One thing that I can say I did not learn until I came to Music Maker – there is nothing like planning a concert series outdoors. Attending them, well, I’d done my fair share before joining the MMRF team in 2011. When planning our Roots and Leaves Series for 2012, I remember thinking, “Yes, weather might intervene, but it’s worth the risk! Besides, NC is always in a draught. We’ll have no problems.“ Hah.

This past June we put on the second Roots and Leaves Series, with assistance from Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Strowd Roses Foundation and Bryan Properties. I was so happy to see this program thrive for the second time – but didn’t welcome the second year of weather-related anxiety. Staying up late checking Accuweather (disclaimer: this is not a plug for Accuweather), refreshing weather radar obsessively the day of the show, choosing which local meteorologist seemed the most competent and throwing things at the TV when their report was less than ideal…

Our first show had an untimely run-in with Tropical Storm Andrea, which dumped a good deal of rain on our region in North Carolina and forced us to move our concert indoors. We had a small, dedicated crowd that ventured out despite the gloomy skies and squishy ground.  Ben Payton and Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen played an awesome show, and with the intimate setting they were able to have a lot of fun.

Our next two shows were what the series is all about – outdoors, beautiful weather, and reaching an audience that wanted to learn about music steeped in North Carolina’s history. We saw many of the same faces, week after week, who always stopped by to say hello and thank us for putting on the free series. And then, there were the new faces, equally fun to see, many of whom were walking by when the music stopped them in their tracks and guided them over. That is the beauty of taking Roots music outdoors – you can reach new people without even trying!

The week of the last show found me displaying a high level of rain-anxiety; since it was so hot the “probability” of a storm forming was high, but my trusted weather sites and meteorologists couldn’t say for sure it would impact my show. They couldn’t even be half sure. Of course, by the afternoon that day we had severe thunderstorms approaching and were unable to take refuge in our rain location. With gathering clouds, Lakota John asked to start the show twenty minutes early, so the fifty people already gathered could enjoy the music before lightening started. We got about a half hour in before we had to run for cover, but it was a GREAT half hour!

Sometimes, when you’re struggling to break down sound equipment in a sudden downpour, having music outside seems like a bad idea. But then the rain passes, and I remember the wonderful people we meet, and the new fans of Roots music we lure in, when we bring the music out into the sun and set it free. So, hope to see you there next year!

Check out some photos our intern Thomas Heisler took at the Roots and Leaves shows where the weather held:

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