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House Concert With Folk Musicians Martin Swinger and Connor Garvey

December 16, 2013

Friday night I enjoyed my first ever house concert. Featured folk musicians were Martin Swinger and Connor Garvey. As my host explained in his invitation, “In the folk world, the house concert is the vehicle for…recognition and I am lucky to have the opportunity to host them.”

Well, I think the guests were the lucky ones. Our host had prepared an abundance of delicious food for us to enjoy as we mixed and mingled before, during a break and after the performance. About 40 people attended, all sitting in rapt silence as these two talented folk musicians sang songs of love and life. There was a cover charge of $20 – a pittance for what the night presented to the guests.

Each of these musicians has received the 2013 “Emerging Artist” recognition at this year’s Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. And it was easy to see why.

Martin Swinger is a seasoned singer/song-writer and this is apparent in his gracious stage presence and his songs. Starting his set with Plastic Part and finishing with Music in the Rafters, Martin spoke to us about our own lives through his incredible ability to introduce a song and then to sing it, sharing through song after song the common experiences of all humans.

Other songs Swinger performed included Wooden Boy, Consider the Oyster!, Holding On, and Coney Island Lullaby.  (All these songs can be heard through Swinger’s website.) When he sang Gravity as part of his encore, I was no longer conscious of where I was as I was completely pulled into the story of the song and, now, two days later, I still have vivid images in my mind that formed during that song. You’ll find recordings of these songs at Martin’s website on the Studio Recordings page. A fan favorite of Martin Swinger’s repertoire is Betty Boop and Buddha, which was also part of his encore Friday night. Lots of fun!

Connor Garvey is a young folk entertainer with boyish looks. But right out of the starting gate Friday night, this entertainer showed us his chops with Real Old. A related side-note to this song: our host did a fun thing — making name tags for his guests, he used none of our real names  but put on each tag the name of a person in the music industry. For instance, I, who he’d asked to photograph the event, was given the Annie Leibovitz name tag! The rest of the guests were free to choose their name tag. Garvey chose to be Paul Simon for the night. If you listen to his recording of Real Old you can’t miss the influence of Simon in his music. He followed that song with Willow, Spark, Irish Song, The Bird and Soul on the Line.

Garvey’s ease on stage includes little, surprise bursts of humor. It is enjoyable to listen to him share his stories of creating his songs and then to watch as his demeanor turns inward while he gifts the song to his audience.

If you have a look at Garvey’s website, you’ll see that he’s been busy creating music for quite some time and he has an impressive line-up of cd’s dating back to 2002, when he was not yet 20 years old.

After a break, each of the musicians returned to do a few more songs. Garvey performed What You Walkin’ For and then a cover of Paul Simon’s Diamonds On The Soles of Her Shoes.

At times, both entertainers invited us to join in the musical fun by singing along. And fun it was! But the night took on a poignancy as it was coming to a close and Swinger asked that we hum the Pachelbel Canon as he sang song lyrics related to Christmastime. A resonant wonder filled the room – the magic that is Christmas.

I love this idea of an intimate house concert. If you are a fan of American folk music, I encourage you to contact these two artist or others you may know and invite them into your home to share with your family and friends a great sampling of where our folk music is today.

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