The people begin to slowly amble inside, mingling with newcomers and hugging old friends. There is food on the table and smiles appear on faces as they pass through the entrance. The sound guy is checking the gear and there are various instruments pleasantly poised around the room anticipating their moment to be played and appreciated. The once average living room has now been transformed for the anticipated music event, complete with couch and chairs facing the same direction, lights strung in organized direction above the stage area, and a backdrop to highlight the performer. Musicians are casually chatting with other performers as well as audience members. As a newcomer, I am initially invited into conversation by another newcomer and we discuss our musical endeavors while living in Music City. A love of creativity and awe for the production of music and song fills the room with a warmth unmatched at small downtown venues and big arenas. As the time draws near, the jovial audience is quieted, the performer properly introduced and a group of music lovers partake in a feast for hungry ears.
I recently attended my first house show in the greater Nashville area, and honestly, it was one of the best musical experiences of which I have been a part in Music City so far. As opposed to a show at a downtown venue or an open-air park, the house scene had a much more intimate and organic vibe. More intimate and focused on active listening by the audience, there was an undeniable sense of respect for those performing. The people who attended were incredibly friendly and welcoming, what everyone would like when flying solo, as I did that night, to this show. I was actually invited to sit with several girls I had not previously known, but they quickly made me feel like part of their group. I was pretty excited when local talents, the Vespers, entered from the backdoor and were also listening and enjoying the great local music. And to brag on them a little, Callie, a member of local musical group, the Vespers, was a complete delight when I suddenly engaged her in conversation. She even went out of her way to introduce me to Larry Kloess, the creative founder behind Cause a Scene house shows, as a gesture of helping a musician make a good music connection. On this particular night, the lineup included Marc Scibilia (http://marcscibilia.com), Kevin Heider (www.kevinheider.com), and Afterlife Parade, all three very talented songwriters and performers. The genre of music at these shows spans from Americana to Indie pop and even some country, bluegrass and folk tinged with blues, hip-hop and soul. I am sure as time goes on, a variety of music will grace the stage.
Cause a Scene House Shows is a new venture in which Kloess has revamped a typical house show scene into a legitimate venue in his living room, fashioning his own style of house show. In an effort to create an even more comfortable experience, volunteers contribute food to share with the listening party and performing artists. As a musician myself, I realized the great opportunity for networking at such an intimate and relaxed environment. Since I moved to Nashville in August, it has been difficult to meet and connect with musicians that aren’t necessarily playing a specific type of music in the Nashville scene. The open mic scene is nice, but it doesn’t always deliver the results of connection, networking and fostering of local music colleagues that most independent artists and fans want. Hence, the beauty of Cause a Scene music. This is where the house show scene has begun to change the live music arena. This house show I attended was not only an enjoyable but also a beneficial experience for me as well as everyone involved. It felt more like a group gathering, a meet and greet and even a place to connect with old friends as well as create new friendships.
The benefits of Cause a Scene Music in regards to those in the music industry are obvious. Musicians who perform benefit in a small atmosphere where people are genuinely interested in listening to music and later purchasing music from the performers they hear. Musicians attending benefit through networking and gaining prospective gigs with those who organize the shows as well as those who have other connections in such a musically-saturated city. Networking occurs at various levels depending on what fields and organizations may be represented on any given night at any given show. Thinking you should maybe attend one of these? I concur. But not only is it great from a networking perspective, it is an all around enjoyable way to spend one of your very precious weekday or weekend evenings.
In a day when technology and life seem to continually be disengaged and increasingly moving away from interpersonal connection, the house show scene seems to have breathed new life into listening to live music. Kloess has stepped actively onto the house venue scene, and I think he may just be carving his own niche in it as well. In connection to creating a performance space, he is now fostering a creative community. It is one which attracts welcoming people as well as creatives who possess a love for things beyond the here and now. I was struck by the character that exuded from the souls I met that night. I recently watched a video interview/blog with Keith Posehn, Zorz president, in which he stated, “Find a small market- and then take it over.” This made me think a lot about what Kloess is trying to do. He is in a specific niche, the house market, but he is also fostering local talent as well as providing a place for that to become a musical community of creators, appreciators and dream-instigators. If you haven’t been to one of these shows, I would encourage you to come out and see for yourself. Even more commendable is the fact that Kloess charges anywhere from 5-10 depending on the show, and then turns around and gives it right back to the performers. His love of music and those who create it is evident in the way he gives back and respects his performers.
Check out the summer lineups at Larry’s blog, www.causeascenemusic.com and for up-to-dates, add Cause a Scene house shows on Facebook. The next show is scheduled for this Thursday, June 7, featuring Act of Congress and The Westbound Rangers. If you haven’t experienced this yet, you should definitely check this out.