Kenny Dorham's Backyard could lose its lease in East Austin

By Shelton Green, KVUE, June 17, 2014, for the Austin KVUE at

It was standing room only inside the Urban Renewal Board's monthly meeting on Monday. (Photo: Shelton Green / KVUE News)




East Austin Club Kenny Dorham's Backyard could lose its lease

AUSTIN -- It was standing room only inside the Urban Renewal Board's monthly meeting Monday evening in East Austin.

A bevy of musicians and some neighbors showed up in force to support "Kenny Dorham's Backyard", a city owned lot on east 11th Street, next door to the Victory Grill.

For the past 10 years the city leased the lot to Harold McMillan, chair of DiverseArts Culture Works, a nonprofit that helps young musicians acclimate into the arts.

McMillan told KVUE that two weeks ago a city entity sent him a notice saying his lease wouldn't be renewed.

Some of the issues started when at least one neighbor near Kenny Dorham's Backyard complained about the "aesthetics," saying it was an eyesore.

Close to 100 supporters, many of them local musicians, packed into the Urban Renewal Board meeting Monday night to take their turn at the microphone to talk about why Kenny Dorham's Backyard should stay.

"I've been going to this garden, music venue [and] art space for over 15 years now. It's been great. Diverse Arts Collective has given me and my friends a lot of opportunities to get out here and make music," said Aaron Ramirez, a local musician.


Kenny Dorham, a native Texan, became a world famous Trumpeter playing with Billy Eckstine and Charlie Parker, just to name a few.

"He was a genius artist, you know someone we take pride in, and we don't want his legacy erased," said Jonathan "Chaka" Mahone with Riders Against the Storm.

On Monday the Urban Renewal Board voted to extend the lease here until September. At that time they'll take another look at the lease and decide if the improvement plans are enough to keep this place open another year.