This year’s Music in the Park offers something new — Olympia’s popular Brown Edition — and the return of a military band and classical music.
“We’re always trying to get a variety of genres,” said Kim Combs, the event and volunteer coordinator for the Olympia Downtown Association, which organizes the concert series. “Sometimes scheduling doesn’t fall in place.”
Also back for the 35th annual series are the Olympia Jazz Senators, who drew big crowds at series concerts in 2008, 2012 and 2013.
The concerts happen at 7 p.m. Wednesdays through the end of August in Sylvester Park, with a longer show the first Friday in August at Port Plaza.
Brown Edition, which plays jazz and funk, has been getting Olympia audiences grooving at bars and at such high-profile gigs as the 2013 Illuminated Ball and the Olyball New Year’s Eve party that ended 2012.
The band’s first album, “Soulpocalypse,” won an Independent Music Award as Best Funk/Fusion/Jam Album.
The series, which typically draws more than 1,000 people per concert, launches Wednesday with the 133rd Army Band Full Metal Racket, based at the National Guard’s Camp Murray.
“People were frustrated that we didn’t have a military band last year,” Combs said. “That was because of sequestration.”
Although sequestration continues, it’s once again possible to book military bands, she said.
In fact, she’s already booked the U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West jazz ensemble The Commanders for Aug. 19, 2015. “They’ve been booked for, oh, my gosh, at least a couple of months already and we haven’t even started this season,” Combs said.
Also returning this year is the classical Tacoma Concert Band. The Jazz Senators, again filling the big-band niche, will close the season.
“It’s our 35th year,” Combs said. “It’s been a tradition. The Jazz Senators are established in the community. We wanted to have a real hometown group be part of closing out the season.”
Playing in the park is a great showcase for the Olympia Jazz Senators, who focus on keeping big-band jazz alive and encouraging the next generation of jazz musicians.
“There are lots more people at those (Music in the Park) shows,” said Gary Scott, who plays saxophone, flute and clarinet with the group. “It gives us a chance to let more people know that we’re here.”
The Jazz Senators also are playing for the first time at the Lacey in Tune outdoor concert series at 7 p.m. July 19 in Huntamer Park, on the corner of Seventh Avenue Southeast and Woodland Square Loop.
Music in the Park
What: In its 35th year, the Olympia Downtown Association’s outdoor concert series attempts to offer something for every musical taste.
When: 7-8 p.m. Wednesdays through Aug. 27, plus a Friday concert from 7-8:30 p.m. Aug. 1
Where: Sylvester Park on Capitol Way in downtown Olympia, except the Aug. 1 event, which is at Port Plaza at the Port of Olympia
Information: 360-357-8948 or musicinthe parkolympia.com
Wednesday: 133rd Army Band Full Metal Racket (rock/country), Camp Murray
July 16: Ian McFeron Band (folk/rock), Seattle
July 23: Kim Archer Band (soul/blues), Tacoma
July 30: Carrie Cunningham & the Six Shooters (country), Vancouver, Wash.
Aug. 1: Blues Brothers Tribute (blues/rock), Seattle
Aug. 6: The Brown Edition (jazz/funk), Olympia
Aug. 13: Tacoma Concert Band (symphonic), Tacoma
Aug. 20: Ko Ko Jo (rock), Olympia
Aug. 27: Olympia Jazz Senators (jazz), Olympia