Photo depicting a crowd dancing around Cameron Lavi-Jones in a blue leather jacket playing guitar.

Outside the Mainstream: The First Black & Loud Festival Showcases Alternative Black Music

by Patheresa Wells

This Saturday, the first-ever Black & Loud Fest brings local Black-fronted rock and alternative music to Fremont. The free fest highlights Pacific Northwest bands and artists who fall into genres outside of what is generally considered “Black music.” Black & Loud takes place on Sept. 10 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. at LTD in Fremont at 309 N 36th St. 

“Being in Seattle, and especially being in the rock realm as a Black artist, the seeds [for the festival] were planted from realizing how isolating it can feel. Or feeling like you’re the only people in a particular space or realm that looks like us,” said Cameron Lavi-Jones, cocreator of the fest and lead singer and guitarist of the band King Youngblood.

Though alternative music as a genre is generally considered as music outside of popular or mainstream music, the ironic thing is that Black music got its start outside of the mainstream. While people often think of Elvis when it comes to the birth of rock ʼn’ roll, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a queer Black woman, blended gospel with the guitar to break music norms in the ʼ30s and ʼ40s, long before he appeared on the scene. 

“[Rock] is a genre that Black people have been categorically pushed out of and something that I think is incredibly important that we uphold the folks that are carrying on those legacies. And those traditions and those things that are so important and core to what the genre of rock music or punk music or soul or anything in those realms, the core of alternative genres started with Black folks,” said Lavi-Jones.

Photo depicting King Youngblood gathered on a railroad track outside of Seattle.
Seattle-based alt-rockers King Youngblood is one of the many bands performing at the festival. Band members from left to right. Cameron Lavi-Jones, Chet Peterson, Alix Daniel, and Samy Garcia. (Photo courtesy of Lucianno Ratto.)

Partly as a way to increase visibility of Black musicians in alternative genres, Lavi-Jones and festival cocreator Anthony Briscoe of the band Down North, along with the help of numerous sponsors, decided to find a way to bring the focus back. Bazzookafest has been showcasing alternative BIPOC artists for the last two years. These festivals put a regional highlight that there is an expansive Black culture that exists outside the mainstream in the same way the Afropunk festival has done for many years. 

Black & Loud Fest will take place in the LTD Parking Lot in the Fremont neighborhood. The event will be rain or shine, with continuous music until 10 p.m. And as the event’s official sponsor, Jack Daniels will feature special festival cocktails. There will also be tons of free food and giveaways.

The official lineup includes Down North, King Youngblood, The Black Ends, Jaiden Grayson, Miles Harris & The Deep Cuts, Earnie Ashwood, Jamaar Smiley, DJ Cherubim_Tha_Multitude, and a spoken word/rock and roll performance by T.S The Solution.

Photo depicting the band Down North posing in front of a white background.
Anthony Briscoe of the band Down North is a cocreator of Black & Loud Fest. Down North will perform their psych-infused punk soul during Saturday’s event. Band members from left to right: Conrad Real, Brandon Storms, Nick Quiller, and Anthony Briscoe. (Photo courtesy of Down North)

Beyond being a music festival, Black & Loud will live on as a documentary filmed at the event. The film will dive deeper into the behind-the-scenes process of putting the festival together and focus on Black bands and fans in these genres. The documentary is also a way of reaching other Black musicians in alternative genres to let them know that “you are not alone, that you exist, and that you taking up space is so beautifully important,” said Lavi-Jones.

While this year’s Black & Loud Fest is the first, the team behind it hopes they can make it an annual event. And to make that happen, they want to reach as many people as possible, including those interested in supporting Black creatives. Additionally, they want to include anyone interested in showcasing and supporting the work done by these Black artists. 

“We’re able to fight and shake the norm of how white-dominated these spaces are and also celebrate the creativity in the artistic brilliance of these Black creatives with more people in the world … We need you there to show the world that we exist and we are fucking killing it,” said Lavi-Jones. 

To register for free tickets to the event, visit the Black & Loud Fest website. For updates on the lineup, please follow their Instagram.

Flyer advertising the Black & Loud Festival on Sept. 10, 2022.

The Emerald is a proud media partner of Black and Loud Fest 2022.

Patheresa Wells is a Queer poet, writer, and storyteller who lives in SeaTac, Washington. Born to a Black mother and Persian father, her experiences as a multicultural child shaped her desire to advocate for and amplify her community. She currently attends Highline College in Des Moines. Follow her on Twitter @PatheresaWells.

📸 Featured Image: Cameron Lavi-Jones (in blue shirt), cocreator of Black & Loud Fest, and lead singer and guitarist of the band King Youngblood, surrounded by fans as he performs at Neumos in March 2019. (Photo courtesy of Quinton Peters.)

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