The series of free parks concerts was in danger after longtime manager Don Glenn announced he was ready to retire, and Aug. 21 would be the final concert. But a local musician has stepped up.

Share story

A grass-roots Seattle music institution presenting its 36th concert series almost came to an end this year, but was saved at the eleventh hour by a music-loving volunteer who shares a lot with the program’s founder.

The Seattle Peace Concerts, started in 1981 by Seattle’s Christian hippie commune, the Love Family, showcase local bands in various Seattle parks every summer. Musicians play for free, there is no admission charge, sound equipment is donated and the entire program is handled by volunteers.

Chief among them is Don Glenn, who managed the series for the Love Family when he was a member, then continued after the commune disbanded in 2003.

Over the years, performers have included Jr. Cadillac, the late blues man Isaac Scott, Duffy Bishop and even Edie Brickell, who performed incognito one year at Gas Works Park.

Glenn, who turns 75 on Sunday — the date of a Peace Concert at Volunteer Park featuring Alice Stuart, Rod Cook and others — has made it known for some time that he wanted to retire from the project on his birthday

Originally from Glendale, Calif., Glenn started the concerts out of nostalgia for the ’60s outdoor rock shows that typified the hippie era

“I saw the Moody Blues at Griffith Park, in L.A.,” he said. “These things were such a great part of my life, I didn’t want to see it go.”

Trained in aircraft electronics and computers, Glenn is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, but “dropped out” because he didn’t want to work on military contracts. Working as a musician (he plays guitar), he joined the Love Family in the late ’70s.

Glenn has been uncommonly devoted to the Peace Concerts, which he continued to produce even when he was broke and living in his van. He now lives in senior housing in Ballard.

Jon Scherrer, a musician who has played the Peace Concerts and helped as a volunteer, recently agreed to take over the program. Scherrer is the founder of the nonprofit organization Seattle Teen Music, which also puts on park concerts, and the owner of a School of Rock franchise in North Seattle.

“I’m really encouraged,” said Glenn. “I think we’re on the road to keeping it going.”

After the show at Volunteer Park, there are two more this season: Sept. 4 at the Magnuson Park Beach Area, and Sept. 18 at Gas Works Park.