Gazebo on green takes stage

Recreation Department sponsors music events, with hopes of series next year

  • Folk musician Tad Dreis of Keene plays during a concert on the green in mason on Thursday night, in the gazebo constructed last fall.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Jerry Wile of Mason sings his own original folk tunes on the Mason green after a community supper at the Mason Congregational Church.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • A small crowd of residents gathered around the gazebo on the Mason common to listen to Tad Dreis of Keene during a free concert on the green on Thursday night. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Tad Dreis of Keene blows a quick tune on his harmonica during a concert on the green in Mason on Thursday night.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

MASON — A little more than 30 people are gathered around the gazebo in the middle of the Mason common Thursday. Some have wandered in from across the street from the church’s regular community supper. Some are seated on lawn chairs, others on blankets, and some just sprawl directly on the grass. In the gazebo, bolstered by a sound system, musicians Tad Dreis of Keene, followed by Mason resident Jerry Wile, strum their guitars and sing their own originals and cover tunes. It’s a pretty idyllic scene and, for at least one resident, the realization of a longtime dream.

When Wally Brown of Mason was growing up in town, he loved to go to the local bandstands in Milford or Ashby, Mass., to catch local musicians plying their trade. He always questioned why Mason didn’t also have a gazebo. But it wasn’t until about two years ago that he decided to do something about it himself.

When the Mason Congregational Church started a monthly open mic, known as “The Living Room Coffee House,” Brown began to notice how many musicians were living and playing in Mason.

“I didn’t realize Mason had that many people into music and playing instruments,” said Brown. “I thought, ‘Now’s the time to do something on the common.’”

While vacationing in Vermont, Brown would stop in every town that had a gazebo to take pictures and measurements of the structures, to get ideas of different styles and sizes, to create a vision for what he wanted to see on the Mason town green. After that, he got in contact with Bernie O’Grady, a fellow Mason resident, musician and, most importantly, carpenter, about the idea. Immediately, O’Grady was interested, said Brown, and the two struck a deal. O’Grady would design and help build the structure, if Brown was able to raise the funds for it.

Brown, chair of the Mason Recreation Department, got his own department and the Historical Society involved. The 2011 Old Home Day was dedicated to raising the estimated $7,000 needed to erect the gazebo, and sure enough the group met its goal without having to go to taxpayers. Between Old Home Day, local businesses chipping in, and the Wolf Rocker Square Dancers helping with the fundraising, construction was ready to start by April 2012. Once funds were in place, there were more volunteers jumped in to help with construction, said Brown. By the next Old Home Day in 2012, the gazebo was complete enough to make its debut as a music spot for the event.

Though the gazebo has seen one Old Home Day and two summer concerts since it was built, and has become a central gathering place for those enjoying the town common, it’s not quite finished yet, said Brown. He, O’Grady and some other volunteers will be meeting this week to close the ceiling of the structure, which is currently exposed beams. Then, with a final coat of paint, what was once an idle thought of Brown’s will finally be finished — just in time for it’s second Old Home Day on Sept. 22.

This summer has just been a taste of things to come, said O’Grady. Now that the gazebo is in place, the next step is generating enough of a budget for the Recreation Department to support a more expansive summer concert series, said Brown.

“It’s not going to happen this year, but maybe next year,” he said. Even though this year there were only two concerts on the green, he was still glad to see the community come out to see them, he said.

“I’ve been most happy with the number of people interested in seeing these concerts. We had about 35 people on Thursday, and last month, we had over 40. I just enjoy getting to see people that I don’t normally see in my day-to-day there, enjoying it.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

Legacy Comments0
There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.