Rochester’s Secret Garden puts a new spin on music venues

by DGO Web Administrator

Musicians are finding non-traditional venues as hot-spots to perform, something outside of a bar or club, void of drunken morons or late-nights. There’s a nationwide network of people willing to host house-concerts, extending an open invitation to those willing to kick down some cash and promise not to root through your medicine cabinet during set-break. Art spaces, libraries, and hotels are all jumping on board, offering up a performance space for bands to play, providing an environment that remains appealing to those not interested in hiking into a club at midnight.

A gem of a spot is at the Rochester Hotel; The Secret Garden has been hosting shows now for a handful of years, and is the headquarters of the Community Foundation of Southwest Colorado’s concert series; these are shows that benefit local nonprofits. A local organization applies to be part of the pool of recipients, and a board that includes members of the Community Foundation, staff of the Rochester, and other sponsors select the recipients based on their financial standing with the Internal Revenue Service and their ability to help promote the concert series.

“The committee does their best to select organizations that represent a wide variety of sectors,” said Paige Elliott, marketing and grants manager for the Community Foundation. “This year, we have nonprofits that represent environment, education, arts and culture, animal protection, human services, and youth.”

The series kicked off two weeks ago and will run each Wednesday through August 30. All in all, it’s 10 concerts that benefit 10 organizations, with the overall pot of cash collected throughout the series divvied up for the beneficiaries.

“It’s a really unique system for both supporting our local nonprofits, as well as developing a fun summertime event the community can look forward to every year” added Elliott.

Next week’s event will feature longtime Durango bluegrass band Badly Bent, a band that doesn’t shy away from playing benefits, knows a good time when they see it, and appreciates a venue like this one.

“Its one of the coolest places to play in Durango for a couple of reasons,” said banjo player Mark Epstein. “Each concert raises money for a nonprofit in town. That’s awesome. Second, the venue is set up so the people who want to listen to music can sit up front and it’s quiet, while those who are there to socialize can stand in the back and talk without being disruptive to those listening.”

“The Secret Garden seems to have a bit of legendary status around here and I feel like I’m being initiated into some clandestine music society,” added Fred Kosak, who, in less than a year in Durango, has dove head first into Durango’s music scene, into which he’s been welcome with open arms. This includes forming Stillhouse Junkies and joining The Badly Bent. “Its definitely one of the most magical spots in town. They’ve done a ton to support local music and I’m glad to get to be a part of it.”

Other bands performing the series include Dustin Burley, The Assortment, Lawn Chair Kings, Hello, Dollface, Black Velvet, Pete Giuliani Band, and Six Dollar String Band. Beneficiaries include Know Your Dough, Garden Project of SW Colorado, Stillwater Music, Durango High School Troupe 1096, San Juan Symphony, Durango Adult Education Center, Lisa Parkers Puppies, and Companeros.

Concert fundraisers are cool.

Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. [email protected].


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