See that house? There's a concert going on inside. | 507 Magazine

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A house concert is one of the most intimate ways to enjoy live music since it takes place in the comfortable confines of a household living space. The musician may just be feet away, and the audience can really focus on the songs. Most house concerts are one-off shows, but one local company has been hosting them for years.

Camelback Concerts has been one of Rochester’s best-kept secrets since Joanne Martin and Tim Hildebrandt first opened their Rochester home to host concerts in 2011. Over the years, they’ve hosted many musicians including Sally Barris, a well-known Nashville song writer whose songs have been covered by stars like Kathy Mattea and Tricia Yearwood. They’ve also featured Ronny Cox, famous for his role as Drew Ballinger in the film “Deliverance.”

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“My role is to book the talent and invite the audience, and then prepare for the concert,” Martin says. “Tim does the heavy lifting setting up chairs and the sound system.” 

Though Camelback Concerts is a small local venue, it gets support from membership in larger organizations. Martin says they are Folk Alliance International members. This group, in its mission to nurture the folk music community, has negotiated an agreement with professional rights organizations like BMI and ASCAP that allow house concerts in private homes to avoid music licensing fees. They also belong to Concerts in Your Home, a network that connects touring musicians with house concert hosts.

For Martin, the best thing about hosting a house concert is “knowing that at the end of the evening, the artists connected with your guests and everyone had a good time.”

The next show from Camelback Concerts will feature Wyatt Easterling performing a Sunday show on Dec. 10. Easterling’s recent album, “Divining Rod,” was ranked as the number 5 Top Folk Album earlier this year in an online folk forum.

Easterling took some time to answer a couple questions for 507 Magazine readers.

You started working on your most recent album, “Divining Rod,” in 2016. What was the process of making this record like? 

I wanted to record a CD away from the influence of Nashville and found the perfect fit with producer/artist Chris Rosser in Asheville, NC. We had a blast recording what became “Divining Rod” over the course of a year. I’d go up to Asheville and work for four or five days then head home with the results. It took a while, but it was worth it to me. For the most part, we only used musicians from NC.

What inspired the title?

The title “Divining Rod” came about when I found I didn’t have a song in the batch that captured the essence of the whole collection of songs. I recalled a blog where I had used a divining rod as an analogy of some sort, and it seemed to fit what I was trying to say in a number of the songs. A divining rod or dowsing rod has been used for hundreds of years to find the spot to dig for water, or as I learned reading up on the practice, to find lost objects and to even ask the great unknown for answers to life’s mysteries. I found the cover photo online from a photographer in Australia and that sealed it for me.”