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‘A hidden jewel’: Lurman Woodland Theatre in Catonsville bounces back after COVID cost them last summer

Musical bands have returned this summer to perform at the Lurman Woodland Theatre, an outdoor community amphitheater run by a group of volunteers near Catonsville High School’s campus.

Since 1992, the theater has been a “hidden jewel” in the Catonsville area, according to volunteers Bill and Sherry Reich, bringing free concerts for all ages every weekend in June, July, and August in a naturally wooded setting.

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“It’s a community thing,” Bill Reich, a lifelong Catsonsville resident said. “There are a lot of people that know about it, but there’s also a lot of people that don’t know about it.”

The music returned this summer after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the outdoor concert series last summer for the first time in its nearly 30-year history.

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“Last summer, the one thing I absolutely missed was coming to Lurman theater,” said Catonsville resident Alex Zach. “I just love the energy being outside with a lot of people, it feels like summer to me.”

Items such lawn chairs, picnics, and blankets are welcome to the space, while pets, alcohol, drugs and grills are prohibited, according to Lurman’s website.

The property where concerts are staged had been passed down through the family lineage of German immigrant Frances D. Lurman, according to a website on the site’s history. After purchasing the estate, Lurman proceeded to bring many rare trees and shrubs to the property.

“I know there’s other places that do free concerts but this is such a beautiful spot — the trees and natural amphitheater … I just love it,” Zach said.

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The property was later sold by Lurman in 1948 to the Baltimore County Board of Education for the construction of Catonsville High School.

Today, the theater has expanded to what concertgoers see today which features live music, free parking and picnic tables in a shaded area covered by many trees. While the admission is free, volunteers walk around carrying donation buckets for those who want to support the program.

Bill Reich said 2020 was a horrible year for businesses and the theater lost a couple of its sponsors, “but we’ve come back pretty strong this year.”

Opening weekend this year kicked off with rock band Appaloosa on June 5 and the Eric Scott Band on June 6, under COVID-19 restrictions and capacity limitations of 1,000 people, Sherry Reich said. The events average between 300 and 500 people with some nights pulling in a crowd of 800 people, she said.

“We got real close to capacity one time but by then the capacity restrictions in the county had been lifted,” she added.

"Different Sisters" performs at the Lurman Woodland Theatre in Catonsville. Members of the group; (L to R) Mike Foreman, keys/vocal; Bill Whitelock - drums; twin sisters, Lindsay and Lauren Satterfield; and Paul McKeown, guitar/vocals. (Not pictured, Jim Groszer, bass/vocals.) Lurman Woodland Theatre is a outdoor music venue located on the campus of Catonsville High School.
"Different Sisters" performs at the Lurman Woodland Theatre in Catonsville. Members of the group; (L to R) Mike Foreman, keys/vocal; Bill Whitelock - drums; twin sisters, Lindsay and Lauren Satterfield; and Paul McKeown, guitar/vocals. (Not pictured, Jim Groszer, bass/vocals.) Lurman Woodland Theatre is a outdoor music venue located on the campus of Catonsville High School. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Baltimore Sun Media)

Located at either entrance of 614 Hilltop Road or 425 Bloomsbury Avenue, the theater provides regular shows that are open to the public on Saturday and Sunday nights, showcasing music styles from big band to bluegrass, rock to reggae, and country to Cajun.

“I enjoy the type of music that they have,” said Mary Workman, a Baltimore area resident. “I bring family members here frequently, especially since my husband is in one of the bands that performs here.”

Workman’s husband, Glenn, is keyboardist and vocalist for Technicolor Motor Home, the band that will close out the season on Aug. 29.

“With him being a musician we’re friends with many of the people that they bring to perform here so we like to come out and support each other whenever we can,” she said.

Other upcoming bands for the series include Remains of Radio this Saturday, Aug. 14; Texas Chainsaw Horns on Sunday, Aug. 15; Diamond Alley on Aug. 21, Second Hand News on Aug. 22, and Code Red on Aug. 28.

To learn more information about this summer concert series, visit www.lurman.com.

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