Sunday, July 12, 2009

Duncan House Concerts - Venue Review

So, between rushing to concerts, trying to figure out the nuts and bolts of this blogging thing, rushing to write reviews on shows I've already seen, and getting ready for next week's WorldFest trip, and oh yeah I DO have a job too! , (I'm getting tired just typing all that) I want to squeeze in a quick overview of the venue for the show I'm about to review. I'm sorry if its brief but that's the best I can do now, and I can make it right later when there's time.

Good fortune fell our way when Scott Duncan (that's him in the pic to the left) (pics stolen from Scott's website!) and his wife Rosemary moved to Ventura, about 5 miles from our home. They had done house concerts in West LA near the airport for about ten years before moving our way. They have been doing shows in Ventura since last October and this was I think the third or fourth show we've seen there. Its a comfortable place to see a show. In a very nice but unpretentious tract home in a nice neighborhood in Ventura (see top pic), his living room holds I guess about 60-70 max. in mainly resin patio type chairs, some with cushions! These chairs are actually more comfortable then the folding chairs we often end up in and are a welcome place to park my aging butt. Scott and Rosemary are very gracious hosts. Rosemary, in particular, goes really far out of her way to make all feel comfortable and welcome.

Like all house concerts there is a bowl on a table as you walk in for your $15 artist "donation". This keeps it all a private party for zoning, etc. Like most house concerts they have a "potluck" appetizer, dessert, beverage bar out in the back yard for pre concert and intermission refreshment. They provide soft drinks and cups, etc. Most or at least many of us audience members bring goodies with us. Chocolate abounds and we can never resist it. I usually bring a carved up pineapple with strawberries and a bunch of toothpicks just to be different and healthy. To help defray their costs, the Duncans put contribution jars out with the refreshments but give out raffle tickets with donations, then raffle off small prizes at intermission's end. Some items are provided by the artists, some by the Duncans.Its a different way to help out, and I like it. Some other venues recruit sponsors to help with costs which is totally cool, but this is a little more fun.

This venue operates with no house PA system. Occasionally an act will bring one but, more often than not, its a straight acoustic show. This is almost never a problem, its a small room with nice, live, hardwood floors (the sound is live, the wood is not, if that sounds funny) and the acoustics are excellent. The crowd here, while it will vary a bit act to act, is very friendly, tends to be oldish (like me) but not at all flashy-money people, very middle of the road. We've made friends here, we've seen people we know from the community here, and we've seen other faces we recognize from shows elsewhere here.

One word of warning. Scott books acts on various weekend nights including very often on Sundays. The start times can vary quite a bit. Don't be like me last night (you'll read about it soon in the review), check the day, date ,and time very closely when making plans and avoid dangerous assumptions.

So far Scott has booked a wide range of acts, and does many co bill, two act shows also which is a great way to hear even more of a variety of acts. Some have been acts I already know, some acts I've heard of but not heard and some that are totally new to me. And this is just as I think it should be. Acts I know put my mind at ease and make me more confident in hearing the acts I've never heard of. But I'm always looking to hear new stuff and Scott has turned us on to some great ones!

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