demonstrations, and chat with experts of various dessert disciplines. JULIANNE BELL
- Dashboard Confessional, Piebald
Alt-emo artifact Dashboard Confessional will return to town high off the fumes of their 20th anniversary. They’ll be joined by Andover-bred alt-rock band Piebald.
- The Glorious Sons
All-American rock crew the Glorious Sons will rip through Seattle on their A War On Everything North American Tour 2020.
- Led Zeppelin 2 Plays lll: A 50th Anniversary Celebration
For power, grace, indelibly monstrous riffs, and acidic Sturm und Drang arrangements of blues songs, Led Zeppelin were damn near unparalleled. Drummer John Bonham’s death in 1980 ground the juggernaut to a halt, but the lust for Zep’s music continues unabated to this day. Which opens a door of opportunity for a tribute group like the Chicago-based Led Zeppelin 2. These guys have LZ’s sound down to an artful science, plus the singer—Yakuza’s Bruce Lamont—even keeps his shirt unbuttoned onstage (details are important!). Guitarist Paul Kamp mimics Jimmy Page’s excoriating flourishes with panache, Chris Klein embodies John Paul Jones’s quietly spectacular contributions on bass and keyboards, and drummer Ian Lee replicates Bonzo’s dexterous bludgeoning—and he has a gong. Good times (probably not bad times). DAVE SEGAL
READINGS & TALKS
- EJ Koh: The Magical Language of Others
When EJ Koh was 15 years old, she and her brother were left in the United States when Koh’s father took a job in South Korea and her mom went with him. The parents moved Koh and her 19-year old brother into a small house in Davis, California, where they more or less raised each other. Though her parents were physically absent, her mother asserted her presence in the form of two-page letters, which she sent to Koh every week. The letters are the heartbeat of Koh’s memoir The Magical Language of Others, pulsing between chapters that reveal other details of Koh’s life. Like any good poet, Koh uses up everything—every image returns, and every idea chimes with another, so that the book’s short 200 pages contain the emotional and philosophical heft of a doorstop. RICH SMITH
The author will be joined in conversation with Richard Chiem.
- Imbolo Mbue
Cameroonian writer Imbolo Mbue nabbed the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction with her very first novel, Behold the Dreamers, which follows a pair of immigrants who arrive in New York just in time for the Great Recession. Gain wisdom from this literary star as he gives two talks, titled “Behold the Dreamers and How Being a Reader Made Me a Writer” and “Empathy in a Time of Chaos: Immigration and the American Dream.”
- Thom Hartmann: The Hidden War on Voting
Thom Hartmann, billed as “the most popular progressive radio host in America,” will take on an urgent matter that may decide the future of the United States: low voter turnout. According to Hartmann, conservatives have employed voter suppression as a tool to keep poor people, people of color, and women from having a political say, keeping power concentrated among wealthy whites. Hartmann will lay out the sobering facts and suggest ways to fight back.
Expect to get all’a your dancing done this weekend, ’cause the good-timin’ and get-downin’ group Antibalas will be landing just north of the cut and have promised to get our shit LIT! Uh, Antibalas are one of the many killer groups from Daptone label’s stable of funky funk makers. And they’re always guaranteed to get you sweaty from their funky Afrobeat HEAT. The group/collective draw from all the best world rhythmic traditions to find the deepest of grooves. MIKE NIPPER
READINGS & TALKS
- Daniel Lavery (Ortberg): Something That May Shock and Discredit You
Once the chief of the dear departed internet comedy site The Toast, Daniel Lavery (formerly Daniel Mallory Ortberg) has become a reliable source of hilarity and wisdom as the writer behind Slate‘s Dear Prudence advice column. In this new book of essays, a follow-up to Texts from Jane Eyre, Lavery tackles such topics as “the beauty of William Shatner” and “a sinister reimagining of HGTV’s House Hunters.”
- Gish Jen: Politics & Possibility
Rich Smith wrote in 2017: “Over the course of her many award-winning novels, Gish Jen writes about the complexities of assimilation, interracial relationships, and conflict between first-generation immigrants and second/third-generation immigrants.” Jen is coming out with a new novel, a dystopian fiction called The Resisters. Here, she’ll talk about how Trump’s America can influence powerful writing.
FOOD & DRINK
- Seattle Wine and Food Experience
This annual extravaganza of all things edible and drinkable is an ode to gluttony in three parts. First up is Comfort, a festival of “feel-good foods and crafty brews,” complete with bars for french fries, Bloody Marys, hot toddies, and milk and cookies. Next, POP! Bubbles and Seafood capitalizes on the felicitous pairing of bubbles and bivalves with a celebrity shucking contest and more than 30 sparkling wines from around the world. Finally, the Grand Tasting will showcase local and regional wines, beer, cider, spirits, and tastes from big-name Seattle chefs, with plenty of opportunities to watch demonstrations and meet artisan food producers.
- The Actors’ Gang: The New Colossus
Twelve actors of diverse origins and heritage will tell the stories of their ancestors in this tribute to the strength and courage of refugees. This touring production is directed by Tim Robbins and performed by the Actors Gang, a justice-oriented Los Angeles troupe founded in 1981.
- Grupo Corpo
Brazilian dance company Grupo Corpo, known for their extensive international tours, will present two pieces pairing classical ballet with Latin dance: the baroque Bach and the poetry- and religion-tinged Gira.
- Seattle Asian American Film Festival 2020
Films by and about Asian Americans are showcased at this annual festival, which always includes diverse features and short films about the rich and varied experiences of these populations, particularly in Seattle and the Northwest.
- Branford Marsalis Quartet
The great saxophonist Branford Marsalis, who is a member of jazz’s royal family (the Marsalises—Ellis, Wynton, Delfeayo), is famous for participating in Sting’s only decent solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, leading the band on Jay Leno’s show in the mid-’90s, and working with DJ Premier on jazz/hiphop collaboration Buckshot LeFonque. He is less well known for the ribbons upon ribbons of beauty extracted from Igor Stravinsky’s “Pastorale”—a piece on the album Romance for Saxophone. Branford Marsalis is also known for upsetting his more famous brother Wynton. Branford loves popular culture; Wynton hates it. CHARLES MUDEDE
- Solo: A Festival of Dance
I love solos. They hold the attention of a room like nothing else in the world of performance. They’re like the cat in that old theater rule about never allowing cats onstage because it’s all the audience will look at. That’s because the cat, like the solo dancer, is completely unpredictable. Two dancers, even in an improv show, project a sort of ordered world. In a solo, anything can happen. If this iteration is the same as On the Boards’ inaugural edition in 2018, expect a good mix of local and national dancers showcasing incredible choreography they’d have a hard time producing anywhere else—not because it’s bad, but because venues rarely afford solo pieces big stages. RICH SMITH
- Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
Perhaps Cleveland, Ohio’s chief contribution to the history of hiphop, the melodic rap stylings of Bone Thugs now seem almost prophetic, with more rappers singing these days than actually rapping. The Eazy-E-signed quintet have undergone many changes and bumps along the way since their smash single “Crossroads,” releasing the album New Waves in 2017 with just Krayzie and Bizzy Bone. Expect to see the original lineup in full force, combining old-school lyricism and forward-thinking harmonies that will get any crowd going. NICK ZURKO
- Lane 8
Denver-based electronic DJ Lane 8 (aka Daniel Goldstein) will come to Seattle on his Brightest Lights Tour.
- Murder By Death
Indiana-spawned Murder by Death have been plying their blend of brawny yet poignant indie rock and folk roots for nearly 18 years, giving it gothic dramatic overtones with heavy strains of cello and infusing it with old-timey western appeal while fleshing out the mix with mandolin and banjo. On their recent outing, 2015’s Big Dark Love, they added horns and extra percussion, too, and experimented with electronics, to great effect. LEILANI POLK
- Brandi Carlile with Seattle Symphony, the Secret Sisters
The experience of listening to Brandi Carlile’s 2018 album, By the Way, I Forgive You, is similar to that of listening to Carole King’s Tapestry or Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks; it’s a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, and a lot of hard truths about the human race. Carlile’s talents lie in her tone, a dusky alto that swims around confessions of heartbreak and lifelong efforts to love and be loved, with the deftness of a much more senior troubadour. She’ll be joined in this performance of her recent works by the Seattle Symphony, with an opening set by Americana singer-songwriter duo the Secret Sisters. KIM SELLING
- Seattle International Dance Festival Winter Mini-fest
Once again, the Khambatta Dance Company will team up with international choreographers and dance troupes to produce two weekends of exciting performances. This year, director Cyrus Khambatta and Jaewoo Jung and Kyoung-Shin Kim from South Korea’s Unplugged Bodies company will dance new and established pieces, with a different lineup each weekend. On February 21–22, Unplugged Bodies’ duet Two Bodies will be paired with Khambatta Dance Company’s Crowd Control, which draws on the theme of protest movements around the world. The following weekend, KDC will reveal its reworked Begin. Again. from the previous festival, and Jaewoo Jung will dance his solo piece Uninhabited Island.
THROUGH FEBRUARY 22
- Our Country’s Good
Timberlake Wertenbaker’s play, staged here by Strawberry Theatre Workshop, depicts a group of convicts in 18th-century New South Wales who are encouraged by British Navy officers to put on George Farquhar’s restoration comedy The Recruiting Officer. In the words of the Workshop, the play is especially relevant to the current day, because “The United States incarcerates more people than any country in the world; the US constitutes 4% of the world population, but keeps 22% of the world’s prisoners behind bars. Many prison inmates haven’t been convicted of anything—they are jailed awaiting trial or a hearing on their immigration status.”
FOOD & DRINK
- Alki Winter Beer & Food Truck Festival
As Special Olympics Washington attempts their annual Polar Plunge into the punishingly icy waters of Puget Sound, the Mobile Food Rodeo will provide warming sustenance for plungers and onlookers alike with plenty of food trucks, plus over 20 beers on tap.
- Seattle Thorrablót 2020
The mid-winter Icelandic festival Þorrablót is filled with traditional food (like fermented shark meat), Brennivin schnapps, and music (provided here by Icelandic band Sour Balls).
- Atmosphere, The Lioness, Nikki Jean, Blimes & Gab, DJ Keezy
I have never related so hard to a track upon immediate first listen as Atmosphere’s nasty yet telling “Trim.” It’s about being one half of a grown-up couple with three kids and seemingly no energy for anything other than lazing on the couch, trying to get it in and make time for each other whenever you can (“Feeling like I miss you, but I’m living with you / Help me take the garbage out so I can try to kiss you / You forgot that it could get so hot inside of a parked car up in the Target parking lot”). It is well-produced and perfectly delivered, as is most of what you hear from the Minneapolis alt-hiphop duo made up of Slug (raps) and Ant (beats), including their ninth studio outing on Rhymesayers, Mi Vida Local (“Jerome” is a fucking jam). LEILANI POLK
- Brazilian Carnival
This 26th annual Carnaval event celebrates music and dance traditions across Brazil with Eduardo Mendonça, Show Brazil!, and others.
- Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Goose
Baltimore-based psychedelic funk band Pigeons Playing Ping Pong will be joined by Connecticut indie-groove band Goose (what a beautiful union of common birds!) at this downtown show.
- ZZ Ward, Patrick Droney
LA-based bluesy songwriter ZZ Ward will take the Seattle stage after an opening set from Nashvillian folk artist Patrick Droney.
- CatVideoFest 2020
Spend some time appreciating the glories of the feline realm on the big screen instead of on YouTube at this annual celebration of the divine conjunction of cats and internet. Watch them purr, romp, pounce, and cuddle on the big screen—and, if you choose to donate with your ticket admission, feel good knowing your dollar is benefitting Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).
FEBRUARY 22-MARCH 7
- Charlie Parker’s ‘Yardbird’
Jazz icon Charlie Parker gets the operatic treatment in this Seattle Opera production of Daniel Schnyder’s Yardbird, a journey through limbo by Parker, who struggles to complete his last masterpiece amidst a series of flashbacks that showcase the glorious heyday of iconic NYC jazz club Birdland, as well as the failures and victories of Parker’s dynamic life. Plus, check out related events like Angela Brown and John Keene in recital (Tues Feb 4), a talk on Charlie Parker with Jonathan Dean (Tues Feb 11), a discussion on black representation in the arts (Thurs Feb 13), a screening of the biopic Bird (Thurs Feb 20), and a jazz show with the D’Vonne Lewis Quartet (Mon Feb 24).
FEBRUARY 22-AUGUST 16
- Forgotten Stories: Northwest Public Art of the 1930s
This exhibition revisits the public art initiatives under the WPA that helped pull America out of depression. You’ll find art treasures created by some of the hundreds of artists employed by the government during the 1930s.
THROUGH FEBRUARY 23
Playwright Joshua Harmon (Bad Jews)’s new, award-winning play tackles affluent, “liberal white America” through the story of a prep school admissions chief named Sherri. In her professional life, she’s successfully helped diversify the student body, but her ideals are challenged when her son reveals his determination to attend an Ivy League university.
- She Loves Me
Joe Masteroff, Jerry Bock, and Sheldon Harnick, progenitors of the deathless Fiddler on the Roof, also wrote this sweet musical about two perfume store clerks who butt heads constantly—not realizing that they’re also in a romantic letter-writing relationship thanks to a classified. Yes, it’s the plot of You’ve Got Mail.
FOOD & DRINK
- Fourth Annual Dumpling Fest
My number-one craving in these cold winter months is dumplings in any and all of their forms, whether they’re xiao long bao or potato pierogi slathered in sour cream. So it’s with particular delight that I recommend this cross-cultural celebration of pillowy pockets of goodness. Tom Douglas will assemble peddlers of doughy delicacies of every persuasion—from potstickers to pelmeni—in one room, so that you can drift from station to station, stuffing their wares into your face. JULIANNE BELL
- Tove Lo, ALMA
Rising Swedish art-pop princess Tove Lo will headline in Seattle on her Sunshine Kitty Tour with support from Finland’s ALMA.
- Death Cab for Cutie, The Black Tones
Full disclosure: I am writing about Death Cab for Cutie out of Moral Obligation. They are great, sure, but I have very little in the way of personal feelings about the Ben Gibbard-led alt-rock band. There is something inherently gray and rainy about their music, which might be because they are from around these parts (well, Bellingham really), or maybe it’s because I know they are from around these parts. They make some poignant ballads. Some barn burners. Some dark Radiohead-flavored odes. This three-night stint to replace their September storm-out is ostensibly a hometown run, still supporting 2018’s Thank You for Today but also the super fresh (just-released) The Blue EP. LEILANI POLK
- Mardi Gras 2020
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. Find a full list of ways to celebrate on our Mardi Gras calendar.
FOOD & DRINK
- Author Talk: Start Simple by Lukas Volger
New York-based food writer and editor Lukas Volger, who co-founded the James Beard Award-winning queer indie food mag Jarry, will chat with local author Sara Dickerman about his new book Start Simple, which demonstrates how home cooks can create simple everyday meals when armed with an arsenal of 11 basic, versatile ingredients like sweet potatoes and tortillas.
- Raphael Saadiq
A few years ago, Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black (created with invaluable help from Mark Ronson and the Dap-Kings) reminded a whole bunch of (white) people about the vast aural pleasures of old-school soul. Legendary singer-songwriter-producer Raphael Saadiq has devoted most of his life to these pleasures, leading the chart-conquering new jack swingsters Tony! Toni! Toné!, producing the deep funk stew of D’Angelo’s classic Voodoo, and, most recently, releasing his freakishly accomplished 2008 solo album The Way I See It. The latter is an impeccable dazzler that comes on like a one-man Motown show, with Saadiq playing all the parts, from mastermind Berry Gordy to songwriting factory Holland-Dozier-Holland to singing-songwriting superstar Smokey Robinson. That the end result manages to spring to its own 21st-century life is a testament to Saadiq’s gifts. DAVE SEGAL
FEBRUARY 25-MARCH 15
- Last Days of the Tsars
At the turn of the 20th century, a massive class struggle in Russia was reaching a boiling point. The old saying, “God is in heaven and the Tsar is in St. Petersburg”—meaning royal rulers don’t truly touch the lives of Russian citizens—was quickly going out of fashion as the 300-year old Romanov empire attempted to save itself by violently suppressing revolutions and carrying out horrific pogroms against Jews. Meanwhile, the empire was losing major battles and influence abroad. Any of this sounding…familiar? Witness, a NYC-based producer of immersive theater, has condensed the twilight of the Romanovs into a single performance set in the august environs of the Stimson-Green mansion on First Hill. The choose-your-own adventure production allows you to observe this nauseatingly relevant story from the vantage of Rasputin, Anastacia, a servant tired of paying a billion rubles for eggs, or any character you wish. Go with a group of friends, take notes, and come prepared for class the next day with suggestions on how to bring down an empire. RICH SMITH
- Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Ladysmith Black Mambazo have a whole bunch of guys singing bass. That’s the secret to their success. Okay, Paul Simon “found” them, and that’s been the secret to their success in what we loosely term “the West.” By 1986, though, when Ladysmith Black Mambazo recorded and performed with Simon, they already had more than 20 albums in their native South Africa. Now they have more than 50 albums. They never stop touring, and they’ve outlasted the racist apartheid system under which the older members grew up. They’re still ambassadors to South African culture. And they make people happy—boldly, unironically, and enthusiastically. ANDREW HAMLIN
READINGS & TALKS
- An Evening with Karamo Brown
Queer Eye “culture expert” Karamo Brown will dish on pop culture, queerness, blackness, Christianity, and other aspects of his identity, as well as his career.
FEBRUARY 26-MARCH 1
- Northwest Flower & Garden Festival
Think of this festival as a vast bouquet for the senses, with a floral arrangement competition and 20 display gardens representing this year’s theme, “Spring Fever.” You’re invited to wander through mini-landscapes blooming with color to get you excited for winter’s end (if you weren’t already). Sign up for free seminars, shop the marketplace for new plant friends to take home, and escape winter blues by immersing yourself in a haven of green wholesomeness. If you want a sneak peek, opt for the opening party and auction on February 25, one day before the main event.
moe. brings the concept of a progressive rock jam band to a new level for their first Seattle show in two years.
- John Cameron Mitchell: The Origin of Love Tour
The guy who starred in Hedwig and the Angry Inch—the original stage show and then the movie—is coming to town. Not only did he star in it, he wrote the damn thing (with musical collaborator Stephen Trask). This is not a drill. He is a certified genius. He will tell stories from the show’s 25-year history and sing songs from Hedwig, as well as some new music. He told me years ago he was writing a sequel. Maybe this is our sneak peek. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
FEBRUARY 27-MARCH 8
- Children’s Film Festival Seattle 2020
CFFS’s slate of international films feature visual storytelling centered on the experience of childhood, with organizers prioritizing stories that have been underrepresented in the mainstream media and inspire “empathy, understanding, and a nuanced view of the world.” Launched in 2005, curated by Northwest Film Forum, and dedicated to children ages 3-14, the fest presents animation, feature-length outings, and shorts from dozens of countries interspersed with kid-centric events. Last year’s opening night party featured a sing-a-long presentation of 1979 Jim Henson staple The Muppet Movie, as well as a screening of the oldest existing animated feature, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, accompanied by a live performance of the film score with accordion, guitar, banjo, viola, glock, and percussion by Miles & Karina. In sum, a fun time for the whole family. LEILANI POLK
- Tim & Eric: Mandatory Attendance World Tour
Comedy duo Tim & Eric of Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (plus about a million other strange things) will return with a live show full of squirm-inducing humor.
- Nordic Lights Film Festival 2020
This annual film festival, supported by SIFF, celebrates the richness of Nordic culture, featuring films from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and even the Faroe Islands.
- Beats Antique, David Starfire
Oakland-based Beats Antique is a prime paradigm of three people with diverse talents banding together to create something uniquely fresh. CIA grad David Satori spent many years playing in a 10-piece Afrobeat band, and he juggles viola, guitar, banjo, melodica, and various instruments from around the world like the saz and electric cümbüş (a sort of Turkish banjo). Lifelong dancer Zoe Jakes started in jazz and ballet, settled on belly dancing that incorporates elements of tango, popping, and Indian styles, did stints with Yard Dogs Road Show and Belly Dance Superstars, and plays strap-on bass drum. Tommy “Sidecar” Cappel picked up drums young (he was beat-keeping by 6), and his jazz, prog, and metal influences were augmented by a Berklee education, and grew to encompass world music that included non-jazz rhythmic patterns of African and Arab music. All three are involved in electro production techniques, their resulting sound heady, mesmerizing, sonically bright and exciting, danceable, and just fucking cool experimental world fusion that’s heavy on samples, sequencing, and percussives. LEILANI POLK
- Chastity Belt, Loose Tooth
The always-charming-but-also-kinda-sad post-party-punk quartet Chastity Belt is back, baby! Not that they went anywhere too far, but this is their first tour since calling off dates last year due to health reasons. We’re glad they’re feeling better. Meeting as students in Walla Walla, the now-Seattle-based band hasn’t released anything since their 2017 record I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone, but they have some new stuff on the way. In the meantime, you’re just going to have to play the jangly “Cool Slut” over and over while you tipsily get ready to go out. I’ve heard that “Different Now,” the moody, ’90s-inspired opener off their most recent album, is the perfect song to crack open a shower beer to. From a friend. JASMYNE KEIMIG
- Falling In Reverse, Escape the Fate, The Word Alive
Beloved by some and deeply questioned by others (Stranger staffer Mike Nipper called them “a wanna-be contemporary version of wanna-be ’80s hair bands,” for example), punky youngsters Falling In Reverse will come to Seattle on their The Drug In Me Is Gold Tour with support from Escape the Fate and the Word Alive.
- Joshua Radin & Friends with Ben Kweller and William Fitzsimmons
Joshua Radin has the monopoly on emotionally resonant indie rock, and will be illustrating the reasons for his success in a set flanked by singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ben Kweller and emo-folk songwriter William Fitzsimmons.
READINGS & TALKS
- John Sayles: Yellow Earth
The director of the cult-classic Brother from Another Planet, John Sayles, has, sadly, not made a film since 2013. And his last masterpiece, Amigo, was completed a decade ago. But this does not mean Sayles, one of the greatest leftist filmmakers of the 20th century (he is to the US, what Ken Loach is to the UK), was nothing during this time. In January 2020, Haymarket, a socialist publishing house based in Chicago, will publish Sayles’s Yellow Earth, a 400-page political fiction outing that’s about Native American reservations in Missouri, activism, and petrocapitalism. CHARLES MUDEDE
- ACES: Artists of Color Expo & Symposium
This exposition of local talent, showcasing the wealth of work by 75 artists of color selected from an open call, promises 80 activities, talks by keynote speakers Nikkita Oliver and Paul Rucker, and more.
FEBRUARY 28-MARCH 29
- August Wilson’s ‘Jitney’
It is not at all amazing to claim that August Wilson is one of the greatest American playwrights of the 20th century. The more amazing thing to say about Wilson is this: He was the greatest black American economist of the 20th century. Indeed, Wilson’s first play, Jitney, is not only a masterpiece of 1970s economics, it also predicted the rideshare economy of our times. The play, which Seattle Rep is staging under the direction of the talented Ruben Santiago-Hudson, is about black cab drivers who informally serve Pittsburgh’s black community because white-owned cabs will not. The business is owned by the play’s key character, Jim Becker, a man in his 60s who retired after devoting decades of his life to a Pittsburgh steel plant. In Jitney, we see the capital-starved working conditions for black men who have pensions or served in the army. They do whatever they can to make ends meet. But no matter how much time and innovation they invest in their economy, the returns always fall short of settling real needs. CHARLES MUDEDE
FOOD & DRINK
- Washington Beer Open House
More than 110 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.
JANUARY 31-FEBRUARY 9