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JetStream Music Festival features airport buskers including Seattle's Tomo Nakayama

Seattle musician Tomo Nakayama
Tomo Nakayama
Tomo Nakayama busking at Sea-Tac Airport before coronavirus put the program on hold.

Most of the news about airports these days is about empty concourses and cancelled flights due to the coronavirus. But, 23 airports in North America are changing that up today by hosting a live on-line music festival. The JetStream Music Festival begins at 3 p.m. (PDT) onFacebook Live. It’s hosted out of Austin and features musicians who, during normal times, entertain passengers by busking at airports.

Representing Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is Seattle folk/pop singer Tomo Nakayama. A fixture in the music scene in the Northwest, he just released his latest album “Melonday.” But, for six years he’s also worked as a busker at SeaTac Airport. He says in airport terminals there’s kind of an unspoken tension in the air and he likes being able to affect the atmosphere and bring a bit of joy or solace to someone.


“I think just having that sort of connection in unexpected places is really an important service,” Nakayama said. 


He hasn’t been able to make those connections lately because the Port of Seattle put the Sea-Tac busking program on hold. But he sees livestreams like the JetStream Festival as way to continue to connect, even if in a small way.


“People will comment while they’re watching the videos and they’ll talk to each other and it still feels very communal and it’s the best we can do at the moment,” he said.

For his 10 minute set streamed from his home studio, Nakayama plans to perform “City Won’t Sleep” from his new album and “Horses” which was featured in the 2013 film “Touchy Feely.”

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.