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Experience: A House Concert

David RossMac Donald

David Ross MacDonald - YouTube Video

This past weekend I was delighted to spend a few hours at bobcathouseconcerts chatting with, being entertained by, and ultimately admiring David Ross MacDonald (

If you have never been to a house concert, you should give it a try. It is an opportunity to see an artist perform in an intimate setting which inevitably produces an unforgettable experience for performer and audience alike. Add to that some exceptionally gracious hosts, delicious food and drink, facinating conversation with passionate new friends, and you have what amounts to Speed-Dating with a much happier ending.

Because I live nearby I could hear a bit of guitar and fiddle emanating from the house so took the liberty of heading over early. When I arrived I was surprised to hear our humble host Bob LeDrew and friend Heather were ‘rehearsing’ a couple of opening songs (by rehearsing I mean that Heather had arrived from Iqaluit an hour or so earlier and they almost played each song once).

For me, music has always been more than the physical act of creating sound. Whether playing alone or with a group in front of an audience I was (am) never too caught up in the mechanics of playing my instrument. Rather it’s the emotion that’s created and they way I’m touched by experience.

The same holds true when I am the audience. I can pretty much remember where I was and how I felt the first time I heard a particular song, or watched a particular performance. Because of this I am generally a pretty tough critic and expect to be moved by the experience. On this night I was not disappointed.

For the most part I rely on one measure of how much I like a particular performance: Does it get my fur up?

At the first note of  Bob’s warbling tremolo charged guitar and Heather’s haunting fiddle work I had goosebumps on the back of my neck, and they remained there until the end of their set. Their vocals were an uncannily perfect hybrid of styles. Either would have been suitable and distinct solo performance. Together they were utterly delightful.

The cozy environment and ‘homer’ crowd was perfect for Bob and Heather, and as I commented to a fellow audience member I thought it unfair for David to follow. How could he top that? He did.

David is a disarmingly charming guy. Hailing from Australia and having travelled the world (nearly every corner of Canada) he was able to converse with insight and humility with everyone on matters local, national, and beyond. In fact, as a result of living much of the time in Western Canada David demonstrated to me that he is more in touch with recent Canadian Politics and social issues that I am. And I’m not proud.

Throughout his performance David was able to seamlessly weave together stories of his childhood and travels with his intricate guitar playing (some of them he would confess, were even true). Between songs he would almost apologise for getting lost with his eyes closed as he relived the pictures in his mind. In the dimly candle-lit parlor I often peeked around the room to see nearly every one’s eyes shut as well, as we all made our own movies to the score.

His wit and effortless playing belied the complexity of his compositions and thoughtfulness of his storytelling. I listened in awe and his fingers danced on the guitar. I was humbled as I have long since surrendered the notion that I will ever command a guitar like that. Theirs was a display of symbiotic beauty, one I feel privileged to have witnessed.

I can’t say if you would have liked to spend an evening like this, but I am sure you should find out for yourself. House Concerts offer a kind of intimate setting and exposure that offers immeasurable benefits both audience and artist.

You can have a listen to David’s music on his website and decide for yourself if it’s your kind of thing.