Hosting house concerts is pretty much the coolest thing there is, so it’s surprising that I don’t know more people who do it. The hosts at the Dickinson House had e-mailed the week before, wanting to meet for coffee sometime and “pick my brain” about doing what I do. They had already hosted a handful of shows and were working on a last minute show tonight to benefit Viroqua based Wisco Pop’s Kickstarter project to fund bottling equipment. They made their goal before the show, but still sent two varieties for the patrons to enjoy. For entertainment we had Ethan Keller from Milwaukee. Everyone there seemed to be friends and I would have felt very out of place if it hadn’t been for one of my house concert regulars also being in attendance. Their e-mail made it look like everything would run according to a schedule, soda tasting from 7-7:30, music from 7:30-9, so I didn’t even worry about bringing any beer. Apparently they don’t strive to be the venue that starts relatively close to on time, it was after 8 before Ethan Keller took the stage. Luckily in addition to being someone to talk to, Fran was also willing to share his beer.
The Dickinson House is a big old house on, you guessed it, Dickinson Street. The living room and dining room run together into one long narrow room which serves as the music area. There were two couches in the living room packed with attentive listeners and rows of chairs just across the line into the dining room. Milwaukee musician Keller played likeable pop music, skillfully layering tracks on top of each other with his bass guitar and some mouth percussion. It wasn’t exactly my thing, but I found I enjoyed it quite a bit. Unfortunately the crowd around the bar at the back of the room grew restless after only a few songs, and the chatter intensified over the rest of his set, even to the point of making it difficult to concentrate on the music. For his part, Keller was very professional and seemed unfazed by the clamor at the other end of the room. At the end of his set he thanked the crowd politely, and then thanked those that had been listening personally. On the way out, one of the house’s residents assured me it wasn’t normally like that, and he wasn’t sure why it had happened tonight.
I’ll certainly give it another shot sometime to see if he’s right. If nothing else, it makes me appreciate my crowd even more. Next time though, I’ll bring a friend and some beer of my own.