Home Correction letter New album is Tom Dyer’s love letter to Olympia’s hometown

New album is Tom Dyer’s love letter to Olympia’s hometown

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The True Olympians are, from left, drummer Michael Stein, keyboardist Joe Cason, bassist Gene Tveden, vocalist Lisa Ceazan and singer-songwriter-guitarist Tom Dyer, the creator of “Olympia: A True Story.”

Courtesy picture

UPDATE and CORRECTION from previous version: Tom Dyer has COVID and the show has been postponed to December 9. Keyboardist Joe Cason and bassist Gene Tveden graduated from Olympia High School.

At the height of the pandemic, as fellow Olympians watched TV shows and baked sourdough bread, Tom Dyer was telling Olympia’s story.

The twist: He wasn’t writing a book but an album, a three-CD, 40-song collection called “Olympia: A True Story,” released in October on his own Green Monkey Records and recorded with his band, the True Olympians.

The songs on the album, all written by Dyer, cover a plethora of topics past and present, including Evergreen State College (“A Bucketful of Weird”), the punk scene, parades, significant historical events and well-known characters, Olympia oysters, beer and even mud.

“It’s Mud”, rock hard and full of fuzz, begins: “Everyone says it’s water/Flowin’ pure and sweet/A perpetual flood/Twice a day something else will happen/Tide pull back now/Oh, baby, it’s mud.

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Bruce Dyer, brother of Tom Dyer, sits on the shores of Mud Bay, the ancestral home of the Dyers and the subject of several songs on the album. Tom Dyer Courtesy picture

“As a kid who spent a ton of time at my grandparents in Mud Bay, I know well the gooey brown mud that will suck the shoes off your feet,” Dyer wrote in the track’s liner notes.

Mud Bay also received a lot of positive attention on the album, including “Clammin'” which Dyer describes as a meditation. “It’s my Mud Bay love song,” he said.

And then there’s “Grandma Caught the Shark,” about the day in 1957 when Dyer’s grandparents, Freddie and Faith Kroll, caught a shark in the bay. Their act was the stuff of family legend and at least fleeting fame: the couple’s photo appeared on the front page of The Olympian.

“It was a slow news day,” Dyer said.

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One of the album’s most personal songs, “Grandma Caught the Shark,” tells the story of the day in 1957 when the exploits of Dyer’s grandparents, Fred and Faith Kroll, brought them to the front page of The Olympian. Courtesy picture

Dyer had no intention of making this album his magnum opus. It turned out that way, mainly because of COVID-19.

“You can always write songs when you can’t do anything else,” he said. “If it hadn’t been for COVID, the album wouldn’t have been this big. The songs got a lot more obscure over time.

The local flavor of the album is not only due to its songs. It also includes jingles from local radio stations KAOS, KXXO and KGY, as well as two eight-minute tracks recorded in Dyer’s backyard – one of birds and the other of frogs and rain.

The rain also has its own song, natch. Example lyrics: “The gray is in our soul.”

All three discs come with an 80-page book with lyrics, background information, photos, and even source lists, including two articles by this writer.

This is far from the only link with The Olympian. “A Deadly Wind,” about the 1962 Columbus Day storm, is based on and named after the book by longtime journalist and columnist John Dodge. And “Let It Rain” reveals that Dyer returned the diary when it was released in the afternoon.

Then there’s Dyer’s band, True Olympians, who released their debut single, “Christmas in Olympia” in 2017.

The band – keyboardist Joe Cason, vocalist Lisa Ceazan, drummer Michael Stein and bassist Gene Tveden – all live in Olympia, and Cason and Tveden are also alumni of Dyer’s alma mater, Olympia High, at which he pays tribute with “I’m an Oly Bear. (Stein graduated from Capital High School.)

That’s not all: More than 100 Olympians are making appearances, including Dionyso’s Arrington, the Oly Mountain Boys, the Artesian Rumble Arkestra and more than 50 members of the 2021-22 Olympia High School Choir, who sang the word ” Olympia” on the recognition of the land that opens the album.

“There were 108 guest musicians,” Dyer said. “I was shocked when I counted them at the end. I had no idea there were so many.

Despite the title, “Olympia” includes songs about Lacey and Tumwater. But the first song Dyer wrote for the album, “Olympia My Home,” says it all.

“I went back to Olympia six years ago,” he said, “and I’m very grateful to be here. This album wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t. gave a purpose, an appreciation, which I don’t think I would have had if I had always lived here.Walking down State Street just past Central, the views are magnificent – the Capitol building and the Black Hills.

Release party for the record “Olympia: a true story”

  • What: Tom Dyer and the True Olympians are celebrating the release of their 40-song box set with a benefit concert for the Olympia Arts and Heritage Alliance.
  • When: Originally scheduled for November 4, the party has been postponed to Friday, December 9. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m.
  • Where: Olympia Ballroom, 116 Legion Ave SE, Olympia
  • Tickets: $15 in advance at http://olytruestory.eventbrite.com, $20 at the door
  • More information: http://greenmonkeyrecords.com

Library conference and concert

  • What: Dyer and his team will talk about “Olympia: A True Story” and perform a few songs during this free program.
  • When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 15
  • Where: Olympia Timberland Library, 313 Eighth Avenue SE, Olympia

This story was originally published November 3, 2022 5:00 a.m.