With the abundance of festivals, shows, and parties this season, it would be a miracle for us to attend them all. One of our favorite lands its heart right in the middle of our home every summer – Capital Hill Block Party. Snuggled between brick buildings and set high on the hot asphalt, music lovers young and old gather to the center of Seattle’s Capitol Hill. We had the opportunity to talk to the CHBP’s curator (and booker, promoter, musician, and club owner extraordinaire) Jason Lajeunesse about what makes this festival one of a kind.
Despite his casual-cool personality and super rad job, Jason didn’t see himself where he is now.
“When I was younger, I thought I would likely end up in labor work. I had limited education and means growing up, and was a dishwasher, line cook and a house painter before I started booking local bands at a bar.”
Now if that isn’t enough incentive and inspiration for you, we don’t know what is. Hard work and knowing the right people pay off. Jason got his start in the music business through his connections as a musician. He’s played guitar, drums and sang on a few records, toured the US and Japan playing bass for Juno, and did a live drum set with IQU in Japan. More recently, he has recorded with singer Alicia Amiri for her solo work and plays shows as part of her band. His musical taste is impeccable. Some of his favorites as a kid include The Dead Kennedy’s, Sonic Youth (YES!), and the Decadents. Since his mom and her friends were into music and art, he credits Tom Waits, Husker Du, Pere Ubu, as well as the classics… Beatles, Stones, and The Who were part of his childhood.
There are not many places like Capitol Hill – there’s never a dull moment, and that’s just what Jason loves about it. The cultural diversity, the history (music especially), and the spirit of punk rock, art, and film that he has lived on for years are what makes this city special. He also loves how strong and healthy the small business spirit is – the people and places keep Capitol Hill alive and well! He is currently in the process of adding and making changes to the overall experience every year. This year, he has put a significant amount of money and time into making the outdoor Vera stage much bigger in both talent and production. It was important to his team to make sure that fans of all ages not miss any national touring acts this year, so they have moved it all outside to the second stage. More lighting and special details to the outdoor spaces for the nighttime hours will also be added this year.
“The city is not in the business of creating and promoting events, but they are supportive of the thriving culture it can add to the city. We work closely with the neighbors and city, and have been for 18 years to pull off this incredible event. There are no events quite like it in the country, and bands and national press alike really appreciate it’s unique structure.”
He has an amazing team that helps him put on CHBP. He says none of it would be possible without Olivia Gouveia (his executive assistant and associate producer on the festival), Grady Chapman and Jon Slatkin (production team), Hoss Grijalva (security detail) and Eli Anderson (talent buyer). Steven Baldwin (Social Media/Branding) and Steve Manning (sponsorship) and Porter Novelli (publicity) all help Jason pull of the event. In the past he has had some pretty fucking amazing talent. Sonic Youth, Flaming Lips, The Deadweather/Raconteurs, Les Savy Fav, The Jesus Lizard, and Built To Spill have all been some of his career highlight favorites.
We just want to thank Jason Lajeunesse and his astounding team for bringing us one of our highlights for the summer. We’ve had some pretty amazing memories here, and can’t wait to make more for the next few years.
“We get to be a part of this amazing community, and live inside peoples summer highlight reel. CHBP has definitely become one of Seattle’s summer highlights for a pretty large demographic.”
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