Most people wake up and decide things like “I think I’ll have Lucky Charms this morning” or “I am definitely hitting snooze.”
When Quoc “Q” Pham woke up one spring morning, he decided to have a festival.
Pham and his then-fledgling Western Sound System Federation worked hard to make the dream a reality. With help from Associated Students Productions, as well as the AS Board of Directors, the World Music Festival took flight in late September 2004, wowing campus and community alike.
This year, the World Music Festival has grown up and blossomed into the High Street Arts & Music Festival. The expanded title reflects the festival’s expansion to include non-auditory elements, from food vendors and student art galleries to a huge graffiti exhibit.
Make no mistake, though— music is still the driving force behind the festival. The lineup this year features a healthy mix of local and regional artists, punched up with the occasional national or even international act. Check out the page adjacent to this one for a feature article on the history of reggae and the emergence of the Saint Croix style, personified in this year’s headlining show featuring Batch and Ras Attitude.
Bands also playing this year include San Francisco’s Aphrodesia, one half of Seattle hip hop heroes the Blue Scholars and Bellingham’s own seminal funk band La Push. Seattle-based reggae rock outfit Nuffsed will also appear, encoring their highlight performance from last year’s festival.
Pham says it’s a common misconception that the Western Sound System Federation is “just a reggae club.”
“Our goal is to promote cultural music,” said Pham.
“I think it’s important for people to understand where music comes from to appreciate it— make it more meaningful to them.”
Pham was well established locally as DJ Q Mastah before teaming up with friends Andrew Clarke and Ryan Greg to found the WSSF. In only its first year and a half of existence, the WSSF has served as a magnet for the Northwest music community, playing host to events starring nationally prominent reggae and dub stars like Jr. Reid and Rocker-T.
The original World Music Festival was the WSSF’s first large scale event, but, judging from the international star power drawn and the overjoyed crowds, you would never have been able to tell. Operating on a cobbled together budget, the World Music Festival was an astounding success, bringing hundreds of campus and community members together to groove all day with nearly twenty musical acts. The festival was even headlined by Midnite, a legendary roots reggae band hailing from St. Croix, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
This year’s festival features three themed stages. In the Performing Arts Center Plaza, the Groove Stage plays host to an eclectic procession of six acts local and national. Some, like Flowmotion and La Push, are seasoned veterans of the local music scene. Others, like Seattle band In Lake’ch, are relative newcomers.
Meanwhile, in the Viking Union, the Multipurpose Room opens with a prolonged open mic period, followed by four hours of the best the local rock scene has to offer. The Rawk Stage has the honor of presenting the official set of the night, a two hour block from Seattle’s horrortastic Schoolyard Heroes.
The Main Stage calls Red Square home, and will play host to everything from eminent emcees to self-styled funkanauts. The Main Stage sings its swan song through Batch and Ras Attitude, emissaries of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Melophobic? Don’t worry— there’s plenty to catch besides music. Old Main’s lawn will also be playing host to a massive graffiti art demonstration, a 120 foot mural that’ll ultimately benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina (see page 7 of this issue for more information). Nearby, a Student Art Exhibit will be chockfull of the work of your peers and neighbors. Dining and picnic areas will be ideal for chowing down on the food acquired from one of the various food vendors. Whatever your interest, there’s a good chance you’ll find it catered to somewhere across the wide festival grounds.
For more information, check out the special color festival guide in the middle of this paper. You’ll find a detailed schedule, map and information about purchasing tickets. Festival organizers are encouraging everybody to pick up their tickets ahead of time; this is shaping up to be a once-in-a-campus career kind of event, and they’d be loathe for you to miss out.