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John Magnie shares mic with impromptu house gathering of singers 

by Elisa Cohen

December 15th, 2005

Sloan's Lake - It's a house, like any other Sloan's Lake house. A few holiday lights glimmer from inside, but nothing lets on to the amazing intimate music happening within. On December 3 John Magnie along with several local musicians gathered at Dwight Mark's house in the latest gathering of the Highland House Concerts.  40 friends and neighbors gathered to listen to music, laugh at stories and even at times throw out a forgotten verse.

Some folks hold Tupperware Parties; Mark opens his home for nights of live acoustic music.  Is it a business?  No, all donations go directly to musicians.  Apparently Mark promotes these concerts to sing, to get together with fellow artists and to share the magic of live music in an intimate setting.

Magnie of the Subdudes fame played the keyboard alternating between blues, gospel and country tinged ballads.  Storytelling at the keyboard, Magnie took the audience through lyrical rides north to Wyoming and down to the back streets of New Orleans and even to the journey of the prodigal son.  As a highly accomplished musician, he segued from song to song with anecdotes about the origin of the material and its transformation in his repertoire.

The house atmosphere created a relaxed environment leading to funny episodes of forgotten lyrics, stumbling stage entrances, and even a large black dog wandering through the approximately 40 seats arranged in the large Denver Square living room.  At one point, Magnie did a rendition of the Wizard of Oz's "If I Only Had A Brain," a funny and delightful romp away from the blues and gospel, showcasing his wide abilities.

Magnie shared the stage with Mark in a couple of duets and then invited other singers to join him for a rendition of a Ray Charles song.  Marcy Baruch, Mollie O'Brien, Erica Brown and Judy Kirkham backed up Magnie in several numbers.  In one rousing number, Erica Brown's solo blasted the audience with a voice so grand and powerful it felt as if the sound waves were a physical force pushing against us all in the North Denver living room scene.

Erica Brown wrote on her website, www.ericabrown.com "John is one of those rare musicians who will not hesitate to share the stage with anyone he thinks will add to the positive vibe and fun of a show, so by the end of the evening, there had been an amazing amount of musical exploration! The beauty of this type of show is that there are only a small number of tickets sold for each show, so the “intimate feel” is not lost. I encourage all of you, at some time or other in this coming year, to attend a House Concert and experience it for yourself."

The intimate impromptu atmosphere made us feel like guests we were, visiting the home of working musicians enjoying the act of making and sharing live music.

The concert started with a potluck and ended with folks gathering around to talk over desserts and beverages.  Magnie sold his CDs and Mark asked his audience to remember to share with their friends and family, the information about these house concerts.

Audience member Dennis Hobbs of R/Max City Horizons said, "He keeps telling people to tell their friends, but he only has about ten more seats to sell.  Don't write about this."  He implored.  Sorry Dennis, the evening was too much fun to keep to myself.

The next concert will be on January 28 featuring local musician Rich Moore and the Winstons.  To reserve tickets, go to www.denverhouseconcerts.com.

Check out photos from the show!