Menlo Park resident opens backyard to concert series | June 29, 2011 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Community - June 29, 2011

Menlo Park resident opens backyard to concert series

by Sandy Brundage

Eight years ago, Gwendolyn Fuller asked herself, "What are the dreams unlived in my life?" While recuperating from an accident requiring extensive surgery, she realized one answer rested in her own backyard.

A musician, she loved listening to live music, but hated driving all the way to San Francisco or Shoreline only to sit so far away from the band it was like watching them on television.

"So I landscaped my house to be able to accommodate a stage area," she said. Enter Blue Rock House Concerts, the name inspired by glowing chunks of blue glass scattered around the yard of her home in the 700 block of Stanford Avenue in Menlo Park. "I'm a Star Trek fan," she admitted. "So I designed a futuristic Garden of Eden."

About 130 people lounged in Ms. Fuller's backyard on Saturday, June 25, to listen to alternative rock band Luce perform. "It was phenomenal," she said. "About one-third of the audience was new."

For seven years, Ms. Fuller has hosted bands large and small at her home. With three shows during the summer, and occasional smaller gatherings during winter, she gets plenty of practice as a stagehand.

"I'm sort of the roadie. I'm looking at lights, doing multiple soundchecks, making sure the music is loud enough, but not too loud. I'm always keeping my eye open, is everything going alright with the bathroom?" she said and laughed. "I'm a vigilant relaxed person."

Aside from a rare plumbing problem like the one that struck the day before Saturday's concert, the events sound hassle-free. Charging $25 per person to pay the band, Ms. Fuller described the event as basically a private party that makes no money, which saves her from dealing with the red tape of permits.

"The other thing I do is make sure the music never lasts beyond 8:30 p.m. I let all neighbors know when the concerts are, and they can come for free," Ms. Fuller said. "They love it. Sometimes they sit in their yards sipping wine and listen."

She hosts the next concert on Aug. 20, with Celtic band Molly's Revenge.

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