Noise for the Needy's Booker Books

Greg Garcia on how to organize a 70-band festival in a month.

The Situation I'm at Hattie's Hat in Ballard sitting across from Greg Garcia and an expanding collection of empty Budweiser bottles. Garcia, 34, is the Tractor Tavern's booker; his past jobs include stints booking shows at Chop Suey, High Dive, and the now-defunct Irish Emigrant. This year, he adds Noise for the Needy to his resume. He booked the annual charity festival—about 70 bands over five days—in a little over a month.

How He Got Here Michelle Smith, fondly known as Mamma Casserole, had booked NFTN for the past six years, but this year she was too busy, so the festival's organizers asked Garcia to step in. "I should've started booking this in January, and I started in mid-March," he says.

A lot of local bands were already committed to Sasquatch! or Block Party. Things got so hectic he almost considered calling off the festival, but he managed to pull in a number of out-of-town bands—the Thermals, The Duke Spirit—and an impressive local lineup, most of whom are playing for free.

Shop Talk Last year, NFTN raised $23,000 for Real Change; Garcia hopes to top that. This year's beneficiary is the Seattle Community Law Center: "They help people with mental issues that probably couldn't afford legal help," says Garcia. "It's awesome to be able to help them out. They're really excited to just have someone paying attention to them." Garcia plans to attend as many shows as humanly possible. "I'm gonna be running around like a mad person," he says. He's most excited for the Tractor's June 1 show with Oklahoma country singer JD McPherson and the massive metal showdown June 9 at Belltown's Underground Events Center. "It's gonna be loud as fuck in that place," he says.

BTW: This is his first year on the job, but Garcia, a Seattle native, has been attending NFTN shows for years. I ask him about his favorite NFTN memory. Instead he recalls last year at the Tractor when Tiny Vipers walked off the stage because the audience was being too chatty. "I got it. People weren't paying attention. She just walked offstage." Um, awkward? "It wasn't my favorite memory, it was one of my most awkward memories," he laughs. "I'm hoping this year to have some really awesome memories from doing this. It's my little baby project!"

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