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Party with a purpose

Three-day "tropical rock" music festival returns to Olympia

Elma High School graduate Brittany Kingery returns to her hometown to perform at the Laid Back Attack music festival this weekend at Hotel RL. Photo credit: Josef Kandoll

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Olympia is ready to get laid back and party with a purpose next weekend.

When you think of Washington's capital city, chances are your first thoughts are not of beaches and boat drinks and tropical music. But Olympia is preparing to host Laid Back Attack, a three day gathering and music festival that draws musicians and music fans from all over the country, for the third consecutive year. And thanks to some local musicians embracing and making names for themselves within the genre of "tropical rock," the city of Olympia finds its own stock rising among "parrot heads" - a worldwide network of fans of Jimmy Buffett and other tropically-themed music that have formed hundreds of local charitable organizations around the world, organized under the umbrella organization Parrot Heads in Paradise. The local chapter, Parrot Heads of Puget Sound (PHoPS), is the organization behind Laid Back Attack.

"What started out as a single day regional event fourteen years ago has evolved into something much bigger," observes PHoPS President Gordy Bryan, noting that the event has earned three consecutive "Event of the Year" nominations from the international Trop Rock Music Association. And this year's event features a major milestone - the first ever appearance of an active member of Jimmy Buffett's Coral Reefers. Singer-songwriter-guitarist Peter Mayer will kick off the 15th Annual Laid Back Attack with his son Brendan Mayer Thursday evening, July 20 for the "Fruit Cakes and Boat Drinks" theme night.

The event will also be a special event for a couple of performers of local origin. For Olympia-born Elma High School graduate Brittany Kingery, the event is a homecoming. She has spent most of the last three years either touring in North America or living and performing in the Puerto Vallarta area of Mexico, where she lives most of the year and has become the top performer in the area's leading cabaret theater, performing both her original tropically flavored music and a retrospective of the music of Linda Ronstadt called "Hasten Down the Wind." Her performance Friday evening, for the "Blame it All on Mexico" theme night, will be her first in her hometown in nearly a year.

"Laid Back Attack is always a special event for me," says Brittany, whose introduction to trop rock fans happened at the 2013 edition of the event and who released her highly acclaimed Dream in Blue album at the 2014 Laid Back Attack before the event moved from Seattle to Olympia in 2015.  Brittany will be performing with co-writer Rob Hill, an Olympia native, who will be celebrating the release of Beach Town, his first album since 2009. The official album release celebration happens at the Laid Back Attack after-party at Buzz's Bar and Grill on Mud Bay Road Sunday afternoon from noon to 4 p.m., an event that will be co-hosted by Brittany and feature other special guests.

Laid Back Attack unofficially begins Wednesday July 19 with an epic Parrot Head Pub Crawl through downtown Olympia beginning at the Fish Tale Brew Pub at 5 pm and landing at Rhythm and Rye after a few stops along the way. All of the official events take place at the newly remodeled Hotel RL Olympia, with daytime music presented poolside and evening music in the hotel's ballroom.  Other performers include Tennessee- based bands Southern Drawl Band, Ramajay International and Drop Dead Dangerous, and award winning songwriters Donny Brewer, Aaron Scherz and Don Middlebrook.

The 15th Annual Laid Back Attack is presented by Heritage Distilling, Corona and Pacifico Beer, Toyota of Olympia, and Evolution Ink. Proceeds from the event and the auctions and other fundraising activities will benefit the event's two charity partners - The USO Northwest and Emmit's Magic Animal Rescue.

"We all come for the great music," says Gordy Bryan, "but as Parrot Heads, we always party with a purpose, and we are proud to be supporters of these two great charitable organizations."

Laid Back Attack, Thursday-Sunday, July 20-23, Hotel RL, 2300 Evergreen Park Drive, Olympia; single day passes for the event are available through July 18 for $45 on the website and at the Emmit's Magic Animal Rescue Thrift Store at 3945 8th Ave. SE in Lacey, laidbackattack.com

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