Article from AfricaTownSEA on weSEAyou rooftop events at Liberty Bank Building
The Liberty Bank Building serves as a catalyst for those seeking to bring the Central District's music scene back to life.
It only took one trip to the Liberty Bank Building rooftop for filmmaker, culture curator, and Liberty Bank Building resident Georgio Brown to envision a weekly summer series of live music events on the rooftop.
"Once I went up on the roof and surveyed the Central District and took in the view I just felt like what was needed was a showcase platform for talented people from Seattle to perform new music in the Central District, to literally bring music back to the CD and continue the rich history and culture of the neighborhood. " said Brown
For those that don't know, the Central District of Seattle has a very long history of being a hot bed of music and musicians. The Central District in the 40's and 50's was full of jazz clubs and speakeasies where you could find some of the nations top jazz and blues performers of the time. The Central District is also where Jimi Hendrix, Quincy Jones, and even Ray Charles go their early starts in their epic musical careers.
For Brown there was simply no better venue than the rooftop of the iconic Liberty Bank Building where the original Liberty Bank once stood. Liberty Bank, which opened its doors in 1968, was the very first African American owned bank West of the Mississippi River.
Brown quickly assembled his film crew colleagues from the Coolout Network in which he is an owner and they partnered with KZ Music Media and Critical Sun Recordings to produce the WeSeaYou live music series and podcast occurring every Thursday night on the LBB rooftop. Along with support from Stealth Audio Puget Sound and Revolution Staging's para technicians, the first show was two weeks ago and featured the Marshall Law Band and that was followed up last Thursday with a performance by the hip-hop artist I Am Chamel.
The WeSeaYou series has thus far launched with positive feedback from attendees and community members alike. What is also getting great reviews is the food at WeSeaYou which consists of a medley of soul food fusion dishes crafted by Black-owned caterers Chef Bless It and FoodArt. There have been a few complaints regarding volume, however, the event is aligned with all city ordinances regarding amplified sound.
WeSeaYou and events like it that occur in the CD are just another indicator that the area's African American community still very much considers the Central District their historic and cultural home. This sentiment was also evident in the turnout for Bubblin Brown Sugar and Umoja Fest this year. Gentrification might have displaced the people but has not dislodged the love for the Central District.
The opening of the Liberty Bank Building back in March signaled a return for some former Central District residents that had been displaced over the past few decades due to systemic gentrification. Ironically, Brown was one of those who years ago called the Central District home and was displaced but now has returned to living back in the CD and calls the Liberty Bank Building home.
Although African American's can trace their history in the Central District back nearly 140 years ago when Black pioneer and businessman, William Grose purchased 12 acres of land in what is now the Central District from Henry Yesler, the Central District;'s Black population peaked at 84% in the 1950's - 1980,s when during the same time Seattle was still hanging onto the remnants of racist housing covenants and redlining policies that kept the Emerald City's Black population tightly bound into a few neighborhoods. In the 90's is when systemic gentrification policies began to take hold and today the Black population of the Central District is estimated to be less than 20%.
The Liberty Bank Building is just the first of several planned affordable housing developments on the horizon for Africatown Community Land Trust (ACLT) which developed the Liberty Bank Building and seeks to fight the rampant gentrification in the neighborhood head on by acquiring land in the Central District and developing affordable housing targeting those who have been displaced.
Next up on the horizon for ACLT is the Africatown Plaza development which will have up to 138 affordable housing units as well as commercial retail space and is slated to break ground early next year just across the street from the Liberty Bank Building on 24th and Spring.
Next Thursday, WeSeaYou will host iconic Seattle area music producer and DJ, Roc Phizzle and in the following weeks Fysah and Shaina Shepherd. According to Brown, the WeSeaYou series is all about family fun and community fellowship over great local music.
"The CD is historically a neighborhood where people come together and make music. WeSeaYou is all about giving people a chance to see the Central District as they have not seen before (from the Liberty Bank Building rooftop) listen to music and be inspired" said Brown "We invite the community to come and be part of this musical experience".
The WeSeaYou series ends on September 12th and next up for Brown is the release of his latest documentary entitled "Coolout Fam For Life" in November in celebration of Hip Hop History Month. In Coolout Fam For Life, Brown recounts his life in Seattle in the early 1990's when he moved to the Emerald City from New York detailing the life and culture that he encountered in the Central District and South Seattle.
The Rooftop Live Music Series starts at 7:30 PM and ends promptly at 9:45 PM - Admission is free and the public especially residents in the Central District are encouraged to attend. Non building residents need to be on the roof by 8pm.
Thursday August 29, 2019
Roc Phizzle & Friends
Thursday September 5, 2019
Thursday September 12, 2019