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What Are Healthy Concerts?
You just need a break from technology - a "technology-free away break". A Bostonian companion on a flight to the UK told me she was pleased to be leaving computer programming behind and that she was looking forward to some radiation free vacation time in Ireland.
My next thought - A modern city establishes the context for the city-park, such as the fabulous Central Park in New York. As work and play become more & more technologically sophisticated totally contrasting kinds of experience come into focus. We become more conscious about the goodies we probably took for granted before - the trees, clean air, pure water... even silence!
This time around we have to pay for them. It's a positive personal investment in a better life to come beyond the packaging. In my life that means an idea that inspired me in 1993, Healthy Concerts - a new community friendly entertainment enterprise in Brighton and England, where I live.
Small is beautiful:
Consider the joyful prospect of small groups of people gathering locally (next door or round the corner) in modest sized venues (a neighbour's living-room!) for the simple and natural experience of listening to the sounds of acoustic musical instruments, of which the human voice will often be prominent, and enjoying the rich communication and companionship that this common purpose invites - Healthy Concerts.
Healthy Concerts bring people together for genuinely unplugged acoustic music events in microphone-free open houses and gardens. No sign of big or loud bands, No smoking & not a lot of alcohol.
Finger on the pulse, there is on the one hand, a sense in which a growing minority of the population (hitherto ill-catered for) are increasingly receptive to healthy lifestyle ideas and options. On the other hand, the majority of people (in the UK) would still be put off by the idea of a music venue without a traditional bar.
Healthy Concerts is, notably and naturally, family friendly entertainment. Yet there is scope too for concert promotions and styles that are specifically welcoming to young audiences for new music. Gigs in Digs & The Big Night In are relaxed and fashionable approaches that regularly succeed in attracting capacity living-room attendance of about 35 people. We come to cherish the unexpected; artists are on the home tour - audiences are on the musical mystery tour. Garden concerts sandwiched by guided country walks have proven a big hit, as have ‘musical house crawls’!
It is my contention that in England, the singer, song and writer do not usually find direct expression within the community. Some sort of vehicle, like an album or a band, would seem to be a pre-requisite for a public airing (I don’t think busking is a credible option.) Many of our young (and getting older!) indigenous singer-songwriters have felt compelled to think Large and Loud for the lack of an attractive and rewarding acoustic scene.
That’s changing in Brighton. Healthy Concerts musical open houses have been sowing the seeds of an acoustic revival here since April 1994. The myriad of creative performers featured report that this new opportunity to relate to live audiences in intimate surroundings is unprecedented and very welcome.
Furthermore, the qualities of the home venues present a positive challenge in terms of concert repertoire and communication skills. Vocal projection without a microphone can be a real problem for singers used to the usual club or pub environment (usually an equipment heavy scene.) Artists are adapting & growing to meet this challenge. I believe we are hearing music as it wouldn’t otherwise be heard - there is a qualitative difference.
Sweden and Austria are almost completely Organic (I am of course referring to the farming practice!). We have all become familiar with a range of produce bearing that name. I think Healthy Concerts is the cultural corollary of organic farming and I invite you to come along and hear the difference.
House concerts are already far more widespread in the U.S. Here you can find information on U.S. house concerts.
Read more about Paul's own albums Boston and Back and You're One Of Us.