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Los Gatos Musician Told to Shut Down Backyard Concerts

Los Gatos has told a South Bay man the music he was playing for neighbors on his back patio once a week is too loud and has to stop.

The weekly performance from musician Joel Nelson started as a way to bring some cheer during the pandemic.

Nelson started playing music from his back porch high in the Los Gatos Hills for his neighbors once the pandemic shut down every venue, including the one he owns — The Catalyst in Santa Cruz.

The musician said the feedback was positive, so he used the weekly concerts for charity. He has since raised $22,000.

“I played the hits of 1956, the next week 1957, the next time 1958, but that took me two weeks,” Nelson said.

After a few complaints and discussions with the city, Nelson cut back his performances to just Wednesday evenings from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

“I kept it at a reasonable volume because where I live [sound] carries,” he said.

Some neighbors listen to every show.

“It’s become a ritual with my family and I,” Los Gatos resident Melinda Torgersen said. “We sit and listen to him in our front yard every Wednesday.”

Los Gatos resident Deepi Mann adds “with everything going on it’s like someone is trying to bring us joy, and it’s just an hour or two a week.”

But last week, the city e-mailed Nelson saying it is now getting complaints from multiple neighbors. Nelson can now be cited for playing anything louder than 62 decibels — about the level of a normal conversation.

“Anybody who wanted to could close their window,” Nelson said. “Anybody could turn on the music in their house and they wouldn’t be able to hear me anymore.”

NBC Bay Area reached out to the City of Los Gatos late Monday, but were unable to reach anyone on the Memorial Day holiday for comment.

Nelson said he wants to keep playing, and will call the city to see how much the fine would be.

“If those small percentage of neighbors could allow me to play for an hour and a half once a week so that people can enjoy live music, and I can support live music, I would appreciate it,” Nelson said.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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