OWE house concerts bring Toledo folk
Music performances began with house concerts, in the intimate surroundings of a home, rather than in larger concert spaces. Folk and bluegrass lore is replete with traveling musicians playing in peoples’ homes. After a lull in popularity in the latter half of the 20th century, this staple of musical history has seen a resurgence in recent years.
One Toledo residence helping to keep the tradition strong is the Over Yonder Concert House, located in Toledo’s Old West End. A performance by neo-folk artist Ben Bedford will open Over Yonder’s fourth season on April 6. If you’re looking for an intimate evening of music, look no further: Only 25 guests will be permitted to attend the event.
“I host travelling musicians as they’re coming through town,” said Rob Krain, owner and operator of Over Yonder, which naturally doubles as his, well, home. “They play concerts, and people come and contribute to the jar. The musicians take 100% of the jar, and any merchandise sales.”
In the backyard
Krain had wanted to organize his own house concerts for a long time before finally purchasing his own home. In the past three years, Krain’s backyard has seen performances from acts like the Corn String Potato Band, Ian Thomas, Miss Tess and Thomas Bryan Eaton, among many others — though a few shows at the beginning of the new season may have to be moved indoors, given the weather.
“What we’ve done to date has all been backyard, in the garden,” Krain said. “In order to accommodate more shows, we need to lengthen our season, so we’re gonna try a couple April shows this season.”
Krain is quick to point out how his space is hardly unique in music history. “I guess I’d say that this isn’t my idea, and this isn’t anything innovative — there are house concerts all over the country, all over the world. There’s another one in the Old West End. And, you know, people have been doing this for as long as there has been performed music. Woody Guthrie played concert houses, the Carter family, early blues musicians. It’s really a part of folk music.”
A LONG LEGACY
By opening his home to musicians from around the country, Krain is not only adding Over Yonder to a long music legacy, but also opening Toledo’s ears to genres and artists they may not have a chance to experience otherwise.
“We don’t get a lot of folk and bluegrass coming through Toledo, and that’s really what we do most of. So it’s a space for that. One of the driving reasons that I do this is to help touring musicians. So if you’re on the road and you’re touring, you get to come in and stay at the home, and have a home cooked meal and a shower. You don’t have to pay for a hotel that night. Some good fellowship. And it’s an opportunity for some folks to make a few bucks on what could be an expensive day on the road.
“The other thing is it’s an opportunity to play in Toledo for people that might not otherwise have that opportunity. There’s a lot of no compete contracts out there. So if you book to play a venue in Ann Arbor, you probably are contractually not allowed to play a venue in Toledo for 30 or 60 days. My backyard doesn’t count,” Krain said with a laugh.
For information and updates on upcoming Over Yonder performances, visit: https://www.facebook.com/OverYonderConcertHouse/.
If you are a traveling musician interested in playing Over Yonder, please contact: OverYonderConcertHouse@gmail.com. (Especially if you’re Greg Brown.
Rob would love to see you play there.)