From Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift and Paul Simon concerts to the start of SIFF, our Seattle Times arts writers dish on next month’s most buzzworthy arts and entertainment events.

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The outdoor-concert season launches with Sasquatch! Music Festival, while the indoor-movie-lovefest that is the Seattle International Film Festival gets underway. Here are arts-and-entertainment events to get onto your calendars in May.


Charles Johnson

Professor emeritus at the University of Washington and a past winner of the National Book Award (for “Middle Passage”), Johnson has recently focused on writing nonfiction. His new short-story collection, “Night Hawks” — his 23rd book — returns him to fiction.

7 p.m. Thursday, May 3; Northwest African American Museum, 2300 S. Massachusetts St., Seattle; free; 206-624-6600,

Jewell Parker Rhodes

Winner of the 2003 American Book Award (for “Douglass’s Women”), Rhodes writes both adult and children’s literature. She’s here with her latest, timely book for young readers, “Ghost Boy,” about a black 12-year-old shot by a police officer.

7 p.m. Thursday, May 3; Third Place Books at Seward Park, 5041 Wilson Ave. S., Seattle; free; 206-474-2200,

Jenny Han and Nicola Yoon

Han (“The Summer I Turned Pretty” series; “Shug”) and Yoon (“Everything Everything,” “The Sun Is Also A Star”), both best-selling authors of books for young adults, will be interviewed by local author Martha Brockenbrough.

7:30 p.m. Friday, May 4; Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall, Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; $35-80; 206-621-2230,

Chuck Klosterman

The author and journalist, whose previous books include “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs” and “Downtown Owl,” will speak about his new collection of profiles and essays, titled simply “X.”

5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 5; University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., Seattle; free; 800-335-7323,

Jess Kidd

The Irish novelist made a charming debut last year with the delicately wandering mystery “Himself”; now she’s on hand with her latest novel, “Mr. Flood’s Last Resort,” set in a Dorset house crammed full of secrets.

6 p.m. Saturday, May 5; Third Place Books at Lake Forest Park, 17171 Bothell Way N.E., Lake Forest Park; free; 206-366-3333,

Kevin Kwan

If you haven’t read Kwan’s deliciously fizzy “Crazy Rich Asians” series, have I got a summer-reading treat for you. He’s in town for the paperback release of the final book in the trilogy, “Rich People Problems.” And watch for the “Crazy Rich Asians” movie, coming in August.

3 p.m. Sunday, May 6, University Book Store, 15311 Main St., Mill Creek; free; 425-385-3530,

Marcia Gay Harden

The Academy Award winner (for “Pollock”) and Tony Award winner (“God of Carnage”) has written a book, “The Seasons of My Mother: A Memoir of Love, Family and Flowers,” about her own journey as an actress and her mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.

4 p.m. Sunday, May 6; University Temple United Methodist Church, 1415 N.E. 43rd St., Seattle; $26 (includes book and admission for two people); 800-335-7323,

Gary Shteyngart

As part of the Samuel and Althea Stroum Lectures series presented by the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies, the novelist (“The Russian Debutante’s Handbook,” “Absurdistan”) and memoirist (“Little Failure”) will speak on two evenings.

7 p.m. Monday, May 7, and 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 9; University of Washington, 120 Kane Hall, Seattle; free but RSVP required (; 206-624-6600,

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Nguyen’s most recent novel, the New York Times best-seller “The Sympathizer,” won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2016. He’ll be interviewed on stage by novelist Jamie Ford (“Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet”).

7:30 p.m. Monday, May 7; Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; $20-$45; 206-621-2230,

Amanda Quick

The latest mystery from the best-selling author (who’s local; you might also know her as Jayne Ann Krentz), “The Other Lady Vanishes,” is set in a shadowy underground in 1930s California.

1:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 8; Burien Library, 400 S.W. 152nd St., Burien; free (though reservations are suggested, at 206-248-7248); 206-243-3490, Also at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 8; Third Place Books at Lake Forest Park, 17171 Bothell Way N.E., Lake Forest Park; free; 206-366-3333,

Deborah Harkness

The best-selling author of the All Souls trilogy is in town with her new book, “The World of All Souls: The Complete Guide to ‘A Discovery of Witches,’ ‘Shadow of Night’ and ‘The Book of Life.’ ”

7 p.m. Tuesday, May 8; University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., Seattle; free; 800-335-7323,

Nicola Griffith

Griffith’s 2013 novel “Hild,” set in seventh-century Britain, won the Washington State Book Award and was a Nebula Award and Lambda Literary Award finalist. Now the Seattle-based author has a new one out: “So Lucky,” a contemporary tale of a successful woman facing serious illness.

7 p.m. Wednesday, May 16; Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., Seattle; free; 206-624-6600, 

Simon Winchester

The best-selling author of “The Professor and the Madman” and many other nonfiction books will discuss his latest: “The Perfectionist: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World.”

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 23; University Prep, 8000 25th Ave. N.E., Seattle; $5; 206-652-4255,

Moira Macdonald:



Seattle Opera, Verdi’s “Aida”

One of the great landmarks of opera, this classic love triangle in ancient Egypt is presented in a new-to-Seattle production with graffiti-style projections by street artist RETNA and choreography by the imaginative Jessica Lang (not the actress!). Leah Crocetto and Alexandra Lobianco are double-cast in the title role; Milijana Nikolic and Elena Gabouri play Aida’s royal rival; Brian Jagde and David Pomeroy portray the man they both want. The conductor is Seattle’s own John Fiore, now the toast of several major European companies.

Saturday, May 5, through Saturday, May 19; McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle; $25-$299; 206-389-7676,

Seattle Symphony, Vivaldi and Handel

Triple-threat Dmitry Sinkovsky returns to Seattle, leading members of the Seattle Symphony as conductor, violin soloist … and countertenor. (Yes, he sings, too.) The all-baroque program also features soprano soloist Julia Lezhneva in arias and duets with Sinkovsky, who solos in Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto “II grosso mogul.”

8 p.m. Friday, May 4, and Saturday, May 5; Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; $21-$77; 206-215-4747,

Choral Arts Northwest, “The Moment of Poetry”

This award-winning Seattle chorus led by Robert Bode presents readings by resident poet Mark Nepo and world premieres by composers Shawn Kirchner and Dominick DiOrio, in a program “exploring the healing power of poetry and music.” Expect top-level choral performances.

8 p.m. Saturday, May 5, Plymouth Church, 1217 Sixth Ave., Seattle; 3 p.m. Sunday, May 6, Trinity Episcopal Church, 609 Eighth Ave., Seattle; $24, $28; youth and student tickets free at the door;

Music of Remembrance, “Gaman”

This is the world premiere of Seattle composer Christophe Chagnard’s multimedia work based on stories by individuals, families and artists about the Japanese-American internments in the Pacific Northwest during World War II. Featured are noted singer/actor Robert Orth and soprano Ann Moss; the program includes chamber works related to the Holocaust and performed by leading Northwest artists.

5 p.m. Sunday, May 20, Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall, Seattle; $30-$45,

Seattle Symphony, Sibelius’ “Kullervo”

Conductor Thomas Dausgaard won Seattle audiences’ hearts with the 2015 Sibelius Festival; now the music-director-designate returns to the Seattle Symphony to lead Sibelius’ epic “Kullervo,” based on a Finnish saga. Soloists include soprano Maria Männistö and baritone Benjamin Appl.

7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 31; 8 p.m. Saturday, June 2; 2 p.m. Sunday, June 3; Benaroya Hall, Seattle; $22-$122, 206-215-4747,

Melinda Bargreen:



“The Missing Generation”
San Francisco-based choreographer and dancer Sean Dorsey brings his work about the survivors of the early years of the AIDS crisis, based on interviews with the people who watched, nurtured and sometimes fled as their friends and family members suffered with a highly stigmatized, politicized illness. “The Missing Generation” is touring to 20 cities and will include dance master classes, trans-friendly dance workshops and community conversations.

May 3-6; Velocity Dance Center, 1621 12th Ave., Seattle; $15-$25,

Brendan Kiley:



Seattle International Film Festival

The enormous cinematic smooch that is SIFF gets underway May 17, with a gala McCaw Hall screening of Isabel Coixet’s “The Bookshop,” and closes June 10 at the Egyptian, with Gus Van Sant’s “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot.” In between will be hundreds — yes, hundreds — of features, documentaries and short films from around the world; one of which might just become your favorite movie ever.

May 17-June 10; various locations in and near Seattle; passes and packages currently on sale (starting at $75 for a six-pack), individual tickets go on sale May 3; 206-324-9996,

Moira Macdonald:



Alice Glass

The former Crystal Castles singer became a leading figure in indie music’s #MeToo movement last year after accusing her old bandmate Ethan Kath of years of abuse. (Kath, who has since faced similar allegations from at least four other women, filed a defamation suit against Glass, which Glass said was subsequently dismissed.) While Kath’s attempt to carry on the dystopian electropunk duo without her has underwhelmed, Glass dropped a strong solo debut EP last year portending a healthier creative future.

8 p.m. Tuesday, May 1; The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., Seattle; $20, 206-441-4618,

Kendrick Lamar

Hip-hop’s Pulitzer Prize-winning one-man revolution brings his talented labelmates — including budding R&B star SZA, Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul and more — on one of the summer’s hottest tours.

7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 5; White River Amphitheatre; 40601 Auburn Enumclaw Road, Auburn; $49.50-$275,


The pop-leaning R&B phenom is still rounding the bases after his 2017 breakout “American Teen” went platinum. Fingers crossed a recent Twitter exchange with Seattle’s own Odesza yields the collab it proposed. It’s sold out, but Khalid returns for a Washington State Fair show Sept. 1.

8 p.m. Thursday, May 3; WaMu Theater, 800 Occidental Ave., Seattle; sold out,

Paul Simon

One of pop music’s all-time great songwriters is hanging it up, and Seattle gets night two of the farewell trek that promises to be a hit parade for the ages.

8 p.m. Friday, May 18; KeyArena, 305 Harrison St., Seattle; $46-$170, 800-745-3000,

Taylor Swift

Eyebrows rose when Taytay’s anticipated “reputation” tour — featuring choice openers Camila Cabello and Charli XCX — didn’t immediately sell out. Some insiders point to the superstar’s “dynamic pricing” model that constantly fluctuates ticket prices based on demand, a la airlines and hotels. As of press time, hundreds of the best seats in the house could still be had for $225-$275.

7 p.m. Tuesday, May 22; CenturyLink Field, $65.50-$475,

Sasquatch! Music Festival

One of Washington’s quintessential fests gets back in touch with its indie-rock roots, nabbing headliners Bon Iver, the National, Modest Mouse, David Byrne (who plays the Paramount the night before) and more. Pro tip: Buying weekend passes in groups of four saves about $100 per person, so rally three of your financially sound besties.

May 25-27; Gorge Amphitheatre, 754 Silica Road, Quincy; $129-$325,

Michael Rietmulder:



“The Wolves”

Nine high-schoolers on a girls’ indoor soccer team; one soccer mom; and a lot of blunt talk about sex, periods, the foibles of adults, anxiety and growing up — this Pulitzer Prize-finalist play by Sarah DeLappe sounds like a visceral peek into what it’s like to be an athlete and a young woman. This “Wolves” is directed by Sheila Daniels, whose superpower is harnessing the strengths of an entire cast instead of a few bravura performances — a perfect talent for a play about a sports team. This should be good.

Through May 13; ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., Seattle; $15-$60, 206-292-7676,

“JACK &”

What happens when you’re a black man fresh out of prison? “JACK &” drills into the life of one man who works the night shift at an industrial bakery and what it means to “enter” or “re-enter” society — including references to prison-rehab programs, African-American debutante balls, and 1950s sitcoms about poor people reaching for a richer life. “JACK &” stars Cornell Alston and Kaneza Schaal, who has worked with The Wooster Group and Elevator Repair Service.

May 10-13; On the Boards, 100 W. Roy St., Seattle; $23-$30, 206-217-9886,


Most of you probably know Danai Gurira from “The Walking Dead” (Michonne, the one with the sword) or “Black Panther” (Okoye, the head of Wakanda’s military), but she’s also a stage actor and playwright who examines the complexities of African and African-American lives. “Familiar” follows a Zimbabwean family living outside Minneapolis, and the drama that falls around a debate about whether to perform a traditional “bride price” ceremony before the eldest daughter’s wedding.

Through May 27; Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St., Seattle; $16-$83, 206-443-2222,

Brendan Kiley:



“Collapse: Recent Works by Dewey Crumpler”

Not many painters could make a sinking container ship, its cargo spilling off the sides of the vessel in a toxic-hued mix of yellows and oranges beneath a stormy, bleeding-gray sky look attractive. But Dewey Crumpler, artist, and associate professor of painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, is one of them. The title of this show hides nothing. His muse is the catastrophe — economic and environmental — that hangs over all of us. He paints mounds of pretty pink plastic shoes on a red beach, moody blue containers slamming into the water under a starry sky while a ship sinks. Muses are famously fickle and cruel. Crumpler might have found one of the cruelest — because this collapse is self-inflicted.

Through May 19; Hedreen Gallery, 901 12th Ave., Seattle; free; 206-296-2244,

Michael Spafford: “Epic Works”

The multi-gallery exhibition of paintings and prints by Northwest artist Michael Spafford continues. Seattle Times critic Gayle Clemans writes: “At 82, Spafford, a Seattle resident, has been creating art for a long time, abstracting from Greco-Roman mythology to make huge paintings of visual and thematic tension and smaller prints of distilled potency.”

Through May 26, Greg Kucera Gallery, 212 Third Ave. S., Seattle; 206-624-0770, Through May 26, Woodside/Braseth Gallery, 1201 Western Ave., Seattle; 206-622-7243,

“Northern Exposure”

After 20 years and a $50 million capital campaign, Ballard’s new Nordic Museum — an arts-and-culture center which, on the inside, looks like two massive, abstract, smooth glaciers — is finally opening. It will host lectures, concerts and historical artifacts but, on the art front, it begins with “Northern Exposure,” including works by Nordic artists Olafur Eliasson, Bjarne Melgaard, Jesper Just, Kim Simonsson and Cajsa Von Zeipel.

May 5-Sept. 16; Nordic Museum, 2655 N.W. Market St., Seattle; $10-$15; 206-789-5707,

“Seattle on the Spot: The Photographs of Al Smith”

During the 1940s and 1950s, local photographer Al Smith took his camera to jazz clubs and around town to document a critical moment of Seattle history, when great musicians (Lionel Hampton, Ernestine Anderson, Duke Ellington, Hazel Scott) were lighting up the city. He also photographed daytime life of the period, from parades to hikes to birthday parties. The result is a rumination on segregation, music and everyday life in a sometime Seattle.

Through June 17; Museum of History & Industry, 860 Terry Ave. N., Seattle; $5-$20; 206-324-1126,

Brendan Kiley: