Building community through backyard music

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Ask almost any musician and they’ll tell you it’s a tough time to be in the business. It’s difficult to make money the way musicians and songwriters did as recently as 30 years ago.

But the industry is adapting and finding new ways to help the talented young people now coming up make a living at it.

Rebekah Todd is one of them. She grew up in Benson and majored in fine art at East Carolina University and thought she’d do painting and drawing, before realizing that music was the art she wanted to pursue.

“I think musicians and artists can't really help it,” she says. “It's almost like something that they don't choose in life, it chooses them.”

And Paul Heist and his wife, Karen, chose Rebekah and her band, “The Odyssey,” for one of their recent backyard concerts.

“Honestly, I have to turn down about two or three artists a week that want to come and do a house concert,” says Paul.

The Heists’ “Backyard Stage,” is just that – a stage in their backyard where they have put on about ten shows a year for the last six years.

In a divided world, this seems to be one thing that can bring people together.

“It seems like a very unifying thing. I think everybody likes live music,” says Paul.

And inspiring. Paul and Karen’s friends, husband and wife Jim Halsch and Susan Hunt, went to one of the Heists’ shows and decided to do something similar at their house, a venue known as “The Big Purple.”

“That's really what our goal has been, to create more community,” says Susan.

They recently had an artist named Lacy Green, who grew up nearby in Pilot Mountain. Lacy, like Rebekah, comes from a musical family.

“When I was growing up, music in my house was always really organic -- people coming over and just jamming -- when I was growing up,” says Lacy. “So I think in the last 10 years, people have really appreciated that and brought back the house concert sort of vibe.

“I'm honestly addicted to it,” admits Rebekah. “We get to travel the country and meet new people.”

And see how it is a development that can keep the music industry alive, in this edition of the Buckley Report.