Many people impact our community, but I finally identified someone who works daily on Fremont's culture.
Brent McCrossen chose Seattle five years ago, when he decided to leave his beloved hometown of New Orleans and discover new places to expand his experience. However, he found his way to Fremont like most of us - by accident.
"I love people. I love inviting people to come together," he said.
Brian DeWade knew this about his friend and, three years ago, approached him about forming a business partnership they call Interface Booking & Management.
Helping a thriving culture
As a musician, Brent spent his life helping artists with posters, contacts and bookings. He met Brian at a Mardi Gras party he organized from his contacts and his experience growing up in New Orleans. Brent hadn't considered doing such things as a business, but it sounded right - especially the part about getting paid.
He believes nightlife "helps the culture thrive. Arts and entertainment are part of that [culture]," he explained. "It's the magic."
The right band, the right atmosphere with people who want to be there, creates instant community. Brent creates that magic at Fremont clubs Nectar and High Dive.
Interface does "talent buying" - the industry term for "booking music" - for these two clubs, for now. In scheduling, sometimes months out, Brent and Brian follow a clearly defined vision for acts at High Dive: all rock, all live. Nectar features top-notch local talent that range from world beat to electronica, with reggae every Wednesday.
Ambition and a mindset
Brent spoke more in-depth about the five bands and musicians Interface manages.
"I love it," Brent said, but "99 percent of the time we say no" when a band asks for representation. As manager, they must be intimately involved in the artists' work and attached to their passions.
Brent studies potential clients carefully to see how together band members are as people, beyond their talent. He seeks an ambition and a business mindset: "You've gotta do something from your heart and soul, but it is a business," he said.
To make it in the music business you need talent, but without hard work and drive, it won't take you anywhere.
Brent admitted that he hopes his clients' careers "hit," but he remains focused on how to get their music out to the most people. "We want to do it as fast as possible," he explained, but he talked more about how he helps clients develop as artists and achieve a certain level of accomplishment.
In addition, Brent will take jobs as booking agent for occasional bands needing a tour package, but if he had to streamline, he admits he could shave off this part.
He and Brian have built a new business model for Interface as they multitask all these services under one company. They work hard to grow it, seeking more opportunities here and, Brent hopes, "back home" as his hometown resurrects itself from the floodwaters.
When the hurricane hit New Orleans, Brent felt "devastated." He bought a television for the first time to follow news of the storm and its aftermath. He wanted to return home at first word, but his parents and grandparents wisely responded, 'What are you going to do here?'
Instead he took everyone's advice and stayed put - and went to work. In the weeks following the disaster, he organized private fund-raisers for close friends, a Fremont-wide benefit to fund disaster relief and a clothing drive through his girlfriend's contacts.
"As hard as it was to stay [in Seattle], it was the best thing to do for them," he said.
Brent expects to see his town rise from the depths. "The people of New Orleans love their town," he explained, but he fears the lack of community with everyone so dispersed may lead to thoughtless development in a city once so militant about preservation. "I'll go home. I'll get the pulse of local leaders and make my voice heard."
A Fremont Mardi Gras?
Brent also plans to bring Seattle our own bit of New Orleans through his annual Mardi Gras. In 10 years he wants to grow it to match that of his hometown. He wants to get it out of the bars, to get the kids and families involved.
Next year, he could locate it in Fremont, and perhaps someday, "it will be my legacy," he mused.
His goal, when he first moved, was to live six months here and six months there.
"New Orleans is my home, but Seattle is my town," Brent declared, "I get something from New Orleans that I don't get anywhere else. There is no place on the planet like it, but that is not to say that we can't adapt its best features here."
Faced with Brent's energy and enthusiasm, I trust we'll feel his drive and hard work in both of his homes in the future.
Kirby Lindsay, a native Seattleite, welcomes the addition of reggae music to Fremont culture. She invites your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.