House con­certs bring small per­for­mances to Kent Is­land

Record Observer - - Arts & Entertainment - By CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY

CH­ESTER — The Honey Dew­drops came to Kent Is­land on Fri­day, Jan. 6, play­ing their folk mu­sic to a grate­ful crowd.

But the con­cert wasn’t in a bar.

It was in the liv­ing room of re­tired cou­ple Dave and Kathy Airel, res­i­dents of Kent Is­land. This was a house con­cert. At­ten­dees make reser­va­tions ahead of time, and when they go, they are asked to give a do­na­tion to the per­form­ers. There is no ad­mis­sion charge, and the host makes no money off it. Mr. Airel prefers to keep the lo­ca­tion of his house pri­vate, de­scrib­ing its lo­ca­tion as on Kent Is­land.

Be­tween 30 to 40 peo­ple at­tended this Jan. 6 con­cert. It was the 15th con­cert, usu­ally once a month, the cou­ple has held in their home. At­ten­dees can bring their own wine, beer and snacks.

The con­certs are pri­vate events and not open to the pub­lic. Peo­ple must be in­vited to at­tend, and to be in­vited, they must ask to be added to the cou­ple’s mail­ing list.

“The house con­certs are a shared ex­pe­ri­ence, “said Mr. Airel said. “We are con­tribut­ing the use of our home, chairs to sit on, and some light re­fresh­ments. We ask that [at­ten­dees] con­trib­ute a min­i­mum of $20 per per­son or what­ever [they] can af­ford.”

All the con­tri­bu­tions go to the artists to help them earn a rea­son­able liv­ing giv­ing mu­sic lovers an op­por­tu­nity to hear them per­form live in an in­ti­mate set­ting, he said.

The con­certs are a hobby, not a busi­ness, and the cou­ple re­serves the right to ex­er­cise a lit­tle home­owner dis­cre­tion in ac­cept­ing reser­va­tion re­quests, turn­ing away dropins who don’t have con­firmed reser­va­tions, Airel said.

When the Airels lived in Austin, Texas, they fell in love with live mu­sic, at­tend­ing nearly 350 live shows by over 200 per­form­ers at venues large and small at solo per­for­mances and marathons.

At the sug­ges­tion of a friend, they at­tended their first house con­cert in 2012 and they were hooked. The idea of open­ing their home to other lovers of live mu­sic— friends and soon-to-be friends — im­me­di­ately struck them, and they be­gan think­ing about how they could host their own house con­cert se­ries when they re­tired and moved to Mary­land.

“And so was born Macum Creek Con­certs — a house con­cert se­ries on Kent Is­land, where we can share our love of live Amer­i­cana and blues mu­sic with friends, and where we hope to make a mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tion to the sup­port of live mu­sic,” Mr. Airel said.

He thought of the name, Macum Creek Con­certs, be­cause the creek is nearby and said he sim­ply thought it would be cool.

In general, the con­certs fea­ture Amer­i­cana mu­sic, which is hard to de­fine and varies de­pend­ing on the per­son. Mr. Airel said the mu­sic could be blues, folk-style song­writ­ing, acous­tic, elec­tric and sto­ries in the songs.

Neigh­bors of the Airels don’t seem to mind the con­certs and it’s for a sim­ple rea­son — about one-third to one-half of the au­di­ence live in the same hous­ing de­vel­op­ment.

On Jan. 6, one neigh­bor two doors down di­rected peo­ple to the con­cert, say­ing “en­joy the mu­sic.” At the con­cert, peo­ple wore name tags and openly walked up to oth­ers to speak with them.

Nancy and Steve Gib­bons, who liv­ing in the same hous­ing de­vel­op­ment, came to the show. “We love acous­tic mu­sic and the house con­cert con­cept,” Ms. Gib­bons said. “It’s in our neigh­bor­hood. So we don’t have to drive to Bal­ti­more or D.C. We can walk here.”

Another neigh­bor, Karen Flat­ley, has been com­ing to the con­certs. “It was a good way to meet our neigh­bors. It ex­posed me to a lot of dif­fer­ent mu­sic.”

“It’s fab­u­lous,” said Sue Pease, a neigh­bor. “[The shows] have all been dif­fer­ent, very en­ter­tain­ing. It’s great. When I moved in, I dis­cov­ered it and it was a great thing. A fel­low neigh­bor in­tro­duced me to it.”

Even though the at­mos­phere is friendly, there are some rules. When the mu­sic starts, the talk­ing stops. No smoking. Most shows will be adults only (ages 14 and older). If the cou­ple has an all-ages show, it will be ad­ver­tised that way.

Some wa­ter and soft drinks will be pro­vided, along with some light snacks. Guests can bring their own snacks or bev­er­age of choice. Noth­ing stronger than beer and wine is per­mit­ted. A guests can feel free, but not ob­li­gated to bring enough to share with oth­ers.

Also at the show, there’s a CD ex­change set up where at­ten­dees take a CD and put one in the box. A con­tri­bu­tion is asked for the Mary­land Food Bank.

The next show will fea­ture mu­si­cian Jess Klein and will be held on Satur­day, Feb. 11.

Reser­va­tions for the con­certs are re­quired by ei­ther vis­it­ing Macum Creek Con­certs web­site at http:// www.macum­creek­con­certs. com and fol­low­ing the in­struc­tions or email them at dave@macum­creek­con­certs.com. It’s best to visit the web­site if you don’t know much about house con­certs. If you know which con­cert you want to at­tend, an email is fine, Airel said.

Kagey Par­rish and Laura Wort­man, a mar­ried cou­ple from Bal­ti­more, are the Honey Dew­drops. They played at a house con­cert on Fri­day, Jan. 6, on Kent Is­land.

PHO­TOS BY CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY

Dave and Kathy Airel have con­certs in their Kent Is­land home. The last show was on Fri­day, Jan. 6, fea­tur­ing folk mu­si­cians the Honey Dew­drops.

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