There’s so much to see and do at Lakefair—the carnival, the food booths, the people watching, the parade, the fireworks—that it’s easy to forget that the fête by the lake is also a free five-day music festival. The main stage in Heritage Park offers hours of tunes in an array of genres.
“There is nothing like the Lakefair environment,” said Leslie Daniels of Motorcar, playing July 12. “It is a highlight of the summer to be playing on a great stage overlooking the lake and the carnival and having the opportunity to play for not only friends, family and co-workers but also playing for so many other people out enjoying one of Olympia’s best events of the year.”
Curt Daniels, Leslie’s husband and a longtime driver for Intercity Transit, founded Motorcar in 1990, and the band has played at Lakefair many times over the past two decades. “We are mainly an original rock and roll band driven by Curt’s original songs,” Leslie Daniels said. “We do also mix in some rock covers.”
Porky & the Beans, playing July 14, also focuses on original rock. The band was active in the mid-’70s and built quite a following with its “strictly electric, loud and driving rock,” said the band’s Fred Doughty.
In 2016, Doughty and former bandmates Steven Tobeck and Tony Wickie decided to play a reunion show. All they needed was a drummer—and they found one, Dustyn Dalebout, then just 14 years old—at Lakefair. “Even at such a young age, Dustyn had the talent to work with veteran musicians on a big stage,” Doughty said. “Dustyn is still performing with the Beans.” The Beans are still playing many of the songs they wrote in the ’70s, plus some newer material and a few covers.
Probably the best-known performer at Lakefair 2023 is Randy Hansen of Seattle, who performs his Jimi Hendrix Revolution act internationally. “We have been touring in Europe for over 30 years,” said Kevin Fillo, Hansen’s manager. “We generally play there every fall and every spring, and sometimes do some summer festivals.:
Hansen, who’ll play July 15 at Lakefair, has been performing as Hendrix since 1975 and has the approval of the late musician’s family. He has played with the likes of Sammy Hagar, Herbie Hancock, Steve Miller and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and he even played Hendrix-style guitar in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1980 “Apocalypse Now,” which won the 1980 Academy Award for best sound.
Another big name playing the main stage is Leah Justine, who’ll play July 16 just before the fireworks display. Justine of Gig Harbor, who has a recording contract with 419 Records in Nashville, grew up in Tacoma in a musical family.
She grew up loving performing and musical theater, but changed her focus to country after attending the 2013 Watershed Country Music Festival at The Gorge in George. “I was like, ‘I have to be on that stage,’ ” she said in a 2020 interview with 94.9 The Wolf in the Tri-Cities (https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/adam-jen-in-the/interview-with-nashville-TvBhkS2-VAt/). “I just wanted to sing country music.
“I love that country music tells the simple stories colorfully,” Justine told OLY ARTS. “That’s my favorite part of being a singer, songwriter, and entertainer. I get to connect with people through music and shared stories.”
Also scheduled to perform on the main stage are Wish Flower, Pationes & James, Switchback, The Lady Drinks Whiskey, Mike Burdorff & Friends, T-Town Aces, Mick Hart and the Classic Vinyl Band, Tone Roller, Yanna Lenae and the Rockstars, The Search and Rescue, Amanda & Grayson, Never Monday and Kitty Mae.
WHAT AND WHEN
Motorcar | 8:30-10 p.m. July 12
Porky and the Beans | 7-8:30 p.m. July 14
Randy Hansen’s Jimi Hendrix Revolution | 9-10:30 July 15
Leah Justine | 8:30-10 p.m. July 16
Main stage, Heritage Park, Olympia