First off, James Keblas is an absolute genius. As co-founder and former executive director of the Vera Project, he not only birthed one of the most vital organizations in Seattle's music community, he also invented one of the most original and lucrative fund-raisers in local history. For three years now, A Drink for the Kids has given Seattle's boozing community a guilt-free excuse for their drunkenness. But what started as a one-night fund-raiser at Linda's Tavern, in which the proceeds from beer orders went directly to Vera, has exploded into a weeklong event spanning myriad watering holes across town and climaxing with a big blowout fund-raiser at the Showbox. While last year's Showbox event consisted of two nights of Tinkle, the comedy troupe featuring David Cross, Todd Barry, and Jon Benjamin, this year boasts an Iron Composer battle on Friday, June 30, between Trenchmouth (SNL's Fred Armisen) and the Two Shins (Marty Crandall and Dave Hernandez).
"Kind of a weird mix, huh?" admits Sub Pop General Manager Megan Jasper, who has had a hand in organizing the event since last year. "There are so many elements that went into evolving this way. First off, we wanted to do comedy again, but didn't want to try and re-create what we had last year. And also, we had planned to have two nights of completely different performances at the Showbox, which didn't end up happening. So this was an attempt to redefine A Drink for the Kids."
Last year's combination of a week's worth of juicing and two nights of Tinkle raised over $50,000. This year, with one night at the Showbox, Jasper says hitting $40,000 would be a huge success. But what's even more crucial this year is the fact that Vera needs the money for its new space in Seattle Center ($750,000 has been raised so far for a space that will cost $1.5 million). For Seattle's 21-plus population, there has never been a better time to get sloshed every night for a week.
"The Vera Project is so crucial for Seattle's community," says Jasper. "And it's so important for the music community here that the Vera Project stays healthy. And when you have David Cross, Todd Barry, and Jon Benjamin, whose schedules are so packed, just drop everything and come out to do this is saying a lot. They all understand the importance of music and how music can do so much to lead to a good life."
As for the Iron Composer battle, Jasper also promises it to be a riotous event.
"Together, Marty and Dave are two of the funniest people you could ever meet," she says. "And Fred Armisen is not only funny, but has played in bands and knows how to write songs. With this group of people, there is no doubt in my mind that they will write songs, and those songs will probably be hilarious. No, strike 'probably' from that statement. They WILL be hilarious."
The weeklong drink-a-thon begins Saturday, June 24, at the W Hotel bar. For a full schedule of events visit www.adrinkforthekids.org.