, Newburyport, MA


October 16, 2013

Living room shows: An old idea is new again


“There’s a huge transformation going on in entertainment,” Snyder said.

Some venues have closed, some acts that used to draw 200 or 300 people struggle to get 50, and more musicians are hustling to support themselves rather than looking for a paycheck from record labels.

“We’re literally building a new touring infrastructure,” Snyder said.

From Pat DiNizio, lead singer of The Smithereens, doing all-request living room shows, to actress Sarah Jessica Parker hosting a living room fundraiser for President Barack Obama’s re-election, this old idea seems new again.

In New York City, Marjorie Eliot has offered free, Sunday “Parlor Jazz” concerts in her living room in Harlem for a decade. And the New York-based Undead Music Festival featured performances in homes in many cities as a companion to those in professional venues.

In Pittsburgh, five musicians created the Living Room Chamber Music Project to share classical music in a more relaxed environment.

“A house concert allows us to figuratively and literally close the distance with our audience,” said one of them, oboist Lenny Young. “As working musicians, it’s very important to us that if people aren’t coming to concerts, we need to come to them.”

Janet Hans co-hosts Urban Campfires: San Antonio House Concerts, a series that grew so big it began renting a recreation facility that holds 100 people. Organizers retain the living-room ethos by including a potluck dinner and giving all proceeds to the artist, whom they also put up for the night.

“We’re not in the living room anymore but we still strive to have that community feeling,” Hans said.

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