If you've been around South Sound for any time at all, chances are you've at least heard of Olympia's Music in the Park outdoor concert series.
What you might not know is that the July and August concerts happen come rain, shine or 104-degree heat. Last year’s July 29 concert with Everyday Jones was moved from Sylvester Park, the regular venue, indoors not because of a not-uncommon rain shower, but because of unbearable heat.
“One hundred and four degrees was just a little too hot for everybody,” said Vida Zvirzdys-Farler, event coordinator for the Olympia Downtown Association, which organizes the concerts..
“It was nice and cool in The Washington Center,” she said of the alternate venue. But attendance was low, anyway. “People just didn’t want to leave their homes.”
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So far, a heat wave seems like the unlikeliest problem for ODA and its evening concert series that launches Wednesday; rain is the usual threat. But rain or sun, the nine-concert lineup, as always, features a wide variety of musical styles, from country to rhythm and blues, and from rock to symphonic.
“We always want a variety, because Olympia is all about variety,” Zvirzdys-Farler said.
Enjoying the summer weather is part of the reason for the series, of course, but this is the Northwest, and the weather is unpredictable.
Last year, a threat of rain forced the Tacoma Concert Band, which played Aug. 12, indoors as well. “When you’re dealing with $6,000 instruments, you don’t want to risk it,” she said.
Attendance is usually slightly lower at concerts that move indoors, because some people don’t get the message — even though the association puts announcements on radio stations, Facebook and Twitter, and even puts up signs in the park.
Still, despite that, attendance was up last year, with an average of 1,100 people at each concert, compared to 1,000 per show in 2008.
Olympia’s 7 on 7, a swing and jump blues band playing this summer, played at Music in the Park two years ago — but not at the park.
Pat Cole, who plays guitar and sings with the band that features a full horn section, said, “They had the place at least half full. And playing in the Washington Center is a real treat.”
The band had a great time inside, he said, and it was the group’s first time on stage there. But that doesn’t mean Cole is hoping for more showers.
“I’m hoping to play outside,” he said. “It’s just a nice scene when you’re playing outside.”