Pierce County Parks and Recreation’s Sounds at Sunset concert series at Meridian Habitat Park continues Friday (July 22), with critically-acclaimed kindie rock darlings, The Not-Its, and will end July 29 with Olympia-based country/rock duo, The Olson Bros Band.
This is the second year for the three-week concert series, which started in summer 2015 as the brainchild of Chad Harvell, recreation coordinator for Pierce County Parks.
“We had positive feedback and about 500 attendees in our first year,” Harvell said.
This year the program is in partnership with Pierce County Arts Commission, which donated a generous grant to help with marketing, and a $750 sponsorship by Sonic Drive-In. Last year’s flagship sponsor was Starbucks Foundation.
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Harvell said this year Pierce County was able to secure a mobile stage thanks to the Arts Commission partnership. This will help the concert series be more mobile in the coming years, providing flexibility to have it at more than one Pierce County park and add additional dates. Last year and this year it has been held the last three Fridays of July.
“Having sponsor support is awesome,” Harvell said.
The recreation coordinator said he is excited for this summer’s lineup.
When The Not-Its take to the stage on Friday, their high-energy performance and playful, astute lyrics addressing everyday childhood events will entertain the 3- to 8-year-old demographic, but parents, surprisingly, will also be tickled by the band’s tongue-in-cheek references to the common travails of parenthood.
We definitely don’t dumb it down. We write lyrics that have things for kids but also for the parents, too. We try to not make it too safe.
Danny Adamson, The Not-Its rhythm guitarist
“We definitely don’t dumb it down,” said Danny Adamson, the band’s rhythm guitarist. “We write lyrics that have things for kids but also for the parents, too. We try to not make it too safe.”
The Not-Its have been providing kids their first rock experience for more than seven years, bringing a high-octane, indie-rock-with-punk-ethos sound to stages worldwide. Last November, the quintet performed in India, and later this fall the group will perform an East Coast tour — something it does annually.
“Kids do love to rock,” Adamson said. “It’s an inherent part of being a kid. (Our performances) are very participatory. It’s a full aerobic exercise. We’re dripping in sweat. The parents don’t know what they’re getting into. We get the parents involved. After about 45 minutes, the kids get burned out.”
Before forming the band in 2008, lead singer Sarah Shannon, Adamson and Tom Baisden, lead guitarist, all performed in various indie/alternative rock groups, sometimes with each other, and have been longtime friends.
Shannon, Adamson said, is the The Not-Its member with the most “street cred.”
In the Seattle grunge-era of the 1990s, she sang lead vocals in Velocity Girl — considered at the time to be the second most popular band next to Nirvana on the Sub Pop label. The newest members of The Not-Its are Jennie Helman on bass and percussionist Michael Welke, former drummer of Harvey Danger.
Among the five are a brood of 10 children ranging in ages from 5 to early teens.
“Mine are the oldest in the band,” Adamson said. “They will come on the stage and play. The kids we have started the band. When we write songs for a new album; we have a built-in test crowd among our kids.”
Like all iconic rock bands before them, The Not-Its boast eclectic performance swag. The men wear pink and black ties and pink striped socks. The women wear pink tutus. Their attitude and dress harkens back to a 1980s punk vibe, when bright, in-your-face colors ruled the music scene.
“It has to be fun for us,” Adamson said. “Most of the other bands in our genre play to pay the bills. We just do it because we like each other and like to play music.”
Most of the other bands in our genre play to pay the bills. We just do it because we like each other and like to play music.
Meanwhile, The Olson Bros Band will wake up Meridian Habitat Park with its original country/rock music and also a few covers by hard rock giants like AC/DC and Guns ‘n’ Roses.
“A cool thing about us is we can do a wide variety of music,” said co-songwriter and singer/guitarist Luke Olson. “We incorporate a lot of country and rock, and I even rap a couple of times.”
Olson started playing guitar and writing originals about four years ago with his brother, Isaac. The brothers gained the attention of Nashville country heavyweights when they won the Texaco Country Showdown national songwriting contest in 2013 with their original song, “Sunrise,” inspired by the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
Luke is now collaborating with Desmond Child, known for co-writing the song “Living on a Prayer” for Bon Jovi. Olson is also now enrolled in a songwriting program at Belmont College in Nashville.
The Olson Brothers Band promises an entertaining show where almost anything can happen.
“We have a lot of fun when we play, and we just go with the flow when we’re up there,” Olson said. “They can expect to have a good time.”
Admission is free. Families are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets and pack a picnic, or enjoy concessions provided by Hometown Dogs food truck and Taszty’s kettle corn and shaved ice.
If you go
Sounds at Sunset, The Not-Its (Friday) and The Olson Bros Band (July 29), 7-8:30 p.m., Meridian Habitat Park, 14422 Meridian Ave. E., Puyallup, free admission, piercecountywa.org/index.aspx?NID=4250.