Backyard boogie


September 22, 2005|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,sun reporter

Who said parenthood has to keep you from seeing shows?

Tracey Gaughran-Perez found a way to make concerts come to her.

This year, she started hosting backyard mini-festivals for parents and their kids. Called Rock-N-Romps, they run about three hours on the last Saturday of every month at Perez's Lauraville home. Her next one, which features three alternative bands, kids' activities and refreshments, is Saturday.

"This is definitely a venue for me to meet like-minded people who happen to have kids," Perez said. Her daughter Mina is almost 3 years old.

"It's also for the adults that come. It attracts certain kinds of parents who have interests in a specific kind of music. Having all those people together with their children, I know a lot of friendships have been created from that."

Perez borrowed the idea from her friend Debbie Lee, who has hosted Rock-N-Romps near Silver Spring for four consecutive summers. Perez said that about 50 to 60 people - some of whom she has never met - usually drive to her house with their children and boogie down.

Most of Perez's guests are in their mid-20s to -30s and have children from infants to age 6, she said. The kids play on her swingset, wooden pirate ship and sandbox. The adults plunk down in lawn chairs. The kids sip juice boxes. The adults drink beer.

"It's probably in all honesty 50 percent for the kids and 50 percent for the adults," said Perez, who is 35. "People like myself who have kids know it's very hard to get out and see bands. This gives them a place to go."

Each band plays about a 40-minute set. The music usually starts about 3 p.m. and lasts until about 6 p.m., Perez said. Perez said she and her husband, Jamie, recruited a few handy friends and built a 10-foot by 12-foot wooden stage.

Some bands allow kids to hop up on stage and beat on the drums during setbreak, Perez said. Band members with kids bring them, too.

"That's a great thing for them, because their kids never get to see them unless they're practicing at their house," Perez said.

About half the kids dance to the music, which Perez keeps at a medium volume so as not to damage their hearing. The other half runs madly around the yard, she said.

So far, the next-door neighbors are receptive to Rock-N-Romps, Perez said. One family brought their 4-year-old over several times, and another older neighbor plans on coming to Saturday's show, she said.

"I really felt a genuine sense that people really feel like this is a great thing and they do their best to really encourage it," Perez said.

The next Rock-N-Romp is Saturday, and features the bands the Tombs, Pale Stars and the Blames. A $4 donation is suggested. For directions, e-mail rocknromp@sweet For more information, visit

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