Olympia’s Music in the Park has established traditions in its 39 years. While the sun shines (or is at least more likely to), people gather to picnic, dance and listen to the music.
This summer, though, the outdoor concert series — which kicks off Wednesday — will get a bit of a remix with opening acts, a new master of ceremonies, and — are you ready for this? — food delivery. To Sylvester Park.
Several downtown restaurants will deliver to the park, said Stephanie McManus of the Olympia Downtown Alliance, which sponsors the concerts.
“We’re going to have menus available at our booth in the back, so people can come and order from local restaurants and have runners go and get the food and bring it back for people,” she told The Olympian. “We’ll text them when their order arrives. … It’s like our own Uber Eats kind of thing.”
Because agreements are pending, McManus couldn’t name the restaurants yet, but she said the alliance is working to offer Thai, Vietnamese, Italian and Greek food and hopes to get other restaurateurs interested in participating.
“There are so many good restaurants downtown,” she said. “This way, people can have the whole experience of being down here. We’re just making it a little bit easier for them to do that.”
And the ODA aims to make the evening a more complete entertainment experience, too.
Popular Olympia comedian Sam Miller will serve as master of ceremonies.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I’m used to doing comedy in dark bars and clubs and casinos.
“I’m hoping to do a lot of crowd participation,” he said. “I’m planning to have some games and quiz people and have fun.
“Perhaps I’ll poke a little bit of fun at Olympia in a lighthearted way.”
He’s particularly excited that his sons — Buddy, 7, going into second grade at Peter G. Schmidt Elementary in Tumwater, and Oliver, 5, soon to start kindergarten there — will be in the audience. It will be their first opportunity to see him do standup.
“It is going to be great to have them there,” he said, “and there’s a chance I might incorporate them into my act somehow.
“I pay my 7-year-old in Pokemon cards when he does comedy.”
And the Miller kids won’t be the only young performers. Youth musicians will perform at 6:30 p.m. before each concert. Ukulele player Liam McFarland, 16 and going into his junior year at Olympia’s Avanti High School, will play at Wednesday’s series kickoff, with other opening acts to be announced.
“The idea here was to bring a fresh take on things and have some new blood involved and attract some new people that maybe haven’t come out to the event in the past,” McManus said.
The nine concerts — seven in Sylvester Park and two at Port Plaza — will cover a range of genres, though blues, rock and jazz dominate.
The lineup of local and regional acts includes 2017 MoPOP Battle of the Bands winner Micaiah Sawyer of Olympia, the Army’s 5-Man Trio jazz combo, and Seattle Brazilian outfit En Canto.
Music in the Park
What: In its 39th year, the Olympia Downtown Alliance’s outdoor concert series celebrates summer with free music and a few new touches.
When: 7-8 p.m. Wednesdays through Aug. 22 — plus 7-8:30 p.m. Friday concerts on Aug. 3 and 17. Young musicians will do pre-concert sets at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Wednesday concerts at Sylvester Park, 615 Washington St. SE, Olympia, and Friday shows at Port Plaza, 701 Columbia St. NW, Olympia
Information: 360-357-8948, downtownolympia.org
- July 11: Retro Jade (funk, soul and electric blues), Olympia
- July 18: Hook Me Up (jazz, R&B and Latin), Olympia
- July 25: Micaiah Sawyer (singer-songwriter, blues, folk, rock), Olympia
- Aug. 1: Joe Blue & The Roof Shakers (R&B and classic rock), Seattle
- Aug. 3: Sonic Funk Orchestra (disco and funk), Tacoma
- Aug. 8: Michelle Taylor Band (blues, rock, country and pop), Seattle
- Aug. 15: Blind Facsimilie (classic rock, blues and pop), Olympia
- Aug. 17: 5-Man Trio, America’s First Corps Band (jazz), Joint Base Lewis McChord
- Aug. 22: En Canto (Brazilian jazz), Seattle