Arts in the South End: An October 2023 Roundup

by Jas Keimig

It’s officially fall, which means arts in the South End and beyond are in full swing. The month gets off to an excellent start with Earshot Jazz Festival’s monthlong celebration of jazz in venues throughout South Seattle, with two film festivals, and a solar eclipse to carry you through the Puget Sound’s march into the Big Dark. One thing to note: This guide contains no Halloween events. Keep an eye out for our Halloween-specific guide coming soon! 

On the topic of Halloween: Be sure to mark your calendars for the Emerald’s fourth annual T’Challaween celebration on Oct. 28. More details to come!

Check out more happenings in our Hispanic Heritage Month Guide, and stay tuned for more events for Filipino American History Month.

Think we missed something? Let us know at

Oct. 6–Nov. 5
Various times and locations

For one month every year, dozens of jazz musicians from around the world land in Seattle and put on earth-shattering shows for the Earshot Jazz Festival. Bringing together both emerging artists and established legends, there’s no better time to get on the pulse of the jazz scene both locally and abroad. For the 2023 edition of the fest, the featured resident artist is vocalist Johnaye Kendrick, who will debut new music with supergroup säje. Earshot has also commissioned new music from clarinetist Jahnvi Madan, guitarist Carlos Snaider, and drummer Sheridan Riley, in addition to planned programming, like workshops and a band battle between Garfield and Roosevelt High Schools. Venues are located around Seattle at the Chapel Performance Space, Clock Out Lounge, the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, Nectar Lounge, The Royal Room, Sea Monster Lounge, Town Hall, and The Triple Door. For the complete schedule, check out Earshot’s website

Oct. 11–15
Various locations

The Social Justice Film Festival is dedicated to showing films that challenge, uplift, inspire, and promote civic engagement. Its opening night event is Beyond Walls, a documentary film series and panel that dives headfirst into what prison industrial complex abolition means and what the world looks like without prisons. For its closing day, SJFF will present Waad al-Kateab’s We Dare To Dream, which follows refugee athletes from Iran, Syria, South Sudan, and Cameroon who balance training with finding safety in their host countries. If you miss this weekend of films, worry not — several will screen again virtually for another week. 

Oct. 12–22
Various locations

Three Dollar Bill Cinema’s Seattle Queer Film Festival is back for its 28th year, and it’s starting with a bang. Andrew Haigh’s new buzzy film All of Us Strangers, starring the dreamy Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal as two neighbors who fall in love, is the opening night feature. For the 10-day-long fest’s run, there’s a wealth of queer cinema to watch both IRL and virtually, like a queer reimagining of an ’80s slash pic, Departing Seniors; a trans parody of the Joker called The People’s Joker; and a gay divorce dramedy, Our Son, starring Billy Porter and Luke Evans. In addition to tons of shorts programming, SQFF will present lesbian icon Guinevere Turner (of Watermelon Woman and Go Fish fame) with the very first Queer Luminary Award for her work as an actor, writer, and director. She’ll accept the award at the screening of her new film, Healed, a psychological thriller that follows a lesbian couple as they go on an eerie, holistic retreat.

Oct. 14, 5:30 p.m.
Renaissance Seattle Hotel, 515 Madison St.

For over a century, nonprofit Atlantic Street Center has provided support for basic needs and services to children, youth, and families all across the region. On Oct. 14, it is hosting its annual gala, promising “an evening of compelling stories, community achievements, and a look towards an even brighter future.” There will be dinner, drinks, and a live auction — more details will drop closer to the event. 

Annular Eclipse in Seattle

Oct. 14
Wherever you are, weather permitting 🙂 

The solar system is solar system-ing, as it’s prone to do, and this time, there’s going to be not one but two solar eclipses in the next year (though from Seattle’s vantage point, both will only be partial eclipses). The first one is on Oct. 14 and it’s an annular eclipse, so the sun will not be totally dark. In a blog post, The Seattle Public Library (SPL) writes that at “8:07 a.m., Seattle will start to see the partial eclipse, with maximum coverage of 80% occurring at 9:20 a.m.” Do not look at the eclipse without protection like this guy. SPL will have eclipse glasses on a first-come, first-served basis at all branches starting on Sept. 15 while supplies last.

Oct. 14, 12–6 p.m.
Acts On Stage Theater, 10806 12th Ave. SW

Now in its sixth year, the Seattle Urban Book Expo is once again bringing together literary talents from this region and beyond to help shape, connect, and cultivate future generations of BIPOC writers. Established to help authors of color navigate the self-publishing industry, more than a dozen writers from different genres and backgrounds will be on hand to answer any queries and guide readers and writers alike on their literary journeys. In addition to panels and Q&As, there will also be a book bazaar to satisfy all of your reading needs. 

Oct. 19, 6–8 p.m.
Washington Hall, 153 14th Ave.2

Real Change News is divine and 29! And to celebrate nearly 30 years of being in the newspaper business, it is throwing a huge birthday party to honor vendors and volunteers. It is inviting the entire community to join in with the goal of raising $120,000 to help it keep informing the public, paying vendors, and advocating for housing justice for another 30 years. Tickets are sliding scale, and there will be live music, food from Real Change’s neighbor OHSUN Banchan Deli & Cafe, as well as comedy. Masks are required!

Oct. 25, 8–10 p.m.
Neumos, 925 E. Pike St.

London-based producer, singer, songwriter, and DJ Nia Archives is coming to town and ready to blow our collective minds. As a musician, her music pulls on a variety of influences — everything from hip-hop to drum and bass to jungle to house — and in the past year, she has toured the world, playing to sold-out crowds in New York City and opening for Beyoncé in London. Nia Archive’s tracks and selections are done in the Black, underground, and DIY spirit essential to electronic dance music. Her single “Off Wiv Ya Headz” is a frenetic, earworm-y edit of a Yeah Yeah Yeahs track that makes me wanna dance and sweat all night. Her appearance at Neumos will be a historic occasion you won’t want to miss.

Now through Nov. 5
Falls Theatre, 700 Union St.

Cambodian Rock Band follows the story of Chum, a Khmer Rouge survivor, musician, and refugee, who after 30 years returns to his home country of Cambodia, where his daughter, Neary, is preparing to prosecute a Cambodian war criminal. It’s a heavy subject, but playwright Lauren Yee tells the story through humor and music. “[Yee] tugs us, by degrees, into the horror at her play’s center with bait-and-switch tactics,” wroteThe New York Times’ Ben Brantley of the play. Naturally, Cambodian Rock Band is backed by a live band playing contemporary hits by the L.A.-based band Dengue Fever as well as Cambodian rock oldies.

Jas Keimig
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Jas Keimig is a writer and critic based in Seattle. They previously worked on staff at The Stranger, covering visual art, film, music, and stickers. Their work has also appeared in Crosscut, South Seattle Emerald, i-D, Netflix, and The Ticket. They also co-write Unstreamable for Scarecrow Video, a column and screening series highlighting films you can’t find on streaming services. They won a game show once.

📸 Featured Image: People witnessing a solar eclipse in Seward Park in 2017. (Photo: Alex Garland)

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