House Concert Offers Unique Musical Setting
By M. BETH TURNER
CAPTIVE AUDIENCE: Host Curtis Kline hopes more people want to enjoy the launching of Tulsa’s first House Concert. March’s headliner features singer/songwriter Shannon Thomas.
M. BETH TURNER for GTR Newspapers
A quiet, midtown neighborhood near Florence Park has become the scene of Tulsa’s first “House Concert” hot spot. It’s a new style of musical venue creating buzz online and one that host Curtis Kline read about in a music business magazine.
After meeting and falling in love with musician Shannon Thomas, Kline jumped into researching how he, a computer services business owner, could aid in Thomas’ budding career. “I read about having musicians play in your living room to a select audience and thought, ‘Hey, we have a living room and we know people—let’s give this a try.’”
Their first venue hosted about 20 people, filling about two-thirds of their capacity space. Kline and Thomas served hors d’oeuvres in the kitchen and filled their living/dining room area with 25 folding chairs, pushing couches and tables out of the way. The chairs faced the front door, a piano, mic, amp and two chairs. As promised, people filed into seats at 7:50 p.m. and the music was underway promptly at 8 p.m.
At first the experience was a little awkward. People shifted in their chairs and tried not to look around too much as not to intrude on someone’s shrunken personal space. But as the opening act strummed and sang their songs, people began to lose themselves in the music.
The two men sitting in the folding chairs up front consisted of singer/guitarist Jonas Adrian and singer/bongo player Bruce Rich. Adrian’s original tunes have a sound similar to Christian rock band Jars of Clay, however, Adrian likes to tout his music as, “A gentle rolling freight train blasting through your living room and leaving a soulful passionate resonance behind.” The two played a 30 minute set before headliner Thomas took the “stage” for an hour of piano. It took Thomas a bit to loosen up in front of her expectant audience, who could scrutinize her music and face. However, she obviously enjoyed treating friends and family to her home-cooked melodies, taking them through songs she wrote for her debut CD entitled “Brainstorm.” According to her Web site, Thomas’ original song, “Rose Colored Shades,” has garnered much attention but it’s her song called “Edward” that won the January 2006 song of the month on iRok.com.
As for playing for fans in her living room, she says,” I’m excited to play for such an intimate group. This allows people to really experience my music instead of being distracted in a smoky, loud bar.” Adrian echoes her sentiment saying, “I don’t think Tulsa is open to original music in the bar scenes. When they’re out, people want to hear covers. I don’t care where I play—someone’s house or a coffee shop—as long as people get to really hear, ingest and enjoy my music.”
Kline knows his idea is for just the right crowd and hopes his House Concert concept takes off. There is no cover but donations are requested. All donations go to the musicians. House rules also include no alcohol, smoking, or talking during music sets. “I think there’s a lot of music lovers who don’t want to drink or smoke or even try to carry on a conversation when they’re hearing live music. I think they’ll hear about it and like it.”
Kline sites a personal experience as proof people want what he is offering. He says, “It happened at an L.A. restaurant called, ‘The Listening Room.’ You got to hear the live music so intimately; it felt like it was being played just for you. I hope people get a little taste of that in my living room.”
Kline says he expects that the first few months of operating a House Concert, his patrons will be mostly friends and family. However, he expects word of mouth to bring in Tulsans he doesn’t know. But Kline says he’s not worried about attracting strangers to his home, especially if they love live music as much as he does.
The next House Concert is April 8 with headliners Adrian and Rich.
For more information or to reserve your living room seat, e-mail Kline at email@example.com.