Hiking the great outdoors isn’t the only way to get fresh air. Rose Park’s renovations make performances feel spirited without losing the intimacy of a small stage.

Just a few years ago, the blank lawn and the patio at Rose Music Hall were divided by a fence. Now, with renovations and the addition of the outdoor stage, the lawn has grown into a lively slice of Columbia’s music scene.

Matt Gerding, co-owner of Rose Music Hall and The Blue Note, oversaw Rose Park’s remodel. Before he and co-owner Scott Leslie took over the venues in 2014, the space included a small patio, a platform for bands and the fence. Today, it’s filled with picnic tables, outdoor lighting and is on its way to becoming a staple.

Using the outdoor space immediately came to mind after Gerding and Leslie bought what was formerly Mojo’s. “It just seemed like a prime spot to do something cool like that, and to attract national talent, and have it sort of raise the profile of the park in terms of some of the local shows that we were doing,” Gerding says. Gerding and Mike Nolan, the general manager of The Blue Note, have a vision of Columbia’s North Village as a district bustling with weekend foot traffic and showcasing the close-knit community of local music lovers.

Judson Ball, co-founder of Logboat Brewing Co., worked at Mojo’s before it was Rose and says the transformations opened up much-needed park space. “When you’re in downtown Columbia, there’s not a whole lot of places you can go that have that grassy area that kind of has a park-like feel,” he says. “You don’t feel too pressured that you’re taking up space at the table.”

Ball says there wasn’t much in the neighborhood a few years ago except for a few restaurants. Now, business is booming. New businesses like DrinkKraft and Yoga Sol have opened.

The changes have also allowed some The Blue Note’s Summerfest events to move to Rose Park’s stage and give musicians a large, open-air venue.

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