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The New Cool Stage at Folklife

Abe Beeson
An attractive Folklife crowd as seen from the New Cool stage last year - we'll see you there Saturday!

The KNKX modern jazz show The New Cool returns to host a stage at the Northwest Folklife Festival on Saturday, presenting three of our favorite forward-thinking groups from our own backyard. Yours truly, Abe Beeson, will be on stage to introduce Tacoma group 322, recent studio session guests Bad News Botanists, and the powerful horns of the Ten Man Brass Band.

Don't be late Saturday, the fun begins at the Fountain Lawn stage at 12:45. The weather forecast is calling for partly to mostly sunny skies, so wear a flannel shirt and bring your sunglasses. Admission is free, food is available on sight, so plan for a late lunch with The New Cool.

Our friends from the group 322 came to our attention when they were still students at Pacific Lutheran University. Last year brought us their debut release, Emergence, and 322 continues to expand their smooth mix of progressive modern jazz. Band leader and saxophonist BrandonLee Cierley gave me this preview:

"Founding members BrandonLee Cierley (sax) and Elliott Turner (guitar), together with Josh Bozich (bass), Joel Bozich (drums) and Joshua VanCleave (keys) collaborate to deliver a unique, innovative perspective to the jazz music scene fusing sounds of hip-hop, classic jazz, R&B, soul, and even elements of progressive rock. Today we will be featuring brand new never before heard tunes composed by every member of the band that will be recorded on our upcoming sophomore album."

Bad News Botanists performed live on KNKX this past Monday and excited our audience with songs from their debut album Venomous Nightshade, which was an Earshot nominee for local jazz album of the year. We also heard a fantastic new song, a promising sign that BNB is here to stay. The band's saxophonist and composer Frank Vitolo offers this preview:

"This contemporary jazz ensemble, Bad News Botanists, has been compared to bands like Lettuce, Polyrhythmics, and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. From the city of blue and green, Bad News Botanists stimulate your mind and body as you dance through their gateway in the fusion hypnosis."

Because no one wants to follow a brass band, we're finishing our hold on the Fountain Lawn stage with the power and might of the Ten Man Brass Band. I first encountered the group (all 12 of them) at the Polyrhythmics' Mardi Gras party at Fremont's Nectar Lounge and was knocked out by both their fresh perspective on the brass tradition and their ability to entertain.

The band tells me "The Ten Man Brass Band has been filling the streets of Seattle with powerful all acoustic brass music since 2011. Formed by students at Roosevelt High School who wanted to blend the sounds of New Orleans Second Line, Jazz, Pop, Funk, and Disco, Ten Man has gone on to play venues ranging from homeless shelters to the Paramount Theater, and has become a regular feature at the Northwest Folklife Festival and HONK! Fest West. They have toured to New Orleans LA, San Francisco CA, Providence RI, Boston MA, and Austin TX, creating a dance party wherever they land."

Head to Folklife on Friday, you'll see me introducing some of the Northwest's finest teenage (and younger!) jazz musicians at the High School Swing Dance party. Talented bands from Eckstein Middle School, Nathan Hale H.S., and the Garfield High jazz ensemble will provide classic big band charts made for dancing. Two left feet? There will be dance instructors to help!

We're going to have a wonderful time at Seattle Center Friday and on The New Cool stage Saturday afternoon. Come on by, say hello, and enjoy the music! (And catch the radio show starting at 3!)

The New Cool airs Saturdays from 3 to 5pm, hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle.