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Brian Ashley Jones performs at Indywest

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Does anybody remember this article from the May 28, 2008 edition of Nuvo?

I do. That article opened a whole new arena of concert-going for me. It spurred my love and appreciation for a small, intimate show. It made me realize that seeing live music doesn’t have to mean sitting in hours of traffic and fighting thousands of people for a glimpse of the band on a jumbotron viewing screen. Most importantly, it educated me on the admirable efforts of local music-lovers and then invited me to show my support directly by contacting the various hosts and joining their mailing lists.

Two years later, it turns out house concerts are still enduring in Indianapolis. In fact, new venues are still popping up; rather, kind folks who share a common interest are opening their homes to fans of acoustic music. A few weeks ago I was tipped off to the latest of these sites- The Indywest House Concert Series hosted by John and Kathy Casey. For the inaugural show taking place in their home, John and Kathy were pleased to present singer/songwriter/guitarist Brian Ashley Jones and accompanying double bassist Tisha Simeral from Nashville, TN.

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  • Photo by Amanda Coleman

The event took place in the Casey’s dining room; approximately 30 seats stuffed into the charming room abundantly filled with blue and yellow décor. At 7 in the evening it was still warm inside and out, but an overhead fan gently rotated above us to keep the temperature tolerable. Seated in the front row with my crossed leg less than a foot from Simeral’s enormous instrument, I was almost too close for comfort. Almost.

The music ranged from upbeat and lively instrumentals, to waltz-worthy tunes, to masterfully crafted lyrical works such as “Get Out of the City… If You Want to See the Stars” (performed in front of an audience for the second time ever at Indywest). As close proximity is often the norm at house concerts, Jones and Simeral once bumped their instruments together during a fast-pace song, locked eyes, and laughed it off.

The informal setting made it easy for the entertainers to talk with the audience between songs. Jumping into the next tune almost felt unnatural without some kind of introduction or story before moving on. The pair recounted how playing a standard gig in Nashville once landed them a spot on a national television show, how Jones was inspired to write “Courier” while driving down the highway, and the first-date-gone-bad story that came to be “Pull ‘em Up”. Attending the concert in a house instead of a bar allowed one-on-one conversation as Jones and Simeral fielded questions from the audience and made inquiries of their own (“What is that?” Jones asked as he pointed to my can of Sunking beer).

Intermission allowed for more socialization amongst guests and the opportunity to further enjoy the smorgasbord of homemade dishes that had been brought by attendees. House concert bonus: B.Y.O.B! Admission was not charged at the door but donations were highly encouraged and went directly to the artists. Furthermore, John and Kathy get extra kudos for not only supplying segregated bins holding both trash and recyclables, but for also clearly labeling which one was which. It’s the simple things that make a difference.

Clearly, a house concert is anything but a traditional live music performance. The concept of underground music is the initial draw and appeal, but the hospitality and artist accessibility is what inevitably keeps attendees coming back. The Casey’s look forward to hosting more events and are currently finalizing the details for another show in mid-August. In the meantime, if you’re interested in attending future house concerts at Indywest, send them an email (indywesthc@aol.com) and request to be added to their distribution list.

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