Quintessential Summer: Outdoor Music and Grilling
I know I’m lucky. I live in the Historic Area of Williamsburg, Virginia, in a house built in the 1760s. History is everywhere, including out my front door.
But out my back door, on Wednesday evenings during the summer, there’s something more. The Summer Breeze concert series launched in a new location last summer, on the lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. Each week, due to the great efforts of local non-profit CultureFix and some local sponsors, we got to hear some amazingly diverse music.
This past year we got Zydeco, reggae, Americana, blues, jazz, bluegrass, British, funk and pop. You truly don’t realize it when you read the list, how diverse those types of music are…until it’s that week’s concert, and you suddenly realize you know nothing about Zydeco! And how many reggae songs can there be? And you remember how much you love the Jimmy Buffet vibe!
For my family, we celebrated summer and the great efforts of groups like CultureFix, who hosts the concerts, to make Williamsburg a more well-rounded place. Our weekly ritual included inviting people over to grill in our yard, which is within hearing distance of the concert. We nicknamed this “The Porchlaski Club,” a riff on the historic Pulaski Club, founded in 1779, that meets down the street.
Our inclusive club reinforces the importance of regular socialization, especially for people in Williamsburg who are neither college students nor retirees, what I call “the demographic valley.” We’re all busy and having a regular night of the week to share food, drinks and catch up means a lot to us. Free music, a safe place for the kids to run around and a regular time to see old friends, meet new people and welcome those we’d like to know better contributes to our sense of community. Convening groups of people is an art, and often forgotten in the busy hubbub of getting things done.
People brought veggie burgers and hot dogs, mushrooms and squash, salmon and swordfish, spring rolls and ice cream bars. We had a bit of “Stone Soup” vibe where everyone brought something and out of that, we had a feast! Lawn chairs and coolers, plus mixing in neighbors, colleagues and friends made for an interesting evening each time, totally unique in the conversations and connections. For our final Wednesday night, we had “Messy Spaghetti” which most of the kids loved, and so did some of the adults.
We love where we live, and feeling a deep-rooted sense of belonging makes us love it even more.
Editor’s note: Would you like to experience Virginia’s unique history and culture? Mark your calendar for the Customs, Cultures & Cuisines Festival.