Couple holds concerts in their house
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MURPHYSBORO, Ill. (AP) - Over the years, various stereo companies have promised that, with their equipment, you can bring a concert straight into your living room.
For any audiophile, that is a worthy task, however, have you ever thought about literally bringing a concert into your living room by hosting a house concert?
The folk music movement of the late 1950s and early 1960s brought into vogue the ideas of hosting shows in the home. It was a natural outgrowth of a grass-roots movement that emphasized a community spirit and music for "the people." Get a few acoustic instruments and some chairs and you have a full-blown hootenanny.
In recent years, there has been a more formal resurgence in the house concert idea as the music industry continues to change. As the major label system has broken down, the Internet has become a way for performers to keep in close contact with their fans. A house concert allows artists to perform in an area where they may have trouble drawing a crowd in a club or coffeehouse.
Before smoking bans began to take effect in many states, it was also a way for concertgoers to experience a live show in a clean, quiet environment.
Randy and Gaye Auxier began hosting concerts in their home in Murphysboro in 2002. In the last six years, they've had around 40 shows in the spacious living room in their large red brick house on north 9th Street, affectionately referred to as "Redbud Hill."
The Auxiers are longtime supporters of folk music artists and local music. Both of them have radio shows on Carbondale's community radio station, WDBX. Randy hosts the "Folk Fiasco" show Wednesday mornings and Gaye hosts "T.G.I. Folk" on Friday afternoons.
Randy also has a band of his own, the Bone Dry River Band and has released several solo CD's.
The Auxiers began hosting concerts when a friend of theirs, Virginia singer-songwriter Danny Dolinger, made the suggestion when making plans to come for a visit. Since that show they have hosted a number of nationally touring artists, such as Grayson Capps, Karen Mal, Danny O'Keefe, and Andrew Calhoun.
"We don't actively seek people," Gaye said, "but they hear about us and say 'hey we're passing through on an odd day, can we stay with you and do a show."'
Preparation for a show usually begins early in the day with cleaning and moving every chair in the house into their living room and dinning room area.
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The Auxiers have a sort of "floor plan" in their head for the most effective way to set up for their show. With Randy also having a band of his own, he has sound equipment available to set up, though it's not always needed.
As they have developed relationships with various musicians over the years, when a performer has a few days between shows and they are passing through the area, they may stay at Redbud Hill for a couple of nights.
"This is the hotel for wayward musicians, much more so than it is a house concert venue," Randy said.
Consequently, the house concert is beneficial for all involved, whether the artist is playing or not.
"A lot of times a midweek show where they might sell a couple of CD's is better than having to pay for a hotel," Gaye said.
The Auxiers make no money, but have a great experience with friends and other people from the community. In addition to CD sales, the artist receives a place to stay and money from whatever comes in at the door. "It simultaneously increases the quality of the interaction with a crowd, you build a network faster and it cuts expenses all at the same time," Randy said.