Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Hosting the House Concert

When my friends Bob and Julie came back from their three years living
in England, they set up their basement as a British Pub (known as The
Land of Liberty, Peace, and Plenty, which is the actual name of a pub
in the town they lived in outside of London). Sometimes we go to
Bob's basement after Morris practice (Bob is a team founder and as
fine a musician as sails the seas), and sometimes the brew we drink
is Bob's own.

Bob and Julie have many friends from the folk world of Britain and
beyond, and when their friends pass through town they organize house
concerts. These house concerts have provided me some of the most
pleasant evenings imaginable, as a large percentage of the attendees
are friends of mine and after the concert itself there is often some
fine general singing. The performers themselves have been universally
wonderful folks to get to know a little bit.

On Monday night the Land of Liberty, Peace, and Plenty presented the
wonderful Tom Lewis. (Check out his website! Order his CDs!)
Bob, unfortunately, had to leave for England on the afternoon of the
concert and so he asked me if I could host the evening for him. Julie
was home, but she has to be a sort of house hostess and mom, so she's
not free to oversee the concert itself. (One of my userpics shows me
with Bob and Julie's twin boys in a picture taken a couple of years ago.)

What does it mean to "host" a concert? Bob runs these concerts the
way folk clubs in England run their concerts. He himself sings a song,
then calls a couple of people up from the floor to sing before the concert
begins, and then a couple more after intermission. So there needs to
be somebody to organize that, and to introduce the performer, and to
announce where the donation hat is. I guess in general you just need
somebody to be paying attention. I was extremely flattered and then
some to be so entrusted.

My duties were small, all told. I arranged for extra folding chairs (mine
and a friend's) and I brought pretzels and popcorn and I came early to
set up. Of course, Tom Lewis and his wife Lynn were far more experienced
than I at such things, so while they were enthusiastically thanking me for my
help they were making great improvements to the arrangements (a table for
Tom's instruments, a sideways orientation to the chairs which better suited
the room). One thing I do bring to the table is that I have good friends
to whom I can ask "Will you stay afterwards to cart chairs and rinse glasses?"
and who will say yes. And in Minnesota, if a few people start to clean up,
others join right in. (Yes, I would say my experience has shown this to
be more common here than other places I've lived.)

Ok, but that's the trivial stuff. The important thing was the concert
itself. There were about 25 people there, including some children for
the first half, and it was another delightful evening. It was delightful
because of Tom's performance of course, but beyond that it turns out
I loved asking people to get up and sing, and I liked introducing people.
For 18 years (starting from when I was about 10 years old) my parents
ran a weekend-long folk music festival, a huge undertaking, and my mother
did all the emceeing. At one point, after saying something about the person
who had just sang and before introducing the next singer, I had a vivid
sense -- almost a flashback -- that I was serving in my mother's role,
or at least doing what I had been raised to do.

As I write this it occurs to me that my parents now host house concerts
for traveling musicians, of this very sort. So this is definitely all
bound up in fate and genes.
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