In 2005, rock legend and singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen told Observer Music Monthly that by the time you’re 12 years old, you already have everything you need to “do interesting writing for most of the rest of your life — certainly by the time you’re 18.”
John Van Deusen, singer, guitarist and keyboardist of Anacortes-based The Lonely Forest, wants students in town to tap into those artistic depths.
“I want kids in elementary school now to start playing,” he said, “and by the time they’re in high school they’re putting on shows. Most of what these kids know of music is Top 40 — and there’s nothing wrong with that — but it’s not very inspiring.”
To help with the inspiration, The Lonely Forest, an award-winning band that has a strong following in the Northwest, will headline an all-ages show at Seafarers’ Memorial Park on Friday, June 22, sharing the stage with EMP Sound Off! finalist Special Explosion and Seattle-based Cumulus. The music continues on Saturday with 13 bands performing throughout the day.
It’s all part of the first Catapult Music Festival.
Van Deusen wants to champion the revival of shows that teens and younger kids can attend — with or without their parents — because he recognizes a strong artistic history in Anacortes and a fertile soil for growing new talent.
He said supporting youth arts of all kinds should be a top community priority, and attending live shows is the surest way to get kids interested in writing and performing their own tunes.
The closure in 2010 of the Department of Safety, the old police and fire station that was converted in 2002 into a haven for artists of all ages, left Van Deusen determined to establish an outlet for Anacortes’ talented young musicians.
“In 10 years, those kids are going to be making really good art,” he said. “We’ve played in Florida, and people will ask where we’re from, and they’ll have heard of Anacortes because there’s artists from here who are really respected.”
Catapult Fest takes the place of Bumberpalooza, the annual all-ages music celebration at the end of the school year held at Washington Park for the last 12 years. Rusty Van Deusen, John’s father, is organizer of Catapult Fest. He said the new name and location is intended to bring the show closer to town and reach a larger audience.
Bumberpalooza had come to be seen as an event only for high schoolers, and wasn’t taken seriously by the arts community, Rusty Van Deusen said. He hopes Catapult Fest will grow to feature the full spectrum of youth arts, including drama, dance, painting and poetry.
“We want to highlight the whole creative edge of the emerging generation of youngsters,” he said.
Rusty Van Deusen said he hopes Catapult Fest will foster interest in re-establishing a permanent venue for underage shows.
A regular venue for all-ages events would give young kids a chance to develop early that John Van Deusen said he didn’t have. His band has a record deal and performs across the country, but he still wonders where he might be artistically if he had more exposure to live music before he started high school.
Friday night will be a ticketed event, raising money to support young musicians and to compensate Saturday’s bands, who will perform free shows all day.
With bands from as close as Anacortes High School and as far as Portland, Ore., including Bellingham rockers, a jazz-influenced Seattle pop quartet, fiddlers and banjo players, John Van Deusen said Catapult Fest will be a soundbite of the variety found in the Seattle music scene.
“It’s not just rock music,” he said.
All the same, he smiled as he recommended bringing earplugs — or even wads of Kleenex to stuff in your ears — if you have tickets for Friday night when The Lonely Forest takes the stage.
“We’re a rock band,” he shrugged. “We’re loud.”
Catapult Music Festival
Seafarers’ Memorial Park
• 7-11 p.m., Friday, June 22. Tickets: $10, $12 at the door.
Cumulus, Special Explosion, The Lonely Forest
• 9:30 a.m. - 11 p.m. Saturday, June 23. Free entry.
Little Elephant, Sleepy Lagoon, Learning Team, The Deep Wake, Feet, The Hague, Cat from Hue, Us On Roofs, Candysounds, Whitney Ballen and the Intimates, BellaMaine, Nude, Kithkin.
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