CADYVILLE - There's a new venue in the local music scene.
Dr. C. Thomas Gerner has opened the doors of his Park Row home to the public, hosting a regular series of house concerts. The idea came about five years ago after Gerner saw English musician Francis Dunnery in concert in Burlington, Vt.
"I remember being on his Web site and seeing he's willing to play for you at your house," recalled Gerner. "I talked to the woman who does booking for him and I asked her why he'd be willing to do that when he can play for 250,000 people with Robert Plant. I didn't know why he'd want to play for 50 people at my house."
Gerner said her response was that Dunnery got more enjoyment out of playing for smaller audiences.
"She said the intimacy of the musical experience is what's he's after as an artist," said Gerner. "She said that 250,000 is great, but is sort of impersonal."
Gerner eventually brought Dunnery to his home in Cadyville for a performance and has had him back several times, he said. That gave him the idea to invite in more artists.
"It finally dawned on me that I didn't have to wait for Francis to host a concert," said Gerner. "It turns out that a lot of very talented artists are finding house concerts are cooler than performing at bars and bigger concerts."
Gerner turned a spare room in his home into a makeshift concert hall, bringing in enough folding chairs and couches to seat 50 people, and installing a sound system that compliments the room's natural acoustics.
Since formally establishing what he calls the "Cadyville Concert Hall," Gerner has welcomed more than half a dozen artists, playing everything from blues to folk music. Having local musicians like Roy Hurd, Lita Kelly and Jay Lesage and internationally-known acts like Darden Smith and Francis Dunnery, create a good mix for music lovers, he said.
"I'm trying to balance between local people and some not-so-local people," explained Gerner, who credits friend Tracy Gryger for helping organize the regular concerts. "And the great thing is, [the concert hall] brings talent into the area that probably wouldn't otherwise be here. People who might be otherwise driving through on their way to Montreal."
Mark Elliott, a singer/songwriter from Nashville, Tenn., was the most recent artist to play the Cadyville Concert Hall. Elliott credited Gerner and Gryger for bringing musicians and their audiences closer together through concerts like the one he played last Saturday.
"It's the best thing for artists because you get to connect with your audience different than any other kind of venue," said Elliott. "When your audience is physically closer to you, people let their guard down and they're less nervous about talking with you. It makes for great interaction."
As an artist, Elliott said being given the opportunity to play a house concert is a favorable one.
"It's a great way to get exposed to new audiences and not have to worry too much about filling the seats," said Elliott, "because the audiences for house concerts tend to be venue-loyal audiences."
"I think the intimate atmosphere is the best part," he added.
Though Gerner charges for admission to the concerts, the money goes directly to the artists performing, he said. It's not about making a profit for himself, he emphasized.
"For me, it's just the fun of doing it," said Gerner. "It's the opportunity of sharing this kind of stuff with my friends and their friends."
The next concert at the Cadyville Concert Hall, 41 Park Row, will feature musician Paul Asbell from Burlington, Vt., Saturday, Oct. 9. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. Other upcoming shows include performances by local musician Speedy Arnold and Dave Sancious with Joe Bonadio. Sancious is perhaps best known for performing with Bruce Springsteen's The E Street Band.
Concert tickets may be purchased at Alpha Stereo on Smithfield Boulevard in Plattsburgh. Tickets must be purchased in advance due to limited seating, noted Gerner.
For more information, contact Gerner at 293-8024 or visit the Cadyville Concert Hall Web site at www.hearhere.us.