Cloudbreak Festival Shines On Seattle

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REVIVING LIVE: Kuinka, shown above, will perform Nov. 17 with Mother Blue and Babes in Canyon at Nectar Lounge during the Cloudbreak festival. (Courtesy venue)

Local musicians and music-related tourism are getting a boost with Cloudbreak, Seattle’s ReviveLive Music Fest Nov. 3-23 with events at 30 venues across the city.

The one-time event is funded and led by King County Creative Economy and Visit Seattle, the nonprofit destination marketing organization for the region. The goal is to bring tourists and local residents to the city’s live entertainment venues to help mitigate the ongoing financial impact of the COVID-19 shutdown.

King County is home to 2.3 million residents. The King Country Creative Economy contributed $300,000 to pay participating musician performance fees. Kate Becker, from the office of King Country Executive Director Dow Constantine, said putting money in the pockets of musicians hit hard during the pandemic was a priority.

“King County set some funding aside at the start of the pandemic because we knew it would be used for tourism recovery,” explained Becker. “It was dollars generated through a lodging tax so this is not general fund dollars, but dollars targeted specifically for tourism initiatives.”

As the city recovered from pandemic, Becker said community leaders realized that while they were among the first cities to provide aid for independently owned live music venues, there was more that needed to be done.

“We had not fortified our musicians the way we needed to and our tourism industry was hard hit, like everyone across the country,” Becker said. “We had this opportunity with these funds in reserve to leverage that and put money in the pockets of our musicians and partner with hotels in the downtown core and music venues to put the focus back on Seattle’s music scene.”

Participating venues include The Crocodile, El Corazon, Trinity Nightclub, Funhouse, Central Saloon, Vermillion, High Dive, Nectar Lounge, Washington Hall, Tractor Tavern, The Sunset Tavern and the Clock-Out Lounge. Each venue is responsible for booking their own shows and selling tickets.

“One of our goals was to show the real cross-section of venues in Seattle and introduce people to venues they may not already know,” said Tracey Wickersham, senior director of cultural tourism for Visit Seattle. “We really love that we have our smaller neighborhood venues like the Clock-Out Lounge, the Royal Room and some of those other smaller partners.”

“With so many exciting acts in the lineup, Cloudbreak offers a great reason to visit Seattle this fall,” said Leigh Bezezekoff, marketing and ticketing manager for the Tractor Tavern, which has a capacity of 400 general admission and will host Visqueen on Nov.  18.

LOVED BY LOCALS:  The Tractor Tavern, Located in the heart of historic downtown Ballard, Washington, has offered nightly entertainment for more than 25 years. The tavern will host several concerts, including Visqueen on Nov. 18, as part of Cloudburst.(Ryan Jorgensen)

As part of the program, guests at 70 downtown Seattle hotels will have free access to 60 concerts across the city throughout the course of Cloudbreak. Hotel guests show their hotel key card along with a special Cloudbreak access card at participating venues for admission until capacity is reached.

“The venues are proceeding as normal marketing and promoting the shows, but they are holding back (inventory) for our hotel guests who are staying in one of our partners’ hotels,” said Wickersham.

Their target audience is typically within driving distance from Canada, eastern Washington and California.

Cloudbreak kicks off Nov. 3 at El Corazon with Seattle hip-hop artist Sir Mix-a-Lot.

“I love that local venues and local musicians have come together to highlight our Seattle music scene,” he said in a statement. “As a musician who came up in this town, I know the importance of Seattle’s music scene. That’s why I jumped in to help with the recovery of our independent music venues during the pandemic, and why I’m, happy to participate in Cloudbreak Music Festival.”

Having a diverse lineup of venues and performers was a priority for Cloudbreak organizers.

“One of the things we are really excited about is the diversity of programming on this bill,” Wickersham said. “Part of the message that we wanted to get out to our audience and the world is that Seattle’s music scene is diverse and very vibrant and lively and we are excited to be able to showcase that in such a tangible way.”

Gauging the success of Cloudbreak will require an examination of hotel bookings and door receipts, but Wickersham said they see positive results.

“When we look at our various goals for this campaign, one being supporting for our local musicians, that success is happening,” she said. “The enthusiasm that our music community and musicians have embraced this with — the fact that we were able to actually hire local artists to do these shows, that’s success on its own. The other part will be filling those houses and bringing in visitors to show people that music tourism works. That will be the piece we find out for sure when we are done.”