A house concert by David J in a former Holyoke church? Take takes you behind the scenes to this extraordinary night.
Take friends and neighbors Boon and Caro Sheridan invited us to a unique house party the other night. The couple’s 19th-century church in Holyoke, Massachusetts has been their home for a couple of years but this week they hosted their first house concert. As expected, it was not just any concert. They went all in with one of their all-time favorites, David J of Bauhaus and Love and Rockets fame. “Great music, amazing company, and one hell of a night,” Boon summed up.
The interior of the Sheridans’ space is configured so that a small landing towards the original pulpit area can be seen from almost anywhere in the building. No longer a traditional nave, it had enough seating for the crowd of 20 or so invited guests. Folks were also encouraged to watch from the lofted areas and stairs. And the sound? Just amazing. The high ceilings and expansive space make this an ideal spot to play music.
David J is out and about on tour now in support of his latest release, the double LP, Vagabond Songs. While he has booked traditional venues, David is enamored with the living room shows. “About five years ago, it was the star prize in a kick-starter campaign to raise funds to produce an album and we ended up in a kitchenette in Los Angeles,” he says of these intimate gatherings. “There were about 20 people and I had such a great night and something clicked that night with me and I just thought, ‘This is a new model, this is great,’” he says. ‘I love this sense of community and it’s familial and connected and intimate and focused. So that was the start.”
David J brought along musician Ali Jafri from the band Ariel out of Canada, who added percussion, vocals, and a little sitar to a few of the songs. The set included a number of new works with a smattering of covers and earlier pieces. A standout was “The Day that David Bowie Died,” an intimate and relatable tribute. “That’s a deep one,” says David. “For me that’s very deep.” Vagabond will soon be released digitally. For now it’s only available as an LP. “Vinyl release only,” says Davis. “The label, Last Hurrah Records based in San Diego, they’re kinda purists about it. They do really high-quality vinyl and high-quality art work. Once you’ve sold out the vinyl, I’m at liberty to make it available as a download.”
Boon and Caro are looking forward to hosting more artists. They were inspired to host by the building itself. “We’re living in a church. We have a space that can accommodate 25-40 people without even blinking,” says Boon. “The sound is perfect, the space is perfect.” The performer was also perfect. Connecting with the charming, talented, and gracious David J with his gothic background and his current Vagabond stories to ramble through and sing in the sanctuary was a stroke of genius. Do we end with a poignant and beautifully executed Knocking on Heaven‘s door? Of course we do.