House concerts have been bringing folk singer/songwriters into intimate home settings for years and now some websites are sharing those performances online. In order to entice musicians into one such private venue, Jon and Luana Eckhard have agreed to record the occasion and have been sharing their unique home videos with others through the web since December 2005.
The Eckhards clear the furniture out of their living room in Boulder, Colorado once every month, make some snacks, invite their friends, relatives, and some internet fans, and set the stage for some of their favorite performers.
The Eckhards don’t just feature local artists. Musicians like Christopher Williams, who tours year-round with a schedule of over 130 performances, finds time to play a set at their house. Their schedule gives a three-month heads-up for upcoming concerts, but their Past Shows and Videos pages are the main draws of the site. Arranged by artist, these archives provide downloadable music, streaming video, information, and links to more detailed information about the performer’s style and song choices. The artist’s video page brings all of the videos together (about 3 to 12 vids for each artist).
For live home concert recordings, the quality is surprisingly high. The steady camera zooms in tight on the performers to catch all their movements, while the stage is lit to show the intimacy of the venue. Because the site creators are actually present at the concerts, deal with all of the arrangements, and have handpicked each performer based on previous encounters, they know a lot about the artists. This is evident from their artist descriptions, such as their warm review of Cheryl Wheeler’s performance style.
The video clip of Arthur Lee Land performing “U R A Song,” which was co-written by Land’s wife, begins with a close-up of his bongo and percussion skills before zooming out to catch the entirety of his awesomely languid 8-minute live-looping song.
For those of you who haven’t listened to singer/songwriters since Joni Mitchell or think of the phrase in terms of Sufjan Stevens, Willy Porter’s soft voice and incredible guitar abilities make a smooth introduction to the genre’s contemporary scene.