I have written before about my deep appreciation for house shows and the people who host them. The cozy venues provide the utmost respect for artists, their music and their lyrics, which sometimes are covered by music and chatter in other settings.
Matt Waldrep began the Common House in January of this year to give songwriters in Birmingham yet another exciting and intimate place to showcase their art.
I attended the most recent show with Justin Cross and Verdure. The house in a Southside neighborhood was older in its construction, but could hold a large amount of interested music seekers, who numbered about 15 to 20 for this past concert. There was an instant camaraderie and eagerness for art right off the bat.
Verdure started the night with a completely unplugged set. The three-part harmonies echoed throughout the room and cut straight to the heart. Not a word from the audience was spoken during the songs, but each tune’s end was met with grateful applause.
“Getting to know the audience before and after is a great personal touch after playing a really fun house show,” says Verdure’s lead singer and guitarist, Matt Sanderlin. “The Waldreps obviously have a passion for promoting live and local music, and it shines through in every possible way at the Common House.”
Justin Cross followed next playing a slew of songs in anticipation of his new full-length, Hope Where It Lies. In addition to plaintive and reflective descriptions of his songs, he also treated the audience to hilarious anecdotes about his travels and experiences as a songwriter as well as stories regarding his time as a roommate to Common House founder, Matt Waldrep.
“The Common House was such an amazing place to play,” Cross reflects. “I’ve known Matt and Heather for a while now, and I know that their love for art and music is the lifeblood of their new venture.”
After the show, I spoke with Waldrep regarding his vision for the Common House and the journey so far.
You Hear This?: What was the vision behind the Common House?
Matt Waldrep: We started The Common house for several reasons. We wanted to share our home with our community, meet people and form relationships in Birmingham so this is our way of making our home “in common” with our community. When we had the idea, we were thinking about how music can be a common denominator between all types of people so we hope that as we share our home and artists share their art, it will bring all types of people from our area together and foster true community. Lastly, we love the artists that we bring into our home. We enjoy their music and want to give them opportunities to share what they do with Birmingham.
YHT?: When did the shows start?
MW: We had our first show in January of 2014 and plan to host one show a month featuring Birmingham locals as well out of town artists from all over the country.
YHT?: How has the response been so far?
MW: The response to our vision has been great! Those who have heard the vision have been really excited about it. The two shows we have hosted so far have been big successes! Birmingham is such a welcoming community for musicians and we love great music here. People have really enjoyed the artists we have brought through and seem to love our space. House shows are a unique experience and and people who love them, really love them.
YHT?: What are your plans for the future?
MW: We have some ideas about a larger vision for The Common House- a network of houses with multiple art forms- but that idea is still developing.
YHT?: What are the best ways for people to connect with the Common House?
The next Common House show will feature Nashville’s Erin Rae and Birmingham’s Joel Madison Blount and will start at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 5th with a $7 cover. Attendees must purchase tickets in advance here to get the address.