Over the last few months, Nanaimo residents and avid music lovers Paul and Catherine Bezooyen have been inviting strangers to their home.
The strangers are then treated to a live musical performance at the couple’s Victoria Road home.
The Bezooyens have become part of an increasingly popular trend where average citizens invite professional musicians to their home for an intimate live concert.
“It’s just this joyful experience to have this gathering of people that are all sharing something that is as enjoyable as music,” Bezooyen said.
This past summer, the couple created West Coast Sessions, a house concert series that brings professional musicians such as Scott Cook and Kelley McRae to the Harbour City. As concert hosts, the couple do not make a profit as all the money that is collected from ticket sales goes directly to the artist.
“It’s a joyful experience to bring people together with music,” Bezooyen said. “It’s what music was meant to be.”
The idea to become host concerts in their home began when Cook, a frequent house concert performer, told the Bezooyens about Concerts in Your Home, an organization that connects potential hosts with touring musicians, who are willing to perform in smaller settings.
“[It] is almost like an e-Harmony for artists and hosts that are looking for each other,” Bezooyen said.
Next month the West Coast Sessions will be hosting Florida band Flagship Romance.
Concerts in Your Home was founded in 2005 by American musician Fran Snyder as a way to help touring musicians.
“We’re not a booking agency,” Snyder said. “We just enable the right people to find each other.”
The Concerts in Your Home website is set up in a similar fashion to popular dating sites such as Plenty of Fish. Artists and hosts each create profiles and are then able to connect with each other.
The U.S.-based organization, which has hosts in countries around the world, is also committed to ensuring the experience is safe for everyone involved. Anyone who joins the Concerts in Your Home website as a potential host is given information about how to safely put on a concert.
“We talk to everybody that joins,” Snyder explained. “We really look at this as a community.”
In nine years of operation there haven’t been any serious safety issues raised by hosts, artists or concert attendees.
“We encourage the safest practices and we try to give hosts a way to connect gradually with the people that they know and increase their social circle organically,” Snyder said.
Not every musician who applies to Concerts in Your Home is accepted. According to Snyder, only about one-third of artists are accepted.
“We require that artists not only be good, but they have to have good promotional tools so that the host can get people excited,” Snyder said.
So far, the Bezooyens’ experience as hosts have been nothing short of positive.
“To have these amazing musicians come in our house and perform for 20 to 30 people is just an amazing way to listen to music,” Bezooyen said.