Saturday, March 9, 2019

House Concerts: A Boon for Bands with Darin & Brooke Aldridge

House concerts help make travel and lodging possible for a vast number of touring musicians making their way to and from anchor gigs at festivals and concert halls around the country. The artists are often accorded lodging and sometimes significant financial support in return for spending a night in a comfortable home and performing for a group of paying invited guests in a more-or-less informal setting. You can sometimes see these stops along the way on the artists schedules, but often they are held quietly, in a quite private setting, and made available only to invited, paying guests. Usually a fee is charged for attending these events, with all the proceeds going to the band. If you get an invitation to attend one of these events, anywhere in the country, jump at it. You'll have a fine musical experience as well as contributing to keeping live music alive and well in America. Bruce and Jody Watson host such events at their expansive, very pleasant farm near Bushnell, Florida.

Bruce and Jody Watson

Last week, The Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band traveled from their home in North Carolina for two concerts at Bruce and Jody's Farm. We drove down at mid-afternoon for the 3:00 PM Sunday concert, arriving early enough to meet our hosts and take a look around as well as to get a brief chance to visit with Darin & Brooke, who we missed at a cancelled show in North Carolina on our way to Florida. The spacious living room had been re-arranged to allow room for people to put down folding chairs, and about 100 music lovers filled the room to more than capacity. 

Darin Aldridge Relaxing by the Fireplace

Ready to Go 

Someone's Everything

There's no amplification at the Watson's home, creating an exceptionally warm sound and intimate environment where the audience is drawn into the performance. experiencing an intense connection with the band. Brooke Aldridge has begun writing her own songs. The song above is one of hers as she shows why she has been named the IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year for the second consecutive year.

During the break between sets, we wandered outside to the lanai to enjoy light snacks provided by the guests (next time we'll know to bring something), and visit the picking shack at the back, where the walls are signed by all the people who've appeared there and jammed with Bruce and his friends.

The Picking Shack

Darin & Brooke Aldridge - Jerusalem Ridge

Darin & Brooke, who recently celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary, have been honing a sound and developing their reputation based on musically developing the ideas Darin has in his fertile musical imagination. His light tenor blends with Brooke's powerful voice to create a duo of rare power and ability to move listeners. Meanwhile, accomplished on both guitar and mandolin, it often seems a shame that Darin himself doesn't have four arms. With banjo master Matt Menafee playing a classical concert in Nashville, and frequent partner John Cowan ill at home, regular bass player Billy Gee was a delight to see at this house concert. His elegant bass playing and supple bass/baritone voice added resonance to the band's quartet singing.  Carley Arrowood on fiddle and harmony vocals always blends beautifully into this band's mix, making the acoustic quartet a wonder of variety and musicality. 

Darin & Brooke Aldridge - Children Go Where I Send Thee

Darin and Brooke's story is one grounded in their mutual love for each other, their faith, gospel and bluegrass music, and for making music together. In the past few years, they've developed connections to singers ranging from Jimmy Fortune, formerly singer and writer for the Statler Brothers, and John Cowan, the legendary bass player and tenor singer for The New Grass Revival, a seminal band in bringing the Rock sensibility into bluegrass music. This has led toward invitations to play on RFD-TV as well as increasing numbers of gigs at the Grand Ol' Opry, where they have appeared about a dozen times in the past two years. Their singing, Darin's amazing instrumental versatility, and Brooke's warm, welcoming voice have led to five well-loved CD's and, now, a new recording contract with Rounder Records. Their first recording with Rounder should be released later in the Spring. Darin and Brooke Aldridge continue to emerge as a major force in music as under Darin's leadership they continue to attract top musicians to play with them and to develop their signature sound. 

After a couple of hours in a musical delight, the audience went home knowing they'd heard the best in an up-close and personal environment provided by the Watsons and enriched by The Darin and Brooke Aldridge Band. Here they are with Shania Twain's great song, "No One Needs to Know."

Don't miss this group at a festival or concert venue near you!