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House concerts bring intimate live music experience to North Denver

October 6th, 2005

WEST HIGHLAND - In 2004, Arvada resident and musician, Dwight Mark, decided to look for a house in the north Denver area.  One of his goals for the house was to have a room large enough to have a small house concert series featuring touring singer-songwriters.  Throughout 2005, he searched and made offers on several houses including the Victorian Theater in the Harkness Heights neighborhood, which recently reopened in September.   While The Vic reopened for live theatre, another North Denver house near 29th and Irving is now home to intimate live house concerts. 

Since July, Mark has been renovating the house and learning about the house concert scene.  Mark discovered there are hundreds of house concerts across the country and over a dozen in Colorado.  Each host followed a similar format that provided a venue for performing artists touring the country where they could an intimate performance with a listening audience.  In most cases these artists supplement their shows at clubs with house concerts.  These places provided them with a place to stay and gain additional sales of their CDs.  House concerts also provided music-lovers with a place to gather, socialize and see some of the country’s greatest musicians in a community environment outside of the typical concert hall and bar scene.  Many offer a potluck-style pre-show event and all donations were given to the artists making it a non-profit house party versus an actual business for the host.

However, after the events of 9/11, many hosts in Colorado found that concerts must be run like a business to make the events successful.  House concerts that typically had sold out at 40 to 70 seats through word-of-mouth were now struggling to confirm reservations and bring in 25 attendees.  This has resulted in some Colorado house concerts considering ending their events.

Regardless of his findings, Mark completed his renovation, had a handyman build a small stage, bought 30 folding chairs, and successfully held his first house concert in September with Nashville musician, Celeste Krenz.  He used a word-of-mouth approach with his own fans and local musicians to bring in over 30 attendees.

Mark realizes to be successful, he will need to tap into the local North Denver area to find residents that enjoy the house concert concept and will return to the shows trusting that the musicians he brings in will be in a similar style and caliber of acoustic-based singer-songwriters that blend bluegrass, folk, rock and blues.  Since posting his Highlands House Concert Series website, he has received numerous requests from performers as well as sought out performers to book Kraig Kenning and the Subdudes’ John Magnie.

The Highlands House Concert Series will host Chicago singer-songwriter, Kraig Kenning, on Friday, October 21st.  Kenning captured first place honors in the first annual "National Slide Guitar Festival" competition in Brevard, North Carolina, which was sponsored by the National Guitar Company and Acoustic Guitar Magazine. Kenning also placed runner-up at last year’s Telluride Acoustic Blues Competition.  Kenning’s success over the past decade can be attributed to playing over 200 dates a year, receiving airplay on 40 stations nationwide, selling over 60,000 of his 6 self-produced CDs while complimenting festival and concert hall shows with alternative venues such as house concerts and libraries.

Not simply a concert promoter, Mark is a working songwriter and performer having recently played at the Dragon Boat Festival.  In his newest CD Soul’s Engines, he says on the liner notes, “To me, the soul of a person is the essence of every experience stored in their mind and felt in the heart.  There’s a connection between what we remember about our experiences, how we feel about them, and how we share it through our disposition.  Sometimes it’s difficult to keep life’s demands from interrupting that connection between the mind, heart and soul… times when life itself takes over and our soul’s engines are left idling without inspiration.”

These house concerts will surely be events that will link North Denver with Americana music in the hearts of those who are quick enough to reserve the limited seats.  Reservations to the Highlands House Concert Series can be made online at www.denverhouseconcerts.com or by calling Dwight at 303-424-4684.