The Everett Music Initiative team, (from left) Ryan Crowther, Nate Feaster and Michael Hannon. (Everett Music Initiative)

The Everett Music Initiative team, (from left) Ryan Crowther, Nate Feaster and Michael Hannon. (Everett Music Initiative)

As Everett Music Initiative turns 10, downtown no longer a ‘ghost town’

The group will celebrate its birthday Thursday night with a party to kick off the eighth Fisherman’s Village Music Fest.

EVERETT — When Ryan Crowther moved to Everett in 2012, the lack of night life and live entertainment in the city surprised him.

He was tired of driving to Seattle or Bellingham to see shows when there was ample interest and opportunity to host them locally. At the time, Crowther was working for Economic Alliance Snohomish County.

“I kept hearing words like ‘community vitality’ and ‘livability’ in that job,’” he said. “At the time, I wondered, ‘Why, when you walk downtown on a Saturday night at 9:45 does it feel like a ghost town?’”

Crowther was inspired to change that. He founded the Everett Music Initiative with a mission to make the local music scene come alive. It took off, bringing crowds of over 100 to shows. In 2014, EMI launched its flagship event: the Fisherman’s Village Music Fest.

Over 400 events and 3,000 artists later, EMI is celebrating its 10th birthday in the way it does best: live music.

The eighth Fisherman’s Village Music Fest will open 7 p.m. Thursday night at the Historic Everett Theatre. Seattle-based indie singer/songwriter, Tilson XOXO will play first, followed by Shaina Shepherd and Deep Sea Diver, also of Seattle.

Red and black balloons will fill the theatre as a “super goth-y” decoration, Crowther said. The party will serve as a special thank you to the EMI board and crew of more than 60 volunteers who make the festival possible.

Volunteers and staff of the Everett Music Initiative. (Everett Music Initiative)

Volunteers and staff of the Everett Music Initiative. (Everett Music Initiative)

In honor of EMI’s decade-long existence, The Daily Herald sat down with some key team members to learn about their roles, and to see what they’re most excited about this year:

Maggie Burton

Age: 32

Role: Night Market coordinator

Looking forward to seeing: Lavender Country

Burton is the newest member of the EMI team. She got involved with the group about a month ago to help bring art and culture to Everett.

“I do not like driving out to Seattle for shows,” she said, “because you always end up getting home so late. I get so stoked when there’s cool bands so close to my house.”

Kailey Denning

Age: 23

Role: Event coordinator

Looking forward to seeing: Shaina Shepherd and Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears

Denning got involved with EMI last year. She had experience working in the live music industry, she said, so she jumped at the opportunity when she saw EMI was looking for help.

Jonny Elia

Age: 30

Role: Beer garden/bar manager

Looking forward to seeing: Ural Thomas & The Pain

Elia met Crowther in 2014. A longtime Everett resident, he got involved in EMI to make night life happen in Everett.

This year, Elia said three custom cocktails will be served at the festival: the Everett Sea Breeze, the Fisherman’s Friend and the El Marino Loco.

Nate Feaster

Age: 28

Role: Jack (and master) of all trades

Looking forward to seeing: French Cassettes

This is Feaster’s fifth year working with the EMI team.

“I hit up EMI when I was living in Lynnwood,” he said. “I fell in love with shows and wanted to make my own shows.”

Kristen Keenan

Age: 45

Role: Night Market coordinator

Looking forward to seeing: Digable Planets

Keenan founded the Everett Makers Market in 2015. She and Crowther joined forces to create a free option for those who don’t buy tickets to the festival. This year’s Night Market will offer vendors, food trucks and a beer garden.

“It’s a match made in heaven when you have live music and artisan makers come together,” Keenan said. “That’s my thing — bringing artists to artists.”

Elyse “Public Transport Queen” Lankford

Age: 25

Role: Artist relations, booking and marketing

Looking forward to seeing: Bread Pilot and Dean Johnson

Lankford fell in love with the festival in 2016 as a teenager, she said, because of its affordable ticket prices and walkability. She joined the organizing crew in 2021.

“It’s nice to be able to tap into this festival that I’m very fond of,” she said. “It’s such an awesome community feeling.”

Sarah Westby

Age: 26

Role: Graphic designer

Looking forward to seeing: Deep Sea Diver and Death Valley Girls

“I moved here during the pandemic when there really wasn’t much to do in Everett,” she said. “This was a great opportunity to figure out what was going on in the local arts scene.”

Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486; edennis@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @reporterellen.

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