Everyone talks about Olympia, but no one ever does anything about it. Until now - - - Olympia: a True Story is a triple album exploring the last 2,000,000 years of Olympia life and death. It's 40 songs, 100 musicians, stacks of historic photogs, found sounds, and lots of love. Tom Dyer & The True Olympians are credited with the putting it together, along with gobs of guest artists, including our own Calvin Johnson, who sings a duet with Amy Denio on "Death at Mounts Road".
Tom Dyer, proprietor of Green Monkey Records, was the force behind the storm that is Olympia: a True Story. Tom grew up in Olympia, but when he graduated from Olympia High School in 1971 he "couldn't wait to get out" of town. He didn't wait, journeying north to Bellingham and Western Washington State College. After one year of school he dropped out, bummed around the Northwest. "I was a young 18 year old being free and living in a fairly irresponsible manner. It was fun while it lasted." Eventually settling in Seattle, Washington, he started Green Monkey Records, a family and a life away from Olymp.
But ya know, Tom ended up back in Olympia in 2016. "I'm very happy to be back in Olympia." The idea of an album exploring his home town started to formulate. "Two things inspired me to make this record: at the downtown Timberland Regional Library there are paintings all around the ceiling from the perspective of Sylvester’s tower, in his historic Victorian house, showing views of Olympia through the last 180 years. The first is 1841 when white settlers first arrived, the last is 2008."
"The other thing was Dave Waters' Olympia book. I was highly amused by it, it featured stuff I didn’t know." Illustrated by Arrington de Dionyso, it has short vignettes about assorted factoids from Olympia's past: "One page pieces about Olympia and the Olympia area; I’d never heard of the train wreck. I asked my mother 'did you know there was a train wreck in downtown Olympia?' She said, 'Oh, sure'."
Olympia: a true Story goes back before the white settlers, and examines many not-so-amusing aspects of it's history, including it's racial make-up and racist tendencies. There is also found sounds, local bird songs, paeans to local geological and architectural landmarks. 40 songs - - - you can't write about everything. "The [original song topic] list is long – we wanted to write about the first woman mayor in the ‘30s or ‘40s; for the most part I hit the stuff I wanted to do. At some point you pull the plug, get this done! The last song I did was “Tumwater Destroyed!” - - - the whole song is about 38 seconds, covered the whole topic."
A record release party for Olympia: a True Story is planned Friday, November 4 at the Olympia Ballroom (116 Legion Way SE, downtown Olympia) featuring an expanded line-up of The True Olympians, with plenty of guest appearances. 40 songs? "We wont be playing that many songs. We’re too dang old to play all of them but we’ll be playing a lot of them." It's going to be a blast!
Tom Dyer & the True Olympians, Olympia, A true Story (Green Monkey Records) is available now as a three CD box set from The K Mail Order Dept.