House Concerts Come Alive at F.C.’s Stone Room

January 12, 2012 6:25 PM0 comments
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BECKY & NATHAN BLISS of Barnaby Bright performed the inaugural performance at The Stone Room in Falls Church last week. (Courtesy photo: Satchit Haridas)

Falls Church resident David Holiday likes music. Heck, he loves it. But other than dabbling now and then, he never pursued it seriously, and life took him to other interests. So that, at least partly, explains Holiday’s desire to start hosting house concerts.

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BECKY & NATHAN BLISS of Barnaby Bright performed the inaugural performance at The Stone Room in Falls Church last week. (Courtesy photo: Satchit Haridas)

Falls Church resident David Holiday likes music. Heck, he loves it. But other than dabbling now and then, he never pursued it seriously, and life took him to other interests. So that, at least partly, explains Holiday’s desire to start hosting house concerts.

“I have this deep love of music,” Holiday said. “I don’t really do it much any more. I really appreciate being around music and being around good musicians and artists. There’s no better way to do it than to throw a house concert.”

Holiday’s first house concert was this past Saturday, and the next is this Saturday when he welcomes Cliff Eberhardt and James Lee Stanley. The shows are held in the stone-walled basement of the World War II-era Falls Church home he shares with his wife, who he married last summer. The make up of the basement inspired the moniker Stone Room.

For the uninitiated, a house concert is typically a paid performance by a professional musician in a person’s private home. The events are generally acoustic, may or not be amplified, and take place in an intimate setting in front of as few as a dozen people.

A house concert host may invite a local musician to perform, or welcome a touring musician to play a show in between club dates. Potential hosts and musicians looking for work can connect online. If a touring performer has enough time between club gigs, a house concert may be a way to make some extra revenue in a different setting.

The day following their Stone Room appearance, Cliff Eberhardt and James Lee Stanley are scheduled to perform in a slightly larger setting on Sunday in Alexandria as part of a Focus Music show (focusmusic.org).

Holiday isn’t concerned with allowing strangers into his home.

“I’ve always liked having people around,” he said. “I’ve learned over the years I get a lot of joy sharing good music with friends, and they very much appreciate it.”

Holiday first experienced a house concert when he saw singer songwriter Beth Wood perform in such a setting a number of years back. This is what sparked his interest. Holiday first did a pair of test runs in recent months, organizing a pair of shows at friend’s homes elsewhere in the D.C. area.

“Washington is such a workaholic town,” said Holiday, who works for the Open Society Foundations, focusing on Latin America. “People tend to just run all the time. [A house concert] just really takes you to another place and adds a lot to your life. I’ve been very pleased with just the response from friends to these first couple of concerts that I hope will continue for the next period.”

One of the musicians that Holiday has recruited to play is David Berkeley, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Berkeley played one of the test shows in October, and is scheduled to play the Stone Room later this year.

“The great advantage is they’re so much more intense,” Berkeley said of house concerts. “You cut away all the trappings that separate you from the audience.”

Berkeley said that he at first was not a fan of house concerts, but has since changed positions. House concerts require little to no load-in time and leave more energy for the show. The pressure to promote the show is typically on the owner of the house, not the artist. And some hosts allow the performer to sleep over night. The Stone Room includes a small sleeping area and bath.

“It’s almost a throwback to an earlier time,” Berkeley said, likening the house concert experience to that of a salon.

Stone Room shows ask for a $20 suggested donation, going to the performer. Holiday keeps the guest list limited, and he’s been careful to keep his neighbors in the loop so they know what’s going on when the block gets filled with cars.

Holiday spends a lot of time going through artist’s schedules, seeing who has open dates that would be a good fit. He’s also discriminating. A house concert isn’t for everyone.

“Personality is a big part of these things,” he said, stressing that a performer needs to be a good storyteller. “You’re up-front and close with these people. It’s like a concert in that you sit and listen, but it’s much more interactive.

“There’s lots of people out there who want to to do this,” Holiday said. “It’s a matter of being discriminating and choosing people you really want.”

For more information, including a performance schedule and how to get on the list, visit stoneroomconcerts.com.

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