The music director of WOWD Takoma Radio is looking for host venues as he plans to bring back the YardWork series of pandemic-safe jazz concerts for a second season beginning in April.
Michael Phillips produced 54 outdoor, COVID-safe concerts in local people’s yards last year and, with nice weather on the way, is looking to do it again.
“Like so many other people, full-time musicians have been badly hurt by the pandemic because there are almost no opportunities to perform live,” Phillips wrote in an email to the Source. “Even when things open up again, it will be difficult because so many live music venues have closed for good. New ones will emerge, but it will take time.”
Phillips modeled his program on one from Creative Alliance in Baltimore, which at the time, had put on more than 200 “Sidewalk Serenades” mini-performances. In that model, musicians move from house to house performing short concerts in each yard.
The host pays the band, all fulltime, professional musicians, an agreed-upon fee, perhaps splitting the cost with a neighbor or two. They invite family and friends (up to 25 guests) to an outdoor performance. Guests are then free to tip the band via Venmo or PayPal; all tips go to the musicians.
Philips is also the founder of Jazz Kitchen Productions in Takoma Park, a non-profit group that produces shows supporting the jazz music scene in the area, including bringing jazz back to Takoma Station in 2019.
For YardWork, he focuses on booking quiet genres, such as jazz or folk, since the concerts are held in residential areas; all the musicians he provides are those he’s worked with or seen in concert.
The first YardWork Concerts tour of houses will be April 3. A jazz band will perform for an hour at each of 3-5 homes that afternoon.
Even though the concerts will be held outside, where virus transmission is less of a risk, guests will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing until medical experts say such precautions can be lifted.
Interested hosts can contact Phillips by email at [email protected] for details.
Photo of the Todd Marcus Quartet (left to right, Todd Marcus, Eric Kennedy, Tim Brey, Zack Pride) by Michael Phillips.