by Alec Clayton
Since the halcyon days of the 1980s and ‘90s our little town of Olympia has been a crown jewel of the alternative music scene — punk, grunge, you name it.
And it’s coming back when the inaugural Olympia Funk Festival known as “Funk OFF!” ignites the city with three days of non-stop dancing and exciting and innovative music.
Homegrown Olympia music makers and nationally acclaimed headliners from Seattle and Portland and around the country will enliven downtown Oly with a happening weekend of music and dance.
The Funk Festival is an all-ages jam, open to everyone with a huge lineup of music on stage at Capital Theater and the Olympia Ballroom. And the party doesn’t stop at the stage doors! Washington Street will be transformed into a fiesta of food trucks, a beer garden, and band merch. And there will be a Sunday Soul Brunch at the Olympia Ballroom featuring a solo performance by Ron Artis II, with a special surprise guest, available as an add-on to your weekend pass.
Performers will include George Porter Jr. and the Runnin’ Partners; The Rumble featuring Chief Joseph Boudreaux, Ron Artis II & The Truth, Polyrhymics, Joe Doria, Skerik, Eldridge Gravy & The Court Supreme, Outer Orbit featuring Saeeda Wright, Hillstomp, Life During Wartime, McTuuff and Friends, Cytrus, Funky 2 Death, Big Kitty, Funkways Swindler, Los Riffers, Groove Lab, Extra Measures, Denim and the Deep Pockets.
“From our early days of playing the Eastside Tavern, hosting bands like the Monophonics on their very first gigs in the Northwest, Olympia has held a special place in our hearts, and we cannot wait for our triumphant return to the stage there. Playing the Capitol Theater for the first time, no less,” said Joe Simpson, “Eldridge Gravy” of Eldridge Gravy & the Court Supreme.
Aurélien Barnes. trumpet player from The Rumble said, “We’re excited to bring The Rumble to Olympia and can’t wait to share with you the modern sounds, culture, and historic musical traditions of New Orleans music! We’re thrilled to be playing the inaugural Olympia Funk Festival and want to thank the PARC Foundation for giving us the opportunity to bring the next generation of New Orleans music to Olympia.”
Performing musician and festival organizer Danielle Westbrook explained how Funk Fest came to be: “For years, my good friend Alan Rose of Ecstatic Productions and I had tossed around the idea of a large-scale music festival in Thurston County. During a brainstorming session for the PARC Foundation, the topic of City of Olympia LTAC funding applications arose, and someone asked for proposals. I couldn’t help but enthusiastically interject, ‘Music festival! I’m on it!’ With a modest grant and decades of combined music industry experience from myself, Alan, Richard Williams, and Betsy Perkins, our dream transformed into reality. Seeing this vision come to life has been an absolute joy.”
Westbrook plays trumpet and sings with the local funk band, Luna Melt, which has been playing in and around Thurston County for more than a decade. Asked what funk is, she said, “Funk music isn’t mine to define. It’s a tapestry woven from generations of African American musical traditions — soul, rhythm and blues, and jazz. From the soulful grooves of James Brown to the intricate rhythms of New Orleans’s second line, it’s a genre steeped in history and passion. That’s why we’re thrilled to have, straight out of New Orleans, The Rumble as our Friday headliner and the legendary funk artist, George Porter, Jr, as our Saturday headliner. They embody the very essence of this sound! At Olympia Funk Festival, we celebrate the tremendous artists who have made funk what it is today, preserving their musical traditions while infusing the streets of Olympia with the infectious energy of New Orleans funk.
Band photos courtesy of the bands.
Olympia Funk Festiva – Funk Off
Capitol Theater, 206 5th Ave., Olympia
The Olympia Ballroom, 116 Legion Way SE, Olympia
— Full festival pass $149
— Day pass: Friday – $65 | Saturday – $75 | Sunday (without brunch) – $35
— Free for kids 12 and younger
— Sunday $25 Brunch add-on