Hampden Hi-Fi concert series rocks Roosevelt Park

Henry and Betty Bradford, residents of Hampden for 50 years, sit back in their chairs and enjoy the music during the Hampden Hi-Fi concert series at Roosevelt Park on Friday.
Henry and Betty Bradford, residents of Hampden for 50 years, sit back in their chairs and enjoy the music during the Hampden Hi-Fi concert series at Roosevelt Park on Friday. (Staff photo by Brian Krista)

Herb Hunt went crabbing Friday morning on the Wye River. In the evening, he and his wife, Judy, brought a picnic of crabs to a free concert in Roosevelt Park.

"I think it's great," said Judy Hunt, 49, as she and a friend, Sherry Poole, 43, polished off their crabs.


The concert was the second in a summer series of eight weekly Friday evening concerts in Roosevelt Park. The series, called Hampden Hi-Fi, debuted the evening before HonFest and ends July 27, organizer Genny Dill said.

The concerts, which feature food, beer and wine for sale, are envisioned partly as a fundraiser for the rec center, Dill said. She said any money left over after paying expenses will go to benefit the Roosevelt Park Recreation Council.


Sponsors including Hekemian & Co., owner of the Rotunda, and Visit Baltimore, the city's quasi-public tourism and marketing agency, are covering most of the $17,000 to $18,000 in expenses, said Dill, who is a member of the Hampden Community Council and the rec council.

In addition to live music, Friday's event also included a fashion show sponsored by the Hampden boutique store Charlotte Elliott.

The series is a hit with Hampden residents like Hunt and Poole, who were born and raised and raised their children in Hampden. Their kids played soccer and baseball at Roosevelt Recreation Center adjacent to the park.

"So we support (the rec council) any way we can," Hunt said. She said it was her second week of going to the series and that the crowd seemed bigger than in the first week.

Dill said crowds for the first week were estimated at 350.

For the Brusio family, sharing a pizza from nearby Bella Roma, the concert series is about supporting and celebrating Hampden, where they live.

"It's nice that Hampden is doing something like this," said salesman Joe Brusio, 59. "Everybody's mellowed out."

"We just want to listen to music and hang out with our neighbors," said Shannon Chirgott, 31, sitting in the park with her husband Demetrios and their 2-year-old son, Atticus.

"It's nice to have more community and meet people in the neighborhood," said Demetrios Chirgott.

Friday's musical lineup had a local vibe, too. Gary Barrett, of local band Gary B and the Notions, was followed by the Mr. Wilson Band, whose lead female vocalist, Jodi Swartz, was a member of the Hampden Hi-Fi planning committee.

And most of the concertgoers live in the immediate area.

"We walked up," said Henry Bradford, 79, sitting in a lawn chair next to his wife of 50 years, Betty, 78.


Dill's family, and merchants like Dense Whiting of Café Hon, helped staff the event, including cooking and serving food.

Dill hired two off-duty police officers as security, and even rented the rec center for eight Friday nights, so that it would stay open past 6 p.m., and concertgoers could use the bathrooms.

Why go to all that trouble and expense?

"Why not?" Dill said. She said she hoped to make a profit of $5,000 for recreation, but added, "At worst, we'll break even, and a lot of families will have had a lot of fun."

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