by Marcus Harrison Green
Expect to go church when Jamil Suleman hits the stage at Sunday’s Mt. Baker Hub Fest.
“Figuratively on an energetic level, not literally,” a laughing Suleman states during our interview earlier in the week.
The religious allusions are a little hard to shake Hub Fest’s headliner these days, as the spoken word artist, musician, and youth organizer has recently taken to dressing as Jesus during his performances.
“A joke turned into an art piece. I don’t know if I can bring it out on Sunday. It’s a little risqué,” says Suleman, who shares that his latest stage attire is a result of a friend joking about Jamil’s resemblance to what the historical Christ probably looked like.
Leaving the messianic wardrobe at home on Sunday, Suleman – who’s become known for his soul-arousing, conscious-jarring performances- says to expect a fusion of hip-hop, poetry, and stand up comedy with a firm focus on fun.
“This show is more of a family thing,” Suleman says, sharing he plans to stay away from the more provocative material he’s been performing at some of his shows during his 45 minute set.
“It’s going to be more upbeat, and a block party vibe. I feel like that’s where I want to get to on Sunday.” He says.
The decision to headline the first annual Hubfest was an easy one for him. Suleman lives in the Mt. Baker Art Lofts just a few floors above the complex’s plaza where the event will be held.
“This is a proactive community led event. It’s very much open to people who want to get involved, so I’m very eager to see who comes. Our neighborhood has changed and if we want to be involved in that changing neighborhood we should check it out.”
Suleman, who moved to South Seattle from the Eastside a few years ago, is candid in his assessment of how some of those changes have currently played out in his neighborhood.
“The Gentrification train is real. People are trying to re-imagine the space around Mt. Baker with events like this, but you do ask yourself if in the process of bettering the area will working class people, and South End indigenous population, going to be displaced? And who is going to be able to afford to live here?” He wonders.
With its light rail station and bus transit center with routes seemingly traveling to every crevice of the city, he sees the neighborhood as primed for an increasing shift socioeconomically towards wealthier homeowners.
He describes walking from his apartment in the Art Lofts to the Mt. Baker community club and being amazed at the vast discrepancy in affluence between homes within just a few blocks of each other.
For this reason, Suleman , who just came off tour, stresses the importance of all of those who live in the area, regardless of class, or race coming together at events like Hubfest to network, and dialogue on how best to shape their community’s future.
“I think the organizers of Hubfest are trying to be inclusive as possible. There is an opportunity for all of us to be involved in this transition, and being invited to be involved,” expresses Suleman.
The rest of Sunday’s lineup of performers prior to Suleman would appear to speak to that.
Hosted by the Mount Baker Hub Business Association and Friends of Mount Baker Town Center as a part of the Seattle Design Festival, which seeks to lead community improvement by art, the event will feature Sunday’s mostly resident artists living at or near the art loft, who are ethnically, and generationally diverse. Music will include West African drumming, Vietnamese dance, and Big Band Jazz.
Organizers say the array was intentional, as they wanted to eliminate any perception of exclusivity.
Additionally the event will also showcase the work of muralists from around the area, along with art booths, and food. The City’s Bicycle Sunday route will extend from Seward Park all the way to Beacon Hill, linking the neighborhoods view the Olmsted Brother’s historic parkways.
“Sunday will be symbolic of what’s coming to the community good and bad,” says Suleman. “This community is becoming very active, and we all need to be involved.”
Complete Hubfest Schedule
|Rochelle House||Jazz||11:15 – 12pm|
|Jeffrey Forde||Roots/ Blues||12:15 – 1pm|
|Youth Speaks/ Azura||Spoken Word||1:00 – 1:15|
|Youth Speaks/ Zora||Spoken Word||1:00 – 1:15|
|Steering Committee||Jazz Fusion/ Traditional Music||1:15 – 1:45 pm|
|Huong Viet Performing Arts Group||Vietnamese music and dance||2:00 – 2:30 pm|
|Thione Diop||West African drums and dance||2:30 – 3:00 pm|
|Cesario||Spoken Word||3:00 – 3:15|
|Delvon Lamarr Trio||Funk/ Organ||3:15 – 4pm|
|Jamil Suleman||Hip Hop||4:15 – 5pm|