Edward Guglielmino

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Article in Courier Mail

Kathleen Noonan

October 23, 2009 11:00pm

room shows offer a fresh approach to performing that works for artist
and concert-goer who meet and talk about how the music is made.

iN New York, they are called loft concerts. Here, singer/songwriter Deborah Conway likens them to Tupperware parties.
In Mark Cryle’s old Queenslander at Dutton Park, the music bounces
off the timber walls in the lounge room. And his wife serves curry
Welcome to the world of lounge room concerts, where the suburbs are
alive to the sound of music in true do-it-yourself indie style and the
main act takes over your living room, crashes in your spare bedroom and
eats your food.
The trend is becoming a breath of fresh air for audiences wanting to
avoid parking and queuing hassles and get an up-close-and-personal vibe
that is a little bit special. Musicians – who inhabit a landscape
peppered with diminished returns, fewer live venues and rowdy bar
crowds – get a gig, a meal, maybe a bed for the night, a handful of
cash and, usually, a roomful of new friends and fans.
Cryle, Brisbane singer/songwriter of Spot the Dog fame, has been
holding lounge room parties for musicians he admires such as US singer
songwriter Kristina Olsen, Canadian duo Mad Violet and folk singer
David Francey.
“I’ve an email list of friends who like the kind of music I like and
they feel it’s something special to go to a lounge room gig,” he says.
The relaxed vibe of house concerts taps into the music lovers’ need
for intimacy and authenticity and the independent musicians need for,
well, income.
The bring-the-gig-home trend received more oxygen this year during
the Brisbane Festival with the Brisbane Backyards concert series, as
bands set up on people’s lawns and tennis courts. Outgoing festival
director Lyndon Terracini programmed the series for the first time last
year to extend the festival’s reach to people who wouldn’t normally
come to bigger venues.
The move was bang on an international trend that has a revolutionary
feel. It cuts out the middle man and puts audiences and musicians in
the same room.
In Canada, the loft concert trend started to peak last year when
inner-city music lovers decided they wanted to enjoy live music from
their lounge room chairs.
Stephen Morrissey’s Edmonton living room became a symbol of its
popularity when he and his partner started holding concerts. Word of
mouth turned into an email storm.
Next thing he was getting emails from thousands of people wanting to
come. His living room room could take about 30 people. They were voted
Best House Concerts of the Year.
In the UK, House Concerts York, an independent non-profit venture,
is a popular house concert outfit with a playlist that includes Seamus
McLaughlin, Jay Nash and Angie Palmer. Brisbane’s Kate Miller-Heidke is
also on their calendar.
The growing worldwide popularity is due mainly to people yearning for something different and to connect, says Cryle.
“They get to meet and talk to the person making the music. They
don’t have transport and parking costs into the city and don’t have to
jostle for a drink at the bar. And every CD is signed.”
For independent musicians, the house concert circuit can be a
blessing. To put it bluntly, it’s a guaranteed amount of money without
the financial risk of booking a gig in a bigger venue.
It worked for Suzannah Espie, who did a two-month national tour of
house concerts with her partner Ian Collard and Adelaide duo The
Yearlings several years ago.
They created their own national touring circuit called Bless This House.
“It’s definitely an alternative route for musicians to go without
the stress and financial worry. Plus it takes you to some amazing
places. I ended up on a property in rural Australia playing to a crowd
who had turned up from all around,” says Espie.
Conway’s Tupperware analogy certainly fits with musicians getting up
in someone’s home and showing off their wares. At a time when her three
daughters were small and touring was hard, a series of home concerts in
2004 was a much easier option to promote her CD Summertown.
Her pitch was: “If you buy a minimum of 30 copies of Summertown from
us we will come to your house to deliver them, sign them AND play a
20-minute, un-amplified set for you and your office mates, your
mother’s club, your neighbours or your ex-boyfriends. We recommend a
maximum of between 50 and 60 people.”
They played more than 100 homes.
It’s not just for folkies. There’s avant garde Brisbane musician
Edward Guglielmino whose sound falls somewhere between rock, pop, folk
and noise. He played at a friend’s place in Bardon as part of a series
of house parties called the Letterbox Lullabies.
“Australian pub crowds can be tough,” says Guglielmino. “Especially
the more they drink. At a house concert the audience is there for you
basically, so there’s no talking during sets, it’s intimate. The
concert we did had the best buzz.”
Guglielmino, who calls himself a troubadour for the 21st century,
says the concert was intimate but also went out to a global audience
via streaming. You can see it at


For younger bands and novice musicians, the lounge room concert is
vital for gaining confidence and exposure. Exciting Brisbane five-piece
outfit The Honey Month, a bunch of 18 to 20 year olds who bring to mind
The Decemberists and Fleet Foxes, love the vibe of having an audience
up close and sweaty.
“When we play in someone’s lounge, we’re about having fun. Having
people up close and squishy creates a good vibe,” says co-founder and
drummer Liam Eaton. “Actually being up on a stage away from the crowd
can sometimes feel awkward.”
The band started with two Brisbane boys at school with a keyboard
and a love of punk, and now combines unconventional instruments and
wild gypsy-folk. They play the Valley Fiesta today at 7pm and the
Troubadour on December 17.
As an attendee of a US house concert says: “It was a night where
heroes became humans, rock stars became fathers and the performer
complements your wife’s cooking. Really, is there any reason for me to
buy nose-bleed seats for an impersonal arena concert again?”

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