rooklyn Pizza Co. owner Shawn Malone of Seymour knows more than just pizza.
He also knows music and how to bring the community together to enjoy it.
For several years, he has helped bring musical acts from all over the country to perform in Seymour.
He once ran the nightclub The Spot, across from the Seymour Police station, and booked gigs there.
“Since I was a little kid, I dreamed of being in the music business,” Malone said.
As he grew older, that dream evolved into wanting to own and operate his own music venue.
A few years ago, he became friends with Cory Gierman, a Nashville, Tennessee-based music publisher and artist manager. Through their friendship, Malone said he received encouragement to follow his dream.
“He has taught me many things about the music biz, and he’s been very helpful in molding my dreams,” Malone said.
Last year, Malone purchased a piece of property to the east of the Second Street building he owns, which houses Brooklyn Pizza, Flying Pink Pig BBQ and Twisted Crew Brewery.
“When I approached the neighbor about selling me the ground, I told them right away what my plans were,” he said.
During Oktoberfest 2014, under a tent, Malone conducted his first concert, calling it free music at Brooklyn Pizza Co. People brought lawn chairs and blankets for seating.
Malone’s friends, Sean Jennings and Amy Pierceall, Lom Win with Mojo Soul, and Rick Wilson, entertained the crowd Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.
While Malone kept looking for people interested in performing on the weekends, his girlfriend, now fiancée, Jennifer Oliver, was trying to come up with a name for the venue.
“She was thinking of names daily,” Malone said.
The end result was Harmony Park, a place where music, food and people can come together in harmony, he said.
“I wanted a spot where a family could come and have a great time together and cost no more than the money they would spend on dinner anyway,” he said.
People may purchase food and alcoholic beverages to enjoy during the concerts, but Malone said it’s not a requirement to come out and enjoy the music.
Just recently, a friend of Malone’s, Shawn Miskell of Seymour, approached him with the idea of building a stage for Harmony Park and combining efforts to host a concert to raise money for local veterans.
Miskell is on the management team at The Home Depot in Seymour.
“Home Depot believes in giving back to the community, especially when it has to do with veterans,” Miskell said. “I felt this was something we should be involved with.”
So they sketched out a design for the stage on the back of a Brooklyn Pizza menu.
“From there, it was history,” Miskell said.
Total cost of the materials for the project was around $3,000.
The Home Depot donated all of the materials and supplied the manpower to build it.
The stage was built by a team of volunteers, including Miskell, Anna Plessinger, Dean Robinson and Jeremie Jones, all with The Home Depot, and their families, with help from Malone, Cornwell Construction and Reasonable Construction in just six days and was finished Aug 8. A Concert for Heroes was conducted the following day after the annual V-J Day Parade.
The show raised around $500 for Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1925 in Seymour and the Wounded Warrior Project. Plans are to make it an annual event.
Malone said the stage, which has been named The Home Depot Community Arts Stage, has solidified Harmony Park.
“We are very thankful to Shawn and his crew for their efforts in making this stage come to life,” Malone said. “The musicians have expressed their joy over having a true outdoor venue to share their talents.”
Concerts are booked every Friday night from 6 to 9 p.m. through the first of October.
Shows are drawing crowds of 50 to 60 people every weekend, with some shows bringing in as many as 120, Malone said.
Although most of the shows are free, there are a few bigger acts that require tickets to cover the cost of putting on the shows, Malone said.
At 5 p.m. Sept. 20, national touring artist Emi Sunshine and the Rain will make their second appearance at the venue. Tickets are $8.
And once again, there will be three nights of music on Oktoberfest weekend with Mojo Soul, 3LB Universe and Dave and Whitney Campbell. Tickets are $10 for all three shows.
“These shows are made possible as much by the musicians as Harmony Park,” Malone said. “Most are playing for dinner and a couple of gift certificates. They just want to share their love of music with our community.”
For Miskell, the stage gives people in Seymour another option for entertainment.
“I think it adds a lot to the community to have a free music venue for all ages,” he said. “There is very little to do in this town, especially as a family. We made the stage large enough for multiple types of acts, and they have already been contacted by theater programs and churches as well as bigger-name bands from out of town.”