Across the country, the 2024 Levitt concert season is springing to life in nearly 45 towns and cities, bringing joy to audiences of all ages and backgrounds through 650+ free concerts. None of this would be possible without the committed volunteers fueling each series. From setup and hospitality to helping with sound and lighting; marketing and promotion to grant writing and accessibility assistance, Levitt volunteers take on a wide variety of roles to make their concert series a success, and there is something for everyone to find their niche.

So today, in celebration of April being National Volunteer Month, we’re thrilled to spotlight Levitt volunteers coast to coast whose dedication and enthusiasm are enriching and inspiring their local communities.

Volunteer Carlin Halsall (left) takes a dance break at Levitt AMP Galva.

The “Greenroom Mamas”

At Levitt AMP Galva, veteran volunteer Carlin Halsall is the Chair of the Hospitality Committee, otherwise known as the “Greenroom Mamas.” Together, Halsall and her crew go above and beyond to create a warm welcome for artists.

For these Midwest ladies, the standard bread, cold cuts, and jars of salsa backstage was not going to cut it in Galva. The team decided to do their best to provide home cooked, balanced, and delicious meals for the performers each week.

“We dig into our gardens and grab whatever is fresh. When it’s sweet corn season here, which typically lasts four to six weeks, we try to make as much corn salad as we possibly can. We are low-key famous for that.”

This vibrant and summery dish is a favorite among artists, and the team often hears that they should start bottling it up to sell.

“I make my own sauce, I grow the peppers, the onions, the herbs, and the tomatoes.  Anything that we can add that’s homegrown, or even local to our area, we like to throw in there too, and just make it special for them. We’ve gotten a lot of compliments that way. Some of the best things we’ve heard are ‘this tastes like home.’

Student photographers develop camera skills and friendships through volunteering.

Nurturing Youth Artistry

2023 was the inaugural year at Levitt AMP Harrisonburg—captured by a talented group of 10 high school and college student photographers. Bob Adamek is the Division Photographer for Harrisonburg City Public Schools, was a musician for 30 years, and has experience mentoring kid rock bands. Naturally, he was a perfect fit to lead this photography education program.

Over the course of the summer, Adamek’s expertise helped the students hone their eye for detail each week. His challenge to the students was to capture the “vibe” of each show—folks in the crowd, artist interactions, vendors, tech behind the scenes—and how it all comes together at each free concert.

“It really got the kids thinking [of creative ways to shoot the concert]. They gained a new confidence and wound up engaging with the community while becoming a good group of friends amongst themselves.”

The students had an opportunity to showcase their work from the Levitt AMP Harrisonburg Music Series at a gallery showing this past January as part of the Arts Council of the Valley’s First Friday’s art series in downtown Harrisonburg. Each student chose their two favorites photographs to exhibit, and Adamek taught them how to professionally mount their prints.

“This was a good experience for any of them who decide to move on as artists, especially photographers because [galleries] are part of the deal,” he said. “They got to stand and get a great big round of applause from everybody…It was really well received.”

Levitt Dayton volunteers get ready to make their rounds through the lawn as part of the Bucket Brigade.

The Bucket Brigade

Many Levitt communities fundraise for their series onsite during shows, and rely on volunteers to help make the activity a success. Oftentimes carrying Levitt-branded buckets, volunteers catch up with new and familiar faces on the Levitt lawn, accepting donations from audience members while movin’ and groovin’ to the rhythms of that evening’s performance.

At Levitt Pavilion Dayton, for example, volunteers known as the “Bucket Brigade” are beloved for their high-spirited antics, creating excitement while boosting the bottom line of the music series as they make the rounds during shows. In 2023, for example, the Bucket Brigade raised $60,000 through lawn donations.

Phil Hoffheimer, Director of Community Relations and Partnerships at Levitt Dayton, said that the Bucket Brigade has become a communal ritual and milestone for everyone at the shows. “We set up a graphic so that our video wall has a little bucket, and over the course of the whole summer, we watched the bucket get filled and filled until we hit our goal.”

Likewise, if you have ever attended a show at Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks, there is a high chance that you’ve gotten to know Judy Yuhas and Linda Galitis as they make their rounds with their iconic green Levitt buckets. It’s their favorite part of their show.

Levitt SteelStacks volunteer Judy Yuhas catches up with new and old friends on her fundraising shift.

“Linda and I, we talk to everyone as we go through the audience. So it takes us longer than other people. We’re known as the bucket ladies. People will see us in other places and go, ‘Oh my gosh, I know you, you’re a bucket lady,’ said Yuhas. “They wait for us to come by with the buckets. Now we get hugs.”

Yuhas and Galitis are a dynamic duo, 82 and 81 years old respectively, who have been volunteering for live music performances in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for the last 41 years. They have been involved since the beginning of MusikfestArtsQuest’s signature 10-day festival in 1984, and the first year of the Levitt SteelStacks concert series in 2011.

Cory Stevens, Levitt SteelStacks Volunteer Program Manager, says that it is a point of pride for volunteers like Judy and Linda to walk around with a green bucket on the Levitt Lawn.

“They are interacting with the crowd making everybody feel welcome, excited, and engaged—and ideally getting more donations that way.”

It is this kindness and merriment from volunteers, and their bond with audience members, that make Levitt SteelStacks a treasured local institution.

“Volunteers are as excited for [the series] as any other guests would be. They’re clamoring and waiting for the season reveal show, so that they know what the lineup is going to be for the coming year,” said Stevens. “We are lucky to have a lot of regular folks who come for every show no matter what the genre is. When you see everyone come together again, it’s almost like a family reunion that first weekend.”

Building Community through Music

The sense of connection and joy fostered at Levitt concerts is pervasive, and it’s the open hearts and minds of volunteers who set that tone.

Places like Galva are small towns where folks already say hello to one another at the grocery store and wave to neighbors crossing the street. However, Halsall says that Levitt concerts take these acquaintances to greater depths.

“The amount of connection that we’ve gotten from having these Levitt concerts year after year is amazing. People who you may have just waved or said hello to…now you might ask them about their kids and how cute it was when they were up dancing the week before, or how much they liked last week’s Zydeco group.”

This kinship extends beyond the lawn to include Galva volunteers themselves.

“People who volunteer are getting to know one another on an even deeper level. Everyone on the Levitt committee really likes each other…That’s why we have to keep our meetings on track because we’d be liable to go out on tangents,” said Halsall.

Levitt AMP Galva’s 2022 volunteer squad.

For John Taylor, Executive Director of Levitt AMP Galva, this community is his favorite part of each concert.

“For me, the coolest part of it all is when the concert is happening, you look around the park, and you see people of all ages, backgrounds, races, income levels and education levels sitting there in the park—having fun, laughing, dancing, enjoying that experience,” John said. “It’s like a big family.”

This sentiment is shared by Galitis and Yuhas at Levitt SteelStacks.

“I just love everything about [The Levitt]. It’s outside. It’s free for everybody. And I’ve met so many wonderful people who come to the shows, and some have become good friends,” said Galitis

As for Yuhas, last year she celebrated her 40th year volunteering with Musikfest. “We are slowing down more now that we’re older, but the Levitt is still our favorite…I want to be here for our 50th anniversary, I’ll be 91. That’s my goal, to still be volunteering then.”

This dedication for the community makes such a difference for a Levitt series. In Stevens’ role of Volunteer Program Manager at Levitt SteelStacks, he experiences first-hand the impact volunteers have on the season each year. “It doesn’t happen without them. If it weren’t for volunteers who are willing to do the work that’s necessary to make everything a success, the show wouldn’t go on,” he said.

We at the Levitt Foundation echo this message of gratitude. Every Levitt volunteer brings a unique background, perspective, and skillset that makes each concert special. Thank you to all Levitt volunteers who inspire joy, connection, and camaraderie in their local communities and are a catalyst for the power of free, live music to strengthen the social fabric of America!

Interested in volunteering at your local Levitt? Learn more here.