Live at the Lumberyard started when Danny Groff, the owner of Palisade Lumber, said he would give hosting a music event in the lumberyard a shot. 5 years later, there are 5 events every summer, with more and more people coming, and bands from up and down the east coast wanting to perform.
I reached out Kern Weissman, the current president of the Riverview Neighborhood Association, to find out the history behind Live at the Lumberyard. (To preface, I was the social chair of RNA at the time this event came to fruition and was on the board once we began applying for grants and having more events).
What sparked the idea of Live at the Lumberyard?
The idea of doing music at Palisade Lumber was mainly spurred by us trying to figure out how to host more events within the Riverview Arts District for JC Friday's. It was attractive to use private spaces for the events to eliminate the permit requirements when doing events on city property.
When did the Live at the Lumberyard start?
It started 5 years for a JC Friday’s event with Becky Hoffman, the then president, reaching out to Danny. Once the event proved to be a success, with Danny’s blessing, we decided to apply for the Hudson County Local Arts Program grant to expand the event to multiple shows.
When you began LATLY did you think it would evolve into what is has become?
The original event consisted of one set of music from Al Festa of The Bensonridge Project and a DJ set by Meghan McKee. We were actually going to do two sets of music that year but we got rained out after the first set. (There were multiple other arts events in the Heights for JC Friday’s hosted by RNA as well.) We did not think at the time that we would expand to 5 shows per year, but through partnering with Hudson County cultural affairs, Nick Ciavatta, and Gerald Lucas we saw the opportunity to expand the scope of the event. We then gradually added elements like artist light projections, food trucks, and guest DJ's.
An interesting fact is that the event was not named the first year. Al Festa, after he finished playing, came up with the name "Live at the Lumberyard" and Becky and I ran with it.
What surprises you the most at the Lumberyard events? For me is how far people come to see the bands and they don't follow the bands or live in Jersey City.
The dramatic increase in turnout each year and the fact that many people hang out at the event for the entire evening, similar to a paid/ticketed music show.
What is the hardest part about planning LATLY?
Definitely the preparation and that we can only start setting up the event at 5:00 pm when Palisade Lumber closes for business (we always respect the fact that this is a working business). The volunteers led by Jocelyn Patrick, at the event, and our volunteer coordinator Kristina Behrens have make it possible to pull this off each night. Also, Becky is still involved and helps plan and setup every event.
What do we have to look forward to this year?
This year we have purposefully expanded the diversity of music, we opened with an incredible set from San Simon and Deveito (United States Of Boogaloo). Coming up on July 22nd, we have acclaimed local Latin vocalist Rebecca Vallejo headlining the event. We are also very excited to have Sterling Rhyne on Aug 12th and the Sept 2nd show features all bands that are new the Lumberyard. We'll also be featuring more guest DJ's and video/projection artists and of course local food trucks.
Any sponsors that we should say hello to at the table this year?
Yes, we would not be able to keep these events going without our series sponsors that allow us to match the Hudson County LAP grant. Make sure to visit with Natalie with JCity Realty (2nd year sponsor) and The Fox and Crow. We are also remember that Palisade Lumber functions as a full hardware store so stop in when you have the need and while you're there, thank them for donating their space for these concerts. Finally, Remco Press does all our printing as is a local printing and graphics design company.
Anything else you want to share?
Please continue to spread the word at come out for the next show on July 22nd. If you would like to be involved with the events in any way please contact us at email@example.com.
My Guest post on Have a Night on the Lumberyard
Other articles on Live at the Lumberyard:
Photos courtesy of John Matthews and Joe Horowitz - two active members of Jersey City Heights. And the Riverview Neighborhood Association.