Unlike some slick, self-congratulating festivals, the Annual Olympia Festival of Experimental Musics is a down-home, casual affair that places a priority on fun and welcomes the occasional dose of chaos. Wisely, the festival organizers don't concern themselves with defining experimental music, instead preferring to present a variety of free improvisation, avant-rock, avant-jazz, noise, electronic, performance art, and other indefinable sonic phenomena.

Here are some highlights. The festival's opening night (Thurs June 26, Traditions Cafe, 300 Fifth Ave SW) presents one of Olympia's out-jazz elders, Bert Wilson, in a trio with Nancy Curtis and Craig Hoyer, along with a contingent from Seattle's Open Music Workshop (Gust Burns, Annie Lewandowski, Tom Swafford, and Heather Gibbons). Two L.A.-based acts also grace the bill, stalwart drummer Billy Mintz and the evening's closing act, Improvisatyrs, a duo that uses homemade, hacked consumer devices. Bert Wilson joins Seattle's Monktail Creative Music Concern for the festival's second night (Fri June 27, Traditions Cafe, 300 Fifth Ave SW). Also, the electronics-driven Scott Looney Trio and renowned percussionist Gino Robair make the trek from the Bay Area. The third night (Sat June 28, Midnight Sun, 113 N Columbia St) includes two terrifyingly titled acts--Experimental Dental School, and from Chicago, the Big Techno Werewolves. Closing out the festival (Sun June 29, Heart and Soul Dance Studio, 510 N Columbia St) are perennial favorites Noggin and Olympia's own Wood Paneling. Noggin's recent duet of dueling unamplified violins at Polestar was the most arresting music I have heard in months. In addition to the scheduled performances, keep your eyes open for guerrilla happenings occurring throughout Olympia during the week of the festival. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI

The Ninth Annual Olympia Festival of Experimental Musics runs Thurs June 26 through Sun June 29 at 8 pm (various venues mentioned above, festival hotline 360-786-1638), $6/$7 or $20 for a full-festival pass.


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