By Sarah CR Clark
As it turns out, Kim and Paul Durkee’s front yard makes for a great outdoor concert venue.
Beneath the sparkly lights strung between white oaks, music groups like GB Leighton, Swingin’ on a Star and Jeff Ray and the Stakes have recently performed for a steady crowd of 130 neighbors (give or take 20) gathered on Grantham Street.
“There is nothing better than live music, especially during Covid,” Kim Durkee said. “I know it helped me survive it and so many others have said the same. It has been a breath of fresh air for so many and it is such a family affair; kids running around, people dancing and enjoying themselves.”
The Durkees, who are great lovers of live music, have hosted 10 Front Lawn Concerts with four this past fall and six in the spring of this year. (They also host a music festival at their cabin each summer; this year’s will include seven bands over two days.)
The local musicians set up their own sound systems and get tips from spectators that average about $1,000 a concert.
“Most say they have never gotten paid so much money,” Kim Durkee said. “We have a very generous neighborhood.”
Neighbor Amy Cram Helwich and her family have attended all 10 Front Lawn Concerts. Helwich said she especially appreciates the community connection the concerts offered during the pandemic-time of physical distancing.
Helwich said the audiences included “a small pack of girls, safely running up and down the blocked street, occasionally begging for cookies that Kim and other neighbors baked, enjoying the freedom of being kids. As parents, we were able to breathe for a moment, to release the tension of balancing school and work at home and enjoy visiting with friends while listening to the music.”
Another neighbor told the Durkees the Front Lawn Concerts have been “magical evenings.”
Kim agreed, noting, “We love them. And the bands love them. For so many of them it’s the first time they’ve played together for a year and a half. And the neighbors love them. It’s a win, win, win.”
While there are no more Front Lawn Concerts scheduled for the immediate future, bands are already hoping to be booked on Grantham again.
“We said this was our last one, but we’ll probably do some more in the fall,” Paul Durkee hinted.
Sarah CR Clark lives in St. Anthony Park and is a regular freelance writer for the Bugle.