Jack Nork is a Bethany resident who used to enjoy attending the local coffeehouse night hosted by the town democrats at the Lakeview Lodge, a town-owned former hunting lodge on the rim of Hockanum Lake. He became determined to bring music back into the remote venue, both for residents and Greater New Haveners looking for an escape.
"It was well attended and a lot of fun," says Nork. "I missed that. I wanted that to happen again. Finally, in 2011 I said, 'I'll do it.'"
Nork founded the Lakeview Lodge Music Series, and so far he's produced acoustic shows there, of the straight-on folk, bluegrass, blues and jazzy varieties. Touring artists are paired with locals at each.
For many artists who are used to playing to chatty and/or indifferent bar crowds, the Lodge is a breath of fresh (country) air. The intimate and serene setting, with cabaret setting (there are tables) and a capacity of about 100, fosters an attentive listening room environment in which the attention is squarely on the musicians. Word is spreading and both local and touring artists have been seeking out Nork for the opportunity to play against the backdrop of fieldstone fireplaces and a wraparound deck overlooking the lake.
"It's a labor of love," he says. "It's not a money maker. I don't take any money for it. We give it all to the bands, and we have a local charity partner for every show. The bands and the charity take the door, and the bands that play agree to take whatever we get. There's no budget or anything." The three goals for the series: To support local and touring acts, to support local charities and to foster a sense of community.