Testing Ground

A word from our founder.

Did you know that this whole thing basically began with me returning a favor? I toured solo a lot between 2006 and 2013, and if I learned anything in those years, it's that you can't do it alone. No matter what "it" is, I guess. For me, "it" was traveling across the country, playing music for people in bars, coffee shops, restaurants, churches, theaters, college campuses, day care centers, vintage furniture stores, parks, and living rooms. You absolutely need the help of friends and strangers alike to realize this mission. One such stranger who soon became a friend was a jovial, bearded Alabamian named Doc Dailey. Doc helped me out more than a few times in the Muscle Shoals region of northwestern Alabama. In 2011 he finally gave me a chance to return the favor, and the result was the very first Artsville House Concert.

When I left Texas in 2008, none of this was even a twinkle in my eye. Now it might as well be another limb on my body. Or my child. Whatever the metaphor, Artsville is something I love and feel so grateful for--proud of and humbled by all at the same time. My new dream is to see Artsville serve multiple communities across the U.S.--even the world--and I feel like what we're working on for this Friday night is a step in that direction.

Susan Enan, a true veteran and connoisseur of house concerts, is christening the debut of Artsville House Concerts NY. I can hardly believe this even as I type the sentence. But I've long held a belief that the principles that we've begun to uncover through our work in Hartsville would hold up in any community that we were fortunate enough to serve. People are people, right? I feel like this upcoming season will be a testing ground. If Bridges, our first stab at a NY based Artsville concert series, can be an indicator, then we may be onto something.

One of the principles that we think we've found is that people everywhere are hungry for intimacy. Many are also afraid, which is understandable. Intimacy requires vulnerability, exposure. And if intimacy happens, you will be found out. But that's the point, right? So many of the technologies and platforms that are purported to bring about true intimacy endorse instead disguises, deception, and anonymity. They say they connect, but they often drive apart.

This is why we do what we do. We try our best to set up environments where it's just kinda easy to collectively engage with art. Shared experiences breed intimacy. And we believe intimacy is the avenue to understanding. You gotta be honest with yourself before you can really be honest with others. And you thought these were just concerts.

I think I've gone deep enough for one blog post. It's just that we want to be about the work of true intimacy, community, and creativity. We want to grow, and we want our people to grow. And growth is change. You know a pretty good way to change, right?

Try new things.

Someone should put that on a sticker ;)

Thanks for reading,


Click here to get to tickets to the debut of Artsville House Concerts NY, featuring Susan Enan.

Bridges - A Recap

By all accounts, the inaugural Bridges event was a stunning success. Our hearts are full of gratitude toward BrooklynWorks @ 159, our new Brooklyn home, our wonderful volunteers, Jack and Andreea for the beautiful photos, Megan Webber for the beautiful chalk signage, the crowd of 50 or so that attended, and of course Chris Q. Murphy, Jay Buchanan (bass, vocals), and Spiff Wiegand (drums, accordion, mandolin, vocals) for the songs and stories.

A few choice quotes from the evening:

"I've seen Murphy I don't know how many times. Every song he played tonight is now my favorite version. This is the perfect venue for him." - Justin K., friend and fan

"I don't want to be too dramatic, but perhaps a life-changing show for [Chris]." - Jay Buchanan, bass

And probably our favorite:

Artsville keeps rolling this fall with exciting events in SC and NY. The 2014 Artsville Songwriting Competition is just around corner, followed a week later by the debut of Artsville House Concerts NY!

We're blessed more than we can say. Thanks, as always, for trying new things.

Artsville's next new thing: Bridges (NY)

A word from our founder.

I don't often speak or write in the first person on this site. In fact, I've used the pronoun "we" for years now when talking about Artsville. But truth be told, as far as a business goes, I am the sole employee of this "company," if that's what you want to call it. Still, I've always had a sense that Artsville is far bigger than me: my ideas, feelings, preferences, and vision.

As some of you know, in late 2013 I left Hartsville, SC (the birthplace of Artsville) and moved to New York City. On the surface you could easily view these two cities as practically antithetical. I wouldn't blame you. One is home to about 8,000 people, the other to about 8 million. You can drive across one in about 12 minutes. The other in about an hour and 12 minutes. But even after having lived here for almost a year I can't shake the sense that the two places have something in common. Perhaps many things.

It's out of this persistent belief that our newest series, Bridges, was born. It's a name that New Yorkers can certainly relate to. Get on any roof out here and look in most any direction and you'll probably see a bridge. Maybe even a couple. They connect the people in these five boroughs that make up this massive metroplex.

Our mission is to catalyze the innate creativity in all of us. Essentially, to turn us on to what is already inside us. We're going to do this in Bridges by connecting an audience to a performer, and hopefully connecting the audience to one another as well. It's not often in a place like this that you get a chance to sit down, get quiet, and just listen. So that's what we're going to do. Admittedly, the concept is vague at this point, but we feel good about this. It allows our artists to develop unique ways to connect with their audience.

If there's anything that I've learned as we've developed this new series it's that I simply can't do this alone. I can take Artsville only so far by myself. This revelation, while probably obvious to many of you, was important for me to internalize. I've realized the value of volunteers and friends helping out for a while now, but what's taking place with Bridges is something more. I'm surrendering the vision of the project to others. This is new territory for me, and I have to admit it scares me sometimes. But ultimately I'm so grateful to be growing, to be, myself, fundamentally changed by our mission. Like I said, this is far bigger than me.

Many of you reading this are probably not living in New York City, but there's a good chance you know someone who is. I hope you'll direct them to our site and invite them to the show. By the way, it's on Saturday, October 11 and features one of my new favorite songwriters, Chris Q. Murphy. Check out the All Artsville Events page to watch a video.

I want to end this post with the most sincere, heartfelt thank-you I can muster to our precious volunteers. Without you this entire year of Artsville events would simply have been impossible. More than a few times this year I have been moved to tears as photos, tweets, and Facebook posts come in praising your hard work. Our most recent house concert artists, The Honey Dewdrops, simply said, "It was the most well-organized house concert we've ever played." I am so grateful for each of you.

If you'd like to join our volunteer team, please check out the Volunteer page.

We still have a few amazing events left in 2014, so please check out the calendar and buy your tickets (these things tend to sell out). 2015 is going to be even better.

Thanks for reading, and as always, thanks for trying new things.