So Many Stars: Bringing Musicians to a Living Room Near You
By Kerri Provost
February 19, 2012
“I love having parties. Now I don’t have to wait for an event. I’m making an event.”
Julie Beman — a co-author of Live in Hartford – is now working to expand Hartford’s music scene with the creation of So Many Stars.
Beman describes her first steps into the world of music as typical of those who grew up in the ’70s — playing recorder in first grade. From there she had piano lessons and sang in church. Dad played mandolin; Mom played guitar. She remembers singing to albums at home and “warbling” along like the nuns from The Sound of Music.
In college, she toured England as an alto in the Chapel Singers at Trinity College. Later she would be part of the women’s choir at Saint Patrick-Saint Anthony.
She “wanted to write songs forever,” but thought she needed formal music training to be successful. In recent months, after receiving encouragement from a friend, she finally began songwriting. This was quickly followed by recording a song for Christmas.
This is where Henning Ohlenbusch comes in. After Ohlenbusch and Beman worked together on the recording process, she decided he should play a gig in Hartford.
Citing how venues failed to return the calls and emails she placed hoping that Ohlenbusch — who used to play with The Aloha Steamtrain and currently does with School for the Dead — would get a show, Beman decided to begin having house concerts.
She asked the musician how many people attending would make the house concert worthwhile to him. He said ten. There are already thirty seats reserved for his March 3rd show.
This concert will be taking place in a location to be revealed to those who receive official invites after they have made initial contact expressing their interest in the concert. Beman says guests are requested to respect the privacy of the host by not publicizing the location of the home. There will be no foursquare or other social media check-ins for these parties.
This will be the first So Many Stars show. Not all will be of the indie rock variety. A classical concert is planned for the not-so-distant future.
Beman says she has never been to a house concert and did not know about The Whitney House, but she has been immersed in the Northampton and Holyoke music scenes.
The intimate setting, she says, allows for “performers to be heard the way they want to be heard.” One of her frustrations has been with how often live music is drowned out by shouting and loud conversations at traditional small venues. At these house concerts, the expectation is that guests are there because of the music and plan to listen to it.
Right now, she is the sole host, but others have expressed interest in opening up their homes for future concerts. Like any other party, guests are expected to respect the host’s wishes. Some hosts, for example, may not permit any alcohol in their homes. For this first show, Beman says, guests may bring alcohol, but are expected to “keep it classy.” Some food will be provided and guests are encouraged to treat this as a potluck.
The house concerts enable connections to be made between strangers, Beman said. Guests can show up early, socialize between sets, and stay after the music is over. They will also have more opportunity to interact with performers.
To be a performer, Beman says the first step is just to make contact. The music “can’t be crap,” she says, adding, “that’d be my definition of crap.”
To reserve a seat for the March 3rd show, see the So Many Stars site.
Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford.
To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.