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NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)

reggie miles 29 Apr 10 - 06:12 PM
mousethief 30 Apr 10 - 01:24 AM
reggie miles 30 Apr 10 - 11:02 AM
artbrooks 30 Apr 10 - 11:39 AM
meself 30 Apr 10 - 12:02 PM
reggie miles 30 Apr 10 - 01:28 PM
Deckman 30 Apr 10 - 01:33 PM
meself 30 Apr 10 - 01:58 PM
open mike 30 Apr 10 - 03:52 PM
GUEST,leeneia 30 Apr 10 - 05:13 PM
Deckman 30 Apr 10 - 05:50 PM
Don Firth 30 Apr 10 - 06:02 PM
McGrath of Harlow 30 Apr 10 - 07:17 PM
Don Firth 30 Apr 10 - 07:54 PM
reggie miles 01 May 10 - 07:05 PM
GUEST,Mark Stevens 01 May 10 - 07:11 PM
GUEST,The Shambles 01 May 10 - 07:47 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 May 10 - 07:59 PM
artbrooks 01 May 10 - 08:12 PM
GUEST,The Shambles 01 May 10 - 08:24 PM
Deckman 01 May 10 - 10:12 PM
IvanB 01 May 10 - 11:02 PM
artbrooks 02 May 10 - 12:44 AM
artbrooks 02 May 10 - 01:01 AM
reggie miles 02 May 10 - 07:13 AM
MAG 02 May 10 - 10:48 AM
Deckman 02 May 10 - 11:39 AM
GUEST 02 May 10 - 05:29 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 02 May 10 - 05:58 PM
GUEST 02 May 10 - 06:42 PM
Don Firth 02 May 10 - 09:28 PM
ChanteyMatt 02 May 10 - 11:23 PM
reggie miles 03 May 10 - 10:19 AM
GUEST,leeneia 03 May 10 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,The Shambles 03 May 10 - 11:31 AM
GUEST,oggie 03 May 10 - 02:16 PM
Don Firth 03 May 10 - 02:35 PM
artbrooks 03 May 10 - 02:43 PM
GUEST,mg 03 May 10 - 03:01 PM
GUEST,The Shambles 03 May 10 - 03:40 PM
Genie 03 May 10 - 03:41 PM
Don Firth 03 May 10 - 04:16 PM
GUEST,oggie 03 May 10 - 04:35 PM
mousethief 03 May 10 - 10:48 PM
artbrooks 04 May 10 - 12:31 AM
Will Fly 04 May 10 - 03:54 AM
GUEST,Northwest Folklife 04 May 10 - 07:16 PM
Deckman 04 May 10 - 08:14 PM
open mike 05 May 10 - 01:37 AM
GUEST,The Shambles 05 May 10 - 02:52 AM
stallion 05 May 10 - 03:41 AM
reggie miles 05 May 10 - 11:16 AM
reggie miles 06 May 10 - 02:10 PM
Howard Jones 06 May 10 - 02:50 PM
John P 06 May 10 - 05:41 PM
reggie miles 06 May 10 - 09:17 PM
The Fooles Troupe 06 May 10 - 09:45 PM
Stewart 06 May 10 - 11:50 PM
reggie miles 07 May 10 - 01:04 AM
GUEST,The Shambles 07 May 10 - 04:15 AM
Howard Jones 07 May 10 - 05:01 AM
John P 07 May 10 - 07:46 AM
reggie miles 07 May 10 - 10:38 AM
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reggie miles 07 May 10 - 04:40 PM
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reggie miles 09 May 10 - 11:40 AM
mg 09 May 10 - 02:45 PM
GUEST,artbrooks 09 May 10 - 04:12 PM
John P 10 May 10 - 10:27 AM
reggie miles 10 May 10 - 01:01 PM
Don Firth 10 May 10 - 01:30 PM
John P 10 May 10 - 08:01 PM
GUEST,The Shambles 10 May 10 - 08:31 PM
mg 10 May 10 - 08:54 PM
reggie miles 11 May 10 - 12:58 AM
mousethief 11 May 10 - 01:19 AM
GUEST,The Shambles 11 May 10 - 02:40 AM
The Fooles Troupe 11 May 10 - 06:51 PM
The Fooles Troupe 11 May 10 - 06:55 PM
The Fooles Troupe 11 May 10 - 07:04 PM
The Fooles Troupe 11 May 10 - 07:11 PM
Jon Bartlett 12 May 10 - 03:30 AM
Deckman 12 May 10 - 06:18 AM
MAG 12 May 10 - 10:52 AM
GUEST,astro 12 May 10 - 12:58 PM
GUEST,mg 12 May 10 - 01:35 PM
GUEST,The Shambles 12 May 10 - 03:30 PM
GUEST,The Shambles 12 May 10 - 03:36 PM
GUEST,mg 12 May 10 - 03:39 PM
GUEST,mg 12 May 10 - 04:27 PM
GUEST,The Shambles 12 May 10 - 06:19 PM
reggie miles 13 May 10 - 02:28 AM
GUEST,The Shambles 13 May 10 - 02:40 AM
John P 13 May 10 - 05:42 PM
artbrooks 13 May 10 - 07:31 PM
reggie miles 14 May 10 - 01:38 AM
mousethief 14 May 10 - 02:15 AM
GUEST,The Shambles 14 May 10 - 05:29 AM
Howard Jones 14 May 10 - 05:49 AM
reggie miles 14 May 10 - 11:07 AM
Howard Jones 14 May 10 - 11:44 AM
GUEST,The Shambles 14 May 10 - 03:45 PM
Howard Jones 14 May 10 - 04:24 PM
Deckman 14 May 10 - 04:44 PM
GUEST,The Shambles 14 May 10 - 07:24 PM
reggie miles 15 May 10 - 12:48 AM
GUEST,ollaimh 15 May 10 - 09:17 AM
reggie miles 17 May 10 - 12:18 PM
reggie miles 17 May 10 - 12:22 PM
Bettynh 17 May 10 - 01:23 PM
Don Firth 17 May 10 - 01:38 PM
reggie miles 18 May 10 - 10:27 AM
GUEST,ollaimh 18 May 10 - 10:47 AM
ollaimh 18 May 10 - 11:04 AM
Jon Bartlett 18 May 10 - 04:05 PM
reggie miles 18 May 10 - 05:04 PM
oggie 18 May 10 - 07:20 PM
Bob the Postman 18 May 10 - 07:59 PM
GUEST,Molly Haas 21 May 10 - 05:39 PM
reggie miles 22 May 10 - 05:56 AM
Stewart 22 May 10 - 05:52 PM
Deckman 22 May 10 - 06:22 PM
reggie miles 22 May 10 - 11:02 PM
reggie miles 23 May 10 - 01:27 PM
reggie miles 24 May 10 - 12:52 PM
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reggie miles 24 May 10 - 01:16 PM
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GUEST,The Shambles 29 May 10 - 02:18 PM
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reggie miles 30 May 10 - 08:18 AM
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artbrooks 31 May 10 - 01:12 AM
reggie miles 31 May 10 - 10:40 AM
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Subject: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: reggie miles
Date: 29 Apr 10 - 06:12 PM

I surprised to get a phone call from a friend and fellow street performer the other day. He was dismayed by some news that he had learned about playing at the NW Folklife Festival this year.

This year, he was scheduled to perform at the event. He was excited about that. Like me, he gets invitations to play at events and he had been looking forward to this opportunity. He was going to organize a group performance with some other friends for this year's event.

He told me that while at the festival he was also planning to perform for donations with his friends. While talking with the folks at NW Folklife he learned that they had adopted a new tactic this year to crack down on street performers. He said that they were going to report street performers to the IRS who did not comply with their list of demands.

Upon hearing this news, he told the organizers that he and his friends weren't interested in performing this year. I was as surprised as he was to hear about this new tool in their anti-street performing arsenal. Their list of rules is long, restricting those who engage in this First Amendment protected activity and copied almost to the letter from a similar list that was being used to restrict street performers by those managing the Seattle Center.

A street performer challenged the Seattle Center's rules and won his case against the Seattle Center and the City of Seattle in June of 2009, just two weeks after I was bounced from the event. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit heard the case with 11 judges and in an 8 to 3 decision, they invalidated five specific rules. The Court said that the City of Seattle could not:

1. require the application for permits to perform on public property
2. ask performers to display a permit for entertaining on public property
3. tell performers where they could perform on public property
4. tell performer how close they could be to any gathered group of people
5. restrict what performers could say to their audiences

In short, what I do on public property as a street performer, is protected by the First Amendment as freedon of expression. At the following link, you can Read the Court's ruling.

It was number 3 on the above list that the NW Folklife head of security used to harass me, while I was entertaining folks at the event. At last year's NW Folklife event I was forcibly evicted from the grounds of the Seattle Center by four officers of the SPD (Seattle Police Department) because I stood up to being bullied by the festival's head of security. (I told him that the only problem I saw was him.) What had I done wrong? I choose to sit in the shade of a covered walkway at the far northern edge of the event and entertain about a dozen folks (at their request) offering folk music with my folk instruments at this "supposed" folk music event.

The NW Folklife Festival is a free event, held on public property, the Seattle Center. The Seattle Center is a public park. According to the Court's decision on the matter, that makes my activities as a street performer beyond the forced control of the rules of the festival.

NW Folklife specifically demands that they have the right tell performers where they can and cannot perform, how close performers can be to a gathered group of folks at the event. Plus, they wish to collect a tax of %15 of anything that listeners might freely offer to street performers as support. They require street performers to pay a $10 fee for the right to exercise their First Amendment right to freedom of expression on the ground of the Seattle Center, a public park. Finally they require street performers to get a temporary business license, a $20 fee.

Here's the link to their rules.

http://www.nwfolklife.org/get-involved/street-performers

See for your self.

NW Folklife has not paid a single performer for their skills and talents to entertain at this event in the last 3 decades since I've been donating my time there. Now, they not only wish to deny the right to freedom of expression, but they want to street performers to pay for that right. Rights are not privileges to be controlled by power hungry event coordinators and they have no right treating our rights in that manner!

To my friends on the other side of the pond, suffering from the hands of those termed fascists. Know that we too, here in the land of the "free", do suffer from creative oppression as well, from those who I would also term as having a mentality that's not far from fascist.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: mousethief
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 01:24 AM

Weird. A girl who went to my church, who was 10 at the time, took her fiddle and stood under a tree with her case open and played. This would be about 10 years ago, I think (she's about 20 now -- geezis how time flies). I wonder if they've gotten narstier in the interim. Or maybe they just don't harass little girls.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: reggie miles
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 11:02 AM

Wonder no more, NW Folklife's IRS threat against street performers is a new low blow for the event organizers of this "folk" event. When you're so desperate for cash to run your event that you have to start demanding %15 and assorted other fees from street performers (essentially robbing from the poor) you've already lost and should just step down from calling yourself an event coordinator/producer/organizer and throw in the towel. If your goal is to be a thief, these (four letter words deleted) should go get a job on Wall Street, where robbing from the rich and poor alike is sanctioned and supported.

Street performing, as a folk art, is the one of oldest forms of entertainment known to man. It is perhaps the original form of entertainment. It has existed for thousands of years, far longer than most of the forms of music and art that we support as "folk" today. To treat this honorable means of exchange between humans as something to be scorned and treated as "less than" corporate controlled folk arts is criminal. It's bureaucracy run amuck!

What next? Is NW Folklife going to start robbing the panhandlers too and reporting them to the IRS if they don't comply with their demands?


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: artbrooks
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 11:39 AM

Well, we will be at Folklife this year, enjoying the scheduled performers - who are already so close together that the music from one venue can be heard at others - and trying to get through on the already crowded walkways where buskers and others are impeding progress. Perhaps there is a good reason for trying to control the number of additional people creating their own stages. The sidewalkj north of Centerhouse? Fagetaboutit!


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: meself
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 12:02 PM

I can see where there might be a need in an event such as this for some control, but when it reaches the point where - assuming Reggie Miles is giving an accurate report - the organizers resort to extortion and snitching - well, what can you say ....


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: reggie miles
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 01:28 PM

"assuming Reggie Miles is giving an accurate report"

meself, I have no reason to invent the truth about this matter. If you'd like, I'll send you the email address and website of my friend who withdrew from the event and you can have a chat with him about it. He and his friends sing in a traditional gospel music vocal group.

artbrooks, the only control that's needed in this instance, is control of those who deem themselves above the law of the land. They are the ones denying folks their right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the First Amendment. Or perhaps you'd rather live in a country where just anyone with the position of event coordinator/producer/manager can come along and deny you, me and everyone else that they see fit, to the precious freedoms that so many in this country have fought and died to protect. I, for one, don't believe that they should be granted that kind of authority. If they're so power hungry that they want to resort to the kind of tactics, they should host the event on private property and not in a public park.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Deckman
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 01:33 PM

My respect for Reggie Miles knows no bounds. He is a superb musician and an even better person. At first when I saw this thread, I was just going to sit back and shut up. But now I feel compelled to comment:

I performed in the first 20 or more folklife festivals. At first, it was just plain fun: family oriented, music and musician oriented, and it was one of the annual events we all anticpated with relish. With the advent of "professional festival managers", the yardstick of success became the "numbers" of the crowd. It was then that the focus shifted from good, family oriented music and fun, to issues of crowd controll and making money anyway possible.

I personally have "given up" on just about every activity in Seattle, save personal contact with many friends who are unfortunate enough to still live there. The issue that Reggie is reporting is very reflective of the present day nazi/thug mentality I see in many areas of Seattle.

I find this very sad ... I grew up in south Seattle when it was a good place. I can't help but wonder what Ivar Hauglund would say today! Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: meself
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 01:58 PM

Sorry, Reggie, I didn't mean to sound like I was questioning your integrity; I just wanted to make it clear that my reaction was based solely on your account of the situation, just to cover myself, because, you will note, I used fairly strong language in my interpretation of what seems to be happening.

Btw, I stopped busking at the Fringe Festival in Edmonton some years back for similar reasons - although it hadn't occurred to the organizers to tattle-tale to Revenue Canada on buskers.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: open mike
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 03:52 PM

sorry to hear this sad state of affairs.
i think that the Turkey Pluckers enjoyed
a reunion concert there a few years back
the folk life folks should support folk
music, after all isn't that what it is
about??!! You should be featured on one
of the stages, and paid to perform there.

i thought that the free admission to the
event was possible due to sponsors and
other contributors footing the bill for
the performers...are you saying that no
one gets paid to play there? that stinks.

does the folk life organization pay for
the use of the park for the day (weekend)?

they do not pay performers, and they deny
them (you) the chance of collecting donations
for your efforts...?? something wrong here....

do the musicians need a union to represent them
(us)? try local 1000,http://local1000.com/


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 05:13 PM

"Our organization is a small nonprofit that relies heavily on donations from Festival-goers to keep this event going each year. We ask that you donate a portion of your proceeds to Northwest Folklife."

Sounds fair to me. The committee probably works all year, and at least some of the members will be unpaid.

Why should they do all the work and take the risks, only to have strangers pop up at the last minute to take advantage of the crowd? Why should they work to provide free music, then let outsiders move in and stick their their hands out?

The rules seem fair to me, as well. Not too close to other bands, no blocking of traffic, not too loud. No fires.

Reggie, I think your friend needs to accept a little 'give and take' here.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Deckman
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 05:50 PM

"To take advantage of all the crowds" ... that's the kind of mindset that has warped this festival. This festival deserves itself. Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Don Firth
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 06:02 PM

I don't have time right now to say much here, but it's not that simple, leeneia.

I used to participate in the Northwest Folklife Festivals, but rarely any more and only under certain circumstances. The nature of the thing has changed within the past few years. No matter what their web site says, it has become Big Business, with little real understanding of what folk music is all about.

And, no, they don't pay any of the thousands of scheduled performers. It's become a bloody mob scene, and the powers-that-be don't seem to have any standards when it comes to what "folklife" means. Apparently, it's anything that "folks" do, including garage rock bands using the festival to showcase themselves. Anything resembling traditional folk music is generally crammed up into the meeting rooms in the northwest corner.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 07:17 PM

So the suggestion is that buskers during a festival should be expected to give some unspecified part of their takings to the festival?

Seems pretty fair. I'd imagine the folkie crowd would only be there to provide the takings because there's a festival - and I'd suspect a lot of people wold assume that the busking was a fundraising effort anyway.

That IRS threat sounds a bit out of order - but surely it'd be a bluff? Pretty hard to prove anything, even if the Revenue were particularly interested. And going on record as promising not to report buskers who gave them a cut of the takings would appear to put the organisers in a pretty dodgy legal position anyway.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Don Firth
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 07:54 PM

I've heard (dunno if it's true or not) that during the Folklife Festival, some buskers find better pickin's down at the Pike Place Market. Everybody else is up at the Seattle Center grounds.

Oops! Maybe that's supposed to be a secret!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: reggie miles
Date: 01 May 10 - 07:05 PM

I find it morally disgusting that their little non-profit organization, on Memorial Day weekend, the one weekend out of the year that we honor the sacrifices of those who have given their lives to defend the rights and freedoms that we enjoy in this country, would treat those freedoms like they are a privilege that we should have to pay them to enjoy. The right to practice these freedoms, like our right to freedom of expression and freedom of speech has already been paid for in blood. I am outraged that their little non-profit organization would disgrace and dishonor the sacrifices, of all those Americans who have fought and died to protect our precious freedoms and rights, by suggesting that they have the right to charge me a fee to exercise my rights as described in the First Amendment of our Constitution. I am further appalled by how blatantly their little non-profit organization has completely ignored the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on this specific matter of exercising our rights to freedom of expression on public property. Does their lack of respect for the American way of life, our Constitutional rights and the sacrifices of countless Americans know no bounds?


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,Mark Stevens
Date: 01 May 10 - 07:11 PM

This looks a new case for Folk Against Fascism . . . .
Somebody please send me an application form.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 01 May 10 - 07:47 PM

Well said Reggie.

I am constantly surprised at how little valued these hard-won freedoms now appear to be in practice. And not only am I surprised at how easily they are taken away but at how those affected appear to be so willing to try to find excuses for those who would try to justify their removal.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 May 10 - 07:59 PM

For a busker at a non-profit folk-festival to begrudge letting the festival have a share of their takings seems remarkably mean-spirited. There shouldn't need to be any question of the organisers feeling they have to try to oblige them to do so.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: artbrooks
Date: 01 May 10 - 08:12 PM

There may have been a time when it wasn't so crowded at Folklife that there was room for anyone to set up anywhere he wanted, play for the enjoyment of the multitudes, and make a few bucks at the same time. I'm not sure that was true when I left Seattle in 1979 and I'm certain that it wasn't by the time we left the Northwest for good (except for the occasional visit) in 1987. Restricting buskers as to where they may perform (and that rule was not overturned by the court's decision)seems to me to be a good idea, considering that the entire city seems to be on the Center's grounds on a nice Folklife day. The threat to fink out non-complying buskers to the IRS, if true, is entirely out of line, of course.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 01 May 10 - 08:24 PM

It must take considerable effort to so totally miss the important point being made here and to choose only to address the less important nit-picking detail. Not that this is surprising.

It is almost as if regulation and restriction for its own sake had some merit which needed to be celebrated. To pick and choose one's freedoms is not an option that is open to us as that course can only lead to the end of them all.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Deckman
Date: 01 May 10 - 10:12 PM

I would also like to try focus on what I consider one of the more important aspects of this sick tale ... WHAT IN THE HELL DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH "FOLK MUSIC"?

I'll answer my own question ... NOTHING! What it has to do with is teeny, tiny people who consider themselves so VERY OMNIPOTENT that they feel they can dictate to the world.

Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: IvanB
Date: 01 May 10 - 11:02 PM

artbrooks, do you have a reference for your statement that the "location" rule was not overturned? As I read the appeals court ruling, the trial court rejected all five rules and the appeals court only remanded the location rule back for review. I see nothing in the links which have been presented here to indicate whether such review ever took place and, if so, whether the original decision was reversed as pertaining to that rule.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: artbrooks
Date: 02 May 10 - 12:44 AM

IvanB, as I read the appeals court ruling, they said that the location rule was reasonable, but that they were not making any determination as to its constitutionality. Also remember, this case involves one performer and the ruling premises an essentially empty Seattle Center - hardly the case during Folklife.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: artbrooks
Date: 02 May 10 - 01:01 AM

On reading the decision, you are correct...Rule 5, which the OP refers to as Rule 3, was remanded. That part of the case appears to still be open.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: reggie miles
Date: 02 May 10 - 07:13 AM

How much $ does NW Folklife get from just those who are vendors at the event? After looking at the application fees multiplied by the number of craft and food vendors that they allow to be featured at the festival, my calculator says, somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000. That's not counting the 15% that they ask from each vendor, determined by the amount of merchandise they sell. That seems like a healthy chunk of change and that's just from the vendors at this event.

Then, if you add what they collect from their various charitable contributors, like Paul G. Allen, Boeing, The National Endowment for the Arts, Q13, The Seattle Times, Comcast, 4 Culture, Arts & Cultural Affairs, Tully's Coffee, Western WA Toyota, Trex, Bridgeport Ales, Pepsi, BECU, Penguin Windows, WA Lottery, Dave's Bread, The NY Times, Deschutes Brewery, and a few others, I have to wonder why they see fit to force street performers to pay a fee at all. What? Is Paul Allen down on his luck and therefore can't offer them enough $? Has the Washington State Lottery suddenly gone bust because they haven't sold enough Lotto tickets and can't afford to share their wealth? Has Boeing gone broke and decided to quit building planes? Or has Pepsi sales been off? Has Toyota fallen on hard times? Nowhere on their site do they indicate what amounts any these contributors offer to the event. I think what Don said earlier is right. This is Big Business.

McGrath of Harlow, does the concept of freedom of expression mean nothing to you? Do you reside in the USA? This event is happening on public property, a public park. The Court specifically stated that you cannot commercialize "public" property and deny our First Amendment right to freedom of expression. Being mean spirited has nothing to do with it.

If you want to talk about being mean spirited, let's talk about why I was evicted from this public park, during a national holiday, by public officials, (the SPD) for offering free music at this free festival. They used police "force" against me to have me forcibly removed. I harmed no one during my 1/2 hour set of music. I put smiles on the faces of everyone standing before me. Let's point the finger of blame in the right direction.

Mind you, they've already received several decades of my time, talents and energy in support this event. It's not as though I'm some stranger who just walked into the event and has never offered anything in return. I've put in my time performing on their stages and I've hosted free workshops there for years. Even my performances as a street performer are offering my time, energy and talents for free at this event. Either way, whether on their stages, or via my efforts at entertaining casually on the grounds, they still have had the benefit of my talents featured at their event for free. They pay me nothing. Are you trying to equate my time talents and energy as being worth nothing? Would you like me to quote you what some other, truly supportive, events have offered me for my time, talents and energy?

I believe that this perception is part of the problem. This event has had the luxury of so many years of talented individuals offering their entertainment for free, that they deem that talent as having no actual value and that's exactly how the folks, who donate their time to this event, are treated by this event. The event sees dollar signs ($$$) when they see a food or craft vendor application arrive in their mail box.

Do you think that maybe that's why those vendors aren't being harassed for causing traffic issues? Do think that maybe that's why they are allowed to do what musical folks are being demonized for doing? And not just demonized but in my case, I actually had the head of security call for 4 Seattle Police to have me escorted off the grounds, because I dared to sit in the shade and entertain about a dozen folks, at their behest, for free, for about one half hour, on a sunny Sunday.

artbrooks, some of the same areas on the grounds of the Seattle Center where street performers are demonized for trying to play (like I was last year for playing underneath a covered walkway at the far northern edge of the event) are somehow miraculously and magically deemed by the event coordinators and their security staff, as just fine for craft vendors to crowd with their booths and cause huge traffic issues. No one says boo to them for creating traffic issues in the covered walkways. In my case, I created no such traffic issue, whatsoever, but that was the flimsy excuse that the head of Folklife security used to harass me and ultimately get me ousted from the event. The only difference is that the craft folks are paying hundreds of dollars to the event. Because of the fees they pay, they are allowed to crowd those same covered walkways and create actual traffic issues.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: MAG
Date: 02 May 10 - 10:48 AM

When I was in Chicago I busked, and the city required a permit for all street performers. I wasn't the only one getting a significant chunk of my income from it and none of us minded registering.

If buskers are there taking advantage of the crowwds coming for the fest they need to follow the rules, such as NOT BLOCKING TRAFFIC.

Each of us says the same thing every year,and none of our minds are going to change.

I didn't go for a period of ywears because of the people choking every pathway and shortcut.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Deckman
Date: 02 May 10 - 11:39 AM

This might be a bit long:

The events that Reggie describes are very true, he's NOT exaggerating.
I want to bring us back, for a moment, to 1962 when Seattle hosted the "World's Fair." It was a great success and a fun time. We all went, particpated, felt proud of our city and good about ourselves.

In a sense, this 1962 event was the forerunner of the present "Pacific Northwest Folk Festival", as it gave Seattleites a taste of what fun festival a can be. And in the early years, they were fun events, a great focus on music and dance and folk arts and crafts. And the atmosphere was one of welcoming the various artists and celebrating their talents.

Unfortunatly now, that has mostly changed. The present "festival" reeks of commercialism, food stalls overcrowding everywhere, performance stages jammed so close together that one's music drowns out anothers', drummers allowed to set up anywhere and break up everyone's music.

Over the last ten years, or so, I have watched as greater numbers of the better musicians have dropped out. Nowdays when I think of the "festival" I feel sad because so much good has been lost.

As Reggie has said, for many, many years he has supported this festival in many ways, including being a non-paid stage performer and workshop teacher. Because of what the festival did to him last year, I'm quite certain that the everlasting taste in Reggie mouth is quite unpleasant ... it sure is in mine. Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST
Date: 02 May 10 - 05:29 PM

Do you play at that venue the rest of the year or are you there simply because the Festival brings in a crowd?

Steve


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 02 May 10 - 05:58 PM

Doesn't really matter whether people play there all through the year or not.

Doesn't really matter whether they contribute to the festival in any other way or not.

We are talking about people who are exercising a right to perform in a public space, under the laws pertaining in their country.

I don't suppose that many of them actually leave without donating something to the festival funds.

What really matters is that they should be free to decide whether, and how much, they will donate.

They should not be coerced into complying, nor should extortion be permitted.

The bottom line is that, if some of them are too mean to contribute, under the terms of the US Constitution they do have the right to be that mean.

As somebody remarked above, if the organisers want to control the buskers, they should hold the Festival on private land.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST
Date: 02 May 10 - 06:42 PM

Sorry but as a "craft vendor" who has to pay (up front, a fixed amount with no guarentee of return) to ply my trade at such events, I see a someone who wants to play the system to their advantage and is whinging when they can't.

David S.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Don Firth
Date: 02 May 10 - 09:28 PM

David S., I assume by your "accent" that you are British and have probably never been to a Northwest Folklife Festival (Seattle, WA, USA).

I hardly think that Reggie is the one who is "playing the system to their advantage." Thousands—yes, thousands—of singers from all around the area, including western Canada, come to the festival at their own expense. Nobody gets paid. They are donating their time—singing for free. Some are scheduled and sing on the performance stages. Others are busking. And many folks do both, often busking in the hope of picking up a dime or two to offset their own expenses, incurred by coming to sing at the festival in the first place.

This is hardly "playing the system." If anyone is "playing the system," it's those who are actually making fairly large chunks of money off the festival and getting the performers to do it for no compensation, other than simply a chance to perform. The performers, like Reggie, are the ones who make the whole thing possible in the first place.

And the Northwest Folklife Festival is one of the events that the city values, because it draws a fair amount of tourist trade to the city. Local hotels and motels, restaurants, and other tourist facilities profit by it. And pay business tax to the city.

And Reggie is hardly "whinging." He's making a legitimate complaint. The cavalier and shabby manner that some of those who run the festival often treat the performers is an example of biting the hand of the one who feeds you. I've sung at a number of these festivals, and even when scheduled and on stage, a number of times I've had to butt heads with officious twits who were on some sort of "power trip."

To paraphrase a slogan that came from the Sixties anti-war movement, "Suppose they gave a war festival and nobody came?"

Lots of "entrepreneurs" get people to sing for nothing by telling them, "The exposure will be good for you." Dave Van Ronk had a good answer for that:   "People have been known to die of exposure."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: ChanteyMatt
Date: 02 May 10 - 11:23 PM

I seldom weigh in on such a touchy subject, but as a musician, I'm tired of being "allowed" to play and "allowed" to put out a tip jar. Not just for the First Amendment but for free enterprise not hampered by arbitrary and whimsical laws.

Seattle Folklife Festival (SFF) is too big, too vague and too full of it'self. Busking at SFF used to be the consolation prize for not getting chosen. Now days, I don't go to Folklife. I go to the Juan de Fuca Festival. SFF isn't the end all of festivals. I garauntee you'll have more fun at smaller events and they'll at least cover your travel.

Isn't exposing yourself illegal?


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: reggie miles
Date: 03 May 10 - 10:19 AM

GUEST Steve, yes, I've played on the grounds of the Seattle Center throughout the year and have, as always, have received wonderful responses to my efforts at offering folk music with my folk instruments while there.

GUEST Davis S., there's no whining going on here. I'm just trying to stand up for my "rights" as described in the First Amendment. I don't play the system. I play assorted stringed instruments, harmonica, musical saw and washboard percussion, if so inclined. I don't have to play "the system", as you call it.

Generations of Americans have fought and died to establish this way of life. You do believe in American citizens exercising their Constitutional rights in this country, don't you? Perhaps you are among those who don't believe that we should have the right to exercise our Constitutional rights on public property, during our country's national holiday, Memorial Day. I am grateful and thankful for the sacrifices made by so very many to offer me this way of life. I treasure my Constitutional rights. Apparently, you don't hold these rights in such high regard. That is your right to feel that way.

I should also point out that this particular event started out as a folk "music" festival that grew to include vendors. It wasn't a vendor event that just happened to eventually include some musical acts.

Lets' make the distinctions clear. Vendors vend. Vending is telling folks, "If you give me $, I'll give you what I have." Street performing is giving away what you have freely. Those that experience what it is that street performer folks do in public spaces also have the Constitutional right to support it in any way they see fit.

Perhaps you believe that those who support street performing are also playing "the system" by doing so. I'd have to agree. They are getting free entertainment, not corporate controlled vended entertainment. Is it any wonder why folks love to support what is freely offered with their applause, smiles, thumbs up, accolades, and yes even dollars.

Well, perhaps, if the shoe were placed squarely on the other foot, you'd be singing a different tune.

Let's play a little game. I call it, "walk a mile in my shoes". Imagine for a moment, that you vendor folks were only allowed to do what the music folks have done for years to establish this event. That is, offer, for free, what it is that you create as your livelihood. (Actually, now that I think about it, I have never been to a craft event, that was established by a bunch of craft folks, who offered their crafts for free, in the same way performance folks offer their entertainment crafts freely but for the sake of this little game, let's pretend that it's possible that such a thing could happen.) Imagine, you could only accept donations, from those who might wish to offer them, in support of what you do as a craft person but you were limited by the same rules that this event uses to restrict street performers. (Check the link in my post above to see that set of rules.)

Imagine not having the right to offer what you do in the shade of a covered walkway, while the same event allowed such access to shade and shelter from rain to every musical performer on the grounds. Note too, in the rules, that you would not be allowed to set up any kind of structure to protect yourself from the elements, like the rain that often frequents this event. (Yep, check the rules. That rule is in there too.)

And imagine what you would feel like if you had some weekend security geeks trump up charges and lies to demonize your efforts at offering your crafts in this way, for free, on the grounds. Then, try to imagine having four police officers escort you off the grounds of this public space and having them tell you that you were not welcomed back for the remainder of the event.

I know it's probably not an easy thing to imagine the above, especially if you're used to following the path of being a vendor and doing all of what that approach to vending your crafts might entail. Now, imagine that someone responded to what happened to you by telling you, in so many words, that none of the lives that were sacrificed by all of those many thousands, to afford you your right to offer your crafts in that manner, meant squat. Imagine that.

The game is over. I hope you enjoyed playing along in this version of, "walk a mile in my shoes."

I can only imagine what those, who have given their lives to protect this way of life, would say to you if they were still around to hear you relate how little their sacrifice has meant to you.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 03 May 10 - 11:18 AM

"We are talking about people who are exercising a right to perform in a public space"

Wait a minute. What do you mean by 'public space.' Anybody's space? That is not the case. That park is paid for by somebody, probably the taxpayers of the city or county. It is THEIR park.

It was voted for by the people for their enjoyment and edification. Having to walk through it while one person plays in Eb and the next person plays in A, all however loudly they wish, is not what they had in mind.

Read the rules. They are fair and reasonable. Even given the rules, it sounds like hell, based on Deckman's description. You will not find me, a person with keen hearing, anywhere near it.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 03 May 10 - 11:31 AM

Perhaps it is difficult for those who are not used to the concept but those who may choose on occasion to exercise their talents for their own pleasure and who will obtain additional pleasure if this can at the same time also provides pleasure to others, do struggle against a world that seems only to be able to deal with commercial concepts.

Thus it is that in the UK, we have to deal with officials who find the concept equally strange and who are instructed from above by those who will talk for ever with politicians and set up expensive quangos which will talk endlessly about the benefits of culture, funding and of a music INDUSTRY!

Music of course is so much more than simply this.

Thus Reggie is accused here of being mean-spirited and of playing the system...................


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,oggie
Date: 03 May 10 - 02:16 PM

I've come to this late and can see where both sides are coming from. However to just put the vendors point of view.

Walk a mile in my shoes...

Sometime in advance of any festival you make an application for a space and send a rather large cheque (which helps fund the event). You have almost no control over where you are pitched and if it's up a blind alley that's your problem and loss. It is possible you won't get a pitch at all (and may not be told until the last minute) in which case you either have to hope there's somewhere else to do or not earn anything that weekend.

The weather is out of your control, if it's bad you can't just stay at home, you've already paid. If it's part of a tour you may even already be there. So some hours before most people are up (or even the day before) you set up your stall and stock it. At some events you may even have to take down at the end of each day and put up again each morning, eighteen hour days are not uncommon. At some events you have to sleep with the stall for security.

At this point, just like the street performer, you are casting bread upon the waters, maybe you'll sell maybe not. If the organisers have had problems letting space you may find that half the vendors are selling the same sort of line (thank God I'm not a jeweller). Some you win, some you lose. The best hope is that over the season you make a living, many don't.

I would point out that vendors cannot just turn up and trade (even without a cover) if they did they too would be escorted away pretty sharpish (and might have their stock confiscated). A case in point is Sidmouth where there has been a crackdown on vendors trying to use a perceived (but actually non-existant) loophole to trade on the promenade. Even to trade (without covers) on a city street in the UK requires a Street Trading License from the Local Authority, in most places they're like rocking horse droppings.

So that's part of the walk in the vendors' shoes.

The big difference that I see is that the vendors are contributing financially to the running of the event as well as to the public's the experience of it. The street performers are contributing to the experience of it but not contributing financially even though the best of them may well be doing as well as many of the vendors.

As a Brit I have a number of issues with the interpretation of the US Constitution (a recent ruling that making and distributing videos of animal cruelty was protected under Free Speech provisions being one) so I probably attach less importance to this aspect of the argument than I should.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 May 10 - 02:35 PM

Leeneia, I don't know where you are or if you have ever had an opportunity to attend a Northwest Folklife Festival. But for the entire three-day weekend, one hears a whole variety of things such as rock bands complete with amplification, drumming—LOTS of drumming, notable African, Native American, and Taiko (the big drums that you can hear for miles)—and just about every other kind of musical or semi-musical endeavor, and this is coming at you from all sides. As to one busker playing in Eb and a nearby one playing in A, half the time the ambient din is so great that distinguishing between keys and noting dissonances is impossible, because it's totally lost in the general dissonance.

Sometimes you can hear the drumming from a few miles away! Across Lake Union and up on Capitol Hill, for example. From the viewpoint of a singer official scheduled and on a stage--especially on one of the outside stages accompanying herself with an accoustic guitar, or some unaccompanied ballad-singer, he or she is trying to compete with a general din that verges on the deafening.

Not only that, there is a general crowd noise. The Northwest Folklife Festival is usually attended by 200,000 to 250,000 people, generally milling around in the 17 acres of open space on the 74 acre Seattle Center campus. I was an active participant in these festivals early on: official, scheduled, and on stage. But the event has become so cumbersome that, to me, it's no longer much fun. And unless there is someone performing that I particularly want to hear, I don't go anymore. The last few times I attended, I was trying to navigate my way around in an electric wheelchair. I don't know how many times I wound up with someone in my lap because they were trying to see over other people's heads and didn't even see me there. Shouting a warning didn't work, because due to the general background roar, they couldn't hear me.

No, unless I am asked to participate in a particular workshop or performance, I don't subject myself to this mob scene. Especially when on that entire 74 acres, if you want to hear any actual traditional folk music, it is generally confined to the meeting rooms up in the northwest corner of the Center grounds.

I have to take my hat off to people like Reggie, who have the guts to get out there and try to add some genuine traditional music to this event, and add it in a way, like the minstrel who sings to any and all in the village square in the hope that a few people might drop a few coppers in his hat. And that kind of performing has been traditional for well over a thousand years.

Don Firth

P. S. Leeneia, my comments here are not just aimed at you, but at those who may have never been to this pit of chaos we call the "Northwest Folklife Festival" and don't know what bucking those crowds amid the general din is really like—or what it's like to brave the whole thing and try to actually offer something the way Reggie does.

P. P. S. But to be fair to the Powers That Be, when I was asked to participate in the Coffeehouse Reunion Concert ("Geezer's Concert") in the 2003 festival, they'd heard I was using a wheelchair, so they offered to send a "pusher" to meet me at a specified entrance so I wouldn't have to "hand crank" my way to the designated area. But I must add, this particular event was masterminded by the late John Ross, so there was some genuine thought behind it.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: artbrooks
Date: 03 May 10 - 02:43 PM

And I was at that concert, and I appreciated your effort!


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 03 May 10 - 03:01 PM

Ithink it is the crowd situation that makes the directors want to control the busking. THere are huge numbers of childen, cute and quite talented, but there are just so manyof them, and it is a situation of ..well, Katy made $200 at folklife so let's do it next year with Jeff and he can put it toward his college fund...the children and teens alone could really escalate..

I think one answer might just be to have quite a few weekends or weekedays per summer or whenever set aside for busking..or allow it when crowds are not expected to be massive, and frankly dangerous (and don't get me started on pit bulls at the face level of a baby in a stoller)...

I think it is a safety issue first and foremost and would love to see other venues or prehaps a set aside area off the beaten track for buskers...but this is a crowd that is just a jam of people...

So, as an omniist, I am for it except for safety issues, which are major. If safe places can be found for geometrically increasing numbers of buskers, including huge numbers of teens and children, great.

But don't shed a tear for people who sing and play for free. It is their pleasure to do so and no one is depriving them of anything. It is quite voluntary and in fact competitive. mg


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 03 May 10 - 03:40 PM

Walk a mile in my shoes...

oggie

A walk in your shoes to this festival would be quite plainly one where I attending in order to earn money.

Reggie is walking there for quite another purpose and if he and others were not prepared to do this - the simple fact is that there would not be anyone attracted that you and your fellow vendors could earn money from.

Nothing wrong with vendors or with earning money of course but perhaps not everything should be seen in these terms.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Genie
Date: 03 May 10 - 03:41 PM

I agree that the Folklife Festival has gotten too big, too all-encompassing as to what "folk" means, too commercialized, and TOO LOUD.    I also agree that when a musician like Reggie is forceably removed from a location that was not blocking foot traffic or when threats are made to report people to the IRS, that's too heavy handed.

Still, the Folklife people do pay big bucks to rent space for the festival and the scheduled performers are volunteers (who pay the Festival a cut of any CDs they sell), plus the walkways are already hard to navigate because of the crowds, even without the addition of street performers every few feet.   (In many cases, the open instrument case pushes the bystander audience farther away, thus interfering with the walkway traffic even more. I often cut between the performer and the assembled audience because it's too cumbersome and time-consuming to go around that crowd.) I empathize a lot with the volunteer performers who find other, non-scheduled musicians competing with them and getting paid by donations or selling their CDs without giving the Festival organizers a cut.

You can't deny that whatever a busker takes in in tips at the festival is at least partly due to the crowds drawn to the Seattle Center by the festival itself and its advertising.    If that weren't the case, why wouldn't most of those buskers be at the Seattle Center the week before or the week after Folklife?

There are spaces outside the Folklife "gates" where there are always many unauthorized street vendors and performers, and I don't know if they get hassled for being there, but they don't interfere with the movement of the crowds as much.

Reggie, I've never known you to be one of the buskers who creates a bottleneck along the walkways or who makes so much noise that it interferes with other performers (scheduled or not scheduled).       But many of them do, and I can appreciate why the Festival organizers and the Seattle Center "cops" try to control that.

As for buskers being paid for what scheduled performers do free, maybe there should be tip jars at the front of each stage so the scheduled performers could get donations too.   It wouldn't solve the excess noise problem (which I think would be helped by turning down the amps on most of the stages to a mild roar) or the traffic interference, but it would be fairer.      

And I would hope that all those who made money by performing would contribute 10% or so of the take to the Festival for providing such a huge audience.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 May 10 - 04:16 PM

Thanks, Art! The name rings a small bell somewhere, but would I recognize you if we met?

####

For those who don't know what Taiko drumming is,   CLICKY.

This is amazing stuff, and I love to watch and hear it. It really stirs the blood when you hear these guys go at it!

But when you're on a stage maybe three-quarters of a block away, trying to sing your allotted half-hour's worth of songs and ballads to the accompaniment of an acoustic guitar while these folks are giving it their all, well. . . .

Someone doing the scheduling just ain't thinkin'.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,oggie
Date: 03 May 10 - 04:35 PM

Yes , I admit it. I divide Festivals into two categories. There are those that I attend as a punter, with instruments, to enjoy the festival, see acts, join a session, have a drink (or three) and a good time. There are the others where I am working, I don't take instruments and I don't expect to see any acts, I am there to earn my living, it's my job.

Now Reggie also seems to be there to earn money, OK it's a gamble, and he does contribute but given the complaint about licences and "donations" that seems to be the bottom line. This is where we, I hope on friendly terms, part company.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: mousethief
Date: 03 May 10 - 10:48 PM

I wonder that any traditional folkies still go there. It would be better to have an alternate festival in another location. Call it the Acoustic Folk Festival or something, I don't know. You'd get a different breed of audience, and a lot fewer of course, but then maybe not fewer that actually sit in the audience for each act -- more trad folk people might be tempted to come if the surroundings weren't so miserable.

I haven't been in 10 years and at that time the noise bleed wasn't too bad. There were no Taiko drummers (I would certainly have known), at least during the times I was there. But the crowds were already miserable.

Taiko drumming indoors can make your ears ring for hours.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: artbrooks
Date: 04 May 10 - 12:31 AM

Mousethief, we use it as an excuse to visit old friends in the Seattle area...mostly folkdancers. Personally, I mostly sit in the beer garden in the Northwest Court when I'm not dancing.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Will Fly
Date: 04 May 10 - 03:54 AM

What a fascinating thread. The Northwest Folklife Festival in its present incarnation is... my idea of hell. I've never been to a folk or any other festival in all my years of playing mainly because I'm an impatient old curmudgeon who hates the hassle of parking, queuing, crowds, noise and people, etc. Sad, innit? Just a touch of enochlophobia (fear of large crowds), I'm afraid.

From Mudcat threads on folk festivals in the UK, I can understand the appeal of meeting old friends, seeing great acts and enjoying the "festival" experience, but events of that size have never actually appealed to me. Having said that, I'm being escorted in chains to the Warwick Festival this year to help Alan Day to run an afternoon session there - and I must say I'm rather dreading and yet looking forward to the experience!

The change of style of the NW Folklife Festival from a rather free-wheeling and serendipitous event to a hugely complex business-driven corporate-style event seems to be a disease that can affect so many festivals.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,Northwest Folklife
Date: 04 May 10 - 07:16 PM

Confusion re: Street Performing at the Northwest Folklife Festival.

Street performers add life and color to the Northwest Folklife Festival. Our guidelines have not changed—they are the same ones we have used for several years. We suggest that street performers donate a portion of their proceeds back to the Festival in a show of support. This is done on the honor system. Our Festival staff pass out donation envelopes to street performers, and it is up to them whether or not to put in a portion of any contributions they may receive. We do not report any street performing activities to the IRS.

Northwest Folklife and street performers have a symbiotic relationship. We bring a large crowd to Seattle Center for the Festival, which means that street performers have lots of people to entertain. Conversely, street performers contribute to the fun, festive atmosphere, and many Festival-goers cite the street performers as one of their favorite parts of the Festival. We do not want to remove street performers from the Festival, unless they are in violation of the rules set in place by Seattle Center and Northwest Folklife. These rules provide for the safety and enjoyment of all who attend the Northwest Folklife Festival.

If anyone on the message board has a question about Northwest Folklife's policies, please give us a call at 206.684.7300 or contact us via email at folklife@nwfolklife.org. We're happy to talk with you any time.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Deckman
Date: 04 May 10 - 08:14 PM

WELL WELL WELL ... If nothing else, Reggie Miles has finally got the attention of the Northwest Folk Festival administration ... PUBLICLY!

GOOD FOR YOU REGGIE.

My response to the administrations is this ... WHAT A BUNCH OF PR crap!

You folks treated him VERY WRONGLY last year and NOW you need to correct it.

The only way, in my opinion, that you can make it right is to publicly apoligize, give him a proper stage this year and ... A HUNDRED BUCKS! BOB NELSON


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: open mike
Date: 05 May 10 - 01:37 AM

what policy is there regarding performers selling recordings?
I am glad that someone who appears to be with the organization has joined the conversation.I hope there can be a positive conclusion reached before the event which is a few weeks away.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 05 May 10 - 02:52 AM

The problems of particular event in question are partly due to pretty bad PR. Improving this may lead to the solution of the many issues highlighted and some direct input from the organisers here is welcome.

However, the larger issue remains.

It is fairly easy to have a policy which deals with festival vendors but it must be a different policy with one to deal with street performers, for this is not the same animal.

Vendors have a product to sell on conventional terms. They don't just turn up and present the product of their talents to potential customers simply in the hope that the customer may provide them with an amount on money of the customer's choosing. For they would soon run out of their wares........

But this is what street performers do and a policy which does not recognise this is a poor one which will threaten the long-term future of the event.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: stallion
Date: 05 May 10 - 03:41 AM

I thought I had little to contribute but this has given me an insight into some of the fundamental differences between British subjects and US citizens. The New York Met. Museum is, I assume free, but a recommended donation is asked for and no one seems to mind paying it. Is it really a british thing that requires some order needs to be maintained, like queing, to avoid chaos. Is it a US thing that once you have the money you hang on like crazy. Surely freedom, broadly speaking, in the sense of what it meant in framing the US constitution, was the freedom to own and aquire property (including slaves) without the intervention of government. Does anyone consider that personal freedoms may impinge on someone else's freedom? Somehow, to me, the majority of US citizens are too far right to be assosciated with Anarchists and yet that is what is being advocated, bring it on! As for big business, this festival is small beans, address bigger issues like being robbed blind by the very rich and stop squabbling over peanuts, cos that is what it is. So citizens see a business opportunity and grab and hold on like alligators and subjects see a business opportunity and regulate it. ( We tried de-regulation and look at the bother that got us into) OK people have livings to make but I do have issues with buskers at "free" festivals, that is a brit thing, like tipping and paying twice and paying when it is free..........oh and one other thing............no stop where I am ...nearly tripped over a hornets nest!


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: reggie miles
Date: 05 May 10 - 11:16 AM

"We do not want to remove street performers from the Festival, unless they are in violation of the rules set in place by Seattle Center and Northwest Folklife. These rules provide for the safety and enjoyment of all who attend the Northwest Folklife Festival."

This strikes at the very heart of the matter. As previously pointed out, certain rules, that the city of Seattle was trying to enforce via the private company that the city hires to manage the Seattle Center were already deemed by the Court to be "unconstitutional" and yet NW Folklife has ignored the Court's ruling on the matter. They seem to deem themselves above the laws of the land.

Their rules are in direct violation of the what the Court has said are protected rights under the First Amendment, our freedom of expression. They are the ones who are in violation of law. The city of Seattle and the Seattle Center were already taken to task on this matter last June and they lost. The Court ruled in favor of those who perform on public property and not the city or those who manage the Center.

I love this country. I'm glad that we live in a country that recognizes the rights of their citizens and actively discourages corporations and cities from stealing away those rights. I'm astounded that private business entities like those who manage the Seattle Center would try to enact rules that restrict our First Amendment rights. The sad fact is, that they are not alone in their attempts to try to privatize public property and violate our rights to freedom of expression. Their actions are merely the tip of the iceberg.

The Court even awarded Mike, the fellow who challenged the rules, $20,000.

Now, NW Folklife is trying to pretend that the Court's decision didn't happen. They are feigning ignorance of the law and in so doing are stepping on the rights of all Americans under the First Amendment. If they're so intent on being petty dictators, why don't they simply go out and find their own piece of ground to do so, preferably, somewhere far away from this land of the free!

NW Folklife has drawn their rule book directly from that which the Seattle Center tried to use and then added many more restrictions, "for the safety and enjoyment of all who attend." This statement is simply hogwash with regard to what happened to me last year. No one's "safety" was threatened by my presence and many were enjoying my presence there but their enjoyment was cut short when the head of NW Folklife's security walked up to me to threaten me, intimidate me and ultimately have me forcibly removed from the event by the police.

Playing folk music is not a criminal offense, unless you happen to be playing it at the NW Folklife Festival! Criminalizing freedom of expression is against the law! If whoever posted the post above as GUEST Northwest Folklife had a pair they wouldn't have posted as an anonymous GUEST and would have addressed the actual issues here instead of spouting PR BS. The only reason they didn't do so is because they haven't got a legal leg to stand on.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: reggie miles
Date: 06 May 10 - 02:10 PM

"Our guidelines have not changed—they are the same ones we have used for several years."

Just because they've gotten away with using them for "several years" doesn't make their "guidelines" legal in this country. In fact, some of their "guidelines" have been challenged in court and proven to be unconstitutional.

Because they have been breaking the law for "several years" they feel justified in continuing to do so!? There are a lot of corporate shenanigans that Wall Street has been using for "years" too. I suppose NW Folklife wants to tell us that those crooks had the right to bring millions to ruin as a result of their mismanagement. Or perhaps NW Folklife would like to defend Bernie Madoff's actions next. Because, after all, he used his tactics for "years" to rip off billions.

This is the very issue. These "guidelines" must change, in order to be in accordance with the law. On June 24th 2009, 8 out of 11 judges of the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit have invalidated some of these "guidelines" and the NW Folklife Festival doesn't appear to believe that they have to comply with the Court's decisions on this matter. They are acting criminally by proposing that citizens of the United States have to follow their unconstitutional "guidelines". They are behaving criminally by refusing to recognize or obey the laws as described by the Court. They apparently don't feel as though they have to abide by the principles expressed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

And the NW Folklife Festival wants to defend these actions, trashing our precious rights under the Constitution on Memorial Day weekend? It a slap in the face of every hero who bravely stepped forward to do his or her duty to defend this country and the principles it stands for. Their "guidelines" tread on the very fabric that makes this country great.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Howard Jones
Date: 06 May 10 - 02:50 PM

I've followed this with interest but haven't commented previously because I live in NW England, not NW USA, and certainly have no basis to comment on the US Constitution.

However it seems to me that the "rules" are sensible provisions to ensure the safety and enjoyment of everyone attending. Surely similar provisions have to be made for other public gatherings throughout the USA - how do they address the legal issues? How does any festival or other event taking place on public land ensure the public's and performers' safely without infringing someone's constitutional rights?

It occurs to me that if performers at NW Folklife were all to insist on their constitutional right to perform what they like, where they like, when they like, then it would become impossible to control health and safety and the event could not carry on.

The OP is pissed off because of the way he was treated at a previous festival. I don't know all the circumstances, so I can't comment on whether or not his anger is justified. But leaving constitutional issues aside (and I recognise how seriously these are taken), surely at any large event a bit of give and take is required to avoid performers infringing on each other or obstructing the public.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: John P
Date: 06 May 10 - 05:41 PM

Just a hypothetical question: If I paid the Seattle Parks Department a bunch of money to hold my wedding in a public park, would I have to allow a busker to play for my wedding guests?


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: reggie miles
Date: 06 May 10 - 09:17 PM

Nice try John but you can't compare apples and oranges here.

But if you are planning a wedding in a public park soon, allow me to insert this plug. I can play a beautiful version of the Wedding March (you know, Here Comes The Bride...) with my musical saw and have done so at a couple of matrimonial ceremonies. ;o)


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 06 May 10 - 09:45 PM

"We bring a large crowd to Seattle Center for the Festival, which means that street performers have lots of people to entertain"

Am somewhat bemused by this oft experienced common arrogant attitude - that owing to the 'good heartedness' of the 'organisers', now the 'performers' have 'somewhere to go' for their own pleasure... haha :-)


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Stewart
Date: 06 May 10 - 11:50 PM

rules of conduct
announced by the the Seattle Parks Superintendent
earlier this year. One of the proposed rules advocated by
the Superintendent, but rejected by the Park Board was
"no spitting on park property."

I don't see anything that Reggie was doing that is
prohibited by these rules, however constitutionally-questionable,
vaguely worded, or difficult-to-enforce they might be.

The issue here is how to promote common courtesy and
respect in a public space. Reggie is a good friend of mine
and I have high respect for his integrity and courteous behavior.
He's not about to play loud obnoxious music right next to
your wedding ceremony in a public park. But if he did,
you might want to reconsider having your wedding in the park,
or he might want to consider fleeing the wrath of others in the park.
It's all a matter of common courteous concern for others, and
strict legislation of behavior does not seem to be the answer.
As I understand it, from talking to Reggie and reading his posts,
Reggie was acting in a responsible and courteous manner. But the rules
were unbending, strictly speaking unconstitutional, and the
punishment did not fit the supposed crime.

Cheers, S. in Seattle
where politeness is above average


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: reggie miles
Date: 07 May 10 - 01:04 AM

Howard Jones,

"leaving constitutional issues aside"

That's exactly what this event has done. They've tossed our constitutional rights in the trash for the sake of exercising their control over our rights.

"surely at any large event a bit of give and take is required to avoid performers infringing on each other or obstructing the public.'

My point exactly, no one was infringing on anyone else, in my case. Nor was anyone obstructing the public in my case. I understand that you weren't there and witness to what happened. You only have my words as evidence. I, however, have witnesses to exactly what went down.

My point is, that their security was entirely uninterested in give and take and apparently felt like bullying someone. NW Folklife's rules should not condone such behavior but they, nevertheless, allowed him to act with impunity by threatening me, intimidating me, and trying his best to trump up charges against me. Until finally, he just plain lied about me to justify police intervention.

But my concern goes beyond what happened to me at this event last year. It was about three weeks after Memorial Day 2009 that the court case was won, in favor of street performing being a protected First Amendment right on public property. That is my point.

You seem to have the opinion that, adults engaging in a time honored performance tradition, are somehow incapable of doing so responsibly without the malevolent oversight of a compassionless corporation enacting illegal legislation to restrict us in that endeavor. I'm of the mind that grownups playing folk music know how to behave themselves.

How is it that we can proudly uphold our Second Amendment right to bear arms in public spaces but somehow NW Folklife seems to think that dangerously unsafe folksingers have to be placed under their control for the safety of the public?


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 07 May 10 - 04:15 AM

Is it a US thing that once you have the money you hang on like crazy.

You could argue is that the USA exists mainly because of an attempt to hold on to what were seen then then as very lucrative colonial properties. The citizens of the USA do not have a monopoly on hanging on to what they hold.

But in this case whatever the policies, those who were powered to enforce did not seem aware or if they did, they saw no reasons to follow them.

Perhaps there is at least some agreement that this is an area which needs to be improved?


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Howard Jones
Date: 07 May 10 - 05:01 AM

Reggie, you say that "no one was infringing on anyone else, in my case. Nor was anyone obstructing the public in my case." However your point, as I understand it, is that even if you had been doing this their action would still have been unlawful.

I cannot understand how it is possible to organise any large event without exercising some control over the people attending, whether they're the audience or performers. Otherwise the result would be at best chaos and at worst dangerous. However that is what you appear to be advocating.

Your argument appears to be that the First Amendment gives you the right to perform when and where you like without regard to what else is going on. Perhaps so, but all I'm saying is that if you're going to attend a large event life NWF (and take advantage of the crowds it attracts) then a bit of give and take is necessary, which may include accepting some measure of control by the organisers. Otherwise, the reductio ad absurdum is that the event itself is unconstitutional because it will inevitably infringe someone's rights.

As for the way you were treated, I'm not disagreeing with your version of events but,with respect, perhaps the NWF's representative saw the situation differently. Perhaps he used poor judgement in the situation, or perhaps he just liked to throw his weight around. Perhaps the police were called because he felt you were being confrontational, rather than because of your original "offence" against the rules. I don't know. However just because the rules may have been enforced incorrectly, unfairly, perhaps even unlawfully, doesn't mean that NWF is wrong to have some rules.

Incidentally, I see the "rules" also prohibit knives and firearms, so there goes the Second Amendment as well. That seems sensible to me too, but I'm from the UK where we think guns are a bad thing.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: John P
Date: 07 May 10 - 07:46 AM

I agree that buskers have the right to perform in public places.

I've been playing at Folklife for 27 years and have watched it go from the highpoint of my year to an almost impossible scene. I still play there because my band mates want to, because I feel nostalgia for it, and because I usually pick up some new fans. I don't, however, look forward to it or really enjoy it anymore.

When I started playing there, no one got paid and all the performers were from the Northwest. Some years back, major "stars" from elsewhere in the world started being allowed to play, and these stars were paid. This was a major slap in the face to the local musicians. I have watched the amount of care that is taken of the local musicians decrease every year.

The festival has turned into a generalized urban party where a large percentage of the attendees have no interest in folk music whatsoever. It's a free party on a sunny weekend . . .

I have a fairly wide definition of folk music, but the festial programmers apparently don't have ANY definition of folk music. Rap and rock, complete with full amplification, are intrusive and turn the festival into any other summer music festival -- why call it folk anymore?

There is an acre with hundreds of drummers playing full volume non-stop all day every day. Playing folk music in the face of that is almost pointless.

And as much as I like buskers and think they have a right to be there, they are a major pain in the ass. The place is lousy with them, from 50 little girls scratching on their violins to what looks like every professional busker on the West Coast. I don't know what the answer is, but I suspect the Festival gets as many complaints about them as they do about anything else. My biggest beef is that there is nowhere in the festival for a spontaneous jam session, which used to be my favorite thing about Folklife. Everywhere is blocking a path, right next to a stage, or filled with someone with their hat out. There are too many buskers to be functional.

I have thought for years that Folklife needs to move out of the city and off public land. The "free" festival is paid for by non-stop, non-stop, non-stop guilting everyone into making a donation. My understanding is that their contract with the city requires the festival to be free, but they still have to pay for the Seattle Center gounds. Who thought that was a functional economic model? It is bothersome that the festival exists because of local musicians who are playing for free and we get to watch everyone else in the place make money -- food vendors, craft people, and other performers who didn't sign up to perform.

Reggie, I have great respect for you as a person and a musician, but saying "nice try John" doesn't answer the question I posed earlier. I really am curious if you think it would be alright (as in legal) for a busker to work a wedding crowd. If so, why? If not, where do you draw the line?


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: reggie miles
Date: 07 May 10 - 10:38 AM

In your hypothetical question, you suppose a private wedding event on public property is the same thing as a public event on public property. They are not the same but according to the Court's decision; you cannot regulate how far away one might perform to a gathered group of park goers. That doesn't mean that I or any other performer would have the least interest in interrupting your private event. However, NW Folklife being a public event on public property makes the issue an entirely different matter.

Weddings are traditionally private affairs and are traditionally held on private property. However, I have seen more and more wedding parties taking to the streets. I've seen them happily bounding by me with that certain spring in their step, while I'm in the midst of entertaining other passersby. I've always endeavored to pause what I'm doing and grab my hand saw to offer the Wedding March for them. By doing so, I'm just doing my part to wish the happy couples all the very best.

Just as in your hypothetical, NW Folklife supposes the worst of those who are street performers, as though they had no common sense to act appropriately in public. I disagree. So, NW Folklife creates hypothetical situations, "what ifs" with which to base their "guidelines" to restrict our First Amendment rights. NW Folklife is not alone in their disregard for the rule of law in this country or for their disregard of our Constitutional rights. They've carried their "what ifs" far too far afield when they start criminalizing folk musicians and demanding a fee to play folk music on public property.

I've not noticed anywhere in their "guidelines" that such a fee is being demanded of those who are simply panhandling on the event grounds. Of course, the absurdity of that action probably won't escape the "public safety" minded folks at NW Folklife for too much longer and soon we'll see a fee being demanded from those who are simply panhandling on the grounds. Oh, and NW Folklife will probably want their 15% from them too.

There are many that have used the catch phrase, "for public safety" to enact their own versions of inane regulations restricting freedom of expression on public property. Of course, what civic minded individual is going to stand in the way of "public safety"? This is such a common tactic, that it's become a cliché to use, for those wanting to wrestle control of public property from the public.

That's the means used by those private concerns wishing to curtail the freedoms we enjoy in this country, so that they can have their way with public property and minimize the public's use of it. For the "public's safety" they enact rules and regulations which try to side step our rights. Because it's for the "public's safety" they have carte blanche to use police authorities to help them in their actions to minimize individual rights. What they actually desire is control, plain and simple. The "public's safety" is the least thing on their mind. Those who crave power over our freedoms have found an ally in the phrase "for the sake of public safety."

In my experience, I've seen many street fairs do likewise, to placate those who they charge a bundle to vend their wares. I didn't see any NW Folklife security being concerned about the "public's safety" when those paying hundreds of dollars to vend their merchandise under covered walkways obstructed the public by causing all manner of traffic congestion. Isn't it odd how the "public's safety" isn't a concern to NW Folklife at all, once you pay them hundreds or even thousands of dollars, up front, plus 15%, to vend. Oh, but let someone come along and wish to play folk music at this so called folk event and all of a sudden, they are considered a "public safety" nuisance.

Make no mistake about it boys and girls this is most definitely NOT a "public safety" issue. This is big business paying for the right to push their weight around and curtail the public rights. The Court, however, did not see fit to grant such powers to the city of Seattle. Nor did the Court see fit to grant such authority to the private company hired by the city that manages the Seattle Center. Somehow though, NW Folklife envisions it's their right to demonize and criminalize the playing of folk music and those musicians who play it.

To compare John's hypothetical to my situation last year, the head of security directed me to move closer to the greatest amount of noise pollution at the event to offer my musical entertainment, rather than allow me to continue to offer it as far away as possible from the din of drummers gone amuck, amplified electric bands and every other distraction. Okay, are you paying close attention John? Again, I had the common sense to find an area of the grounds where I could offer what I had to offer far away from the other public events happening on the grounds but I was directed by the head of NW Folklife's security to move closer to those other functions. If this isn't plain enough as an example of the difference between individual common sense and corporate insanity, I don't know what is.

Being an acoustic performer and a long time street performer, I was using reasonable care to avoid that overly crowded area of the event simply because it would be near impossible for anyone to enjoy what I was doing in an environment with such distractions competing with my simple acoustic sound. I chose an area with the least amount of distractions for the sake of being able to be heard and enjoyed by the few folks that paused to listen. I had no interest in trying to compete with an amplified stage or a drum circle just as I would have no interest in competing with your wedding nuptials.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 May 10 - 02:47 PM

I don't know where Reggie was exactly, but I think, from his description, I have a pretty good idea. It should have been no problem at all, neither blocking traffic, nor interferring with anyone elses performance.

I will wager this:   If Reggie hadn't been there, someone else would have been. So why pick on Reggie?

I think it was mainly because the security person was constipated and feeling cranky.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: reggie miles
Date: 07 May 10 - 04:40 PM

If you ain't got that do re mi boys, if you ain't got that do re mi
You better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee
The Seattle Center is a garden of Eden, a paradise to play in for free
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot, if you ain't got that do re mi


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Stewart
Date: 07 May 10 - 06:54 PM

Hi John (07 May 10 - 07:46 AM): My sentiments exactly!
I have performed or put on workshops for the past 7 yrs at NWF
for no money whatsoever, often paying my own parking or bus fare,
while a few "stars" are flown in from across the country or abroad
and are paid, while us "volunteer musicians" get nothing.

I used to be under the impression that this was a folk festival
featuring the folk music and folklore of the region, the Northwest.
But it now seems to include anything from anywhere -
from pop, rap, & rock, to anything goes, at full amplification.
And every year we get fewer courtesies, and are badgered more
and more for monetary donations and other concessions for playing.

Still I continue to come back, I don't know why, as long as I get
a stage or a workshop. But I enjoy it less and less.

But I'll be there on Friday, 5/28, 3pm, on the Folklife Cafe Stage.
Friday is the best day - smaller crowds, less noise, and hopefully
better weather. I hope to see you then.
Maybe it will be better this time.
Or not.

Cheers, S. in Seattle
where the sun is shining today!


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Stewart
Date: 07 May 10 - 06:58 PM

And Reggie, good song!

S.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Deckman
Date: 07 May 10 - 07:56 PM

I didn't think I would bother to add any more to this very good thread ... I thought that I'd already said whatever it was I could say of any value. But today, I chanced into a long and meaty, discussion with another serious folk musician, who also has a plus 20 year history with this festival.

I had expressed my frustration with the current product ... (note the marketing term) ... and yet I was a little surprised by the depth of his frustration and anger. He made an interesting point, one that certainly rang true with me:

It's really been since the advent of the "Folk Festival Promotors" ... meaning those who went to college and got degrees in folk festival production management ... that these problems have occured.

This NF Folk Festival had strong local roots. It was started with the locals, and for the first years, it was just fine: workshops, concerts, jam sessions, good clean healthy family fun.

Then came the promoters ... crafts, food venders, cops, crowd controll, diminishing parking for the performers, and worst of all ... the bringing in of "professional performers who were not local." At this point, the festival became a different animal, one that was way beyond local controll.

I just spent some time perusing this years schedule of performances and workshops. I was very, very dissapointed to see just how FEW performances I would personally attend. I get more quality "FOLK MUSIC" in one month in peoples living rooms than I can now get in four days of this so called "folk music festival!"

It's so sad ... what happened! Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Deckman
Date: 07 May 10 - 08:10 PM

I made a mistake ... I meant to say: "I can get more quality folk music in ONE NIGHT in people living rooms than I can get in this four day festival! KITTOS! bob nelson


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,The Boogieman
Date: 07 May 10 - 08:39 PM

Howdy,
I've been performing at Folklife for over 20 years. I've worked for the organization at times. Now I look on the event as a shell of what it was intended to be.   It started out as a event by performers for other performers , their friend, family. Now for some it's become another people watching event much like the University Street Fair. It's another bite of seattle for some, who come to eat and gawk. There is still a large group of people, who love folk music.   For years the festival organizers have attempted to make it an ethno-music event. The blue grass players, the western swing players, the folk dancers etc. now take a back seat to this concept.   One of the program directors asked m how we used to get volunteers to stuff envelopes etc. I told him, it wa all volunteers. There was only one paid employee who worked year round. The new festival organizers spend a lot of time in meetings trying to figure out how to get more volunteers!
They have meetings for deciding what new musical focus top have at the next years festival.   The festival has no institutional memory. Therefore they are always creating a new festival by new people with new ideas as to what is relevant.   American roots music is what created this event. All of the music that already exists right here in the NW is what the event is about.   If you build it , we will come and play. If the event continues to be a festival for corporate sponsors, we won't.      "How to Alienate Folk Musicians?" must have been the topic of one of their meetings. As top street performers, this year there will be many more than ever.   If the festival doesn't try to control the situtation, you can be replaced by the nine year old violin student.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: reggie miles
Date: 09 May 10 - 11:40 AM

I have to agree with much of what has been said here with regard to the festival's downturn. In many ways, the fall of this event has crashed more thoroughly than our economy. All, that once made this event precious to many of those who put their talents, time and energy in to making it happen in the first place, has been washed away via that downward trend. On the way down, many have tried bailing it out, in the vain hope that something positive could be resurrected or turned around but no amount of pleading, tears, anger, fists pounding in frustration, raised voices, emails, suggestions, letters, complaints, messages like the above, on sites like this or even goodwill on the part of those who wanted to see this event succeed, or restored to it's former glory has been effective in reasoning with the cold, callous, thoughtless indifference and yes, even malice demonstrated.

Here's an interesting aside to all of this. After hearing about this thread and possibly even reading it, someone from the event approached my friend, the one who I initially described in this post and reprimanded him for speaking to me about his issue with the event. They were trying to quell his concerns and apparently did not like the fact that I brought the issue to light. I don't blame them for that. Who wants to be caught with their pants down?

The people at this event have my email address, my phone number and my street address. They were (note I said "were") even once befriended by me on my MySpace page but at no time have I received one private piece of communication about this, not that I would respond to it, even if they did call or write. My only interested is in shining the light of day on the issues that have come to my attention, their belligerence and lack of respect for civil rights.

Being abusive to others is not something that I can stand by and watch, without speaking up about it. Sadly, subjects like this are the themes of many of my original songs. In the words of Popeye the Sailor Man, "I've had all I can stands and I can't stands no more!"

Most abusers know that there is only so much abuse that they can reasonably act out and that there is only so much abuse that that those they prey upon will put up with before that control, that they engage in, begins to backfire. So, the act of abusing others is usually a subtle dance. Those who choose to dance that dance usually do so by taking only small steps, so as to not arouse the attention of those who they are taking advantage of and risk retaliation for their actions.

Just as a poker player looks for tells in his fellow players to gauge and guide his actions in a game of cards, abusers look for signs in those that they abuse and use response clues to guide and direct their actions toward others that they wish to control. Like a magician, who is adept at sleight of hand, they are usually well versed in the art of distraction. As in this case, they show you what they want you to see and meanwhile they steal what they wish with impunity.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: mg
Date: 09 May 10 - 02:45 PM

But what would you do if you were in charge of planning for crowd control and public safety at this event, and the pathways are already quite clogged with the 10 year old violin trios? Perhaps allocate a side street and let them all compete without amplication? I do n't know. But I know the safety issues are very serious, and include, or included in the past the type of crowds that would drag you along with them, and toward barbecue grills and sometimes open flames. There are dogs in the mix, and I have seen pit bulls, on leash but not muzzled, at cheek level of babies. Oh but he never bites and it is only the way they are trained and not the breed of dog. I forgot that. There is very little open space for bluegrassers etc. to jam. There are people setting up big pianos etc. on walkways.

You have to be able to get ambulances or fire vehicles through. You have to be able to disperse a crowd quickly if there are gunshots, as there were a couple of years ago, or "events" such as a terrorist attack, and the Seattle Center is a target.

I don't care if some people can earn money there busking while others do it for free. That is not an issue to me. I also don't care if they pay Joan Baez or Paul McCartney to come and give them big bucks while the Scandia Fiddlers keep on fiddling for free. I only care about public safety, and this is by nature an unsafe event. And the number of buskers and kids playing by the dozens will only increase.

I think in general on non-crowd weekends it would be great to stroll through the grounds and hear live music and pay the buskers as inclined. But it can't be unlimited at Folklife, and if it is not unlimited, how do you go about limiting it? By permit? By location? I don't know. mg


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,artbrooks
Date: 09 May 10 - 04:12 PM

If you see a fat bald guy wearing an Albuquerque Folk Festival shirt, say hi, Art.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: John P
Date: 10 May 10 - 10:27 AM

Wow, they just keep digging themselves deeper. Threaten to call the IRS on a street performer, and then jump on him for talking about it. Someone from Folklife was on this thread earlier. Are you still here? Is it really the policy of Folklife to report non-compliers to the IRS? Did someone really call a person to say they shouldn't be talking about it? What's the other side of the story?

My own opinion is that an organization that rents a public space for an event should be able to determine what goes on in that space, even if they invite the public. Obviously, the courts disagree, so that's that. I also think that any rule that is pushed beyond the point of practical application is a fetter and not a help. Reggie being told to not play in a location that wasn't causing a problem falls into that category.

Boogieman, I can't agree with you that "American roots music made this event" and that there is something wrong with it being an ethno-music event. I've been playing there for 27 years and have never played American roots music and have no desire to do so. Ethnic music that exists in the Pacific Northwest should and does get included. I do think they should stop having a yearly focus on one type of music, since that means they are specifically NOT focusing on others. But folk music is folk music, no matter where it comes from. It makes the festival interesting, which a bluegrass and western swing festival would emphatically not be. Rap, rock, jazz, and most singer-songwriters, however, don't have much connection to any sort of "folklife" and apparently take stage slots that are denied to folks who actually do play traditional folk music of some kind. I would also like it if all the crafts and food had some connection to folk arts. What's wrong with having a traditional arts festival?

But the worst part, by far, is the hundreds of drummers having an all-day, everyday, non-stop bash fest in the middle of the festival.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: reggie miles
Date: 10 May 10 - 01:01 PM

Blackballed by Reggie Miles 5/25/2009

I got blackballed, blacklisted
Cuz I wasn't afraid and I resisted

My freedom, denied
Cuz I took a stand for what's right with pride

Got demonized, pushed around
Cuz I believed in my cause and stood my ground

Got knocked down, stepped on
And I didn't do a damn thing wrong

When sweet liberty becomes a crime
Our sacrifice to get it ain't worth a dime

You can spread your lies 'bout me all day long
You'll never stop me from singin' my song


Got blacklisted, blackballed
Innocent and yet the police were called

Denied my freedom
Treated like I was some kind of a bum

Got pushed around, demonized
For exposin' the truth and revealin' your lies

Got stepped on, knocked down
Cuz I believed in my cause and stood my ground

Folk ain't no four letter word
& singin' ain't illegal last I heard

When sweet liberty becomes a crime
Our sacrifice to get it ain't worth a dime


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Don Firth
Date: 10 May 10 - 01:30 PM

In the light of what John P. says just above, can anyone explain to me the essential differences between the Northwest Folklife Festival held over Memorial Day weekend and Bumbershoot, the arts festival (also something of a mob-scene) held over Labor Day weekend?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: John P
Date: 10 May 10 - 08:01 PM

A LOT more folk music at Folklife. Lots of really good music, if you can put up with the mob scene and the noise.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 10 May 10 - 08:31 PM

I only care about public safety, and this is by nature an unsafe event.

The old 'red herring'.

Life is by nature an unsafe event. The only sure way to make it safe is to end it. Is that what you and others who ONLY care about public safety, intend to do?

Public safety is an important aspect of any form of gathering but most of us ALSO care about aspects other than public safety which are also important and should not be risked in the name of the often meaningless mantra that public safety has now become.

This perfectly laudable aim is too often confused with security issues, mainly as it tends to be security employees who treat these aspects equally and often overlook that these are simply incidental to the gathering and are not the sole object.

It is insulting when assumptions are made that responsible people who simply ask for their rights and for commons sense to prevail at such gatherings are seen as having a wish to intentionally make the public unsafe and have can have no regard at all to the public's safety.

But far too many of our rights and freedoms are now being threatened by measures which are stated to be for the public's safety and sucurity but which only affect and place limitations on responsible members of the public and which have no affect at all upon those who would intentionally transgress.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: mg
Date: 10 May 10 - 08:54 PM

It is too stupid for words to think that that is what I thought or said. mg


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: reggie miles
Date: 11 May 10 - 12:58 AM

I made a perfectly logical suggestion regarding the many drum acts that frequent this event. I suggested giving them an indoor location in which to perform. Taking that one faction out of the equation would dramatically reduce the overall din in the available listening environment on the grounds.

By an indoor location, I didn't mean an inadequate tiny room, with too few seats, or one that was tucked so far back into the corner of the basement of one of the buildings that it would be hard to even locate. I meant a nice indoor space with ample seating and dancing room, for those who enjoyed moving to the beats, with a nice stage, lights and even a PA, not that most drummers need a PA to be heard. Give them a worthy environment to consider performing in and they may just wish to happily play there. Call it, Drum Central or some such colorful name/title. Make it the place to go to hear such talents on display.

Of course, you could also do likewise for every loud combo that might wish to perform at the event. There are enough indoor locations that could accommodate them too. If listeners wanted to hear loud music they could go indoors to enjoy it. By removing the loudest volume makers from the outdoor stages, you lower the volume over the entire area across the grounds and eliminate the bleed of one loud stage performance onto another.

That move, to eliminate loud acts from outdoor stages, would make it much easier for those playing acoustic instruments in the same environment. More acoustic players could find places outdoors to offer their music casually to listeners on the grounds, like Bluegrass Hill. Those listeners who detest the loud volume levels outdoors would smile because their ears would not be assaulted by the harsh volume levels. Loud acts would smile because they would be featured in pleasant indoor environments, immune to the changing weather patterns.

Somehow, this perfectly workable suggestion/solution to reduce the overall volume levels outdoors at this event has escaped the notice of those organizing this event. Instead, they have given free reign to any acts drumming on the grounds, without showing the least concern about the volume levels of their instruments.

It's this same lack of concern that shut down a quiet acoustic jam that several old friends and I were having on the grounds. A drum group set up right next to us and drown us out via the sheer volume of their multiple drums. That group got away with playing what was perhaps the loudest African style drumming that I have ever witnessed. It hurt my ears to be in the same area. I understand that this (playing loudly) is perhaps the nature of their art form.

We were standing in plain view of them and they had no qualms about playing their much louder drums in the same area and effectively shutting us down via their volume. They used the volume of their drums, essentially, as weapons against us. They forced us to stop playing by playing so loudly that we could hear ourselves. Nor could anyone else hear us. We had to stop playing at that point. We could neither play or sing as loudly or louder than multiple drums being beaten with sticks.

I am also aware that perhaps this too is the very nature of their particular art. Drums have long been used in the art of war and establishing dominance. They knew, that because of the volume they could create with their drums, challenging us in that area would mean that they would win and we would lose. This was not a pleasant lesson to learn.

I didn't enjoy being forced out of the area because they were not willing not share the space. We tried waiting until they had finished displaying their talents and seemed to be taking a break, to once again offer our more quiet acoustic entertainment. Unfortunately, as soon as we started to try to play again, they started right up once more.

Sadly, this is not the first time that my attempts at performing casually in a public environment have been shut down due to the volume of those who played louder instruments. Most of those encounters with other performance folks were with those playing drums but there have also been those playing amplified instruments and horns too.

Usually, they have more than one person in their combo, but even one drummer can out volume an acoustic guitar. I've tried, to no avail, reasoning with almost everyone of them. In each case the parties with the louder instruments set up far too near to where I was already playing and began to dominate the same space via their volume, until I was no longer able to compete. Asking them to move to an area to where their volume wouldn't have a negative impact on what I was doing didn't seem to interest them. They've all responded the very same way. They knew what they were doing by interrupting me in the area and could care less that they were being rude and insensitive. There was absolutely no compassion expressed by any of them. Nor any willingness to cooperate in any fashion. That's been the same reaction that I've received over and over again by those who play instruments that have more acoustic volume. They've all acted as though they don't care and they don't have to care.

I'm guessin' that my only recourse is to just do likewise and make even more noise than they can create. I'll set up close to them and play a bigger drum. I do own a couple of big drums and I've been meaning to teach some lessons to those who see themselves as owning any situation simply because of the volume they can produce via their instruments. I see nothing wrong with fighting fire with fire if that's their game. Plus, I can be a really bad drummer too and I don't mean bad in a a good way either. ;o)


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: mousethief
Date: 11 May 10 - 01:19 AM

JohnP: My own opinion is that an organization that rents a public space for an event should be able to determine what goes on in that space, even if they invite the public.

Does Folklife rent the Seattle Center? That doesn't seem right.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 11 May 10 - 02:40 AM

The reason why all forms of over-regulation are implemented in the name of the public's safety and are generally supported by those of who would take such proposals at face value, is that we and especially our politicians in particular, do not always delve as deeply as we might into the real reasons behind why such proposals are made.

Politicians are understandably very sensitive to how they are seen by the voting public. Even the most obvious proposed over-regulation, which is unlikely to actually achieve anything to protect the public in reality but will limit their freedoms even further, will be seen as political suicide for them to be seen to oppose.

The real fear is that should they be seen to be making a stand against the imposition of yet more needless red-tape, they will be accused of placing the public at risk.

There is a big danger here and we have to wake up to the fact that there are powerful organisations and lobby groups which appear to see and value regulation for its own sake, in pretty much the same way that many of us value music making and the basic rights associated with this. Let us not make it too easy for them.

The key is to ensure that a balanced view is taken. One which recognises and values the activity firstly and only secondly addresses any real public safety issues but does not simply use these issues to further the distorted view that regulation is the primary object in itself.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 May 10 - 06:51 PM

"organisations and lobby groups which appear to see and value regulation for its own sake"

It's simpler than that. The 'creative types' (the 'right brainers') - such as those that 'can do' can make complex value judgements 'on the fly' and react rapidly to changing situations.

The "B graders" (the 'left brainers') - see Douglas Adams in HHGTTG where he mentions the entire ship full of "B graders" - telephone sanitisers, etc that were bundled off to 'prepare the way' for the 'settlers' - as a convenient way of disposing of them out of 'normal society' - NEED that apparently 'simple list of rules' to (whatever they substitute for...) 'think' with, and get frightened when dealing with the 'creative types', whose intuitive and convoluted thought processes they cannot comprehend. they tend to flock together in such "organisations and lobby groups", funnily enough, as then they don't NEED TO THINK INDIVIDUALLY.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 May 10 - 06:55 PM

"this perfectly workable suggestion/solution to reduce the overall volume levels outdoors at this event has escaped the notice of those organizing this event. Instead, they have given free reign to any acts drumming on the grounds, without showing the least concern about the volume levels of their instruments."

They are NOT Musos at heart, they are merely money making bureaucrats - "B Graders" - whose now guaranteed yearly income is not in any way related to 'making music', even if they 'make music' of any form themselves.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 May 10 - 07:04 PM

"It's really been since the advent of the "Folk Festival Promoters" ... meaning those who went to college and got degrees in folk festival production management ... that these problems have occurred."

These people ARE the "B Graders" - those who CAN: PLAY - those who CAN'T: get degrees in folk festival production management... :-)


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 May 10 - 07:11 PM

"They have meetings for deciding what new musical focus top have at the next years festival. The festival has no institutional memory. Therefore they are always creating a new festival by new people with new ideas as to what is relevant."

This is what "B Graders", by the very nature of their intellect DO - they "tend to flock together in such "organisations and lobby groups", funnily enough, as then they don't NEED TO THINK INDIVIDUALLY"!

But you really can't call "always creating a new festival" by their demonstratively ineffective repetitive processes that clearly demonstrate "no institutional memory" as genuine 'creative effort'.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 12 May 10 - 03:30 AM

My thanks to all who have contributed to this thread – some old ideas but many new ones!

My own connection with Folklife goes back to 1975 and I've sung on its stages every year since. Everyone on this thread and any opinions I've heard at Folklife and elsewhere all say the same thing – Folklife is not what it was. This is in some ways a good thing (I recall 1975 as being wall-to-wall bluegrass and us singers from Vancouver a novelty item), and in some ways, perhaps most ways, a bad thing (vastly overcrowded, an endless musical maelstrom, and an ever more pushy administration with no corporate memory).

John Ross before he died last year wrote and circulated a paper about Folklife being bust. His views were widely shared. I don't think it's possible to resurrect the Folklife we fell in love with.

I come now to Folklife to sing and drink with old friends, and, unlike the early days, when I might be found listening to a three-hour symposium on Vietnamese music in the northwest, rarely stray from The Northwest Court. I honour what Folklife taught me about music and the public: that our music of all musics should be free, volunteer-led and -run, and should open its doors to a wide range of subgenres. In the festivals I've run or had a hand in running (Vancouver's CityFest, 1991-8, and Princeton's Traditional Music Festival princetonfestival.wordpress.com , 2007 to date), both of which I describe as "children of Folklife", I have tried to follow these precepts. If we cannot bring back the old Folklife, we can at least support festivals and other musical gatherings or happenings which share its original impetus.

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Deckman
Date: 12 May 10 - 06:18 AM

Very well said Jon. Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: MAG
Date: 12 May 10 - 10:52 AM

um, as someone who has been shoved and threatened by busker audiences while I was trying to get through them with my guitar to get to my band at the roadhouse, I beg to differ about the safety issue.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,astro
Date: 12 May 10 - 12:58 PM

Becky (Desert Dancer) and I were there a year or so ago and I enjoyed being in Seattle, but really didn't enjoy the scene at Folklife. It was just too crowded which was exhausting. The Contra dance scene was again dangerously crowded. I will spend time at smaller venues with a much more manageable scene then there.So probably won't be back for a long time.

Astro getting ready for a nice weekend with Becky....


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 12 May 10 - 01:35 PM

So what do you do the first time a child is crushed? Or someone is wedged between the crowd and the barbecue grills (a whole other subject)? Or people in wheelchairs can not get through? Or a dog gets scared and bites someone? Or a cooking tent catches fire and the crowd surrounding it is huge and can't move..and that is how crowded it is. Or someone has a heart attack and EMT can not get to them? Say, oops, we are going to look at our policies and review the situation and see that this does not happen again?

One person busking is not a problem. 20 or 50 probably can be absorbed. What if people figure out what a great place it is to do this and 300 groups come, many of whom are young children..age 10 or so..a moving crowd can not even see them. You could I guess insist that children at least be in a safe area.

Sometimes, just to inform everyone, as there seems to be some fundamental confusion here, people with safety concerns only have safety concerns and are not using this as a wedge to impose fascist control on people...but safety regulatios are the same as imposing control on people..the intent is for the public good however. mg


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 12 May 10 - 03:30 PM

mg

You ask a lot of questions about risks that I am sure measures have already been introduced to address and no one here is suggesting that sensible safety concerns like the ones you list should not be addressed, but you did not answer the one that I asked.

Life is by nature an unsafe event. The only sure way to make it safe is to end it. Is that what you and others who ONLY care about public safety, intend to do?

Perhaps you would agree that your stated concern ONLY for the public's safety is common to all gatherings and does not only apply to musical entertainment?

In England and Wales, music gatherings are still being over-regulated and damaged because of a myth that such gatherings present more public concerns that non-musical gatherings held in exactly the same places.

Thus a single non-amplified guitar is illegal without advanced Entertainment Licensing but the showing of TV sport in the same pub is not.

After there was a riot at an outdoor big-screen showing of TV sport - our (then) Goverment were asked if the public needed the same advanced protection afforded to them, as was available for the single guitar player - for the showing of TV sport? The reply was to the effect that that there were no additional measures available in Entertainment Licensing that would have protected the public in this showing of TV sport.

But despite this statement, these same additional measures are still thought to be the only way the public can be protected when live music is involved. My fear is that your real concern for safety is perpetuating the myth that musical gatherings present more concerns for public safety than do non-musical gatherings.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 12 May 10 - 03:36 PM

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldhansrd/text/80603w0003.htm#column_WA41

June 2008
Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in view of the serious violence and disorder that broke out in Manchester when a big screen showing the ITV broadcast of the UEFA cup failed on 14 May, it will review the exemption for broadcast entertainment in the Licensing Act 2003. [HL3715]


Lord Davies of Oldham:

The screening in Manchester of the broadcast of the UEFA cup final in a public place on 14 May only took place with the consent of the local authority and under restrictions agreed with the police. It is therefore difficult to see what added control would have been available had the event been subject to the licensing controls under the Licensing Act 2003, or that such controls would have prevented the disorder that arose.

It remains the Government's position that big-screen television broadcasts in themselves do not cause disorder, but that it is the consumption of alcohol at such events that can lead to problems. Decisions on whether big-screen events should go ahead are the responsibility of the local authority in consultation with the local police, who are involved at an early stage, and event organisers. It is already possible under existing legislation to control consumption and drunkenness in public places.

Under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, it is possible for a local authority to designate any area to which the public have access a place where alcohol may not be consumed. It is also an offence under the Licensing Act 1872 to be drunk in a public place. The Government are confident that the police and local authority in Manchester will ensure that safety and security arrangements provide a controlled environment at any future big-screen events.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 12 May 10 - 03:39 PM

No. I would have the same concerns if there were the same level of crowdedness at Bite of Seattle or an exhibition of Informercial Products on the center grounds or knitting exhibitions that drew this level of crowds. mg


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 12 May 10 - 04:27 PM

Another scenario..happened at the Puyallup fair recently..some mentally ill and hospitalized people were taken to the fair..they should not have been. There was some incident..I can't remember what it was but it was serious...bottom line is you have to be able to have security and police and fire be able to get through quickly..and they probably would be rushing against the force of the crowd. mg


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 12 May 10 - 06:19 PM

No. I would have the same concerns if there were the same level of crowdedness at Bite of Seattle or an exhibition of Informercial Products on the center grounds or knitting exhibitions that drew this level of crowds. mg

That is the common sense approach that I hope you can see is lacking in the legislation and official line that I have demonstrated.

It is an approach that is encouraged where the focus is on potential public safety risks arising around music making and care must be taken if this encouragement is to be avoided. This approach places any risks before the benefits. Of course it is sensible that any real risks are adressed but I hope you would agree that a balanced approach is the best one.

some mentally ill and hospitalized people were taken to the fair..they should not have been.

I see no reason why these people should not be exposed to the proven benefits of music making and also to the related social activity. Sensible steps should of course be taken to address any real safety concerns and possibly in this case these steps were not adequate but this is a good example of where a balance must be made.

For is it seriously being suggested that is impossible to ensure an adequate level of safety for these people (and others) and that the only answer is to deprive them of such visits? I hope not.


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Subject: Lyr Add: SOMETIMES THAT BEAR BITES YOU (R Miles)
From: reggie miles
Date: 13 May 10 - 02:28 AM

mg, I'm sorry if I missed something here. Are you saying that folks having their children in strollers are in danger of having those children bitten by unruly dogs at such events simply because they ride at the same general level of the dogs in question? This is not a public safety issue. It is up to the parents of said children to be aware of the circumstance into which they are bringing their children, a public park, on a national holiday, during a large music event, where, yes, others may also be bringing their animals.

I've never witnessed this kind of an incident taking place at this event or at any other and I've visited and performed at countless such events in my 30+ years of playing music in crowded public spaces. That's not saying it might not have happened or that it won't happen in the next few minutes, tonight, tomorrow or next week sometime. I'm just saying that we can sit around our keyboards a dream up all kinds of "what ifs" until were blue in the face. Then, we can sit around in various town, city, state gatherings dreaming up all manner of safety codes and regulations for all of the fears that we've invented and none of them will ever make certain that our interactions in such places are, in fact, 100% safe.

As a matter of fact, the regulations won't guarantee anything of the kind. They may quell some fears in the hearts and minds of those who craft such micromanaging techniques. In their minds they are doing all they can for public safety. The real issue is, are they doing all they can to "truly" help. More often than not those folks will go right on micromanaging everyone's activities until you can't scratch your nose in public without being accused of a felony.

Let's take a real and present tangible example to illustrate just how inane the regulations that NW Folklife have enacted are. The same regulation that I was accused of breaking, sitting under a covered walkway offering my art, did not seem to apply, in the least, to any vendor on the grounds. Now, how is it that a single performer with an acoustic guitar can be guilty and ousted from the event using police force but the same infraction somehow magically doesn't apply at all to those vendors who were doing just exactly what I was? Except, in their case, they ALWAYS cause huge traffic issues all weekend long. The difference between me and them was only that they were forking over copious amounts of cash to the event organizers, paying them off, to break the regulations and have security look the other way.

The Court has made plain that I don't have to pay anyone, anything, to exercise my First Amendment rights on public property. NW Folklife wants to pretend that they have the right to ignore the Court's ruling on this matter. They want to micromanage performers in order to placate the vendors who are paying copious amounts of cash to vend at this event. They don't want vendors getting upset by performers that might block traffic, that might otherwise pass by a vendor's wares. What you have here is a private security force not acting in the best interest of public safety but rather in the best interest of those who have paid copious amounts of cash to the event organizers. That, simply put, is an issue of big money unlawfully trying to dictate the rule of law. (The Haves vs The Havenots)

Look at what's going on in the Gulf of Mexico if you want a fine example of how big money dictating the rule of law works. Instead of safety minded regulations being put in place for the good of all, big money was able to side step the process of safety by, no doubt, paying off, with copious amounts of cash, the right political parties or agencies involved with such regulatory actions. Now, look at the mess they've caused. This is exactly what is going on at NW Folklife. Those with money are getting away with creating safety issues while those without are demonized, and criminalized even when they are not causing any such issues. Open your eyes America!

Who would have thought that the idiot, that did, would have pulled out his loaded hand gun, safety off, to pistol whip someone at Folklife two years ago? He even had a permit to carry it. The fact, that he had a permit, probably made a whole lot of folks happy and safe feeling but that didn't stop him from acting as irresponsibly as possible. There will always be those who cannot find it within themselves to behave and hence, why such micromanaging is pointless.

Lightning could strike any one of us dead in the next few moments. We might drown in our own bathtubs after hitting our heads because we slipped on the wet surface of the tub. I could get a paper cut from loading paper into my printer. Any number of accidents could, can and do happen. We can't possibly regulate to address them all. Nor can we even reasonably address which ones we should prioritize higher than others.

I am always amazed to hear each year how many tornadoes follow very specific paths throughout the Midwest and yet folks still seem oblivious to that fact and settle in areas that have been devastated time and time again. It's the same with those who live in hurricane areas along the Gulf Coast and flood plains all across the country. No amount of loss of life or damage seems to convince people that those areas are bad places to live. I think that these horrific natural disasters rank a bit higher on my list than the concerns you've mentioned and yet nothing has been done to regulate folks from living in many of those areas of the country that continue to be plagued by such ruin.

Reasonable regulations are one thing but even these, when enforced by unreasonable, power hungry individuals, who act without just cause to excess and to the detriment of liberty, become pointless exercises in man's inhumanity toward man. In this country we've crafted checks and balances into our system for the creation of such legislation and its enforcement and yet even with this system, meant to create order, peace and liberty, we are plagued from within and without our carefully crafted system, by those who would pervert it and subvert it to their own ends, case in point, NW Folklife's blatant disregard for our First Amendment right to freedom of expression. It is a protected right and not a privilege that we should have to pay them to enjoy!

I agree with The Shambles. Life is dangerous. We're all gonna shuffle off this mortal coil sooner or later. How are you going to spend your life? Will you spend it statistically determining the least dangerous path, always fearing the worst? (Cup half empty) Or, will you bravely risk the course and challenges that each new day brings. (Cup half full) Stuff happens and it ain't all good stuff either.

Sometimes That Bear Bites You by Reggie Miles 2008

Sometimes you get to bite that bear,
Sometimes that bear bites you.
You can never be sure of weather.
It may be cloudy but it could turn blue.
And nobody knows which way the wind blows,
But it blows just the same and it's true,
That sometimes you get to bite that bear,
Sometimes that bear bites you.

You might be ridin' in the finest limo,
Or starrin' in a Hollywood picture or two.
You may be havin' a ball at your A-list party
Sippin' champagne from a shoe,
But you know it won't last forever
Every up has its downside too
Yes, sometimes you get to bite that bear,
And sometimes that bear bites you.

You may be an ace at card play,
Or have a knack for rollin' them dice.
And you may win at most every spin,
Of that roulette wheel of life.
But haven't you heard,
You can't win 'em all,
Is the only permanent rule?
Yes, sometimes you get to bite that bear,
And sometimes that bear bites you.

Sometimes you get to bite that bear,
Sometimes that bear bites you.
Ain't no sense in feelin' bad, mad or, sad
Disappointed, angry or blue.
Cuz in this go round there's just one game in town
One toss of the coin then you're through
Yes, sometimes you get to bite that bear,
And sometimes that bear bites you.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 13 May 10 - 02:40 AM

For is it seriously being suggested that is impossible to ensure an adequate level of safety for these people (and others) and that the only answer is to deprive them of such visits? I hope not.

I have just thought of an example where the balance between benefits and risks would be different.

Casual visits to the front-line in a war situation would involve more real risk than could be balanced by any benefit that might be gained and it would be sensible for such visits not to take place.

I have not visited this event and even the worst accounts that I have read here do not lead me to think that it is (yet) a senario comparable to a war zone.

A view which places every potential risk of a musical gathering before its benefits, is not a balanced view and it is one that will not result in the sensible regulation required but will result in the type of over-regulation that we all suffer from.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: John P
Date: 13 May 10 - 05:42 PM

Unfortunately, if you want an organization to ignore safety concerns, you'll have to promise them that no one will sue them if something happens. I agree that people ought to be responsible for themselves, but an organization like Folklife can't afford to have that be their plan.

The unpleasant fact is that if there were a deadly situation and people were unable to leave the area or medical people couldn't get to an area because of the crowds, Folklife would get sued for millions of dollars.

I also don't think the buskers are the cause of crowds at Folklife, and I have no problem walking through their act if their audience is blocking the walk.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: artbrooks
Date: 13 May 10 - 07:31 PM

100


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: reggie miles
Date: 14 May 10 - 01:38 AM

artbrooks, 100? What did you win?

Give that man a Cigar!


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: mousethief
Date: 14 May 10 - 02:15 AM

He sings pretty good for being 100.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 14 May 10 - 05:29 AM

Unfortunately, if you want an organization to ignore safety concerns, you'll have to promise them that no one will sue them if something happens.

I'm not sure if anyone here has seriously suggested that this or any other organisation should (or could) ignore safety concerns?


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Howard Jones
Date: 14 May 10 - 05:49 AM

NWF is claiming the right to determine when and where street performers can operate - partly for safety and access reasons, partly simply to ensure the smooth running of a busy event and to prevent artists from interfering with others' performances. Reggie is arguing that they cannot legally do this because it interferes with his constitutional rights.

The two seem to be incompatible in a public place. Either everyone agrees to submit to a level of control in the wider interest, or you have an event where anyone can do what they like, where they like, when they like and just hope that it all works out.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: reggie miles
Date: 14 May 10 - 11:07 AM

Howard, NW Folklife isn't claiming the right determine "when" performers can play on the grounds. Thank goodness for that! That would be yet another law suit!

They are claiming that they have the right to dictate "where" performers can play on the grounds. This issue is where the forked tongue of those who would, as you put it, "claim the right" to determine such, really shows off their double standard.

As I described in my previous post, vendors are not harassed by the NW Folklife's private security for creating access or safety issues, not ever. Nor are they intimidated, demonized, threatened, or evicted from the grounds using police force for creating these issues, and they constantly create these conditions via their activities during this event. However, let a performer of folk music do what it is that they do at this event, set up underneath or even near a covered walkway and they are pounced upon by that same private security force, verbally threatened, harassed, intimidated, and ultimately the police are called to have them escorted from the grounds. This is, quite simply, a case of the haves vs. the havenots. We have the right to be there and they are claiming that we have not.

Why do they favor the vendors at this event and ignore their transgressions of access and safety? Because the vendors pay $Do$ $Re$ $Mi$. Because we don't have to pay to play in public, NW Folklife has determined that the best way to sidestep those First Amendment rights, so they can harass us with impunity, is to demonize our activities as the issue to be controlled. In the art of prestidigitation, this is called distraction. NW Folklife sees our activities, playing music acoustically in this public park, as being a bother to all of the business that they are profiting by via this event. That's why they want to control our activities.

It is that double standard, between those who pay to vend on public property and those merely exercising their First Amendment right to freedom of expression by playing folk music in the park, for the enjoyment of all, on this national holiday, Memorial Day weekend, when we honor those who have fought and died to protect this way of life, that is the very core of the issue.

They have no right, within the law, to deny First Amendment rights to anyone. They are acting illegally by denying me or anyone else of their constitutional rights under the law.

The law suit brought against the city of Seattle and those running the Seattle Center last June was specific in stating that neither the city nor the private company hired by the city to run the Seattle Center has the right to ask anyone to obtain a permit, much less charge anyone for a permit to exercise the right to freedom of expression in a public space.

I would say that the event organizers have shot themselves in the foot with regard to how loud acoustic acts have interfered with amplified staged presentations. They have, for years, done nothing to curb or otherwise address the issue of the loudest acts on the grounds, drummers and others. Addressing that single concern would have helped the interference of those acts with staged presentations. That's their problem.

One year, while I was on stage playing, a whole troop of Morris dancers and their various instrumentation decided to start performing nearby. The stage had amplification but even that was not adequate against the number of performers in that troop. I'm a solo act. I muscled through my performance but I did mention it from stage. I don't think that anything was done to dissuade them.

Safety and access reasons have NOTHING to do with the reasons why NW Folklife wants 15% of what might end up in a street performers hat. Neither do safety or access concerns have anything, whatsoever, to do with NW Folklife deciding to charge a fee to street performers. They have no right under the law to do this.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Howard Jones
Date: 14 May 10 - 11:44 AM

My knowledge of this event is only what I have seen on their website and in this thread. However the vendors appear to be confined to specific areas, and presumably book a pitch in the appropriate sector. This seems rather different from the street performers who I imagine just turn up and play wherever they can find a spot. I imagine NWF nevertheless has people in place to manage the vending areas and to make sure people keep to their booked pitch.

As for the 15% charge, they have made it clear that it is voluntary, a recognition of the work they have done to draw a crowd to whom you can perform and from whom you can take tips. If you don't want to pay it, then they can't force you.

My point (and perhaps yours too) is that there is a fundamental conflict between them running an event of this nature, which inevitably requires that they seek to exercise an element of control, and your right to perform in a public place.

To a neutral observer, it seems quite reasonable for the festival to ask those who wish to participate and to take advantage of the crowds it attracts both to make a financial contribution and to observe their rules, to ensure the smooth and safe running of the event. The difficulty arises because it appears anyone also has a legal right to disregard all this and perform anyway. How do you suggest these conflicting positions should be resolved?


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 14 May 10 - 03:45 PM

The difficulty arises because it appears anyone also has a legal right to disregard all this and perform anyway. How do you suggest these conflicting positions should be resolved?

I am amazed that anyone reading this thread - especially after Reggie's last post - can insist on seeing the issue as described by the above. It must be pretty obvious from Reggie's experience that the problem is not those insisting on exercising their legal right and performing anyway. For it does not appear that such a right is even recognised.

Why are those of us who recognise the value of music, so seemingly determined not only to wear a 'hair-shirt' themselves but insist that everyone else does? If like me and not having any first-hand knowledge of the event why you have to presuume and imagine so much, rather than simply accept Reggie's considered view?

Is Reggie not to be trusted because he is a dangerous type, a musical performer, not a juggler, hot-dog man or a seller of colourful velvet hats?


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Howard Jones
Date: 14 May 10 - 04:24 PM

Shambles, that's not what I'm saying at all. My point is that there's an apparently irreconcilable difference between the needs of NWF to run their festival with a degree of control on the one hand, and the rights of Reggie and other street performers to perform in the Seattle Center on the other.

I'm not suggesting that street performers are in themselves a problem. But gatherings of large numbers of people can be a problem. There are evidently issues with loud performances interfering with other acts. There may be issues of obstruction. There may be disputes between performers both claiming the same pitch. If NWF cannot control these (and apparently they have no legal basis to do so) then how can they run the festival? It sounds like a recipe for mayhem to me.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: Deckman
Date: 14 May 10 - 04:44 PM

You might be somewhat amused to learn that for some years now, the Northwest Folklife Festival has a different name locally! We refer it it as the "Northwest Forklift Festival." This well earned name refers to the tons and tons of equipment, trailors, vehicles, staff, support services (including police), required to present this "so called" FOLK FESTIVAL."

I wonder what Bascom Lunsford would say today if he could this mess?


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 14 May 10 - 07:24 PM

I'm not suggesting that street performers are in themselves a problem. But gatherings of large numbers of people can be a problem. There are evidently issues with loud performances interfering with other acts. There may be issues of obstruction. There may be disputes between performers both claiming the same pitch. If NWF cannot control these (and apparently they have no legal basis to do so) then how can they run the festival? It sounds like a recipe for mayhem to me.

I hear what you are saying. The point I would make, is that there is only one item on your list may apply exclusively to musical activities. And these loud performances interfering with others is is hardly a public safety concern. And although this problem is mentioned, it was not one specific to Reggie's experience.

It would appear that the attraction of this event is or was an attempt at some kind of celebration of the public's freedom of expression. It should perhaps be seen in this light and this brave attempt given some credit, rather than encouraging the event to continue but at the expense of this freedom.

The price paid for that freedom and the success of the event may be a little chaotic but it does not appear to have yet reached the public safety risk level of a war zone. If the attending public do not address their differences with common sense, the event will come to an end and that will be sad. But are we all really so scared of the reality of the freedom we claim to value so much or do we go to war in the name of freedom only to deprive others of theirs?   

As you rightly say, all large gatherings present problems and these require sensible regulation but I refuse to see music making in itself as anything other than beneficial in the first instance.

Please do not give any encouragement to those who can only see music making as presenting problems. They need no encouragement and we will always have to struggle with them anyway but let us not have to struggle with ourselves, when we do firstly see the benefits of music making.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
From: reggie miles
Date: 15 May 10 - 12:48 AM

It's the "degree" of their control that is at the heart of this issue. If they want to use their control to haul an idiot off the grounds, via the police, who stupidly pistol whips someone with his hand gun, that has the safety turned off and as a result, it discharges a couple of rounds into a couple of near bystanders, well I say go for it. Who, in their right mind, wants that at a music event?

However, my guitar is not a gun. Nor is my musical saw a weapon. But somehow, the NW Folklife security force saw fit to equate my efforts at entertaining in public with a guy who discharged a firearm in public and determined that my efforts at creating smiles were apparently as dangerous as a loaded handgun. Thus, they did to me just what they did to him. They called for police backup. Though, I think that the guy with the gun got cuffed and carried off the grounds. While I was merely escorted from the grounds.

Besides, my rights under the law were in effect long before NW Folklife decided to create this latest attempt at "control" and this event has managed to function and flourish just fine for years, long before their recent efforts at trying to control the actions of performers on the grounds. The only control that I see that needs to be enacted by the event is control of their actions and control of their security force.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: GUEST,ollaimh
Date: 15 May 10 - 09:17 AM

i used to perform at seattle folk life for a decade or so. i also busked or i couldn't have afforded to take a weekend off from gigs or busking at home to play a coule of free sets.

then they started to hassle the buskers for selling tapes (few had cds yet). so i complied and sold my tapes through tower records and they and folklife got their cut. i sold twenty some tapes that year through tower records. however they never paid me. i bugged them and folklife again and again and they couldn't have cared less. they were already trying to over regulate the buskers . i gave up and stopped performing and just went to busk, and sold my tapes and later cds underground. why should i donate my free performances to those bureaucratic headed assholes who won't let ne earn a living. that attitude of hey theres grass growing in that crack, if i can own that crack i can charge rent is so anti art and so fascist they should be ashamed.

yah therte are too many buskers there and they can be too compititive but i usueally shared spots with a couple ofothers and got on fine. the ones i'd kick out are the hare khrishna paraders.

the folk pimps often burry themselves in "the work" and think they are the show after a while, they forget the musicians are the show, and then the quality musicians stop donating and you get the weekend bash they have now.it the same with busker festivals and regular licenced busking spots. it is the nature of busking that you have to move on occasionally. how are they going to miss you if you don't go away.

by the way a lot of full time buskers i know do report income to the tax man to get credit for old age pension.

trying to muzzle what people sing on the street is shamefull and folk life has now out lived its purpose. be honest and become the seattle memorial day gala and forget the folk connection.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 17 May 10 - 12:18 PM

An interesting add on that someone made to this thread (Seattle). Was there some confusion about where this was taking place? I thought that the name of the city was mentioned several times throughout this thread. So, that there would be no doubt. Perhaps that designation should be made to each thread, to identify what part of the world, country, state, province, county, or city they originate from.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 17 May 10 - 12:22 PM

I started posting about this issue, the NW Folklife Festival vs street performers, on facebook and was surprised to learn that those offering balloons to kids on the grounds were asked to leave the event almost 10 years ago. What is it with this festival and their anti-entertainment attitude? They might as well call it the F_ _ _ life festival!


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seatt
From: Bettynh
Date: 17 May 10 - 01:23 PM

Balloons can be an eco-issue, especially in coastal cities. If they blow out to sea and turtles eat them, they'll kill the turtles. I don't know the issues in Seattle, but it's an issue in Boston.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: Don Firth
Date: 17 May 10 - 01:38 PM

In the Pacific Northwest, the prevaling winds tend to blow from west to east. Helium-filled balloons would have to make it all the way across the continent to pose a hazard to marine life. So other than a bit of litter somewhere in the wilds of North Dakota or falling on the roof of a building in Chicago, I doubt that it would be much of a problem. Well--maybe Lake Michigan. . . .

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 18 May 10 - 10:27 AM

Betty, the kinds of balloons that these folks provide are not of the helium variety or floating sort. These balloons are the long skinny kind that one can twist, bend and tie into all manner of animals, flowers, or other such sculptural figures. The art is in the twisting.

These balloons will generally not float any farther than a strong breeze might carry it and then only at ground level, where it will encounter far too many obstacles in its path with sharp edges. Those edges will ultimately cause the fragile material that the balloon is made of to burst, long before it would be of concern to marine wildlife.

As Don pointed out the prevailing winds blow eastward from here. I doubt that these balloons could get a block from where life was breathed into them without popping.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: GUEST,ollaimh
Date: 18 May 10 - 10:47 AM

i forgot to add that back when the folklife staff were giving the power to sell tapes and cds to tower records, they sent the police around to threaten the buskers with criminal charges if they didn't comply. threatening musicians is n othing new yto folklife staff. i think that performers might be given extra place for busking to keep down the numbers but that would get controversial as well.

back then i talked with one of the organizers--very high up-- and i told him people who travel hndreds of miles to perform have to be able to make a living if they are to participate. i pointed out how folk was becomming mostly middle class(maybe an old phenomena)because working musicians can't afford to take the weekend off but the folks with nine to five jobs have no such problem. he responded "i hope thats not happening"--he had absolutely no awareness of class and ethnic equality, just a corporate head ready to use the cops at a moments notice.

using the cops was foolish. the festival is so big there is no way the cops could actually enforse things and the buskers know that. all the attitude did was alienate many of the regulars who also busk. most of them stopped performing. now thay threaten to report people to the irs--like they have the resourses to hunt down buskers for the a few hundred bucks--and then ban certain busker for going public. that s really despicable.who at the top thinks these fascist tactics are acceptable.

i too recall some great musicians playing at folklife, john p being one, and stanley greenthall and gerry haggerty and many more who really gave the festival it character. most of whom busked at one time or another.

as for the canadian off spring vancouver city fest and the other that i've never been to, the vancouver city fest was run by middle class neopitists as well. they regularily sortd the good stages to pals of the organizers. i remember one of the great peruvian bands i used to know playing right on the street with the traffic noise overwhelming them, while a poet i know--possibley the worst poet i've ever seen--was reading on the main stage with a guitar accompaniest. of course the guitarist was tight with the organizers, and of course the ethnic and non middle class performers noticed this and stopped coming. to do what bartlett says requires abandoning the "entitlement attitude" that his crowd have--something they will never do.

so folklife staff and board how about stopping using the police to force musicians to sell through one outlet, how about paying for the tapes sold, how about stopping using threats against musicians, how abour youse guys at the top trying to rejoin the human race??


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: ollaimh
Date: 18 May 10 - 11:04 AM

ps reggie please send me the contact info for the people who withdrew from the festival, i'd like to chat with them.

can send to ollaimh@yahoo.com

and americans can be thankfull that they have such great rights, we in canada do not, you just have to accept the rules and cheat when you can or keep on moving on.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 18 May 10 - 04:05 PM

I'm Bartlett and I don't have a crowd so what "ollaimh" is on about I couldn't tell you.

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 18 May 10 - 05:04 PM

If NW F_ _klife wants to behave like petty dictators in their race for their almighty dollar$ they can goosestep their way onto private property to do so. There, they can get away with their jackbooted actions with impunity. Yes, in this country, even those who don't believe in our way of life, have the freedom to act out their twisted suppression of human rights (within reason) as long as they're doing so on private property.

However, on public property, there's a different rule book in play. It's called the Constitution. We, who honor what it stands for and believe in its principles, are happy to live within the freedoms it affords. We eschew those who would use their position and influence to rob us of those freedoms. F_ _klife stands guilty of just that, robbing American citizens of their right to freedom of expression. You can also add to that list, demonizing, threatening and intimidating Folk musicians and criminalizing the act of playing folk music on public property. Their actions are, in fact, criminal acts, that the courts have already ruled as unconstitutional.

My efforts at pointing out their illegal activities are merely my way of shining a bright light on what they are doing. It's shameful and everyone should be aware of how far they've managed to warp the meaning of freedom.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: oggie
Date: 18 May 10 - 07:20 PM

Just out of interest.

I carry third party insurance in case I, my stall or my saw cause an accident in any way. Do buskers? If someone trips over your guitar case who is liable? You or NWF?

Steve


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 18 May 10 - 07:59 PM

Perhaps ollaimh is confusing Vancouver CityFest with the Vancouver Folk Festival.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: GUEST,Molly Haas
Date: 21 May 10 - 05:39 PM

Reggie,

Daniel Atkinson, our Outreach Coordinator called you on May 20th to help clear up the misunderstanding about Folklife charging street performers, which we do not do. He did not call you to keep his comments "off record." He called you because talking person to person is the respectful thing to do. He offered to set up a meeting with you to further discuss the issue in person, which you declined. I am posting here as an individual, Molly Haas, Northwest Folklife's Marketing Manager. I am a representative of the organization and the one who posted earlier in this thread. You may remember me as the one who you implied did not have "a pair."

Daniel did not speak to you about last year's Festival and the events that occurred between you, our security and the Seattle Police Department. He was not there, nor was I. Any comment from either of us on the matter would be hearsay. What I do find interesting is that you had an entire year to speak with Northwest Folklife about the matter and chose instead to bring it up now. Furthermore, you chose not to speak with us directly. You posted on an online message board and on Facebook, instead. If you read our policies regarding street performing at the Festival you will see the following statement: "We want this program to evolve with you! If you are interested in becoming a part of the planning process for the 2011 Festival, let a Street Performer Coordinator know." Our policies regarding street performing are not directives from on high as you imply. We open the dialogue to anyone who wants to be a part of it. If you take issue with what we do, I invite you to join us in the planning process.

When I posted here earlier, I left a phone number and email address. We have yet to receive a single phone call or email from anyone regarding the matter. There are two ways to handle this conflict. You can post about it to your friends on Facebook and Mudcat. Or you can talk to us and help us work to create a system that benefits both our Festival and the street performers who help us entertain the crowds. I encourage you, Reggie, and all others who may be reading this to take the second approach. If you would like to discuss this further, please call 206-684-7300 and ask for me. Or if you prefer written communication my email address is mollyh@nwfolklife.org. Understandably, I will be busy for the next couple weeks, but I will make an effort to answer anyone in a reasonable amount of time.

See you at the Festival,
Molly


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 22 May 10 - 05:56 AM

Molly, thanks for the post and identifying yourself here. At The Mudcat Cafe some folks come by to spam in the threads and as such, it becomes a challenge to know for certain who is posting in a valid manner. After posting in this community for years, I and others here are naturally suspicious of those, who have no background with the site, entering into conversations without identifying themselves.

Daniel wanted to set up a meeting with me after the festival this year. That hardly helps the matter at hand, by talking about it after the event has already taken place. This event has had since last year in June, when Mike's case was won, to do something about this matter and the festival has apparently done nothing. Your rules have not been altered, in the least, to align with the decisions made by the Courts. I would say that the festival is dragging its feet.

Daniel wanted to invite me to be a part of the process of changing these rules. I explained that I did not enact them in the first place. You folks did that on your own. I think that it's your job to change them.

You make a mess of it and now you're asking me for my help to fix your mess!? This is sounding the Wall Street bailout all over again.

I also explained that I live an hour outside the city, a fact that you folks should also be aware of, since you have my address. The chore of getting in and out of the city can be a challenge for me for just that reason. Couple that distance, with the price of gas and my somewhat less than adequate vehicles and you might begin to understand my reluctance to simply sit around some meeting that might not guarantee me any results in return.

This is not just a concern to me but to quite a number of others, even though Daniel would have me believe that no one else is on my side regarding this issue. I know for a fact that anyone who has spent time in a uniform defending this country would disagree with that.

Daniel would also have me believe that this issue, my right to freedom of expression, is hardly worth fighting for and in his words, "you should choose your battles." Well, to that I would reply, that this battle is the one at my doorstep and I value my right to this freedom highly. I also believe that every American would agree with me. Our freedoms are not something that we want others to deny us.

I'd start with eliminating the $10 fee that you folks have deemed as necessary in order for folks to offer their Cds for sale on the grounds. Daniel said the city was demanding that we pay $20 for a temporary business permit to vend our recordings. If that's true, then why should the event then pile an additional fee of $10 on top of that?

Regarding your claim that I've not been talking about this to anyone until now, that is simply not true. If you'd like, I will send you every post that I've made online about my experience regarding what happened to me last year. I'll warn you in advance, there's a lot of reading ahead of you. I will also offer you a list of those who I have spoken with about this matter, it's a long list.

Regarding your or Daniel's unwillingness to discuss what happened to me last year, why would I believe that an event or those running it, that would allow to happen what happened to me last year, would be the least bit interested in hearing my side of that story? Your head of security was plenty willing to threaten me, verbally intimidate me, demonize me and bully me until he then decided that he had grounds to call for the police on me. He had no such grounds but nevertheless did so with impunity. He inflamed the situation to justify his actions.

Nothing that I did last year blocked traffic. Nor did I in any way create an unsafe situation for anyone. I complied fully with his directives. I wasn't even playing when he arrived. I even packed up my things after he told me that I could not perform under that covered walkway in the shade. The only reason that I was there was because it was hot and I didn't wish to be in the direct sunlight on such a warm day. Just before I arrived to play there, an entire band of about 15 performers were in the exact same location. They created an huge crowd that did, in fact, block all access to the area via their presence and nothing was done to deter their efforts in exactly the same location. Why was I being singled out?

The few folks that had gathered before me all attested that they were enjoying my performance. When I asked your head of security for directions as to where I could perform, he became unwilling to reply accept to say that I should move closer to the center of the event where the amplified stages were. Molly, why would I want to play acoustically next to an amplified stage? Is this the kind of solution you endorse?

When I asked him why he wasn't harassing another nearby performer playing in the same area, he replied in an angry tone, "This isn't about him! It's about you!" Please tell me Molly, how is it that this representative of the festival can regard my presence on the grounds, entertaining folks, at their behest, such an infraction as to be worthy of police intervention? I really want to know your answer to this question. I think that you should put a muzzle on your security force and tell them to stick to harassing pistol wielding park goers rather than pushing around folk musicians.

He pushed the letter of the rules by telling me that I could not perform beneath a covered walkway. I, at no time indicated, in any way, that I would continue to play there. Yet, the festival allows vendors set up and offer their arts and crafts beneath the same covered walkways. There, those vendors are allowed to cause such traffic issues with impunity but performers are demonized.

This is double standard has been going on for far too long. Performers are not the demons your security staff and your rules make us out to be and to treat us as such is demeaning and unjust. The rules in Mike's lawsuit with the city explicitly state that dictating where performers can perform on public property is unconstitutional. Telling performers that we cannot be within 30 feet of a gathered group of park goers is unconstitutional. Do you not understand the meaning of the word unconstitutional? It means illegal! This event is acting illegally by enforcing these rules. They are acting illegally by including them as directives to those of us who perform on the grounds of this public park. I don't know how much more plain that I can say this.

One year, I even had one of your security force try to demonize me for merely standing underneath a covered walkway with my instruments while it was raining. I asked him, "Do you see me performing here?" Then, another time, I had one of your security harass me for merely leaving my guitar case under the cover of one of the covered walkways while it was raining, as I played in the rain. Neither time was I creating any issue with traffic or safety. These security folks should be treating us with far more respect and not be looking for reasons to harass us every chance they get. They need to take a chill pill, get a life, and stop creating trouble, where there is none, to merely justify their presence.

Covered walkways are not this event's private domain in this "public" park. They are part of the "public" park too. The court was very clear on this matter. It has deemed the park a freedom of expression zone and beyond your control to restrict my actions as a performer, specifically with regard to where I can perform. Just as you have the right to set up your vendors under those covered walkways, we too have the right to perform under those same walkways. Yes, we do!

The district court struck down the attempt by the Seattle Center and the city of Seattle at trying to enact this sort of legislation and so did the appellate court. Are you trying to defend unconstitutional acts on Memorial Day weekend? Do you have no shame? How much more blood has to be spilled before the NW Folklife Festival is willing to grant Americans citizens their First Amendment rights during this national holiday???!!! This event is engaged in enforcing rules restricting our First Amendment rights, on Memorial Day weekend! Get your head out of whatever kind of hole you seem to have stuck it in. You have no legal basis for enacting these kinds of restrictions.

This holiday weekend is a time of remembrance for all Americans. A remembrance of those who have given their lives to protect OUR FREEDOMS. Among those freedoms is the freedom of expression. Are seriously telling me that this is something that I should wait to discuss with you, in some meeting, after the festival? Please enlighten me as to why I should wait for you to grant me my rights and freedoms???

My posts online are, in fact, an actual open dialog. Thanks for your participation. I AM taking issue with what you do. This is a meeting, now, not later, after the fact and I am talking with you. I am interested in helping you to see the error of your ways.

I'd say that my willingness to explain to the festival the fact that it is, in fact, engaged in illegal and unconstitutional activities IS actually benefiting both the festival and street performers. Why the festival seems blind to this fact is bewildering to me. Why this festival has been unwilling to act on that information, information that has been available since last June, is what is surprising to me and a host of others.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: Stewart
Date: 22 May 10 - 05:52 PM

Here is a video of Reggie playing his musical saw at NW Folklife in 2007. This was at a free, open, sign-up stage in the Alki Room where CDs were sold. As I recall, there were both children and adults in his audience thoroughly enjoying his free performance. This doesn't look like the kind of guy who would threaten anyone or be a menace to the true spirit of Folklife.

One of my favorite spots at Folklife in recent years has been this free, open stage where anyone could sign up for a 20-min spot. I've listened to some great performers there, many of whom were not scheduled performers. It was a great cross-section of the musical community and open to all. This is what Folklife used to be like as far as I can tell by talking to the old timers (I only arrived in Seattle 14 years ago).

Now, as far as I can tell by the schedule, this one bright spot of the festival will no longer exist (please correct me if I am wrong - I would be happy to learn that I am mistaken). The Alki Room will no longer be available for music on an open free stage, or for CD sales. CD sales are now relegated to an outdoor tent area (we'll see how that works). The Alki Room will now be used as an "EcoActive Zone," whatever that is, and however that relates to "folklife."

So Folklife continues to change, and not altogether for the better. That's too bad.

S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: Deckman
Date: 22 May 10 - 06:22 PM

Stewart ... I can't begin to thank you enough for posting that video ... NOW people can see and hear what Reggie is all about. He's a national treasure, in my opinion. (can you believe this ... this guy actually likes children ... I didn't know that was possible)

The only possible threat I can conjure up would be to the Diston Saw Manufacturing Comapny. bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 22 May 10 - 11:02 PM

And the festival went silent.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 23 May 10 - 01:27 PM

Their silence speaks volumes


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 24 May 10 - 12:52 PM

I won't be happy till I see them do the "perp walk."


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: Deckman
Date: 24 May 10 - 12:55 PM

Reg ... what's a "perp walk" ... inquiring minds want to know? bob


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 24 May 10 - 01:16 PM

From my other thread on this matter "the pot calling the kettle black NW Folk" (It was supposed to be "the pot calling the kettle black NW Folklife".
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What I'd really like to see is those event organizers being evicted from the grounds of this public park using the same method that they used on me last year. Since they are, in fact, in violation of the law in this matter, let's use the fullest extent of the law to have them pay for their actual crimes. Of course, a court awarded settlement of, say, $20,000 would be icing on the cake. ;o)

A musical partner and friend of mine, the late, great songwriter/singer/guitarist Jim Hinde came up with a wonderful song that seems wholly appropriate in this instance. His repeating phrase throughout the song was that he wanted to see all those who would commit such abhorrent acts do the "perp walk."

Perp Walk - A slang term describing the police action of parading an arrested suspect in handcuffs before the media.

Now that the NW Folklife Festival has illegally given me a taste of what it's like, I'd like to return the favor and see all those who are defending the position of enacting and enforcing illegal and unconstitutional restrictions against our First Amendment rights do the perp walk. Oh yeah!


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 24 May 10 - 01:58 PM

"Doin The Perp Walk" by Jim Hinde
Tue May 9, 2006 21:22



World leaders are trying to beseech Bush.
All of my friends are trying to defeat Bush.
I've even seen some signs that tell me to impeach Bush.
That ain't gonna cut it for me.

I won't be happy 'til I see him do the perp walk.
Handcuffs and leg irons swingin' to the perp walk.
Bright orange jumpsuit, stylin' for the perp walk,
On his merry way to cell block D.

He raided my National Treasury.
Invaded a nation's sovereignty.

That's why I won't be happy 'til I see him do the perp walk
Exiting the White House, shuffling to the perp walk.
Live on TV, smirkin' to the perp walk.
That's democracy for me.

Lest we neglect the Bush Administration,
That gang hell bent for world domination.
Live at The Hague for their humiliation.
That is what I'd truly like to see.

'Cause I won't be happy 'til I see 'em do the perp walk.
Rove and Rummy marching to the perp walk.
Colin and Johnny dancing to the perp walk,
Getting finger printed on TV.

They acted preeminently,
Searching for those WMDs.

And now I won't be happy 'til I see 'em do the perp walk.
Condoleezza Rice practicing the perp walk.
Bunker bust Cheney and make him do the perp walk.
That's democracy for me.

But we won't stop there, with this administration.
Set a precedent for future generations
To not be messin' with the Peoples reputation.
And that's the way it oughta be.

If you mess with us you get to do the perp walk.
Don't matter if you're rich you get to do the perp walk.
Especially Richard Nixon should have had to do the perp walk.
It's what we call equality.

That's the hallmark of grass roots liberty,
And U.S. Constitutionality.

So you Supreme Court Judges ain't immune to do the perp walk.
Senators and Congressmen take turns to do the perp walk.
This whole damn government may learn to do the perp walk.
That's democracy for me.

www.jimhinde.com

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And ya know what? The NW Folklife Festival ain't immune to doin' the perp walk either!


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 24 May 10 - 03:15 PM

Look at their proposed rules for street performers on their website

http://www.nwfolklife.org/get-involved/street-performers

Then you can read through the last couple of paragraphs of the 5th page of the actual appellate court case here.

http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2009/06/24/05-35752.pdf

This is a link to the entire court case pdf file but the pertinent info is on the 5th page. It describes the rules that were challenged in court by Michael Berger. If you compare the rules in the court case, which, btw, was won by Michael, to what is being proposed by the NW Folklife Festival you will see some remarkable similarities.

How is it that the festival could have magically chosen some of the exact same rules to enact that the Seattle Center tried to use to restrict street performers. Hmmm, I wonder? Was it because the NW Folklife Festival saw the Seattle Center getting away with using them, so they thought that they perhaps could get away with using them too? What do you think?

Here are some of the restrictions on the NW Folklife Festival site.

The following areas are off limits for street performing:

* Covered walkways
* Within 30 feet of a captive audience
* Washrooms or entrances and exits of washrooms
* Entrances and exits from any facility, door, loading dock, elevator or stairway
* Inside of any building
* The Fisher Green programmed area (the entire block). This space designated as a jamming space.
* In the breezeway between the Alki Room and the Snoqualmie Room
* On the South, East and West sides of the Alki Room
* Handicap access to any location
* Any areas designated by the Street Performer Coordinators as "off limits"

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And below are the rules deemed unconstitutional by the courts. You'll note a disturbing trend being proposed above by the NW Folklife Festival. They are trying to dictate where we can and cannot play on the grounds. The courts have deemed these actions as unconstitutional.

Read the rules below F.5, G.4, and C.5 below. They all pertain to the court having granted our freedom of expression as being unrestricted as to place. Even though the NW Folklife Festival would have us believe otherwise, our freedom of expression cannot be dictated to us by this event. Yet, that is what they are trying to do.

They are in direct violation of the court's decision in this matter and as such in support of denying Americans our First Amendment rights on the grounds of this public park during this national holiday.

vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv

Rule F.1, which requires
"street performers" to obtain a permit before performing at
the Center and to wear a badge displaying that permit while
performing;

Rule F.2, which sets forth the terms and conditions
for acquiring a "Street Performer Permit";

Rule F.3.a,
which bars street performers from "actively solicit[ing] donations";

Rule F.5, which limits street performances to sixteen
designated locations; and

Rule G.4, which prohibits all Seattle Center visitors, other than Center employees and licensed concessionaires, from engaging in "speech activities" within thirty feet of a "captive audience."

Rule C.5 defines a "captive audience" as "any person or group of persons: 1) waiting in line to obtain tickets or food or other goods or services, or to attend any Seattle Center event; 2) attending or being in an audience at any Seattle Center event; or 3) seated in any seating location where foods or beverages are consumed."


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 25 May 10 - 12:11 PM

A friend of mine was in the Market the other day and stopped to talk with me about how they had gone to the offices of the NW Folklife Festival to offer their feelings on this matter. At first, they were met with a questionable response, from the person that they were speaking with, regarding the history that they had with the event. Then, they told me, that someone else in the office recognized them and the tone of how they were treated, after being recognized, changed. I was delighted to hear the festival folks got an earful from someone who has had an even longer history with this event than mine. I was also pleased to hear from them that there may be an attorney available to fight on our side in this effort.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 25 May 10 - 02:30 PM

I thought, that for the sake of clarity and since the poor folks at the NW Folklife Festival apparently don't have access to a law dictionary, I'd quote this definition that I found online.

Unconstitutional - Conflicting with some provision of constitution, most commonly the United States Constitution. When a statute is found to be unconstitutional, it is considered void or as if it had never been, and consequently all rights, contracts, or duties that depend on it are void. Similarly, no one can be punished for having refused obedience to the law once it is found to be unconstitutional.

I think that the above generally covers why I'm so on about this matter but once again, for clarity's sake, they have no right, under law, enforcing the use of unconstitutional rules against our First Amendment right to freedom of expression. Why are they hell bent on punishing those who refuse obedience to their unconstitutional rules?


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 27 May 10 - 01:51 AM

I'm still waiting for that "timely" rebuttal from those at the festival but I understand that it may take them quite a while to formulate just the right BS to try to defend the festival's position on this subject. Meanwhile, while we're all waiting on the edge of our seats for the next installment from those busying themselves with everything but what really matters at this event, let's hear another testimonial, from someone else, who was actually there on the grounds of the Seattle Center during the Northwest Folklife Festival and who can attest, first hand, to exactly what I'm talking about.

The issue is called abuse, abuse of power and abuse of authority to verbally browbeat, threaten, intimidate, harass, demoralize and demonize us as we are engaged in exercising our First Amendment rights on the grounds of this "public" park during this "free" event on Memorial Day weekend.

The following is from a post on facebook where I am also posting about this issue. If you'd care to, feel free to post your thoughts about this matter there as well. Here's the link to my page.

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=581296895

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MY ORIGINAL LETTER REGARDING FOLKLIFE/CONSTITUTION May 2005:

February 25, 2005
From: Michael and Miriam FitzPatrick

LETTER IN SUPPORT OF MIKE BERGER and STREET PERFORMING in general (at Seattle Center and elsewhere)
To Whom This May Concern...

We have been street performing in the Seattle area for: 18 years (Michael), and 11 years (Miriam) – mostly at the Pike Place Market, but also at fairs and festivals, as well as at Westlake Park and Seattle Center. The two of us have been both musical and balloon-art performers - mostly balloon twisting in recent years. Like other street performers, we NEVER charge for our creations, though we have a sign that says: "Donations are encouraged, BUT NOT REQUIRED" and have a SUGGESTED "donation" range.

This brings us to our first point: the reason the suggested amount is on our sign is because, if it is not specified, we are repeatedly asked "how much" they are, thus we have to recite a spiel that denotes exactly the same thing the sign says. Most folks really haven't a clue, otherwise, as to what is an appropriate "tip". No one is required to give us a penny and we don't ever ask for it. We, in fact, give a tremendous number of them away for NO donation at any given venue. (We were even tipped a salmon once).

Our question is this: Since when should someone have to submit to fees and restrictive regulations - on either part - to GIVE something away or RECEIVE it? Why should we, as performers (and, yes, we give the kids a "show" as we create their balloon animals,) be enjoined from having a sign such as we have described, while it is clearly okay to verbally say the same thing (and should be).
This is exactly what Seattle Center is doing – forcing a certain class of American citizens to submit to unconstitutional requirements (including photo ID) because they simply are GIVING SOMETHING AWAY! To see how far enforcement of such regulations can get out of hand, let me provide an example or two from Seattle Center, during the annual Folklife Festival last year:

I (Michael) first performed at Folklife 18 years ago (doing music). Interestingly, the festival itself is dependent ENTIRELY on VOLUNTEER performers. That's right, the musicians and dancers are all GIVING THEIR ENTERTAINMENT TALENTS AWAY (to the benefit of Folklife). Yet last year, for the first time in memory, we were enjoined by Seattle Center Security from having that simple little sign that says "... donations are encouraged but not required."
While surrounded by giggling, happy children for whom we were making balloon creations, a Seattle Center Security officer walked up and immediately, and very loudly, began to berate us for our sign and began loudly threatening to kick us out or have us ARRESTED for trespassing!

We were stunned and taken aback, but I (Michael) calmly asked him if he and I could step back from our TV tray and talk about it (while my wife kept the children distracted) because, I said, "... there are children here." He immediately, loudly, and with a stunning amount of anger, yelled. "I don't care if there ARE children here!..." and continued to loudly threaten us.

The parents of the kids appeared completely shocked (like us) and, after we took our sign down, and the security officer left, they expressed their disgust at how it was handled. The situation there quickly went from a moment of sublime joy, to one of plain old meanness on Seattle Center's part. And here we were, on taxpayer-owned property!

In another instance, a Folklife volunteer (in "charge" of street performers), gleefully told us that morning that they had forced a young, pre-teen girl to take a sign out of her violin case that said something like "working my way to music camp". If any of you reading this letter have ever been to Folklife, you know that there are literally hundreds of performers "jamming" together throughout Seattle Center grounds - simply for the FUN of it.

To force this little girl to remove her "music camp" sign meant no more tips that day, since she then looked like any other musician in the throngs of people playing for fun alone. We felt very sad for that little girl, especially since it was completely unnecessary. My guess is, if she was dependent on tips from Folklife, she never made it to music camp.

In summary, there should be no regulations of street performers beyond public safety issues. It should STILL be Constitutional (right) to give something away, and to receive a "gift" from an appreciative citizen, especially since it all occurs on PUBLIC PROPERTY. Why Seattle Center and Folklife continue to object so strenuously to any kind of "donation" sign is beyond me. In fact, the very next day they forced us to remove another, revised, sign that simply said: "Thank You for your Donations" - we were not even allowed to say thank you!

To compound our particular problem, standing directly across from where we have twisted balloons year-after-year, were several food booths giving away free samples. When our "donations" sign was forcefully removed, people started treating us like we were another free-sample booth, and tips dropped to less than HALF of what we would normally earn on a sunny, festival day.
We survive on this income source by working hard - 'till our fingers, literally, ache. We also spend well over $100 on balloons for a three-day festival like Folklife. For the first time in 18 years, however, it appears now we can no longer afford to work at Folklife if this policy is upheld.

Beyond the financial considerations, is the extreme negativity employed by the "enforcers" in what should be a joyful event for everyone. One more thing: Beyond the financial impact, for someone dependent on JOY in the performance of their JOB, to have something like this happen is EXTREMELY depressing. It becomes VERY hard to emotionally recover from such public berating and threats, and to get back to dispensing JOY to the children. This exacerbates an already disheartening situation, and cannot possibly be necessary for the "protection" of the public interest. Whether someone gives away a balloon kitty, or a song, it should be a Constitutionally-protected act to GIVE and RECEIVE anything not harmful to the general public.

I hope you will view this dispute from not only a Constitutional standpoint, but also in light of how such unneeded regulations can result in patently-unnecessary harassment by some authority figures. Seattle deserves better, America deserves better, and these artists deserve better.

Respectfully. Michael and Miriam FitzPatrick

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Michael F., thanks for that post! It really puts into perspective, as to just how long we've had to endure their incessant abuse, at the hands of their Folk Nazi security force. When will their abuse stop? Maybe when we kick everyone of them, involved with perpetuating this charade of propriety, out! That's right, I want them all gone. Let's start over from scratch and put this event back in the hands of those who do all of the work to actually make it happen, the entertainment folk who started it.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 27 May 10 - 08:55 AM

BTW, lest anyone would think that Michael's post is merely the disgruntled rant of yet another street performer against the "benevolent" efforts of this event, let me introduce that Michael's other gig is that he also produces one of the two Pike Place Market news papers. He has been producing his periodical, that serves the Pike Place Market community in Seattle, for many years. Beyond being an independent journalist/reporter/photographer, he has also produced a local television documentary video about the street performers. This guy is no mere balloonatic twister of air filled latex tubes.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: Deckman
Date: 27 May 10 - 09:52 AM

MY GAWD REGGIE ... "no mere balloonatic twister of air filled latex tubes" .... how do you come up with this stuff! bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 27 May 10 - 12:39 PM

Well Bob, since you asked, here's the brief story. It was about 1979, when we, my group of busking buddies and I, aka the Buzzards, were hangin' 'round The Mall in Santa Cruz. It was the place to be if you, like us, were into doing what we were in that area, street performing. With no hope of offering our unique brand of voodoo/acid/blurgrass/oldtimey/folk/blues/fusion to a wholly nonexistent audience, I pulled out something that I had been wanting to do for a while. That, was inflating my six foot weather balloon.

Since I had only my lungs for completing the task, I wasted no time in huffin' and a puffin' until I had the orb about two thirds full. At about four feet in diameter I began to notice a curious side effect from using my lung power to accomplish this feat. I began to feel kind of giddy and lightheaded. The balloon was beginning to get some notice from my band mates and those few folks passing by in the area. My state of hyperventilation prompted me to reflect openly on such matters related to the twisting and tying of balloons and a great many bad puns followed. It was during that comical moment that the word "balloonatic" popped out. At that time, I had already been offering balloons to children that had accompanied their adult counterparts to our performances.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: Deckman
Date: 27 May 10 - 12:58 PM

Has your bubble burst yet?


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 28 May 10 - 06:03 PM

Okay Bob, drop the weather balloon and step away from the puns SLOWLY!


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: Deckman
Date: 28 May 10 - 07:28 PM

Reg .... Just to remind you ... I am of Finnish heritage. And all Nordic peoples KNOW that Finns control the weather. It's true, it's just one of our natural skills.

Early on, last year, when I heard how you were so badly treated by the Northwest Folk Police, I knew that you were due an APOLOGY. When it recently became clear to me that you were NOT going to get your just deserts, I decided to rain on their parade!

In case you don't live in the Seattle area ... so far it's rained 1.5 inches in the last 13 hours.

Don't ever piss ME off! bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 29 May 10 - 02:18 PM

'It is raining here also'

Funny I was just thinking of the wording of a sign to put up to disuade folks from dumping their pick-nick rubbish at a local beauty spot.

It was on the lines of:

If you do decide to do this, rather than use the bins provided, there is unlikely to be an immediate penalty imposed upon you, as there is no one policing this area. However, if you should decide at this point to do what you know to be wrong - please remember this moment the next time a bad thing happens to you and you ask your self - why me?


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: Deckman
Date: 29 May 10 - 03:15 PM

I like that ... but it might be briefer and more powerful in Finnish! bob


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 30 May 10 - 08:18 AM

Hey Bob,

Could ya throw in some lightning strikes into the mix, preferably near the NW Folklife Festival offices? A tornado or two would do nicely too. I understand that they can be pinpointed to strike very small targets. I'm imagining the scene from the Wizard of Oz. Perhaps you could drop a house on them. It worked on the Wicked Witch of the East. Why not try the same thing on the wicked Folklife Festival of the Northwest?


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: Deckman
Date: 30 May 10 - 08:40 AM

REG ... coming right up! By the way ... did you risk public exposure by going down there yesterday? How is jail food these days? bob


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 30 May 10 - 11:33 AM

You did such a thorough job of raining on their parade (btw, thanks for that) that I opted to find shelter from the rain underneath the "covered walkways" at Pike Place. When I saw the sunrise being all sunny this morning, I thought you lost your touch but I see you merely held off until noon to drop the wet stuff, big time, on their event. Way to fake 'em out! The entire weekend's wet! I had no idea you were so potent in your weatherizing. I think their gonna need an ark.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: Deckman
Date: 30 May 10 - 09:38 PM

WELL ... I enjoyed the Northwest Folklife Festival today ... LIKE NEVER BEFORE ... it was the best yet ...

Friends flew down from Alaska and rented hotel rooms two blocks from the center grounds. They also reserved a conference room in the hotel. I arranged for a mini-hoot ... AND IT WAS SWELL. The best of the Seattle folkies came in and we sang, traded songs, and carried on for over two hours.

At one point I counted 23 people trading ballads, duets, silly songs, murder ballads, fiddle tunes, stories, much laughter. This was what the early days of the Folklife Festival was like. Great musicians brought together by a mutual love of, and respect for, this wonderful music.

And ... I didn't have to get closer than two blocks to the Center grounds ... we evaded the drummers and the festival police completly.

Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: artbrooks
Date: 31 May 10 - 01:12 AM

A bit cold and wet - typical Seattle spring weekend. Crowds manageable, drumming confined physically and acoustically to the far end of the lawn by the exhibition hall, a lot of fine musicians (including many of the buskers) and good dancing. Police presence unobtrusive. Connected with many old friends. Back to Albuquerque Monday morning.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 31 May 10 - 10:40 AM

Memorial Day is a day that we, as a nation, have set aside as a day to remember those who have sacrificed their lives to secure our freedoms. The Northwest Folklife Festival is engaged in a fascist action against our First Amendment freedoms. Our First Amendment freedoms are protected rights. The Northwest Folklife Festival is shamelessly restricting our right to Freedom of Expression on the grounds of the 80 acre public park, the Seattle Center, during this "free" event. In so doing, they disgrace the memory of every brave American who has ever fought and died to protect our precious freedoms. This event sickens me!


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: artbrooks
Date: 31 May 10 - 10:58 AM

You a vet, Reggie?


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: ollaimh
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 02:28 PM

in reference to the vancouver city fest, yes i meant the vancouver city fest not the vancouver folk fest. the "crowd" who ran city fest were never able to see beyond their own "crowd".

after years out there i realized this is something they casn't do--see beyond their own crowd. they can't hear the words of those out side thier crowd and they can't understand even why the "others" are there. i wish i had fifty bucks for every time a member of the vancouver folk ss, who mostly were the organizers of city fest, asked me"what are you doing here"?. this nafter performing for years at folk festivals and even when not blackballed on their stages.

that is a middle class mostly anglo crowd who think they are righteous and entitled to lead folk. if they hear any dissent--and they are usually deaf to it, they can't understand why you are there.none of them that i eveb met have any genuine personal connection to a folk culture, so its a game to them.

not dissimilar to the folk life organizers, they have no personal link to any genuine folk tradition and so its an issue of bureaucratic organization. folk and roots issues don't enter their heads. getting past those attitudes of entitlement takes a lot of effort and skill. however most ethnic musicians don't bother , just move on. working class travellers are happy and gratefull when they bhave a good scene to participate in but as bill morrissey said

"in all my travels, this one thing i've found
the laws they are not made for the man from outs town"

its despicable that folk life used police to threaten buskers selling their own goods and its equally despicable that they now threaten them with reports to the irs,but that's definatley the signal its time to move on.

wouldn't it be nice if these middle class people could hear others,but they don't and they have shown no sign of learning


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: Deckman
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 02:34 PM

I find the previous comments very interesting and reflective of what I'm hearing more and more from the folk musicians. There are increasing numbers of smaller "folk festivals" springing up all over the Northwest now. This is likely in reaction to the mess that goes on at the Seattle Center grounds. bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 02:54 PM

I did enjoy the buskers I saw..and obviously the crowds did too..and these were crowds that were 1/3 the size of crowds on sunny days..and still the major thoroughfares were reduced in size by sometimes 80%..letting just a squeezehole for people to get through. That is the problem and it is a big one.

I did enjoy the Native American young drummers, the young Russian women, the child prodigies etc. I do like them but for me it is such a serious safety issue when they clog the major traffic areas...when they are off the major routes I am fine with it and enjoy it. I am sure there is some compromise based on the crowds, the traffic flow, safety of young children who are performing and could get crushed in a big crowd...mg


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 15 Jun 10 - 08:42 PM

This story gets even more twisted. I spoke to my friend, who chose to NOT play Folklife 2010, after reading the info offered to him from the event. I wanted to mention to him that I was accused by Daniel A., the Folklife rep who called me, of offering bad or skewed advice.

On the phone, Daniel said, among other things, that I had corrupted my friend's mind with my false information and that it was my fault that he had not attended the event this year. Upon hearing this, my friend quickly pointed out, that nothing that I said had altered his decision in the least and that it was his decision alone. He had made up his own mind on the matter, after he perused the info given to him by Folklife.

Hearing this news from him was something of a vindication for me. It also made me think that Daniel merely called me to try and get me to stop posting publicly about what was going on at Folklife. Perhaps he was a tool of Molly, the marketing director.

I see that neither of them have offered even a single post addressing the matter beyond their PR and false accusations via the phone. I'm not surprised. To come clean publicly would give the event a huge black eye. To do so right before the event was scheduled to happen may have adversely affected attendance and could have created even more public outcry. Many more supporters would likely walk away from their support of the event, if Folklife actually admitted their guilt in the matters I've brought to light.

I did invite Daniel A. to post his thoughts online in an email to me. He was spouting so much BS on the phone that I wanted to have the chance to take on his points one at a time. It's been two weeks since the close of the event and not a word has been offered by either Daniel or Molly, so much for the timely response of this event's representatives.

"...but I will make an effort to answer anyone in a reasonable amount of time... Molly Haas"

I did go down to play at Folklife on Monday, Memorial Day, once the weather cleared.

A stage manager from the nearby choir courtyard stage at Folklife, near where I played last year, by the Mercer entrance, got his panties all twisted in a knot because he said that I was too loud. He came up to me, while I was in the middle of a song, and stuck his face about one foot away from my head as I was playing and just stood there, bent over, in my face until I ended my song. If I had done the same thing that he did to me, to one of the performers on his stage, I would have been booted out of this event faster than you can say folk music. Yet, this is how these supposed supporters of folk music treat actual folk musicians, with total disrespect.

His immediate confrontational attitude was followed by him announcing his name (which I forgot, Jim something I think) his festival title, stage manager and a ridiculous request. He asked me if I could turn my guitar away from the entrance to his courtyard venue and face it in the direction of the main part of the event. He then indicated that he had 100 voices on stage. His request was prompted by the fact that he thought that my guitar was bleeding into his venue's listening space.

His rudeness prompted me to reply, "I believe you also have an electric piano on stage as well. I'm, at least, 100 feet away from the entrance to your venue. You're trying to tell me that my single voice and acoustic guitar is disturbing your 100 voices on stage?" Then I added, "By the way, what you're doing in there is bleeding into my set out here. I'll tell you what. If you can keep it down in there, I'll do what I can to keep it down out here. That's called compromise." Then he reached out his hand, as if he wanted to shake mine, but instead of shaking my hand, he merely squeezed my hand very tightly for far too long and he said, "Be a man." What the hell does that mean?

To top it off, I find out from some friends of mine, who were there last year when I was approached the event's security staff, that a group of three musicians were playing (this year) in exactly the same location where I played (last year) and no one kicked them out for playing there either. Wasupwidat? I also heard that Folklife's offensive reactions to street performers was far less than it was in previous years. It was probably due to my many posts online, at various sites on the web, criticizing the event for their unconstitutional rules. Though, I still heard about some street performers who were harassed.

That's the latest from the trenches.

Sawwwwwwwwwwwwyalater, Reg vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: ollaimh
Date: 03 Jul 10 - 09:47 PM

well iyts good the folk fascists have let up a little.

i envy americans for the constitution thast actually provides rights to the disenfranchised on occasion. the canadian constitution provides very little real protection for the poor and disenfranchised.

i must say i am disapointed by folk life staff. people like that get thinking they are the festival and forget the musicians are. after they have been aroubnf for a few years they think they are the stars unlesss they make an attempt to keep it real--something not done much now.

i used to 0pay for my tripr to folklife by busking. and i performered as well untill they started hassling the buskers.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: ollaimh
Date: 24 Jul 10 - 01:41 PM

well i hope the folk life mamagers learn something . a lot of the buskers have been the performers over they years and if they hassle the buskers they turn off performers.

they really should apologize, and publiclly but they are obviously such sleaze they will sit in the office and try to pick of vunerable musicians one by one.

i realy thought sending the police to threaten performers who were out busking with criminal charges was as despicable a conduct as i have ever seen at a festival--probably totally illegal as well if reggies postings about the court decisions are accurate-- and i believe they are. so the folk life frestival is run by law breakers happy to use illegal tactics aqs long as no one sues.

right wing fascist brinkmanship at its worst


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: ollaimh
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 09:45 PM

i re read this issue and remain amazed the folklife reps just disappeared when faced with the facts. not only were they abusive in the present situation how do folk people justify threatening to criminally charge performers who go oyt busking to pay for the trip?

they rep4atedly threatened to charge me criminally for selling my tapes. like thats a threat to peace orde and good government. and as i said i did sign up one year to sell through tower rocords and they didn't pay me for the twenty fibe tapes they sold. i would sold twice that directly and cheaper to the people but you have to bow down to the corporate totalitarians if you want to play.

shame shame shame on you folk ife scum for ruining a great festival with your imperious and wicked threats and demands. its time you paid the musicians . you are now the same as any profit based festival, except your profits are your jobs at folklife.

i really envy the us constitution. in canada you just have to move on when the cops and bureaucrats decide you are a threat to order. folk life people should be ashamed to violate that fine constitution.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: reggie miles
Date: 08 Jan 11 - 12:29 AM

Well, here it is a new year, eight months after my original post. I wanted to take a look at all of the hard work that this event's managers have been doing to reform their rules and regulations, restricting the constitutional freedoms of Americans on this, one of the nation's national holidays, where we remember the sacrifices made by those who have protected our rights and freedoms in this country. So, I took a glance at the newly redesigned website that the NW Folklife event has worked so diligently at posting for the 2011 festival.

Guess what I found? This event has not done a single solitary thing to align their rules with those of expressed in our Constitution regarding our right to freedom of expression on public property. Nor is this event in compliance with the ruling of 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and their decision regarding the same issue. The Court has already made plain their decision regarding commercial interests restricting our freedom of expression and according to the Court, street performing is a protected right. This event has no right to support regulations that restrict our First Amendment rights.

NW F_ _ _klife is guilty of violating our freedoms, on Memorial Day weekend, by acting to illegally enforce unconstitutional restrictions to our freedoms, shredding our constitutional rights like so much confetti and mocking the very foundation of our great nation. Furthermore, they disgrace the sacrifices made by every American who has ever had to stand up to defend our freedoms and those who have had to lay down their lives for our freedoms. That's what truly sickens me about this event, that they so callously ignore those sacrifices, while they continue to deny Americans our constitutionally protected rights.


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 08 Jan 11 - 12:34 PM

Disgraceful, should fests even be allowed to use the word 'folk' at all. But this is a sign I fear of things to come here in the UK, where Folk Fests are increasingly being run by big business events orgs. Where open mike tents/areas are dying out, huge entry prices, often no concessions, only the most expensive food outlets inside, rude marshalling (one last year checked my wrist band going into AND coming out of the loo!) It really is heading this way and in many cases already here. I for one will be boycotting all such fests in 2011


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Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
From: ollaimh
Date: 08 Jan 11 - 02:15 PM

it's really disgusting that folklife hasn't responded to the violations of the constitutional rights of the musicians and the public.

i perfromed there for seven years . i would send them back my certificates of appreciation if they hadn't gone up on a house fire. i\ll never perform there again, unless of course they pay compensation to the musicians whose legal and constitutional rights they have violated and then rescind the ciolations and of course apologize.

you who manage folk life are sleezy totalitarian scum.

SHAME SHAME SHAME


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