Folk trio to play live show in the first of a series of house concerts to be hosted by Alma couple
Chris and Gord Grose will be taking in a live concert tonight, but they won’t have to leave their Alma home. And they can expect an extended encore from the band … right through until breakfast, in fact.
Thanks to an initiative called Home Routes, the couple is opening their home to folk singers from across Canada in a series of house concerts that will run until April 14.“We actually went to a Home Routes concert out in Pinter Creek, Alberta. We’ve been to a couple out there, that’s where our son lives, and just fell in love with the concept. I decided to give Gord something special for Christmas last year: We were giving gifts of time and I thought I would look into hosting a house concert,” Chris Grose said this week.
Unlike poodle skirts and saddle shoes, house concerts are one 1950s North American practice that failed to fade, and today acoustic performers far exceed the more conventional concert venues available to them, said Tim Osmond, artistic director at Home Routes. The non-profit organization sends artists on performance circuits all over Canada to play in people’s homes, just like the Groses will open their doors to their friends and neighbours.
“The reality for most musicians is that there really aren’t a lot of venues, especially for acoustic artists, and that’s why we started Home Routes,” he said.
Under the program, music fans like the Groses provide their home as a venue, put the artist up for the night, and feed them dinner and breakfast.
With so many people coming to the house, are the couple ready to act the obliging hosts they set out to be?
“It means opening you home and not only having it ready for visitors that evening but being ready for the overnighters as well. It’s that bed-and-breakfast atmosphere,” Grose said.
Home Routes sends artists on 14 routes from the Yukon to Nova Scotia. The Ontario route, dubbed the Estelle Klein circuit after the former director of the Mariposa Folk Festival, will see six artists tour for two weeks each between September and April. Artists start their concerts in St. Thomas then on to Guelph, Alma, Georgetown, Mississauga, Tottenham, and Newmarket, followed by Penetanguishene, Georgian Bay, Mount Albert, Halliburton, and finish in Ottawa and Quebec.
“We give them a circuit so the shows are consistent and they develop an audience of their own over time. What we are trying to do is give people a series and build their audience from the ground up.”
While acoustic musicians gross an average of $12,000 per year from regular performances, the two-week run normally provides the travellers with repeated exposure and about $5,000 for the two weeks they spend on the circuit performing 13 shows, Osmond explained. All of the proceeds from the $20 concert admission fees go directly to the artists.
“It’s more intimate in a house concert. What I found is really special is that all of the music that is played and sung has been written by the artists, and so not only have they written the song, but they tell the story that goes with the song. You’re physically up-close to the musicians but you also get very close to the music itself.
Six groups of travelling artists will perform in Alma starting today with 100 Mile House, a folk-trio out of Edmonton. The trio, consisting of Peter Stone and Denise MacKay and Scott Zubot, is an award-winning group with three albums in circulation. Next up on October 20 is Jaxon Haldane, followed by Bill Bourne in November, Meaghan Blanchard in February, Charlie A’Court in March and Laura Cortese in April.
Tickets cost $20 per person at each performance. For future concert and ticket information contact Gord and Chris Grose at 519-846-0282 or email@example.com.