The lazy concert

Eclectic Music now has its own performance space and consequently, so do I. We've had several events there since we moved in six weeks ago: an open house, a CD/DVD release party, a children's concert, five recitals, and two rehearsals of the new Intown Women's Glee Club.

The space, called The Eclectic Music Room, was conceived as a community music space - an alternative to 11 PM Wednesday night shows in smoky, 21+ clubs. I'm delighted to see the space used in that way - in a couple of weeks we'll be featuring two Grady High School students (and Eclectic Music students) Lily Zintak and Weston Taylor for an evening of original music.

An unexpected benefit of this lofty loft, however, is that is perfect for a lazy musician like me - someone who enjoys performing from time to time but dislikes booking gigs and hauling gear. The mountain comes to Mohammed, as it were, and I can do a show in what is essentially my own living room. Call it a "lazy concert."

I hadn't made this aspect of the venue public, but this week, one of the members of the Intown Women's Glee Club asked me to play at her birthday party, and it turned out she wanted to have the party at the Eclectic Music Room.

It will be the first event of its kind, but I'm sure it won't be the last. In this case, the coolest part is that she wants me to get all her guests singing - she doesn't want spectators or audience members, she wants participants. I love this type of collaborative performance. For those of us who grew up in musical families, it is de riguer, but it is somewhat novel to create this vibe with a larger group in a slightly more formal context.

It is a bit of a tightrope walk for a performer to work this way. My musical partner Michael and I will not be able to go in with our own set list (which means we don't even have to make one - another way this will be a "lazy concert"). In order to develop a rapport with the group, we'll be taking requests, which often means playing songs by ear (often songs we've never played before!).

Of course, it helps that we had a dry run at a family Thanksgiving dinner a couple of nights ago, playing Beatles songs and holiday favorites for a handful of folks. Some sang along, some played various percussion, and some just listened. It's relaxed, but you still have to be "on" - when you're accompanying singers, you have to follow them exactly (which I did), and everyone will notice if you flub up the intro to "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" (which I did).

I'm eager to see whether, tonight, The Eclectic Music Room will help us blur the line between the performer and the audience the way we did at Thanksgiving. It is my desire, both as a musical artist and as an educator, that everyone should have this kind of authentic, mutually creative experience. I believe, as we head away from the major-label-driven music industry model, that we will see a lot more lazy concerts.