By Rob Dickens and Jim Jacob
House Concerts are taking off, big time.
In the USA, they have become highly popular and lucrative for artists. When I was at the Americana Festival and Conference in Nashville in September this year, I met a lot of people for the first time, largely due to the forthcoming Cayamo and Outlaw Country music cruises that we will be enjoying together. Of those to whom I was introduced, I was taken aback by how many of them host their own shows at their homes. I even attended one myself in Fayetteville Arkansas this year, as I happened to be in the right place at the right time (thanks Dawn!!)
In Australia too, the trend is up and I am lucky to be on a list of three regular house concert series. The first clash occurred last Sunday, actually. Two home gigs on at the same time on the same day!
It is easy to see why they are so successful. The performers get to play to an attentive audience, in an intimate atmosphere, they get all or a greater proportion of the door charges compared with a live venue, CDs and merchandise sales are probably better and there’s great food and drink on offer. For hosts and visitors, they get to see up close great music for not high admission costs, can take their own food and drink, catch up with friends and, most importantly of all, support artists in a beautiful environment.
So, last Sunday, I was privileged to see Ayleen O’Hanlon and Rich Davies at a superb location (thanks Geoff and Kerry!)
Hailing from small-town New South Wales, O’Hanlon emerged in 2015 with the album Blend and Spill displaying a confidence and candour rarely seen on an alt-folk country debut. Since then she has wowed audiences around Australia on several tours, appearing at a number of festivals including Port Fairy Folk Festival and Brunswick Music Festival, and has curated a major songwriting and history event Going Back for the Darebin Music Feast. Backed by skilled picking on guitar and banjo, her distinctive voice and charisma will carry a song to any listener’s heart with vigour and authenticity.
With a poet’s heart and a rocker’s soul, Davies has just released his second album – today, in fact. The new album Ghosts marks a departure from the colossal sound of Davies’ critically acclaimed debut album The Devil’s Union, in favour of a more intimate and minimalist approach. I’ve had a couple of listens to the new release and it is an impressive collection. Under the wing of his father, himself a folksinger, Davies spent his formative years in the folk clubs of Scotland, steeped in the ethos and traditions of the genre. The evolution of Ghosts has seen him reconnect with that world, peeling back the skin of rock’n’roll to expose old-time, Americana and Celtic bones.
Rich Davies & The Low Road will be supporting Mick Thomas & The Roving Commission on their national tour throughout November, December and January – dates here.
Listening Through The Lens‘s own Jim Jacob was there with his camera and here is his pictorial of the day.