It’s early Saturday evening in a Tallygaroopna garden spread with bunting, cushions, blankets, a few small tables and a scattering of eskies.
It’s time for music under the stars.
Shepparton singer-turned-impresario Jamie Lea has turned her love of live music into a series of annual seasonal concerts with her Secret Garden Gigs during summer and the Winter Sessions from May.
Four years after she first came up with idea of turning friends’ gardens into mini music festivals — the concept has gained a dedicated following and is moving further afield with concerts planned in Benalla, Nagambie and Echuca.
What is the attraction?
For Jamie it’s the music.
‘‘Name a venue where you can see live original music in Shepparton,’’ she says emphatically.
But when you look around at the gathering crowd of 20-somethings, friends, couples, young parents with toddlers and babies — there is something more than music happening.
Tonight we are in the delightful backyard garden of Michelle Maher, who says music and gardens are the perfect match.
‘‘It’s good to stay local and hang out with friends in a happy, safe environment with small children,’’ she says.
As proof — by 6.30pm her lawn is filled with about 100 people ready for a night of music, a little wine and a lot of chillaxing.
Nobody knows the line-up or even the location until the day of the gig when ticket-buyers are sent an email with directions.
That is the secret part of the Secret Garden Gig.
Tonight’s line-up includes true Goulburn Valley-grown talent.
Brother and sister duo Rachael Howard and Matt Head start with their bright summery mix of funky rhythm and sweet melody.
At one point, Rachael stops mid-song and points skyward to a squawking flock of cockies reeling over the tiny stage.
‘‘Cue birds,’’ she says and carries on singing.
Next up, musical journeywoman Tenielle McKenzie delivers her unique brand of bittersweet observations through soaring vocals, guitar and keyboard.
To round things off, former Shepparton muso now Melbourne-based songster Parmy Dhillon offers his emotion-packed acoustic songs to the night.
During the evening there is a murmur of conversation, but nothing distracting, toddlers play and babies are fed.
Everyone is polite and happy and nobody drinks too much.
We are after all, guests in somebody’s garden.
Jamie sums it all up during her welcome:
‘‘ You guys are so lucky to be able to sit under the stars and listen to music — you don’t get chances like this in Melbourne.’’
The final Secret Garden Gig for this year is on April21.
Where? I can’t tell you.
To book, go to ‘Secret Garden Gigs’ on Facebook.