Network brings hosts and musicians together
by Samantha White
Janet Braymen likes listening to live music. She likes it so much that she actively seeks an audience of community members who want to attend live music concerts in her home and musicians who want to perform at them.
Braymen belongs to Concerts In Your Home (CIYH), an internet-based network that brings musicians, hosts and audience members together for the purpose of organizing house concerts.
According to the network’s website, www.concertsinyourhome.com, a house concert is an “invitation-only concert in someone’s home, presented by a host who does not profit from the event.”
Braymen said, in the past, she’s found it difficult to find musicians who are willing to travel just to play in Burns because the city is so remote, but musicians pass through the area between performances in larger cities, and the network helps her locate and book those musicians for house concerts.
As part of the house concert concept, musicians agree to perform in exchange for food and lodging from hosts and donations from audiences. Braymen explained that this prevents the traveling musicians from spending all of the money that they make on food and lodging.
Braymen said, because food and lodging are provided by the host, the musicians do not need large audiences to make performing house concerts worth their time, adding that some musicians are willing to perform for a minimum of five people.
Braymen said house concerts give musicians the opportunity to “get out of the ‘bar scene.’” She added that house concerts also provide musicians with an attentive audience.
“No one is smacking pool balls or clinking glasses,” Braymen said. “People are there to listen to music instead of visiting or drinking beer.”
And, because the concerts are performed in homes (rather than bars or clubs), audiences of all ages can attend. In fact, Braymen said audience members who attended her most recent concert ranged in age from 1 to 91, and, “They were all enjoying themselves.”
Braymen said she was introduced to the CIYH website by a hammered dulcimer player who she met while attending a house concert in another city. Braymen said the site has everything you need to host a concert in your home. In fact, it includes a 21-page, printable guide for potential concert hosts.
The site connects people who want to host house concerts with musicians who want to play at them. It also connects audience members who want to attend house concerts with hosts in their area.
Because they are essentially private events, anyone wishing to attend a house concert needs to contact the host and request an invitation.
Braymen said anyone wishing to attend a concert at her home should call or email her and say, “Hey, I’d like to come to your house concert.”
She said she can seat 40 people in the “great room” at her home in Burns.
The CIYH network consists of hundreds of hosts across the United States, but Braymen is the only host in the Burns area. In fact, she said she is the only host in the network for hundreds of miles, and, because of this, she receives three or four inquiries a month from musicians who are interested in playing a concert while they pass through town. This allows Braymen to be selective about the acts that she hosts.
Choosing an act
Braymen, who joined the CIYH network a little over a year ago, has already hosted five acts and plans to host two more this year.
She said the most challenging and time-consuming part of hosting house concerts is finding an audience that will be interested in the music presented, as audiences will differ, depending on music styles.
However, Braymen said all musicians who belong to the network are “very talented,” explaining that artists are screened to determine whether they are capable of performing at a skill level befitting an audience. The website also provides reviews and allows potential hosts to listen to artists before inviting them to play in their homes.
“You don’t want just any stranger to come sleep in your house,” Braymen said.
She said hosts are also screened to ensure that musicians are sent to safe homes.
“They don’t just take everybody,” she said. “They interview you to make sure you are a good fit for the network.”
Braymen said she would have “no idea” where to find new artists without the network, adding that it connects her with a wide variety of artists, representing a “huge range” of styles. She said artists also vary in age, as some are in their 20s, while others may be in their 60s.
However, one thing the artists have in common is that they are not nationally-known or used to playing in stadiums with audiences of 50,000 people.
But Braymen said most of the network’s artists don’t want to play in front of crowds of that size, explaining that they prefer to play in front of 10 or 50 people. She said the network’s artists write their own music and are trying to “eke out a living.”
“They are totally unknown artists coming out of the woodwork,” Braymen said, but she added that they are all “very talented.”
‘West My Friend’
Braymen hosted “West My Friend” at an outdoor concert at her parents’ ranch just outside of Burns on Monday, Aug. 5.
Braymen said her parents have been very supportive of her involvement with the CIYH network, and, in addition to allowing her to host a concert on their property, they attended all the concerts that Braymen hosted at her own home.
“That’s what parents are for. They support you, even when you are 50,” Braymen said with a smile.
Braymen’s father even requested a song.
At his request, “West My Friend” performed a rendition of its own “Take it Slow,” which featured a spirited solo on a toy saxophone played by Jeff Poynter. Poynter also sings and plays the accordion.
Based out of Victoria, British Columbia, and formed in 2009, the four-piece band also consists of Eden Oliver (vocals, guitar and flute), Alex Rempel (mandolin and vocals), and Adam Bailey (bass and vocals).
According to its website, www.westmyfriend.com, the band has been described as “everything from indie-roots to chamber-folk.”
In addition to unique instrumentation, “West My Friend” songs feature quirky lyrics consisting of subject matter that could range from a woeful pirate love saga to a surprisingly optimistic take on a memorable scene from Sylvia Plath’s novel, “The Bell Jar.”
The band also performed “Tic-a-Toc,” which is the first track on its album “Place.”
Oliver said the song is about “starting riots, but the good kind of political-science-type riots, not a hockey riot.”
“Place” was nominated for “Roots Album of the Year” at the Vancouver Island Music Awards.
The concert at the Braymen ranch was one of many shows performed by “West My Friend” as part of the band’s Madrona Migration tour throughout Oregon, Washington, California and British Columbia.
Braymen said she plans to host three or four shows every year.
She will host David Nigel Lloyd, a contemporary celtic/folk musician, Thursday, Aug. 29. She also plans to host “Shady Rill,” which consists of Patti Casey (vocals and song writing) and Tom MacKenzie (banjo and hammered dulcimer), Oct. 20.
Braymen said anyone interested in attending these events can log onto www.concertsinyourhome.com and search for shows in Burns. Interested persons can also contact Braymen directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 541-573-1323.
Braymen said house concerts are “a good thing,” and she recommends hosting house concerts to anyone who wants to bring music to his or her community. She added that she would love to host audience members who appreciate live music.