For most adults, a backyard is just a place where the grass needs to be cut, weeds need to be pulled and plants need to be trimmed. But for kids, they see a spot where imagination can run wild. To them, the backyard is where they can spend all day laughing, dreaming and playing with friends.
This year, Bread & Roses decided to look at backyards the same way kids do. As a safe place where friends can gather, joy can be shared and hope can be created.
This fall, Bread & Roses hosted two “Night on the Lawn” Backyard Benefit Concerts. These events served two purposes. The shows helped bring in needed support so we can continue to present the healing power of music to our neighbors in need. And at the same time, they brought newfound friends in the form of both performers and local community members who gathered to learn more about our dedicated mission to bring music and live art to isolated audiences throughout the Bay Area. To me, that was my favorite part of the night. Watching the magic of music bring people together. Seeing faces light up as they learned about Bread & Roses. And the smiles that formed when they heard about the history and success of our organization. I have witnessed the joy live music can bring to isolated audiences, but at these events, I witnessed the hope our mission can bring to our ever-expanding community.
The first “Night on the Lawn” event was hosted in San Mateo, with musical guests from the band Fog Swamp. Strings of lights brightened the yard as the audience socially distanced themselves and enjoyed the lively performance. Fog Swamp combined New Orleans funk and blues, with rock, bluegrass and jazz for an evening filled with a variety of music, laughter and a whole lot of clapping.
Our second Backyard Benefit Concert was also hosted in San Mateo County in a beautiful outdoor setting in Atherton, with musical guests Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz from ALO & Stu Allen who regularly plays with Phil Lesh & Friends. The night was filled with crowd-pleasing hits from the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, and a special Neil Young “mini set.” Lebo and Stu created an intimate experience with a performance that felt like it was a special concert just for us.
While performing, “Lebo” reminisced about the first time he learned about Bread & Roses. He was just a kid going through his father’s record collection when he stumbled across the 1979 album “Bread & Roses: Festival of Acoustic Music.” The album opens with a message from Mimi Fariña and includes songs from Pete Seeger, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Ritchie Havens, Joan Baez, and more. It ends with a finale of everyone singing Just A Closer Walk With Thee. The album is packed with joy and memories from our earliest days and it’s great to see young artists continue to be impacted by the album today.
What we thought might be a temporary solution to our pandemic-related quandary of not being able to schedule a regular indoor Fall Benefit Concert, turned out to be two nights of memorable performances, with newfound friendships, in backyards filled with joy. We look forward to the return of warmer weather and continuing our “Night on the Lawn” series. Special thank you to Board Member Alex Wellins for helping plan two great evenings.
(l-r) Alex Wellins, Diane Pickell-Gore, Heidi James and Dave Perron
We were also pleased to have recent support from Saints & Sinners in San Francisco from a virtual concert “Singing In My Soul” performed by Johnny Shepherd and Rocco DeLuca at the St. Joseph’s Arts Society. The live-stream of rousing gospel music was a wonderful event to help support our music programs around the Bay.
By Jordan Moore, Development/Communications Associate