Home house music
As February freezes and thaws, count on the tunes to hold steady and get us through until spring arrives. There are plenty of activities out there, but let’s spend some time on something special called “house concerts” for now.
House concerts are simply a concert held in a house. Known generally as wonderful experiences that allow a host to book an artist at a convenient time (a real boon to a touring act), give them a place to spend the night (usually a good meal or two as well), and invite guests to an intimate setting (a living room space, generally) for a really good concert up close and personal. Since most hosts give 100 percent of the admission fee to the act, the pay becomes much better than your average gig, and since the folks pay, they come to listen, highly increasing the chance for a good interaction between artist and audience.
I first heard about the house concert concept back in 2000, at the renowned Kerrville Folk Festival, held in the Hill Country outside of Austin, Texas, during a “how to book yourself” workshop. The idea has grown a great deal since then, spawning websites to directly connect acts and hosts, as well as create a network of like-minded folks that believe in the idea of sharing music and money in a caring and viable way. But this isn’t an entirely new idea of the twenty-first century. I’ve been informed by people in the know (nothing like having a wife who studied the history of classical music) that house concerts were a popular thing to do back in the golden age of piano composers in the mid-1800s. And during the days when most of our population lived in rural areas, living rooms became venues filled with folk dancers and musicians, adding another element to in-house music. Stories abound of famous (or not) folk singers having house “hootenannies” to raise funds for the rent, while many indie-rock groups and other genres as well have done the “band in the basement” gig, often with a keg of beer as the opening act. I will admit to at least hearing about such things.
Our local history of house concerts includes the famed Cabin Concerts hosted by Ann Bova in rural Pleasant Plains. The series had a profound effect on the local folk and singer-songwriter scene by exposing us to outstanding national and international talent and allowing area artists to reach new audiences. The Paris-Belle House and the Radon Lounge are instances of two local hosts following the pattern of bringing in amazing, touring talent and using locals to create a special musical experience. One issue to keep in mind about the house concert concept concerns the private nature of the venue being a home. Most hosts don’t advertise except through word-of-mouth or social media and only accept reservations, not expecting or allowing walk-ins unfamiliar with house concert protocol by not providing an address unless by invitation.
So with all that said, let me introduce to you Tina and Her Pony, who are playing a concert at a house in Springfield on Monday, Feb. 19. The acoustic duo of Tina Collins (tenor ukulele, guitar, vocals) and Quetzal Jordan (cello, guitar, vocals), who are traveling home from showcasing at the Folk Alliance International conference happening this weekend in Kansas City, call their style “Indie Appalachian Folk” and are classically trained musicians playing intensely good folk music who hail from Asheville, North Carolina. For more information, follow the instructions above and email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 494-0583 for a reservation and go experience a house concert.
For other good stuff, visit our delightful collection of music listings in the Pub Crawl.
Tom Irwin can be reached at email@example.com.