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“The cops keep shutting us down,” says Aaron Witherell, who has been staging outdoor concerts with friends at “the Yard,” a makeshift performance space outside a four-unit rental property on 17th Street, between Imperial and Commercial.

“It’s pretty much the worst block in San Diego. It’s a loud spot, with trains and a lot of homeless people. The cops say someone is complaining about the noise…but there’s nothing on either side of [the Yard]. It’s next to the freeway, and St. Vincent de Paul across the street said we could play until midnight.”

“What usually happens is 2 cops will come around ten and tell us to turn it down. Then, a couple hours later, 20 cops will show up.… We weren’t having any problem until the cops found out what we were doing.” He says police have issued three tickets so far. “They’re all a thousand dollars each, and three different guys in the house got tickets. Now, we shut down shows earlier.”

Around 50 bands have performed on the homemade plywood stage.

“We spent, like, 120 bucks on wood at Home Depot and built a stage on the dirt.… They were ripping the carpet out at the Horton Grand Theatre downtown, and they let us take it to put down over the dust in the yard.” Acts that have played there include the Sess, DJ Holmes, and Witherell’s bands, Steep Hill Project and Gasoline Chicken. As far as average crowd size goes, Witherell estimates, “I wanna say under 50, for legal reasons.”

The Yard doesn’t charge admission (“It’s all donations, like an art collective”). The next multi-band show takes place September 27. Says Witherell, “Make sure you say the live bands will stop by nine.”

– Jay Allen Sanford

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