IT’S SIX O’CLOCK on a sunny afternoon in Rome, Ga, and Broad Street is busy with the hustle of patrons looking for their dinner and maybe even a little entertainment to begin their weekend. Behind Schroeder’s New Deli in their hidden outdoor courtyard, waitresses dressed in brightly colored t-shirts, band roadies and members alike setup tables and chairs, and push in weighty boxes containing the sound equipment to prepare for the late-afternoon show.

Tonight, Them Mixon Boys will be playing their set, and they’re only a few minutes away from sound check. They will be joined by Benny Gray and The Trailer Park Cowboys and the Clay Broome Band. In the center of the organized chaos giving the final directions stands Schroeder’s employee Dani Cochran and her self-proclaimed “partner-in-crime” Amy VanHoff. Cochran is responsible for booking the bands that are hosted at the Schroder’s Courtyard venue, and VanHoff assists her with the details for the events.

If you’ve spent any time in Rome, Ga. at all, you’ve most likely experienced the awesome food at Schroeder’s New Deli. This Broad Street culinary gem has been a community favorite for over 35 years, serving up everything from gourmet sandwiches and pizza, to the legendary variations of the world famous Samburger.

"We want our events to benefit our neighbors as well. We want to help them put on events and to reach people, too. That’s what it is about.”

However, what some of the locals are unaware of, is that tucked neatly away behind the Schro-der’s Broad Street location, exists an outdoor music venue that has been roaring for over 33 years. When John Schroeder (the owner) sought to expand his restaurant, he also acquired an outdoor courtyard that was perfect place to hold events.

Being an avid music lover, and playing in several bands himself, he decided to build a stage and set up what is now Rome’s longest running outdoor music venue. And now, Cochran, a long-time Schroeder’s employee with a heart for all genres of music, has taken the responsibility of organizing Schroder’s showcases featuring covers from some of the industry’s most iconic performers played by local artists, to originals penned by the artists themselves.

“Last year, I was approached and asked if we could put on a Bob Dylan Music Showcase, and so I took that idea and ran with it. So, after that showcase was a success, we did a David Bowie Showcase and then a Pink Floyd Showcase. To top it off, we even put on Rome’s first all women music festival we named “Phoenix Fest”, says Cochran. “We get a lot of people who have not yet discovered this place, that come to one of our events and are amazed that this venue has been hidden here all along!”

But besides the great music, what is truly awesome about these music showcases is the purpose Cochran has put behind them. These showcases are organized in order to raise money and awareness for charities, many of which being lesser known and less in the spotlight within the community. Each musical showcase is paired with a local charity, in which all of the proceeds brought in by ticket sales, as well as donations, go directly to help pay the expenses of the local charities.

“We first chose Passionate Paws, Digs Inc, Heroes Great and Small, and the Battered Women’s Shelter to be some of the first charities to receive showcase funds.” explains Cochran. “This year, we will be doing a Tom Petty, a Led Zeppelin, and a 90s alternative music showcase, along with bringing back Phoenix Fest, due to its popularity among the community. Once again, these showcases are being put on to benefit many of the charities we raised money for last year, along with adding a new suicide awareness charity. We want to pull some of the lesser known charities into the limelight”

Cochran then reaches into her small leather folder and pulls out a handwritten thank you letter from the founder of the nonprofit, Passionate Paws. She carries the letter to remind her of the impact her work is making on the community. For some organizations, these charitable music showcases alone are able to help them pay the bills and keep the lights on for months, allowing them to continue to serve the community.

“It’s all about giving back,” explains Cochran. “Amy and I both worked at a local food pantry that had to close due to a lack of funding. Since, we have started our own cleaning business (OCD Cleaners), all while working at Schroeder’s. This community has been so good to us, so we decided we would find another way to give back. John Schroeder came up with the idea to have the music showcases benefit charity. With a little hard work and organizing, everything seemed to fall into place. The result is what folks will see today. Don’t worry if you missed this one, we will continue to bring great entertainment to the courtyard, all summer long.”

In the next couple of months, Schroeder’s will host their Tom Petty Showcase to support Digs (June 10th), a Led Zeppelin Showcase to support Heroes Great and Small (July 22nd), and a 90’s alternative showcase they have named “Forks Up for Friday” to benefit suicide awareness, in honor of a friend they recently lost.

So if you’re looking for a great way to enjoy a Saturday afternoon while listening to great music, or more importantly, if you’d like to give back to some charities that give so much to our community, come out and support the music showcases held at Schroeder’s Deli on Broad Street.