Listening Room Festival Finale 2015

Merch Empress

Someone tried to pin “Merch Maid” on me. I immediately bucked off that title and went right to Merch Queen. Someone else promoted me to Empress, so I insisted upon that for the rest of the night! Never aim low!
Dig my Over the Rhine T-shirt too. Love that band…

I enjoyed a lovely birthday weekend. I visited with friends Friday night. Saturday I had a class on Classroom Management, but after I met up with some of my house concert family and experienced Matt Bednarsky‘s music live for the first time. After the show my friends, Matt, and I went and enjoyed lively conversation and a beverage at a local pub.

The last day of my birthday weekend, I decided to volunteer for an event close to my heart: the Listening Room Festival. I wrote about the gist of the festival early last week. Fran Snyder is the host and main organizer of the event, and he’s a damn fine human being. We’ve been friends for a few years now, and I’ve supported this event through sharing Facebook posts, telling my friends, and blogging. This year I decided to help out in a more physical way. 

I was the Merch Empress!Matt Bednarsky was one of my minions in minding the merch, as was Justin Froese, another artist who was part of the festival during the week but didn’t play Sunday. As a team, we sold merchandise for the LRF and the different artists who played that night.

Before the show I was bouncing back and forth between the front of the house and back stage. It was interesting seeing the transition from how the musicians came in to The Palladium Theater (i.e. a bit disheveled, wearing street clothes) to what they looked like on stage (i.e. not disheveled, looking fantastic, definitely sounding fantastic).

I was bouncing in and out of the show all night, but what I heard was inspiring. Rupert Wates started things off. His voice is deep and evocative, and he played the guitar oh, so well. He is a great story teller, both on stage and off.

Awhile back I bought his book: Five Short Stories of Paris. I really enjoyed the stories, and when I learned Rupert was playing at the LRF I decided I wanted to get him to sign my book. He graciously signed it, and we talked about the stories. My favorites are Monsieur Angeli and Wankers. He said the latter made it into an erotica magazine, which seems appropriate for that story.

Tantalizing, yes?

Rupert Wates autograph

The Doll Sisters were up after Rupert. They quickly informed us that they were, indeed, sisters, and that their last name is really doll. So their band name isn’t just some cutesy girl name… Even if it were, they showed their power and their talent with a rocking starting song. It was definitely had me dancing in the back of the theater. After that, they slowed down a bit. Their harmonies remained lovely, and they played their instruments masterfully. They were definitely popular back at the merch table at intermission.

The first portion of the show was rounded off by Passerine. I first experienced Passerine’s music back in December. They jokingly call their style of music “Ameri-kinda-grass,” as a mish-mash of Americana and blue grass. I always associate blue grass with banjos, so it’s my estimation that the “kinda” comes from a lack of that particular instrument in their repertoire. Though I’m guessing one of the members knows how to play one…


Passerine during sound check.

Banjos or no, they were just as good as they were the first time I saw them play. And all of the band members are super nice, so it was nice to get to interact with them again. 

They remembered me as “The Blogger.” Yay!

Intermission was a little crazy. It’s hard to be Empress! But my team and I were able to take care of everyone in a relatively smooth fashion.

After things slowed down, it was cool watching the fans interacting with the artists. There’s a real sense of community when that is going on. This interaction is one of the main reasons I like this sort of event (or house concerts/listening rooms) to enjoy music.

Before the first act started after intermission, Fran called all of the volunteers up on stage. We all stood up there and took a bow for helping out. It was nice…

Craig Werth was up after intermission. His first song was called “The Spokes Man.” It was about a man that fixed up bicycles for poor kids. It was a beautiful song about service and kindness. I don’t remember his second song, but so many people in the crowd were singing along. It was like a low, soft echo in the theater. I was moved. I swayed as I felt that positive energy swirling around the hall.


Craig Werth.
I really need to get a better camera… :/

After Craig finished, Quiles and Cloud played. They are a husband/wife duo from San Francisco. They were interesting to watch and listen to. Musically, they sang beautiful harmonies, and they complemented each other instrumentally very well. Their song “Julie, I’m Alive” moved me to tears. It’s a song about those we’ve lost existing in the mountains and all around.

Watching them, they played in very close proximity to each other. They both swayed with the music as they played, nearly in time. It was almost erotic watching them, weaving their bodies into their music…

To sum all of this up: amazing. 


Quiles and Cloud

The show ended with Miché Fambro. If I remember correctly, he started his set with a rendition of “As Time Goes By” from Casablanca. When I say this, you now need to know that Miché plays a right-handed, nylon stringed guitar left-handed. This means that the whole guitar is basically backwards, and all of the chord fingerings would be completely different. It was amazing watching and listening to him. He has a wonderful voice too. Certainly he is a master of his art.

I’ve been using the word “amazing” a lot in this post. Perhaps I should get my thesaurus out…


Miché Fambro

After Miché finished, Fran called all of the artists from the LRF up on stage for a sing along. Miché started playing “I’m a Believer” by The Monkees, which had the artists on stage and the crowd singing and dancing.

Once the sing along ended, I had to attend to my Empress duties again for a bit. Once everyone cleared out, it was time for the after party at The Ale and the Witch.

VIP folks, the artists, and the volunteers went for a beer and a jam session featuring nearly all of the artists. Here I got to see some of the artists I missed throughout the week; including, Ed Woltil and Justin Froese. Everyone got up and played with everyone else.

It was amazing watching and listening to these musicians, many with very different sounds, combine forces and create beautiful music together.


L-R: Shelby from The Doll Sisters, Rory from Quiles & Cloud, Justin Froese, and Ed Woltil

I think my favorite moment of the jam session was when some of the artists played “I’m on Fire” by Bruce Springsteen. I’m not even a Springsteen fan, but their rendition sent shivers across my skin and had me dancing. The ending of the song went on and on, and it was absolutely suspenseful. The energy of the song went up and down in electric waves.

It. Was. Amazing.

Fran used the word “sublime.” I could only agree. (Apparently his vocabulary is better than mine.)


L-R: Shelby from The Doll Sisters, Craig Werth, Rory and Maria from Quiles & Cloud, and Justin Froese

I had to teach this morning, which meant I was up at 6 a.m. I left the after party at about 12:30, so I didn’t make it to bed until between 1:30 and 2.

You must remember that I just celebrated my 37th birthday, so this behavior isn’t normal.

I was tired last night, and I’ve been tired today. The tiredness doesn’t matter though, because I’ve been oh, so happy to be a part of this fantastic event. I got to work and interact with really great people. It really was a team effort making everything run, and I’m grateful for all of the people I worked with that I didn’t mention by name. I also got to hear some fantastic music created by people who really live their lives daringly.

I also want to give a final shout-out to Fran. As I mentioned in my previous post, this was the first year Fran hosted this event in Hough Hall in The Palladium. Last year the event was held in the Palladium Sidedoor, which only holds 185. Hough Hall holds 500. I think Fran was super brave for taking this event to the next level, and it wouldn’t have been the same if he hadn’t.

I can’t wait to be a part of this event again next year, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next house concert I attend.

In the mean time, please check out if you are at all interested in house concerts. They take place all across the world, and you might just find some of these fine artists in your neck of the woods.

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