R.E.M., Sonic Youth, the Indigo Girls and a rare appearance by Talking Heads offshoot the Tom Tom Club will lead an eclectic list of more than 2,000 artists at this weekend's 29th annual Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle.
Other musical performers at the Friday-Monday event which actually kicks off Thursday night (Sept. 2), with a performance by R.E.M. include reggae legend Jimmy Cliff; political folk singer Billy Bragg and the Blokes; blues-rapper Everlast; swing-band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy; rockers Pavement, Rocket From the Crypt, Violent Femmes, Bis, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Robyn Hitchcock and the Fastbacks; Japanese electro-pop band Cibo Matto; and Senegalese singer Baaba Maal. The festival also will feature a showcase by Indiegrrl, a network of female indie artists, as well as a 2 1/2-hour Bach festival.
Kurt Bloch, guitarist for the Pacific Northwest band the Fastbacks and a frequent Bumbershoot attendee, said the festival has grown in its musical diversity over its nearly three decades.
"There's a lot more rock and things that seem to be up my alley," said Bloch, whose band will release its 15th album, The Day That Didn't Exist, Oct. 5.
Bumbershoot aims to cast as wide a net as possible, according to Chris Porter, program manager at One Reel, a nonprofit organization organizing and promoting the festival.
"We really try to have everybody and the kitchen sink," he said, noting two of the festival's intentions: to present music for every age and sensibility, and to introduce fans who come for the bigger acts to some new musical discoveries.
Another hallmark of the event, Porter said, is a unique juxtapositions of seemingly disparate styles. Last year, country veteran Buck Owens was paired with grunge-rockers Screaming Trees. This year's festival features a joint appearance by avant-garde rockers Sonic Youth and Moroccan pipes-and-drums ensemble the Master Musicians of Jajouka.
Besides music, Bumbershoot will include the nonstop, four-day One Reel Film Festival, live theater, children's activities, performance artists, comedy acts, and the annual BumberSlam poetry event. For a complete list and schedule, go to the Bumbershoot website (www.bumbershoot.org).