TAKOMA PARK, Md.– The skies were grey and cloudy when the Toccata Players began their set with a rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” at the Takoma Park Co-op’s first weekly Thursday event showcasing local bands, nonprofits and food trucks.
The Toccata Players set up their equipment in the parking lot adjacent to the store in front of the co-op’s large mural. The co-op has been subleasing part of the parking lot from a developer since the city of Takoma Park sold the lot in November, said General Manager Mike Houston, one of the event organizers.
Until the developer breaks ground on a construction project later this year, the co-op had “been thinking about different, interesting ways we can use the space,” Houston said. “We talked to people around the community and on the co-op board, and came out with the idea to do music once a week.”
The sky started to clear about a half-hour after the band started playing, and more people started filtering in from off the street. At its peak, about two-dozen Takoma Parkers young and old sat on picnic tables to listen to the music, some enjoying barbeque from Hardy’s BBQ food truck based in Bowie.
“I was just praying for the first one we’d have good weather,” Houston said.
“Thursdays @ The Co-op” run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. through Sep. 26, and the store has already booked musical acts for each week. With a couple exceptions, each band is from the Washington region, Houston said.
The Toccata Players, a three-piece string ensemble based in Takoma Park, mixed in tango and Latin American folk with covers of classic tunes from The Beatles and Radiohead. A toddler was one of the few dancers of the evening, waving his arms back and forth and grooving to the tango beat.
“You want to conduct the next one?” guitarist Justin Heath asked him after the group finished the song.
The co-op will showcase local nonprofit organizations and community partners each Thursday as well. This week featured Jappalante, a group that supports orphanages in Senegal. The co-op is sponsoring a charity dinner in support of the organization Sunday at the Takoma Park fire station.
Council Member Kacy Kostiuk of Ward 3 was also in attendance with her husband and two young sons, eagerly awaiting their barbeque meal.
Events like the Halloween parade and the Earth Day celebration take place in the same parking lot on Main St., Kotsiuk said, but nothing this frequent.
“It’s nice to have people come out like this.”