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Union Street Becomes a “Secret Garden”


Matt Jones at the Secret Garden from hoovesontheturf on Vimeo.

I was getting ready to put out the recycling one Wednesday evening a few weeks back when I heard what I thought sounded like someone playing a Bonnie Prince Billy album out in front of my house. Climate change notwithstanding, February is early for the start of blasting-music-on-Union-Street season and the Bonnie Prince isn't what typically gets pumped out of the local sub-woofers. Intrigued, I stepped outside with my glass-and-plastics bag and found an impromptu live concert taking place on a discarded sofa in front of my neighbor's house two doors up.

It was immediately clear that the bearded singer-guitarist and two women on cello and violin were something special. We get a lot of R train foot traffic on Union between Fourth and Fifth, and by the end of the 15-minute, three-song performance, a small, enrapt crowd had gathered in front of the sofa. Coincidentally, the crowd included Sharon Alpert from the Surdna Foundation who, just the day before, approved a big grant to The Open Planning Project to help us launch Streetsblog Capitol Hill (we're hiring, by the way).

The musician's name was Matt Jones and as the music blog Hooves on the Turf explains, the sofa performance was a part of their "Secret Garden" concert series:

After Matt Jonesplayed his set at Union Hall, we led him and a few of his friends to anabandoned couch that was a block away from the venue. The lighting waspoor, but that comfy bulk of green sitting amongst the continualswooshes of passing cars seemed like it was just waiting for us. Mattwas joined by cellist Colette Alexander, who miraculously lifted afolding chair out of the venue without anyone noticing, and Carol Gray,who played the fiddle. They played three songs, “Lady Dawn”,“Threadlines” and “Hand Out the Drugs”, out of which the first two arefrom his latest, Black Path,and the last one features a little clap-along. Soon after they startedplaying, the person whose house we had settled in front of came out andstayed for the street show, as did a camera-happy couple who livednearby.

That's my neighbor Leo annoying the videographer with his flash photography. With apologies to our spouses, I think Sharon and I are identified as the "happy couple who lived nearby."

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