The Last Annual Music & Pool Fest This Weekend

A local artist invites musicians and the public to his home for a party.

For the past four years,  Ben Gall –  a Dutch art collector and unofficial mover and shaker of the Chester County art scene – has known what he will be doing on Labor Day weekend. So do about 50 or 60 local musicians: they will enjoy the day not just eating barbeque but playing up a storm at Gall’s house outside of West Chester, near Malvern.

The annual event, dubbed the “Music & Pool Fest,” is not exactly a public event but neither is it entirely private. Anyone interested in hearing good music, preformed informally, with groups of musicians winging it (or reading music) is invited out to Gall’s house.

For those musicians or music lovers who are the perennial night owls, no need to worry that the party will shut down at midnight – the musical fest is held from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m.

This year, Gall has extended invitations to the public, partly because this will be the last music fest – he and his wife are moving to Fairhope, a historic artist colony along the Gulf Coast of Alabama.  With his house near Malvern for sale, he hopes that the music fest will attract a buyer interested in continuing the annual event. 

On a recent day, Gall gave me a tour of his spacious home, a contemporary structure that is filled with windows overlooking decks and gardens.

The property has a secluded feel, mainly because it’s adjacent to the historic Saddlebrook Farm, with its open fields and scenic barn in the distance. Gall’s house is also the ultimate “party” house - it has a large outdoor pool and indoor steam room and sauna.

At the annual music fest, Gall is known for being unfazed when hundreds of people show up at his door, swim in his pool, and use the sauna (taking turns, of course). His hospitality is augmented, so to speak, by another host, pianist Albert Bien, whose musical connections run deep in the region as the former owner of several music stores. (He closed his West Chester shop but still owns a shop in Springfield, Delaware County. ) 

Bien credits Gall for being the ultimate “network” person. “He knows everyone in the {West Chester area],” Bien said during a tour of Gall’s house where artwork is displayed everywhere but the sauna. 

Gall was an executive with several hi-tech companies before opening his first art gallery, the former Holland Art House, which sold Dutch art on Market Street in West Chester. He later moved the gallery away from the center of town and expanded it to include what its new name implied: the “Art Scene” had art display areas, a frame shop, a café, artists studios and an entertainment area where a roster of rock, folk, blues and jazz musicians regularly played.

When the Art Scene closed in the summer of 2008, Gall missed the community gatherings with artists and musicians and was soon persuaded to open his home to what he describes as “home concerts,” or semi-private public musical events that sometimes go to the wee hours of the morning.

There will be no stage at the Labor Day event, but Gall’s property has plenty of “nooks and crannies,” as Bien described it, including a terrace overlooking a small dam and the rushing waters of the Ridley Creek.  Generally, on the day of the event, the rushing water is just another musical stream of an all-day – and all night – musical extravaganza.

The Last Annual Music & Pool Fest

When:   Labor Day, September 2, 2012, from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m., Sept. 3rd, 2012

Where:  Ben Gall’s home, 900 Warrior Road, Malvern, PA. 19355

Call the Springfield Music Store at 610-543-2244 for more information.

Catherine Quillman September 01, 2012 at 08:51 AM
The event is held Labor Day weekend, Sunday Sept 2nd. Into Monday,Sept 3rd.
Ben Gall September 01, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Because off time limitations to prepare the party it is delayed till Saturday September the 8th!! Sorry!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ben Gall
Catherine Quillman September 01, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Yes, I hope no one shows up at your door on Sept. 2nd!
Catherine Quillman September 01, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Ben Gall is pictured to the left of Albert Bien


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