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Meet the guy who mixes tunes for Seattle’s favorite fountain

Things can get pretty sweaty in the Seattle heat, especially if you’re checking out some of our city’s big summer festivals, like  Bumbershoot and Festál. One of the best — and most fun — ways to beat the heat, especially if you have a little one in tow? Cooling off by the International Fountain in Seattle Center.

Ever notice how the water from the fountain spurts and sways to the rhythm of music magically drifting from its center? That’s all thanks to James Whetzel, the born-and-raised Seattleite who curates the fountain’s funky tunes.

We caught up with James to learn a little more about what he loves about living in Seattle.  

Tell us what you do in 10 words or less.

I’m a musician and music programmer for Seattle Center’s fountain.

What do you love most about making and curating music in Seattle?

There’s a great community of music makers here, and I love how people appreciate different styles of music.

Where are the two places you’d take an out-of-town guest?

The Crumpet Shop [in downtown] for fine tea and tasty crumpets and Island Soul [in Columbia City] for great Caribbean food and vibes.

What’s your favorite hidden gem in our city?

Volunteer Park Conservatory [in Capitol Hill].

What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard or given about living in Seattle?

The challenge for me is adapting to how the city continues to change over time. If someone were to ask me for my advice, it would be to appreciate and support the places, things, and venues that you find here that you love. They may not last, so love them while you can, and if you do support them they may endure. Also be grateful for the cool places, things, and venues that survive.

If you could change anything about Seattle, what would it be?

I’d love it if there were more affordable housing, and more public transportation.

What are five Seattle people or orgs everyone should know about?

  • Yaw Amponsah: “One of the best drummers in Seattle.”
  • Seattle Parks Buskers Program and its creator, Adrienne Caver-Hall: The program is “an innovative city of Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation program, which has been imitated locally and nationally.”
  • Levi Fuller: “Musician, and creator/curator of Ball of Wax Audio Quarterly, which releases a new compilation of music from Seattle and beyond every month.”
  • Pasquale Santos: “Legendary violin playing busker.”

Want to hear what’s playing at the International Fountain these days? Check out James’ music mixes here. Know someone else we should introduce folks to in The Evergrey? Send us an email at [email protected] to let us know.