by Victor Simoes
Happening every second Sunday of the month from June through September, Columbia City Beatwalk returns, bringing live music and local vendors according to monthly themes, along with the first-ever dedicated Pride Beatwalk.
Kicking off on June 4, Beatwalk’s Pride edition will include musicians, drag queens, and other DJs and performers from the LGBTQ+ community. Even though Pride themes have been incorporated into the program in the past, Tish Gallow, Beatwalk’s booking coordinator, emphasizes that giving the LGBTQ+ community its own space to be celebrated is highly important.
“Our neighbor Manny Apostal started Columbia City Pride in 2021,” said Gallow. “We did try to restart it in 2022, but it didn’t go over as planned or hoped. I feel very comfortable saying that this is the first time that Beatwalk has really picked up that mantle.”
The Beatwalk’s second Sunday series officially kicks off on June 11 and will be themed American Roots. Taking place on Rainier Avenue South at South Ferdinand Street, musicians will explore classic rhythms rooted in jazz and bluegrass, country music, and R&B. The July Beatwalk will repeat its partnership with B.U.I.L.D. 206, a grassroots organization focused on empowering young Black men by building relationships and mentoring to celebrate R&B and hip-hop sounds, with open-air performances and more acts at participating venues, such as The Royal Room. The 2021 edition also featured the Double Dutch Divas, a community group that promotes a healthier style of life through the art of double Dutch jump rope.
August’s theme is World Beats and Rhythms, which includes reggae, Latin, and African music. September ends the series with Anything Goes, marked by burlesque performances that have been highly requested in recent years.
Gallow explains that she developed the Beatwalk themes so people “know what they’re getting into.”
“When you visit Columbia City, if you’re traveling from the North End, or West Seattle, and you don’t like the music, or you don’t know what’s going on, it’s, to me, a little disappointing,” said Gallow.
Beatwalk has been a Columbia City summer tradition for almost 30 years, a grassroots event organized by just three people: Tish Gallow, Kate Bond, and Jardea Kane. Gallow explains that despite the difficulty of organizing such a massive event with such a small team, it is all worth it when she sees the shared community space they can create and the material support they can provide to artists living in the neighborhood.
“My thing with the Beatwalk, and also Mizz Tish Productions, is I intentionally book bands and DJs to bring the Black community back to the neighborhood since it’s so heavily gentrified,” said Gallow. “That is my goal, and it is also super fun.”
Gallow has kept Black music alive in Columbia City for years. Aside from curating shows at The Royal Room and Rumba Notes Lounge for the past two and a half years and being on the planning team for the Beatwalk for over 10 years, she has recently expanded her love for celebrations to a new business, starting her own event production company, Mizz Tish Productions. During her first year under this new name, Gallow has organized monthly parties throughout venues in the Sound End and, most recently, a live band tribute to De La Soul and a Tribe Called Quest on April 8 at The Royal Room.
On May 20, Mizz Tish Productions is hosting a celebration of 50 years of hip-hop. The party will take place in The Royal Room. DJ Vitamin D, DJ Sean Malik, and DJ Lady Love, one of the first original female DJs from the Bronx, will be in charge of the music. On June 11, Gallow will pay homage to Prince, whose birthday is June 7, with a tribute at The Royal Room, and on Aug. 26, Mizz Tish Productions will host a live band tribute to Whitney Houston.
“The people in the community love it,” said Gallow. “They love the parties. I just got a text a week ago, five days after my last event. This lady was like, ‘I forgot to let you know how much fun I had. I don’t go out very often, but it was a great party, and the band was awesome.’”
You can find more information on Columbia City Beatwalk events through its Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Editors’ Note: This article was updated on 05/18/2023 to correct that the Double Dutch Divas were a part of 2021’s Beatwalk, not this July’s, and that the August theme is “World Beats and Rhythms.”
Victor Simoes is an international student at the University of Washington pursuing a double degree in journalism and photo/media. Originally from Florianópolis, Brazil, they enjoy radical organizing, hyper pop, and their beloved cats. Their writing focuses on community, arts, and culture. You can find them on Instagram or Twitter at @victorhaysser.
📸 Featured Image: DeChelle Monet performs at The Royal Room during the 24th-annual Beatwalk in Seattle, Washington, on July 8, 2018. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)
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