KEXP Q&A: Fisherman's Village Music Festival co-founder Ryan Crowther

Local Music, KEXP Suggests
Jake Uitti

Ryan Crowther is one of the co-foudners of the Fisherman's Village Music Festival, the weekend musical celebration in Everett, WA, on May 15-17. The festival is in its second year and this go-round boasts a stellar lineup, including many local favorites like The Helio Sequence, Telekinesis, Deep Sea Diver, Cataldo, My Goodness, and Say Hi. We had a chance to chat with Ryan Crowther about the differences between last year's and this year's festival and what he's learned through the process of organizing the big party.

What was the most important lesson you learned from last year's festival?

The biggest lesson we learned last year was THINK LOCAL. It's no secret that the festival market is a competitive one. We felt confident with last year's lineup and thought that if we created a strong list of northwest bands and hit the larger regional music markets hard, people would come. We were partially correct.Last year, hundreds of people came from Seattle, Portland, Olympia and Bellingham. We even had people fly in from Colorado, Idaho and California. However, in our efforts to reach larger music markets, we missed the most important market of ours, Everett and greater Snohomish County. With over 2,000 attending the festival throughout the weekend last year, they were largely made up of tourists. Importing a young, hip and attractive group of 25 to 40 year-old folks was part of the plan and definitely made Everett look pretty sexy for a weekend. However, there's no need to hide Everett. We're doing this in Everett for a reason.

This year, we've included over a dozen local bands from the greater Everett area and have aggressively marketed throughout Snohomish County. Already, tickets are up from last year and we've seen a much bigger buzz locally than we even expected. There's a lot of great music being made up here and we've found more artists since the festival last year, many of which are playing this year. Rallying Everett around Fisherman's Village Music Festival has shown us a lot about how supportive the businesses, the community and the City of Everett itself is and that will ultimately ensure a more sustainable festival with a unique experience.

What will be the biggest difference this year?

While we did learn a few things last year, we ultimately concluded that our model was right. We've added a few showcases on Friday night and opened it up to Saturday and Sunday. We've consolidated things a bit this year to have a little less going on at one time. The biggest difference this year will be that people will see more activity in the heart of downtown. Last year, people driving through downtown obviously recognized there was an event going on. This year, they will probably feel compelled to stop and find out what it is.

How did you go about curating the individual days of the festival this year?

It wasn't easy! There are a lot of great bands here and a lot of diversity in styles and sound. When curating the schedule, you have to put yourself in the party-goers head and think about what you'd want to hear and when. Friday is a total mix of style but all lends itself to kicking off a weekend. We were excited to partner this year with Seattle Living Room Shows / Seattle Secret Shows for a main stage showcase on Saturday and Sunday. Main Stage at Historic Everett Theatre is pretty much stacked (if I'm allowed to say that)! We kind of wish half of us could be parked in a seat at the theater for eight hours while the other half was making sure a festival was running smoothly.

In the Cannery are some of the best emerging bands in the Northwest, many of whom have just released their first recordings. We have lots of good Seattle (My Goodness, Brothers From Another, Prom Queen, Murder Vibes) and Portland (Summer Cannibals, Nurses, Genders, Minden) bands in there. People will be excited to see some of those bands in a 200-person room.

We were excited to partner with Tony V's for the first year and put some great local rock n' roll in there. We put together a Saturday showcase at Cafe Zippy's with some more down home vibes (Planes On Paper, Lonely Mountain Lovers, Marshall McLean band and more). Sunday, we thought a more acoustic-driven showcase could be fun, and were super thrilled to have Erin Austin from OK Sweetheart as well as some other goodies including Edmund Wayne, Adventurous Sleeping (John Bowers from Nurses) and local Jess Lambert.

All in all, more thought went into time of day and where than what day. However, we felt that a proper closer for the festival was Jason Webley on main stage with his original full band (Jherek Bischoff, Alex Guy and Michael McQuilken). A lot of people are really excited about that. 

What will the food and drink scene be like?

We have some great restaurants featured in downtown Everett including The New Mexicans, which most would likely agree as their favorite. We'll likely have some good food trucks downtown including some great taco and torta trucks. To sum it up, Everett food and drink is done quite simply and sticks with the basics. If you're looking for truffle oils and fancy bourbons, you'll likely be barking up the wrong block. However, no one will go home hungry, thirsty or disappointed.

Lastly, how did the festival come about? What was the moment, or series of moments, that led to you and your co-organziers saying, "This needs to happen?"

More than anything, Steven and I wanted to put together a festival in Everett. When we created Everett Music Initiative, we knew there was no way we could start with a festival. So, we spent two years throwing shows, building a market here and a little bit of credibility for Everett. At the end of 2013, we knew it was time and went for it. After booking the first few bands, our gut hurt as we knew there was no turning back. We're really happy we did it and excited to watch the continued growth. The amount of support we get in this community is really humbling.


Here are some videos of this year's performers: 

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