Monday, August 16, 2010

Down home music

Years ago, while sitting in my living room, I played the music of my favorite artists so often I nearly wore down the grooves of their black vinyl records. One of these artists -- Iain Matthews -- will be performing this weekend at the Philadelphia Folk Festival.

You would think I'd be packing my bags, tickets in hand, ready to relive my youth.

The trouble is: I'm spoiled. I'm not willing to bear the heat, the crowds, the camping facilities anymore. I've found something better: house concerts.

Last night, I saw Iain Matthews perform in Jen & Dave's living room, accompanied by Jim Fogarty on guitar. They were amazing. And I was, maybe, eight feet away from the action in this audience of 50 fans.

I was introduced to house concerts via Andi & Neil Hunt, who have hosted a variety of artists in their own home, just four miles down the road from where I live. In their cozy living room, I've been within arm's length of Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens, Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby, Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart, Garrison Star, and a few others. This kind of intimate venue brings a whole new meaning to the term "live performance."

When you think about it, living-room concerts have been around as long as music itself. What's new to me is the ability to see established names and up-and-comers in small, informal settings.

And, as you might expect, there's a Web site where you can find out more -- whether you want to host, play, or find a concert close to you.

If you love listening to live music, nothing beats the personal experience of a house concert. Give it a try.

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