Friday, August 15, 2014

Susan Enan's House Concert

I have helped host a couple of house concerts from Bellingham, and one of my favorites was folk musician Susan Enan. I discovered Susan's music through a Paste Magazine sampler CD passed along to me by my good friend James Van Noord. Susan's song 'Bird' is featured on my not-really-famous mix The Run Away Album. Her songs have appeared on 'Bones' and other tv shows, and Sarah MacLaughlin has recorded some of her songs.

When she came out to Bellingham last, James asked if we would help him host at his house. We were one of the last shows before she was heading to sing at Folsom Prison for the first time, and she talked about how nervous she was.

It all started a few years ago, when Susan did one house concert while visiting Nashville and she received invitations for several more around the world. She decided to book a few dates and try it out. She gaffer-taped a camera to the dashboard of her car and took to the road, ending up singing in homes on 6 continents, including Folsom Prison, "An island, off an island, off Ireland", and one in the Arctic circle during a solar eclipse.

When she said she was going to be in the Seattle area, I asked my housemates if they would mind if we had a show in my basement apartment, and we started planning to host as many as 40 people at my small place. 

It was a small group of friends and strangers who arrived on a cool Thursday evening in August, bringing bottles of wine and settling into the chairs we had gathered around. Susan, recovering from laryngitis, had to cancel some of the other shows after this one in order to save her voice, but this show was so near where she was staying that she decided to fit in a last hurrah.

Susan has so many stories from the road and through developing her songs and ideas, that the evening is as much storytelling as it is songs from her album like Moonlight, Bring on the Wonder, If You're Feeling Low,  and Bird

Questions were called out, and stories led to conversations, jokes, and lots of laughter. I love the warm and cozy feeling of the room when people are letting music and stories sink into their consciousness--when they are truly listening and learning from the stories. Soft "wow's" and quiet applause in between songs, and curious questions about stories from playing to prisoners, islanders, the Portuguese fans who danced like they were in a hip hop club to her quiet melodies, and wanted to hear the whole concert over again when it ended at 2 am. I must admit, I know how they felt. There's something special about the intimacy and quietess of music in a circle instead of a concert venue, something restful about the community of people moving quietly in and out and being able to see everyone's faces.

And also getting to take the artist out for post-concert oysters in Ballard because she's never had the Pacific kind. How often do you get that chance? If this sounds like something you'd like to do, please follow Susan's information on facebook, twitter, and sign up for her mailing list. 

And be brave! Even the smallest apartment can be transformed into a beautiful evening. 




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