I was listening to King Crimson ‘Discipline’ while doing yoga and noticed how this was a music that demanded your attention. If you didn’t pay attention it was annoying or boring; because it refused to fall into the background. For me it fell into the rhythm of my yoga session or perhaps it was vice versa. Then ‘Sheltered Sky’ came on and I went off into a whole new landscape. As if I was transported to a different world. My mind though tried to pull me back. It argued that the groove was repetitive, annoying, boring! What garbage music it said. But my body knew something different. My body knew it was in a new place; a place of calm and healing, of trance you might say. My body was at last free of the tyranny of my mind and my mind didn’t like that one bit! So it judged and argued and tried to pull my attention away. So I began to move. To dance in a micro fashion during savasana with just a hip or a finger and shoulder, pulses running through my torso and I was able to escape my mind’s demands and I remembered, this is the power of music.
I've chosen to include "Frame By Frame" because Sheltered Sky required me to listen to the earlier songs on the album before I could 'drop' into the altered experience. I just happened to be listening to Frame by Frame when I wrote this post and it felt like a good pairing. Perhaps try pressing play and then re-reading the post and see if it changes how you feel while you read the words?
First of all think, fun. Everything about this process should be fun. Beyond that the event can be as simple or as extravagant as you choose to make it. I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum and the key to an enjoyable evening is that it was fun to create and experience.
The first thing you need is the physical space. It can be indoor or outdoor but should be able to host a minimum of 15 people and preferably 30-50 for an established touring artist. If you don’t have a convenient space to host, consider teaming up with a friend who does.
Next you’ll need seating and a stage. You can often borrow seating from a local school or church that you or a friend has a connection with and a stage need only be an open space viewable to the audience. Lighting is often just re-arranged livingroom lamps.
Of course you’ll need musicians! Unless you are willing to provide a minimum guarantee of approximately $300, you are best to start with local bands who are willing to share the risk with you. Just about any local gigging band will accept an opportunity to play a house concert that you’ve done the work to organize and all they have to do is show up.
Advertising is easy. Ask the band for some promo material (picture, website with audio / video links) and put it into an email. Cut and past is fine. The most important part is a message from you the host as to why you think your friends will enjoy the evening and should come. If you aren’t a natural socialite, consider teaming up with a friend who is and has access to a large circle of potential audience members. It’s best to think of the evening as just a great excuse to have a get together with your friends.
Financials: every artist will have different needs but most will be happy with a $15 ticket price. However, there is more than one way to go about this. A suggested donation is a good way to keep it casual with friends and encourage attendance. If you choose this option, I HIGHLY recommend that you as the host do a personal pitch to your friends near the end of a successful show (pre-arrange the timing with the band!) to encourage the audience to contribute the value that they feel they have received from the evening. In my experience, this freedom of choice generates far more success but absolutely requires active encouragement because audience members are not used to this kind of thinking in such a setting.
The finishing touch is to make everyone feel right at home and most of all, the band. If at all possible, have a private space for the band to warm up and hang out when not performing. Food or snacks are always appreciated though not necessary. Likewise, providing any level of refreshments or potluck opportunity is a great way to keep it fun for the audience.
It’s self-perpetuating! Your first house concert will likely require the most preparatory efforts. However follow up concerts will benefit greatly from learned logistics and best of all, your friends will remember how much fun they had and spread the word. They will come back again and again and before you know it, you may be a sought after stop by many musicians touring through your area.
We are in the midst of a renaissance of music in our society. Thanks to technology there are more musicians sharing their work more broadly than ever before. But what can we do with all this music?? It’s one thing to enjoy on a streaming player, but a whole other thing entirely to hear it in person.
Being a professional artist is an extraordinary commitment in one’s life. While on the outside it may seem like fun and games, to make a living of it requires more work and sacrifice than most jobs you can think of. The new breed of independent musicians feel this most of all as they have to manage every aspect of their business: tasks that used to be handled by whole teams of people at record labels.
The great news is that because of the abundance of artists sharing their work, there now are world class artists available to play in your own home. You’d be surprised how many artists will agree to play a show in your home in order to fill an open day on their touring calendar. Think of your favorite artist and provided they aren’t selling out stadiums, there’s a good chance they’d consider playing a private show.
A successful house concert capable of attracting established artists is within anyone’s reach. There’s a few steps to getting there though and in my blog “House Concerts: How To Guide” I share key points on how to create a successful house concert with ease and enjoyment for everyone involved.
Here's to more great music!
Music is linked into our DNA and brain structure. It communicates information about ourselves and each other that can be expressed in no other way. It has been at the heart of our societies for millennia yet as of late, culminating in the past decade or so, music in this way has been largely forgotten.
Music has become a form of entertainment at best, and more often a vehicle for other purposes - to get us motivated to work hard or to buy something. It has fallen WAY down our list of important thought topics during any given day.
I believe that it is ready to return to the mainstream. That music can bring our communities together and bring joy to us collectively in a way our current generations have rarely experienced.
Living Music is more about the way in which one perceives and appreciates music, than it is about the style or genre itself.
In future entries, I will be exploring further how this is unfolding in our homes, on the street and in our hearts. Please comment below and let us know your thoughts!
Is marriage a foundation of society?
Tomorrow Maya and I celebrate our first wedding anniversary! It felt like the ideal time to share this blog and to say, here’s to another exciting year filled with new horizons Maya! I love you.
We’ve talked about marriage and how there are many 'stories' attached to it (see previous blog). We explored how those stories tend to pigeon hole our emotions and experiences and reduce our inner freedom. Lately I’ve been examining the story that marriage is often considered a foundation of our society. I never understood it until now, now that I have had a little bit of experience being married. Since I believe and have talked about in previous posts, that everyone should be able to make their marriage be whatever they want it to be, then there is much less downside to the whole idea in the first place! So that's good news. I have friends who are married and live in open relationship status, meaning a marriage that allows more than one romantic partner. I have friends who have moved 'off the grid' and love raising kids and intend to have lots of them while raising them to learn how to live off the land, to be self-sufficient, self-starters. I have friends who are gay and love being married. I know lots of people who have been married more than once and have enjoyed each relationship deeply.
I chose these more obvious examples of lifestyle choices to illustrate that there is no 'life' that comes as a result of being married. At least not on the outside. What I discovered once I became married is an experience of support and nourishment of my spirit that I have not had before in adulthood. And it came from a wonderful woman who agreed to, or at least try to share many years of life with me. It brought a richness to each small experience that we had together. There would be memories created. Metaphorically it gave a sense of being a larger sailboat with a deeper and heavier keel; I wouldn't be tossed about so much when storms came.
There are voluminous amounts of writing on the virtues of marriage and so what I really mean to express here is that what marriage can especially bring, are tremendous benefits to our inner experience of life. Of course we must first be in agreement with our partner about how we want to be in our union, to make sure that our 'stories' align in other words, but after that it's pretty much full of good stuff. Good stuff that makes us more of the person we most want to be and isn't that a foundation worth having?
It was almost exactly 1 year ago that Maya and I became engaged. It was a big leap that we had prepared for over a year by talking about and really spending time with our own thoughts on the matter. Somehow there was a great deal of pressure that didn't really make sense and it seemed of utmost importance to us to resolve and understand where that pressure was coming from and what it meant. Or even better, relieve it entirely! I may share more of our experience on this topic in a future blog but for now I want to relate it to a new and similar experience: buying a house!
Buying a house: aka getting a mortgage. Like most people, Maya and I don't like renting because it feels like we are throwing our money away. Lately we've discovered that we have a chance to actually buy our own home. This has been a really fun topic to chat about and imagine many possibilities in regard to where and what we might find ourselves. We even discovered happily that the parents of a young fiddling friend of mine own Avelloe Mortgage, an independent brokerage that can really help to make this an easier process for us. Wow isn't it cool when the pieces line up like that!
Today I was writing an email as we take steps toward getting our financing in place and I wrote something to the effect of, 'let's meet soon and take the next step toward establishing our mortgage'. Suddenly I felt my chest become heavy and a little tight. I've made a habit of noticing such bodily sensations and always try to take note when they occur. So I sat back from the computer and reread the sentence while breathing deeply and slowly, trying to relax. As I did this, I began to realize that this was just like getting engaged. There is a pressure in our society for it to have a certain story attached to it. I was feeling tightness in my chest because so many people (in my case, musicians who had switched to day jobs) have said to me, 'yeah well I've got a mortgage now so I had to make some changes.' This came to mean in my head that getting a mortgage meant changing your life, tying yourself down, losing freedom. This is the opposite of how I had been feeling about getting a house until that time.
So I looked at these opposite thoughts and chose the first one. The first one that said, freedom to have our own space, to create what we want, to stop throwing our money away in rent and hopefully, make money! I could choose this because I had clarity of two stories happening. Just that awareness helped to release my fear response generated in part by what others had told me. Sure I still need to remind myself that I know that we can afford the house and that we are still free because we could always rent it afterward if for some reason we wanted to travel or any other manner of 'freedom' that I was afraid to lose… there are sure to be more stories but for now, I'm glad that I feel more happy again about this wonderful opportunity.
And hey, maybe I'll see you soon - when we host our first house concert!
Ever been to a house concert? It's a remarkable experience. Especially if the atmosphere created by the home and hosts is one that is dedicated toward the music. It allows us to experience music in a powerful 'new' way. In fact you might say it is the way music has always been meant to be experienced: in community and representing culture that is so much a part of our lives but rarely so present in our attention.
I am from the prairies of Canada where 100 years ago and beyond, just like on the prairies of America, the fiddle was a centerpoint of bringing people together. Each weekend even in -30 weather, families from farms from miles around would travel by horse and sleigh or buggy to take part in a barn dance. This was a dedicated time where people would interact with each other, receive the support of being in community and create a culture that they identified as being part their 'home'.
It is for these very same reasons that I love house concerts. It is a unique opportunity in our day and age to come back to our roots of community and realize the power of music in supporting our coming together. AND the extra special secret of all is that when we listen to music in this kind of intimate setting, we can have a uniquely moving experience. Somehow, we have a chance to hear the music with our heart in a way that is so often elusive when we are in a big concert hall or loud bar.
But let's not just take my word for it. What have been your experiences in intimate concert settings? Do you find there is a unique quality being a listener in that environment as compared to traditional larger concert settings?
We are so looking forward to getting our blog up and running so we can continue our conversations with you online. We will send a newsletter out announcing when we begin posting regularly. Keep an eye out and join us here soon.
Tyler Carson & Maya Houston