Shades of Woodstock in my backyard


A few months ago the wife and I entertained a couple of musician friends for a relaxing evening of dinner and conversation. During the conversation portion of the evening, the subject of a house concert was broached.

“You have a lovely venue here,” the male of the duo said. “How would you feel about having a house concert in your backyard this summer?”

“It could be so awesome,” the female of the duo said, “It’s become quite popular to host house concerts. It provides a very intimate setting for musicians and folks to enjoy music, good food and tasty beverages together.”

Listening intently with an open mind, my immediate reaction was, “We are not having Woodstock in our backyard. Hundreds of people, screaming guitars, free-love, peeing behind bushes — no. Absolutely no way are we having a house concert.”

Totally familiar with my leap to judgments, the wife poured me a beer, patted me on the head and said, “You’ll have to excuse him. He is what I like to call a judgmental savant. He’s excellent at having an opinion before he has any facts whatsoever. May we have more details on hosting a house concert?”

The discussion revealed that we would invite 40-50 friends to attend the concert. The yard would be set with tables and chairs, light appetizers would be served and a beverage center would be available for thirst quenching. A small donation would cover the cost of the event.

Putting down my beer, I said, “My house is not a venue. It’s my home. It is where I raised my children. It’s where I play with my dog. I will not have this holy ground desecrated by fine musicians, neighbors and friends enjoying themselves over pulled pork and potato salad, people tapping their toes and singing along. I won’t have it, I tell you. I won’t have it.”

Looking slightly embarrassed, the wife whispered in the ears of our musician friends. I could not hear what she was saying, but I could see their expressions go from utter disappointment to hopeful smiles.

“What if,” the male of the duo asked, “what if we asked you two fine musicians to join us on the stage for a few songs? We already know the wife is a fine keyboardist, and I’m sure you have some musical talents we could use…”

I smiled broadly and agreed to host a summer house concert.

On June 26, 42 of our closest friends and neighbors gathered at our “venue” for our very first house concert. Vocals, guitar, tenor ukulele, keyboard, and my contribution — the cowbell — completed our combo.

It was a perfect evening and it launched my career as a professional cowbellist. Modestly speaking, I was awesome. Please feel free to email me for future gigs.

Raul Ascunce is a freelance columnist for the Sentinel-Tribune. He may be contacted at [email protected]

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