By Damian Goebel
“The thing that weirds people out is you’re walking into our backyard,” Said Sean Kershaw, who along with his husband Tim Hawkins, operate the Grand Oak Opry out of their, well, backyard.
“We have volunteer greeters. We let people use our bathroom. People treat it with real respect and each other with real respect,” he said.
The pair have been hosting concerts from their home since 2014. Over the years, the concerts have grown from about 40 people for some of the first shows to over 500 for a Nur-D performance last year, according to Kershaw.
He said the germ of the idea started when he and Hawkins were married in their yard and had a performer from the Cactus Blossoms for the ceremony. After that they saw that they had a place where musicians could perform and make money.
“We didn’t want to make money, we ask for donations and all the money goes to the bands,” said Kershaw. “We ask for $15, people can pay money or pay nothing.”
A typical season has between five and seven bands, with six performing this year. Kershaw said that they are very deliberate about their lineup each year.
“We make sure we have a mix of gender, race and ethnicities. A lot of thought goes into the summer, but some of it is a hunch,” he said.
Kershaw said that shows are family friendly and usually done by 9:00 p.m.
Kershaw said he is really excited about this year’s slate of bands. “Mayyadda just blew people away last time,” he said. “This year she has an album release and it’s her birthday.”
“The Johnny Sincerely Orchestra is a local band on August 26. I’m really excited to have someone from the neighborhood,” he added.
Mostly, Kershaw feels very fortunate to be able to provide a venue for artists in his own backyard.
“Quietly, we realized it was a way to bring the neighborhood together,” he said. “This literally couldn’t happen without West 7th support.
July 1, 8 p.m.: Mayyadda
July 22, 7:30 p.m.: Peter Goggin Quintet
Aug. 19, 7:30 p.m.: Rogue Valley
Aug. 26, 7:30 p.m.: Johnny Sincerely Orchestra
Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m.: Lady Midnight
Grand Oak Opry, 273 Goodhue St. W.;