What is Music Out Loud?
Music Out Loud posthumously honors musicians who have significantly contributed to Olympia's music heritage, by creating distinctive places to host musical performances in our Downtown.
The musicians that were chosen are honored at three locations with unique mosaics, created by local artists, embedded in the sidewalk. Learn more about each below.
How were the musicians chosen?
Citizens were invited to submit names of deceased local musicians who were pivotal in the musical growth of the Olympia community and who met certain criteria, such as:
- Contributed to the vitality of Olympia's music scene
- History of musical achievement
- Honored by local musicians/aficionados for their contribution to the community
- Their passing left a lasting legacy
Each location will host a series of live acoustic performances during the summer, in partnership with the Olympia Downtown Alliance Third Thursdays.
- Location: SE corner of 4th Avenue and Chestnut Street
- Mosaic Artist: Nathan Barnes
Steve Munger was a well known and highly regarded saxophone player for 30 years. He was well known among jazz musicians, but also played rock, blues, funk and reggae.
Steve was a consummate musician at the center of the Olympia music scene since the early 1980s. He was the kind of musician that everybody wanted on their recordings because he made everyone around him sound better.
Bands that he played with include Harmonic Tremors, Sweatband, Neobop, the Artesian Art Ensemble, Barbara Donald & Unity, Bert Wilson ensemble, various Steve Munger ensembles, Jam Camp and Sour Owl.
Anyone who knew Steve remembers his maniacal laugh and generous spirit as well as his amazing musical skills.
- Location: Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St SE
- Mosaic Artist: Jennifer Kuhns
Verne Elke was a brilliant musician and singer, talented orchestra leader and music scholar. He produced and conducted operas and musicals, and co-founded the original Harlequin Productions, where he was music director for over a dozen shows.
Verne founded the Capital Area Association for the Performing Arts (CAPPA) and was pivotal in acquiring the legislation and funds that allowed the building of the Washington Center for the performing Arts.
- Location: NE corner of 5th Avenue & Capitol Way
- Mosaic Artist: Michele A. Burton
Bert Wilson was a world renowned saxophonist and composer with a 7 octave range and over 200 songs to his name. He taught many world famous saxophone players including Lenny Pickett of Tower of Power and musical director of Saturday Night Live, Jeff Coffin of the Dave Matthews Band and Ernie Watts of the NBC Orchestra.
Bert was stricken by polio when he was very young and was confined to a wheelchair his entire life. In spite of his disability, he created a concept on saxophone that placed him among the greats of the instrument.
Bert's influence on the local music scene was profound. Many musicians moved to Olympia to play and learn from him. Legends of jazz would come to his home to visit and play. His group Rebirth, which was filled with Olympia musicians, received international acclaim for its recordings.
Bert's music continues to be heard in local venues to this day.