Supporting the Arts the Fun Way!

Aaron Larget-Caplan

Aaron Larget-Caplan

If we had pots of money, we would give big bucks to the arts. But we don’t, so we host House Concerts.  We invite our friends, ask them for a donation (all of which goes to the musicians), and ask that they bring their own beverage and a potluck dish to share. Fortunately for us, we can borrow the 35 folding chairs from the church across the street. The work on our part is minimal – nothing like giving a party of comparable size – and we get an evening of astounding music, a chance to schmooze with world-class artists and the greatest gift of all, sharing the experience with our friends!

What is way more difficult than hosting the concerts is turning down the steady stream of musicians who have heard of ‘The Oysterville Venue’ and would like a booking. Last month we had to turn down Gordon Bok because we are booked through next September and he wanted something for this next weekend. Maine folk musician/composer Gordon Bok! And what was even more distressing than saying “no” was that we did not have a single House Concert alternative to suggest.

House Concert Audience, 2011

House Concert Audience, 2011

Carol Newman (KMUN host of “Arts Live and Local”) who does more for the arts than anyone else I can think of, was here last night and was part of the conversation about venues with Aaron. She, too, had been approached by Gordon Bok and had to tell him that there are no other House Concert venues in the area – not on the other side of the river; not on our side. Someone suggested that there surely are other venues – a church or a hall or???

“But it’s not the same,” said Aaron. He knows of what he speaks – has played in halls and theaters all over Europe and Russia and the United States. “There’s an intimacy at House Concerts – a feeling of community and an enthusiasm that happens when audience members know one another and have come together to hear the music.”

I loved hearing him say that. It’s something I’ve always felt deep in my bones but hearing a noted musician say so was lovely. Aaron also talked about his attempt to get a House Concert network going in the Boston area where he lives. We commiserated with one another about the ‘reasons’ people give – ‘so much work,’ ‘have the space but not the seating,’ ‘don’t have the energy or the time.’

I’m here to tell anyone who listens – it’s not that much work! And, as for seating. I bet if you added Bring Your Own Chair to the BYOB and Potluck list, people could and would. I surely see the multitudes bring their chairs to watch the parades in the summer!

and then there's the food...

and then there’s the food…

We also talked about the difficulties musicians have making a living now. I heard a spot on the PBS News Hour the other night with Roseanne Cash, Johnny Cash’s oldest daughter – a Grammy winner and well-known singer/songwriter in her own right. She discussed how the industry has changed now that listeners stream music over the Internet at their computers, through their phones, in their cars, all instead of owning it. “It’s changed how we artists and musicians make a living,” she said. For an 18-month period, I had 600,000 streams, and I was paid $104.”

Yet, I think most people who enjoy the music they download would be the first to give lip service to supporting the arts. Do it the fun way, I say. Host a House Concert!

2 Responses to “Supporting the Arts the Fun Way!”

  1. Carol Newman says:

    Thanks so much to Sydney & Nyel for a transcendent aft/eve; to Aaron for the music, to all the old and new friends who created community and shared delicious victuals!

    I endorse everything Sydney wrote re House Concerts, what fun we could continue to have together. Great idea on the chairs.

    with gratitude, carol

  2. […] A true ‘full-house’ in Oysterville, Washington. It was my second performance for this wonderful house concert series.  Read a post about hosting such events by Sydney Stevens, click HERE. […]

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