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Friends House Concerts brings the musicians home 

SemiNative

Whitney Luckett and her husband Marc moved to Colorado Springs from New York City in 2000.

“It was a bit different than it is today,” she says of our city. “We were looking for like-minded people, who love music and love community and also are accepting of one another.”

That search led to the creation of the Friends House Concerts.

Seventeen years later, the pair continue to open up their Skyway neighborhood home to host about six concerts each year.

Whitney loves the idea that a four-star general can be seated next to a Wiccan from Manitou Springs, and everybody is enjoying themselves and interacting about something they love — live music.

But how does a couple decide to invite nearly 100 strangers into their home to listen to music? “Nobody in their right mind would do this,” she says with a laugh. But she explains that when she and Marc bought their house, the long room with high ceilings along the main floor prompted her sister-in-law, who is a musician, to declare they had two options: use it as a bowling alley or host house concerts.

The Lucketts make hosting nationally known talent in a living room look easy, but Whitney says it takes a lot of work and support. “This is an act of love,” she says. “It never could happen without the help of friends.”

She says everyone wins with house concerts. Artists get the money directly (tickets cost $30 to $50) and they’re not performing in a bar with rowdy, drunk patrons. Concert-goers get a laid-back evening of music that includes an intermission and time after to mingle and meet the performers.

I wondered if her neighbors felt like they weren’t winning, as their street is lined with cars on performance nights. Luckett says she’s never heard a complaint. Early on, she made sure to invite the neighbors, but she doesn’t know if any of them have attended.

In 17 years, one thing that has changed is technology. The ticket-purchasing technology (tickets are available for their concerts via Eventbrite) alone has simplified the process. No longer does she have to print out lists of attendees for the person working the door — electronic tickets can be scanned using a smartphone.

Finding house concerts can be more challenging. The way I ended up in the Lucketts’ living room last month was serendipitous. I was there with two friends to see Edie Carey perform — had I not interviewed Carey for the column about the holiday lights on Caramillo Street, I might never have learned about the concert.

For the uninitiated, Googling “Colorado Springs house concerts” will lead you to their schedule. Two concerts remain before they shut down for the summer, when the house just gets too hot to host 100 people. (Willy Porter plays April 9 and Glen Phillips from Toad the Wet Sprocket will end the season on April 29. Tickets are available for both concerts.)
The Lucketts generally host acoustic artists who perform solo, though they did once host a seven-piece band. The bowling alley-shaped room has great acoustics, and they’ve always invested in professional sound for the concerts.

Whitney says house concerts allow the boundaries between the audience and performers to break down. At her house, the performer is on a stage that is surrounded by couches, where those who buy VIP tickets are seated. Non-VIP attendees sit on metal folding chairs, which they are asked to carry to the driveway after the concert ends.

It’s this intimacy that requires a special performer, someone who has a great stage presence. This informal setting has colored Whitney’s expectations for live music. She says the most she ever paid for a concert was $1,500 for two tickets to see Eric Clapton at Radio City Music Hall. While the musicianship was solid, she said she was disappointed because he never spoke a word to the audience.

That’s not to say that Whitney thinks house concerts are the end goal for our scene: She says she hopes to see Colorado Springs become the Austin of the Rocky Mountains.

Whitney’s the president of the board of Rocky Mountain Highway, a nonprofit that supports live performances in the area. It’s the organization behind MeadowGrass and the summer concert series at Patty Jewett Golf Course. “Our dream with Rocky Mountain Highway,” she says, “is to make Colorado Springs a haven for music.”

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