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Weekend Getaway: Bumbershoot 2008 Part 1

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Julius Metoyer/MJR

To say that Seattle, particularly during Labor Day Weekend, is a haven for music lovers is a gross understatement. The sprawling 74-acre fairground in Downtown that is the Seattle Center serves as a refuge for art in general. The Bumbershoot Festival, now in its 38th year, is in many ways a proverbial port in a storm.

The common misconception with regards to the Northwest is that the rain never ceases. And it's not just any old rain—we're talking wondrous deluges of biblical proportions.

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Still, every year, on what is considered to be the last legitimate weekend of the summer the sun decides to irradiate one last time. It's as though a prime-mover wiped the bleariness straight from your eyes. People of all colors, shapes and sizes surface from the sinkholes with high hopes of seizing the moment. Everyone drops whatever it is they are doing to soak up that singular concession of sunshine.

Yet whether it be the benign climate or the bustling synergy amidst the multifarious masses, the music is the one magical thread that truly ties the whole experience together.

Performers like Bay Area funk and soul singer Darondo—the man, the myth, the legend—artfully thread the needle. His remarkable journey, albeit tumultuous and murky, is conveyed succinctly in a sermonic slew. And his commanding performance of such relatively neglected hits, particularly the Isley-esque "Didn't I," evinces an overwhelming sense of triumph.

The mere mental picture is a delight in many respects, for it has been over thirty years since the release of three stand-out 45s. But perhaps even more satisfying to uninformed onlookers is Darondo's sexually-driven tone, which tends to be tackled with an innate physical fervor. An excess of groping amidst songs like "Legs" really left nothing to the imagination. Possessing an insatiable sense of prurient curiosity—cherries, whipped cream and all—he is, arguably, as ribald now as he was then.

Between doing the splits and crooning the intense, archetypally woeful tune "How I Got Over," his salacious grin never faltered. But when all was said and done, it was the voluminous trousers, which billow out around his meager body like a well-worn umbrella, that seemed to encompass a lifetime of staggering disappointments—his seemingly unrequited musical career. Sadly but surely, everything was as it would have appeared in decades past apart from one staggering element: the resounding affirmation of his brilliance.

Even so, because the true mark of success does not require recognition from others, Darondo will be regarded as a victor forevermore.