House concerts are a phenomenon I’ve discovered here in Lancaster.
With previous experience in viewing local and traveling musicians in dark and dank basements in West Philadelphia, I wasn’t sure what to expect the first time I attended one. Jason and Janae, of Ruby Red House Concerts, hosted their third, and my first house concert, featuring Sopa Soul. Their home transformed into a venue, complete with rows of seating and snacks galore. Accustomed to using my elbows to find room for a view, reserving to the fact I’d smell like a stale cigarette at the end of the evening and my ears drums would be ringing for the next two days, I was astonished by the warm and welcoming nature of a house concert. People sat and listened. The audience gave the band their full attention and the band gave their all.
There’s something to be said for opening your home to artists, to friends and strangers.
Last night Ruby Red went on the road. Instead of their usual venue, Shannon and Rich hosted in their home. The stage was set in front of the large bay windows of their historic mansion, framed with oak trim, high ceilings and a marbled fireplace. Painstakingly refurbished with love, their beautiful home was a sight to behold. 40 or more people sat and watched Abby Ahmad and Mark Marshall, of Brooklyn, NYC, perform. I was captivated by Abby, full of life and energy, with a sultry voice and an intoxicating spirit. Abby and Mark sang the Blues, Abby told tales of love found and the complications that arise with it. Her story telling was real, unashamed and confident. Mark’s guitar was mesmerizing, intricate and full of whammy.
My favorite song of the night was about their relationship, a love found after making beautiful music together. Complimenting one another with their guitars, playing back and forth in a musical conversation, a perfect partnership.
Abby was inspiring in so many ways. She ignited my creativity with her handmade merch, including notebooks that had a handwritten lyric in each. Her thoughtfulness and passion enveloped me. I couldn’t help to think that she is a role model for young, passionate women. Honest about her triumphs, faults and second-guesses, it was refreshing to be in the presence of a woman who is proud of what she’s done and delivers it in such a magical way.
Who knows, Abby and Mark seemed pretty pleased with Lancaster. Perhaps they’ll make the trip from Brooklyn more often.
With this great start to the house concert season of 2014, I’m looking forward to the musicians to come. Read previous posts featuring traveling and local artists in Lancaster.