Van Delisle and his wife, Karin McCool, live by Loyola University in Chicago and about once a month they offer up the best possible evening of live music, that is, in their living room. The musicians are about three feet from the front row of the audience. There might be microphones and some percussive device and one musician that is joined by another and then another. There might be three guys with no mikes at all, a purely acoustic set. Van and Karin travel to Champaign, IL; Nashville, TN; various points in Iowa to hear their favorite musicians then they invite them to play an intimate concert set in their home between gigs.
Let's say someone has a show in Pittsburgh, PA, and another in Milwaukee, WI, three days later. Van and Karin arrange for them to put on a show in their living room. They give the musicians a free and private place to stay, a well-stocked fridge, and all the proceeds from the modestly-priced concert. (As you can imagine, they have a very good reputation.) Adoring fans can be among the crowd or just people like me who've known Van for many years and want to support any endeavor he has.
I've seen Nashville legends like singer-songwriter Phil Lee, charming singer-songwriters like Jon Byrd, singer-songwriter and master storyteller Rod Picott. Even if the music is not your style -- I've written many times of my love of opera -- the evening is terrific and never a waste of time nor money nor energy. Last night, Black Dog House Concerts presented Eric Brace and Peter Cooper with their special guest, Thomm Jutz. It was a wonderful evening.
These are three handsome, talented, charismatic men who do a well-prepared show featuring their individual music or projects they've done with others as well as the music they've recorded together. They and their music are both charming. Their stories are delightful. Every seat was taken.
A devoted fan requested a song and when they started to falter in the middle of it and Peter Cooper said they would play it privately after the show, the fan gave him the words he missed, they started again, she offered a few more lyrics, and they sang it through. It was lovely. You don't get that kind of refreshing imperfection in an arena show. And at an arena show, you surely don't get one of the performers asking you if you're having a good time while you're waiting in line at the restroom.
Black Dog House Concerts are charming and Eric Brace and Peter Cooper (and Thomm Jutz, too) are charming. Troll the internet for a Black Dog House Concert schedule. Be delighted by one of the best evenings of music to be had.
Here's "Suffer a Fool" from Master Sessions: