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Live Music in Your Living Room

Where do you go to see live music? Most people would say a bar or club, a stadium concert, maybe a music festival. What if you could have a concert in your living room, or in your friend’s backyard? How about a strangers basement? That's what we did, we went to a house concert in a stranger’s basement.

An old college friend of mine, Peter Mulvey, is a fabulous acoustic musician who seems to constantly be on tour. I was looking up his tour schedule to see if he would be in Michigan and I found that on February 15th he’d be playing in Clarkston. I didn’t recognize the name of the venue, Carrick House, so I did some research. And that is how I found myself at a house concert.


House concerts are a great way to see live music in an intimate setting. The hosts of these house concerts are music lovers who open their homes to their friends, strangers, other music lovers, and the musicians. Our hosts, Craig and Nicki Carrick were warm and welcoming. It was $15 per person to see the gig and the money goes to the musicians, so it’s a great way for the musicians to make money and reach new audiences.

There were about 50-60 people crammed into the Carrick’s basement. There was a small stage set up with lighting and the gig was being simulcast on an Ann Arbor radio station. Drew Nelson, a Michigan musician based in Grand Rapids, opened the show, Peter played a set, and then they played together. At the beginning, you felt like you’re parents were going to come down and bust the party up, grounding you for a month. However, as soon as the music started you forgot you were in a stranger’s basement.

When I asked Peter about house concerts he said, “I try to turn them into parlor concerts. 'Parlor Concert' sounds better.” Whether you call them house concerts or parlor concerts, the result is the same: great music in an intimate setting and much more interaction between the artists and the audience.

Peter Mulvey and Drew Nelson

"The subtle power of his voice, a husky, hushed baritone... understated, at once sophisticated and intimate... as cover-worthy as Randy Newman, Elvis Costello and Dar Williams." The Washington Post on Peter Mulvey.

It was a fabulous evening, listening to music, meeting new people, and drinking wine. If you are interested in attending or hosting a house concert, this guide has great resources.

So, would you go to a stranger's house to listen to music? Would you invite stranger's and musicians into your own home?

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Reader Comments (2)

I'd read that Pat DiNizio (from the Smithereens) was also doing these house concerts...I've yet to go to a house concert, but it sounds like a great way to see a show!

May 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDominique

I didn't know that about Pat DiNizio! I didn't find any "big" name artists in the research I did, but that would be very cool.

It's definitely a great way to see a show, it might have been more intimidating or odd if I wasn't old friends with Peter Mulvey.

Meeting Drew Nelson was also great, as he's a Michigan guy. I'd like to go see him again but I think he's in the UK touring for part of the summer.

May 6, 2009 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

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