Singer-songwriter Grover Anderson to bring Pickup Truck Concerts to Lodi area

Murphys singer-songwriter Grover Anderson performs in the back of his pickup truck at an outdoor, pop-up concert for a family. Anderson is bringing his Pickup Truck Concerts to Lodi and the Central Valley this season. (Kate Stromberg/Courtesy)

Murphys singer-songwriter Grover Anderson has started booking a second season of Pickup Truck Concerts for spring and summer 2021.

After COVID-19 shut down public concerts across the nation, Anderson played 37 private concerts between April and December 2020, most to small audiences from the bed of his safely-distanced pickup.

“Pickup Truck Concerts have been such rewarding experiences,” Anderson said. “A big part was the opportunity to safely feel social after the shutdown, but I think another major component was the ‘concert’ aspect. Here in Calaveras County we hear a lot of ‘Music While You ...’ (insert ‘Drink Wine,’ ‘Dance,’ ‘Eat,’ ‘Talk to Your Friends,’ ‘Drink and Pretend to Be Irish,’ etc), but we don’t have as many opportunities to attend a real concert. Even Ironstone concerts are often a big party. I’m happy to play music anytime, but I’m happiest when I’m connecting an audience with stories and emotion, and these truck concerts have been a great opportunity to do that. We view our annual shows at Murphys Irish Days as our unofficial kickoff to the busy season, and when I saw that this year’s festival had been postponed I knew I’d need to continue the truck shows.”

Last year’s Pickup Truck Concerts took place in Calaveras, Tuolumne and Alpine counties, but this year Anderson seeks to extend the range to the Central Valley, Bay Area and beyond. Any music-lovers who are craving the live show experience can set up a Pickup Truck Concert for their family and friends.

As Anderson weathered the cancellation of 33 house concerts, festivals and summer gigs in 2020, he knew creative measures were necessary to keep music the live, shared human experience it is meant to be. He initially kept busy with livestreams, sharing technical strategies with other Calaveras musicians and promoting a different local business each week. While those community-driven approaches served a purpose, Anderson quickly realized that playing to a camera can never replace the magic of the true audience experience. His wife Katie suggested he find a way to safely bring music to people using their family pickup truck.

“Grover Anderson pulled up in his pickup truck and parked in front of our small, socially distanced group of friends seated in lawn chairs on the street,” Sandi Pearce of Sierra Sentry said. “He took out his guitar and proceeded to charm us with his storytelling songs. Standing in the back of his truck with just a guitar he was able to give us a concert we will never forget. What a singing, song-writing talent!”

Anderson initially offered bookings to his supporters on Patreon, and soon after posted a form on his website for the public to express interest in a personal Pickup Truck Concert. After coordinating a date and time, Anderson drives to the host’s home and backs into their driveway, where they and a few invited guests can sit in lawn chairs with food and drinks (six feet apart, of course). The cozy and relaxed audience enjoyed a 30- or 60-minute acoustic show featuring Anderson’s original music, often requesting fan favorites like “Evergreen” and “Little Spoon.”

When the show ends, hosts “pass the hat” or use Venmo to contribute a suggested donation while Anderson and his makeshift stage drive away, often to another music-lover’s driveway.

Everyone misses the typical post-show mingling, of course, but enjoying safe, social live music with family and friends in the midst of a global pandemic mitigates much of the disappointment.

On her blog Sister’s Choice Quilts, Nicole wrote, “Something that occurred in my neighborhood this weekend has made me so happy. A local musician named Grover Anderson performed songs from his most recent album for friends in our small community. Folks brought their own chairs out and sat in their driveways while he sang from the back of his truck. It was unbelievably lovely to come together and see other people after such a long time of staying at home. I assure you that proper social distancing was observed.”

To learn more about Grover Anderson or to book a Pickup Truck Concert, visit www.groveranderson.com.

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