photo: PM Beat
Parkersburg-based John Radcliff (above) has opened his doors for his 816 Quincy Street Concert Series.
We think house shows are cool, lotta people do. It’s not everyone, though, who will let strangers walk into their house for a few hours. Who can't envision some totally awesome scenario where everyone just goes nuts and trashes the place?
Parkersburg-based musician John Radcliff doesn't care. Well, we're sure he cares, he just trusts people and wants to put on cool shows by any means. He's been hosting some neat looking house shows at his 816 Quincy Street Concert Series. And he’s got one lined up tonite, as he welcomes The Kernal, Mechanical River (Joel T. Hamilton) and Andrew Combs (and you, if yer up there) into his residence.
We caught up with Radcliff to see what possessed him to host house shows…
WVRockscene: House shows seem to have been a weird mix of popular yet underutilized. You see some around here but you might think there'd be more. When did you decide to welcome musicians and strangers off the street into your home for this Quincy Hill House Concert Series?
John Radcliff: I started hosting shows in 2007. I came across Kevin Montgomery on Myspace and really enjoyed his music. I got to reading about him and this thing he does called, the 50 States in 50 Days tour. I had been hosting songwriter parties for a couple years and thought I could host a musician for a concert just as easily. I wasn't really planning on making it a continuing thing until I started getting emails from other artist wanting to know if they could play at my house. Pretty soon, I found myself looking at touring schedules for acts I really liked and trying to fit house concerts in the holes in their touring schedule.
Success with the first few shows made me want to keep on doing it. I find that the strangers that show up are usually some of the most interesting people I meet. There is a certain amount of apprehension about letting people into my house. But your realize pretty quickly that those are the people that really love music. Since Parkersburg isn't a really big town, I think guests really appreciate the quality of the artists that play at my house. Because otherwise, we don't attract that level of performer to the area. Since I started, there have been a couple bars that have started going after these kind of acts. And that is really refreshing, because the whole Mid-Ohio Valley wins, and I like to think it has made the music scene around Parkersburg that much better.
rockscene: Obviously for the most part bands play bars. While playing out like that is still cool, what are some of the pros of house shows versus playing at a bar (time/cost/atmosphere) and some of the cons as it relates to hosting something like these?
Radcliff: The best part is that seeing an act at a house concert really is the best way to see them. Most of the crowd are there to hear the music, and you don't get the noise and distractions you would at a bar or a large venue. It's intimate and you can actually sit down and talk with the performers in a casual setting after the show. I'm lucky that I have really cool neighbors that don't mind the extra noise or traffic. My reward is the two hours of incredible music and the looks on people's faces when they understand how right I was about the uniqueness and fun of house concerts. The con is cleaning up the next day.
rockscene: As it relates to the pros, what's the response been from the musicians and even attendees who've come to 816 Quincy Street for a show?
Radcliff: While I haven't toured extensively myself, I've slept on enough floors and back seats of cars to know how great it is to have a comfortable place to sleep and a warm meal. Besides hosting the shows, I have the room to let the acts stay the night. I try to make them as comfortable as possible before they head back out on the road. I think that goes a long way. First time house concert goers are the best. I know it was an eye opener for me at my first show I hosted. Most shows are $10 a head and I think people are apprehensive about laying down that kind of cash. But once they step through the door and commit to it, I think they feel the same way I do.
rockscene: You live in Parkersburg, right? I've heard of one or two places to play up there but do you see what you're doing here as something as an asset to the town?
Radcliff: Absolutely. The Adelphia Music Hall and Marietta Brewing Company have been great about bringing music to the area. But when I started hosting shows, there wasn't hardly anywhere to go see good music. I've lived here since 2003, so I'm probably not the best resource. But for what I wanted to listen to, there wasn't anything. I knew there were people in the area that would enjoy these types of shows. A lot of them came to my songwriter parties. But you know there have to be more people that are interested. It really works for both the artist and the area. It leads to bigger things, as well.
There is another house concert host in Parkersburg, Steve Tuck, that put together a really nice festival to raise money for The Children's Home Society. Steve is an absolute saint, and we're joining up to bring Kevin Montgomery back September 24th. It's really neat, because Kevin's 50 State in 50 Days tour is about raising awareness about foster children that age out of care. It's so closely related to what Steve does, it's like the perfect storm. But in a really good way.
rockscene: You've signed up for this "Concert in Your House" thing, how much is that going to help with promotions etc.?
Radcliff: I literally just signed up last week. I've received two emails from artist wanting to play here in the fall. So I would expect the more I work with acts through CIYH, the better it will work for me. Probably a lot more exposure. I think they'll enjoy Parkersburg too!
rockscene: Does being a musician (again, the pros and cons) give you an insight others might not have when it comes to booking these shows and convincing these musicians to come to your house and play?
Radcliff: I'm sure they like that I have a PA set up and ready to go when they arrive. I try to be reasonable and work with them any way I can. I think that comes from being a musician and knowing how much easier it is to put on a good show when your mind isn't clouded with other things. As far as booking, I have pulled from that network a few times to get acts here. I'm sure there's a certain amount of trust in knowing you're working with someone who really cares about music.
rockscene: You most recently released "Naked Souls" -- what's up with any recording or other highlights you're looking forward to the rest of 2012?
Radcliff: I have Haggard Wulf from Morgantown coming July 21st and Chris Bathgate August 27th. As far as my music, I'm doing a project called Demolicious. It's the songs I've written recently that I maybe want to record. So I've made demos of six of them so far. When I get to a point where I'm ready to choose and do make the next CD, it'll be fun to look back on them. I've also tried to video tape myself the day or the next after I write the song. So I'll have three layers to all the ones that make the final cut. It'll be fun to have that all out there to see the evolution of the songs. They are all on my Youtube site. There's also a few videos of the house concerts I've had. But I'm in the middle of editing a lot of them out and posting. So it's kind of thin right now.
rockscene: You've got Shovels and Rope booked for September?
Radcliff: Yes!!!!!! The day after Labor Day, September 4th. It's funny because I landed the three acts that will be here Wednesday night through the booking agent for Shovels and Rope. It was a last minute thing, but when I listened to them I was just like, "Hell Yeah!" I saw Shovels and Rope at the Nelsonville Music Festival and really thought it would be a long shot at best. But I ended up getting two incredible shows out of it. I'm really thankful you're taking the time to ask me about it and pass it on. It's just too good to keep a secret. Thank you!
John Radcliff 816 Quincy Street Concert Series
WED 6.27 The Kernal, Mechanical River (Joel T. Hamilton) and Andrew Combs
816 Quincy St., Parkersburg 8 p.m.
$10 suggested donation
Facebook event page? Here.