Words by Gemma Alexander
Photos by AJ Dent
Web developers worked at laptops in a booth just inside the door making last minute tweaks to the Gigs4U website displayed nearby as people trickled into The Stables to celebrate the site’s launch on Wednesday night. The party also commemorated the organization’s anniversary and raised money for the MAY Foundation, which brings music programs into under-served schools.
A rotating cast took the stage, playing jazz standards while folks mingled. Champagne Sunday reminded us all why we were there with characteristic humor, “You have given us musicians an audience – who don’t even want us! And we have turned that into a loving relationship.”
Founder Ed Beeson explains, “Gigs4U books busker-format shows in public spaces. It’s wonderful for musicians. Not only are they gigging at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, when they don’t typically have shows or students, but they are also making good money.”
Clients like SeaTac Airport pay around $25/hour on top of audience donations and merchandise sales. Artists also reach audiences who may never attend a club show. Gigs4U performers have even been hired for private gigs while playing SeaTac.
Public-space challenges like volume restrictions and family-friendly requirements can limit opportunities for rappers and punk bands, but Beeson says they are determined to expand their roster to reflect the full diversity of local music.
Artists playing the launch party ranged from local favorites Mark Pickerel and The Banner Days to rogue violinist Geoffrey Castle and newer performers like Raven Zoe, who says her second-ever performance was with Gigs4U two years ago. Like others at the party, she says Gigs4U now secures between 25 and 50 percent her shows, and those shows tend to be more profitable than traditional gigs.