Neither Chrisy Riddle nor Zac Fairbanks expected this kind of response. In mid-April, the Empyrean owner and her sound-man-slash-shot-slinger sat down to brainstorm their dream summer-concert bill. They wanted to not be reined in by anything -- guarantee money they couldn't afford, tour schedules that wouldn't allow a swing through Spokane -- so they made their list long and a little absurd. They expected to make a ton of calls and only get a couple of takers.
Tempering the anything-goes attitude with a year of venue-owner pragmatism, Riddle figured the experiment was good for a handful of bands. She blocked out a day in August, hoping to pull five. She had already asked ex-pats and long-time Spokane favorites like Cyrus Fell Down and the Globes, and they'd accepted. Other bands followed. By May, it was looking big enough to warrant blocking off the street, so Riddle went about trying to figure out how to do that. "I had to learn a lot," she says. (Permits and such.)
By the time school got out (she's a creative writing teacher at CV by day), more people had signed on: bands like Pickwick -- "We love them so much!" Riddle says -- and the Beautiful Clarks, whom Riddle and the Empyrean crew met through the Maldives, a stellar alt-country band.
At some point, the oddest thing happened. "People started calling us," says Riddle. Not only were her dream bands not turning her down, but other bands were asking onto the bill. "When Slowly We Survive called," Riddle recalls, "we were like, 'Let's just block out two days.'"
The result is 26 bands (10 from out of town, another two or three locals you've probably never heard), two poets, two between-set DJs, food, crafts, beer, wine-tasting and a well-used whiteboard Riddle and Fairbanks used for brainstorming. The board bears a scrawl of bands, lineups -- now mostly locked in -- and erasure marks from nearly constant rejiggering. "It's been crazy," says Riddle. "I had to buy dry-erase markers for this thing."
The Madison Street Fair runs Saturday and Sunday.
Space Age Fur 1:45-2:30 pm
Don't Tell Sophie 3-3:45 pm
Junk Face 4:15-5 pm
Slowly We Survive 5:30-6:15 pm
Pickwick 6:45-7:30 pm
Cyrus Fell Down 8-9 pm
Ice Age Cobra 9:30-10:30 pm
Oil of Angels 11 pm-midnight
DJ Peter Parker between sets
M(o)usa 1-1:40 pm
Joel Smith & amp; Hands of Plenty
Karli Fairbanks & amp; the Pretty Flowers
The Beautiful Clarks 4:10-4:55 pm
The Lonely H 6:20-7:05 pm
The Globes 7:25-8:25 pm
Shim 8:45-10 pm
Lord Kelvin 3-3:45 pm
Merrick Diaries 4:30-5:15 pm
Meteorites Attack 5:45-6:30 pm
Hallelujah Soul Explosion 7:15-8:15 pm
Monuments 8:45-9:45 pm
DJ Orange between sets
B-Radicals 1:15-2 pm
Go Man Gos 2:20-3:05 pm
Finn Riggins 3:25-4:10 pm
Spoken-word poetry 4:10-4:50 pm
Groove Patrol 5:15-6:15 pm
James Pants 6:30-7:30 pm
Locke 7:45-8:45 pm
Two-day passes: $14; $16, at the gate. Single-day passes: $9; $12, at the gate. Presale tickets are available now at Empyrean. Call 838-9819.