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Be the Mule Blog

Coastal Maine n the Northeast

I never took house concerts before, being under the impression they were for people who couldn't get booked in the club. That was wrong.
I played the first house show I've ever done last night in Ellsworth, Maine. I didnt know it going in, just had an email saying the venue was "430 Bayside" from the booking agent. We pulled up in the afternoon and 430 Bayside was a medium sized house on a country road a few blocks from the ocean. Fall color, Church signs, unkept barns, space, wet sky. 
The owner of the home gave us each bedrooms and internet and space to do whatever we were feeling. I had no idea if anyone would come to the show, Im in smaller town Maine, have no idea what happens here, what could happen here. I generally tend towards the negative expectations when on tour in the US from experience in clubs in unknown, or known for that matter, towns. Sometimes its cool, but most times if lots of people go, no one listens, sometimes no one goes, and rarely do a bunch of people just show up and appreciate wild music. But I like to play music every night, so I keep taking the chances.
Time for the show came around and the house got full. Maybe 40 people, all set down, waiting for a concert, all paid 15 dollars. The youngest group of people were drinking Natural Ice Beer, maybe mid 20's, and the eldest were on a couch with their eyes closed smiling, maybe in their mid 70's. This does not happen often in the US in my experience if you are just showing up in town, unknown to anyone, and playing whatever music you want to. All these people getting together and committing to music, new music, maybe strange music, it feels like a really old idea that we forgot about when we made the concert an entertainment spectacle - or a dinner (looking at you jazz club x) - over an arts event. 
We played an hour or so set and it felt really good, mostly singing songs off the Man With No Country record. People were quiet during the soft songs, shouted during the loud parts, and I got to tell some stories about the songs and Mexico City and how I borrowed, for good, the Man With No Country song from my Dad. Afterwards I sold records and talked with people. A guy in the audience asked if I would play guitar with him. Sure, why not. He went on to play Carter Family and John Prine songs, and told me his name was Chris. His hands were really dirty, looked like he worked outside. He was a cool singer and really passionate about these old folk songs. I wont forget him, had something very honest and USA about him, the wise, charming, grit parts. It was a joy to connect with him like that.I wanted to play with him again sometime, as I love those songs. I asked "how do I find you?". His friend seated next to us answered, "you don't. He finds you."

I tour a lot and we play everywhere because I still want and need to play music every night I can with new people, in the crowd and on the stage. I like the challenge, but at times I have thought that "these days", with the distractions and news madness and technology and YouTube and streaming whatever Michael Jackson hologram concert from Las Vegas into your bedroom, most people dont care about music, something new, experiencing it, sharing it, in person, any longer. 
Im wrong. We are just giving them the wrong kinds of options of experiences as musicians and venue owners. People - us, we - want something real and personal, not 4 TVs with sports games and 4 bartenders and a table with silverware next to a man who involuntarily groans on the minute. We still want the real parts of music, that spirit of community that comes in the concert experience, its just not in the places everyone looks most often. Viva Coastal Maine.


I also got to record a record with the great Bob Moses in Boston. More later on that!


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