House concerts bring small performances to Kent Island
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 email@example.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.
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.