South Charlotte

House concerts offer an intimate experience

Katie Oates says that house concerts “are a great way to try out new material and expand your audience.”
Katie Oates says that house concerts “are a great way to try out new material and expand your audience.” COURTESY OF JOHN MERRICK

Katie Oates has sung in choirs and musical theater.

She has sung at the Evening Muse in NoDa and at Atherton Mills. She also has sung in the studio, having recorded an album of classical music, with another in the works featuring original songs.

Like many artists, she also is adding house concerts to her repertoire.

“It’s such a nice, intimate setting, with people who are really focused on listening to your music,” Oates said.

Oates, 51, began performing in her own home to showcase her music. She also opened up her house for other artists, both local performers and those coming to town for other gigs.

“House concerts do not compete with live venues,” Oates said. “We work hand in hand with them.”

“As a performer, I feel an obligation to support other artists, especially during this time when the industry is in such disarray,” Oates said.

She was referring to the fact that so many people now get their music free, leaving CD sales and concert venues reeling.

Big venues still draw big names, but the smaller venues are struggling, and that leaves smaller artists struggling.

“Artists must tour,” Oates said, “so house concerts have become a much more viable source of income.”

House concerts vary in size and format, but they tend to be private events with groups of 15 to 30 people invited. The concerts are free, with the host receiving no payment for the event or refreshments, but donations are suggested to support the artists.

The venue provides a more relaxed, informal setting for the performers and the audience.

John Merrick, who attended one of Oates’ house concerts June 28 at the writer’s home in south Charlotte, said of such performances, “You tend to be very comfortable in someone else’s home, especially when you know them, so that leads you to be more open to whatever the performance is going to be.”

For Deborah Winegar, 71, the drive from NoDa to see Oates was worth it, because, she said, “I like being exposed to new music and things I haven’t heard before, and I like getting to see someone’s house and the comfort of it.”

LeAnne Caton, 51, said she loved that “sitting on the couch felt so personal without being voyeuristic.”

For many in attendance, the highlight of a house concert is the opportunity the venue provides for interacting with the artists and hearing them talk about each song.

Lorrina Eastman, 47, said she “loved how Katie told stories before every song.”

Oates performed with Dan Hood, 38, a local musician who plays several instruments and accompanied Oates on the guitar and mandolin.

Hood, who plays with the Charleston college rock band Blue Dogs and Charlotte-based country group Gal Friday Band, said “the intimacy of a house concert is crucial for artists to connect with fans.”

“From an artist’s perspective, the best part of playing to a house crowd is getting the energy and responsiveness and feeding off of that,” Hood said.

Several attendees said house concerts leave both performers and audience members feeling they have experienced something special.

“It was sweet music and sweet stories,” Elyse Dashew said of the June 28 event. “I felt lucky to experience it in such an intimate setting.”

Katya Lezin is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Katya? Email her at bowserwoof@mindspring.com.

Learn more:

▪ For information about Katie Oates, visit www.katieoates.com.

▪ To learn more about Dan Hood, visit www.danhoodmusic.com.

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