Monday, July 27, 2009

Bodie House Concerts - Venue Review

Bodie House Concerts is one of the longer running house concert series in Southern California and was the second series where Becky and I became semi-regulars. The host is Renee Bodie, an extremely friendly person who is passionate about live acoustic music. In addition to running this series, this past June she ran the two day LA Acoustic Music Festival on the Santa Monica Pier as a benefit for the California Acoustic Music Project ( CAMP ) which is an organisation bringing acoustic music to our schools, an extremely vital and noble task. Renee also serves on the Boards of the FAR-West and Folk Alliance International folk music organisations. There are few out there more dedicated to the cause of acoustic music. And I have even seen her, reluctantly, take the stage to perform a song she wrote as part of a songwriting workshop. I always admire someone who walks the walk!

For the past year or so, Renee has been holding most of her house concerts at the Thousand Oaks Library. Prior to this, her concerts were held in her lovely living room in more conventional house concert fashion. We have had the pleasure of attending many great concerts in her home and always found it comfortable and fun but at this point, all her announced shows going forward are scheduled for the Library, so, for now, that is the venue I'm reviewing. If the series continues at her house at some future time, I will review that venue in a separate review.

Despite the gleaming modern building in a park-like setting, this is still very much a house concert. Upon entering, in the lobby, the pot-luck dessert and appetizer bar are set up for refreshment prior to the show and at intermission. Because it's at the library, there is no wine as there is at many house concerts, but there are soft drinks and sweets galore. There are also tables set up for the acts to sell CDs and other merchandise and tables with printed info on Bodie House Concerts and all the other house concert series in the area as well as info on the other music organisations in which Renee is active. Just off the lobby, there is a largish hall that holds the concert. Payment at the door is by donation in the bowl with a "suggested" donation which this night is $15 for a strong double-billed lineup.

This past Saturday night when we visited there were about eighty chairs set out in aisles with an amazing amount of room between chairs. Being kind, most house concerts can be described as "cozy" or "intimate" and you stand a chance of being "intimate" with the person sitting next to you. No claustrophobia issues here, I've never been so comfortable at a house concert. And there was plenty of room to add more rows in the back without squeezing in at all. I have no idea on the legal capacity but my guesstimate is that 120 or so could still be quite comfortable. We were there in the "dog days" of July when I would guess attendance is a little more sparse.

On the night we attended, they had a sound system that was more than adequate for the size of the room and apparently someone who knows their stuff was running it. The sound was excellent all night long for both acts we saw. I don't know if the equipment belongs to the library, to Renee or to someone else.

Bodie House Concerts books some of the big names in acoustic music both from this area and touring groups from all over the US and Canada. In the past we have seen such acts as John Batdorf, James Lee Stanley, Kenny Edwards, Wendy Waldman, Lowen and Navarro and a few more. The quality of music has always been high and I trust Renee's taste completely...if she books them, they must be great. I highly recommend you attend one of her shows if you are in this area.

Here are links for:

Bodie House Concerts

LA Acoustic Music Festival

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