One of my favorite things growing up in the summer was our trips to Hartwood Acres. My friend and I would go with our parents, but also with her neighbors, two elderly sisters Betty and Rita. I so very vividly remember Betty and Rita packing us hard salami sandwiches with mayonnaise when we would go watch the River City Brass Band or the Tamburitzans.
My husband had been to Hartwood Acres only once before, and therefore had not had this fantastic childhood experience, so I was eager to test it out again and bring him along. We finally picked a date when it wasn’t raining, and set out for the concert.
Hartwood Acres is an area in the North Hills that has a long lawn for free concerts in the summer, but is also home to the Oglebay-like light show in the winter. There is also the famous Hartwood Mansion, and a golf course, and it’s very near North Park, which is one of the large Pittsburgh area parks. Hartwood Acres hosts concerts on Sunday nights in the summer, and almost all of them are free (the ones with a charge usually go to charity).
We chose to go on August 1st to see the band Yo La Tengo. Although we didn’t really know the band at all, it was a beautiful night temperature-wise, and we figured some exposure to new music would be good for us, so we loaded up our picnic dinner and our blanket and set off!
One of the best things about Hartwood Acres concerts is that people bring their dogs, and there is so much dog-watching to be done. I also do a considerable amount of people-watching while we are there, but I really love seeing dogs of all sizes and breeds playing on the lawn. Someday, when Lucy is a little older and a lot better behaved, we will definitely bring her out for a concert! She would have so much fun.
Another thing I love about Hartwood Acres is the old people who go every week, regardless of what the band is. Yo La Tengo is an indie-ish rock band, but there were the little old couples with their wine and lawn chairs anyway, just to give it a fair shot. When I saw P-Funk there in 2001, those same little old people were there (well, I guess since that was a significant time ago, maybe they were different old people, but old people rocking out to the Funk nonetheless!). So that’s where the people-watching comes in, certainly.
We thought the band was pretty good (although the sound system there doesn’t really do anyone justice), and of course we had great company with two of our other friend-couples. The picnic food was quite nice (see the next entry for pictures), and those hard salami sandwiches were almost as good as the ones Betty and Rita would make for us!
All in all, the night was a success, even if we did leave before the encore to ensure that we got out before hitting the traffic. The one problem with Hartwood Acres is the fact that all they’ve got in terms of restrooms are port-a-potties, and there is ALWAYS a line, so we make sure to hustle out of there at the end of the evening.
I can’t wait to hit some more shows next summer. The Tamburitzans were always one of my favorite shows, and for some reason, they skipped this summer. Next year, I am putting it on the list, and taking Michael back to Hartwood Acres!