Music – Jesse Macht – Home Concert – My Experience

So, it’s the day after my Jesse Macht Home Concert, and here I am, sitting in the living room looking at the poster and smiling.
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THE BACKGROUND

It all started about 2 months ago when Jesse announced that he was going to ‘hop the pond’ and do house concerts in Europe. In case you don’t know, a house concert is a new and fantastic way for artists to get their music out to new fans, interact with old fans and maybe get some inspiration. He’d already done many around the US, but this would be the first time over here.

As one of my current favourite artists, seeing him perform live would be amazing, but actually having him perform in my own house was so beyond anything I could comprehend that I nearly didn’t book him. I read, re-read and again read the booking form so often that it was getting silly.

There were two things that were holding me back; I’m not really someone who is front and centre, I’m more of the second in command, participating, making things work; the second thing was that although I have lots of friends up here, they are mostly casual, FB type ones, even though they were made in person first. So getting them to come the 25 miles out of Edinburgh to my house was always going to be tough.

However, the one thing I am is brave… somewhat. I have been looking after myself, my heart, soul and the rest for a long time now – the support I get from others has always been minimal so the rule is, if I don’t do it, no-one else will.. So, that’s what i do, I do it for myself.

So I sat down, and filled in the house concert booking form – and it was probably one of the best decisions I ever made.

No lie. Trust me on this.

I filled in the form, and the next thing I get is a mail from Melissa (the manager) saying my 3rd April request is a go… no going back now. Melissa was really sweet, and is great at ensuring all the details etc get sorted out – thanks by the way.

While all of this was happening I was mid way through redecorating my living room – painting, new floor, new furniture. So two weeks before I had no chairs, the walls were not finished being painted and the floor no longer matched the decor… so needless to say that was a little stressful. I work from home, so in between audio conferences, and answering OCS and email, I was in my living room on a ladder with paint brush in hand. I managed to finish the walls in time, but the floor and new sofas would not be ready until after the concert… but heho, no worries, it was fine, I decided to buy some picnic chairs – my guests could sit on those, like at an outdoor event, that would work, right?

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I’d invited around 20, but I knew quite a few would probably not be able to come, but I was hoping for around 10/12 or so. My family, such as it is, are down south in London and Swansea, and unable to travel, so unfortunately I couldn’t add them for numbers. I’m from Swansea originally, but lived in London for nearly 18 years, and regard that really as my spiritual home. The funny thing is I definitely could get loads of my London friends to come along if it was down there, even after being away from there for 10 years now.

THE BUILD UP

As the night for the concert got nearer, the more I was stressing that there wouldn’t be ‘enough’ people coming and that somehow that would mean I was both a rubbish fan who was not doing her job of sharing Jesse’s music, and also that the friends I have aren’t particularly invested in the friendship as I might be. Obviously both these things are ridiculous, but we all have our insecurities eh.

However in the midst of all this, the other European hosts and fans started joining together on twitter, stageit chats and whatsapp, and all of a sudden there’s a community. How fabulous. One of the lovely participants is Carol who lives about 400 miles south of me, but was such a fan she came all that way on the bus to stay with me. Even more fabulous.

It got to the Wednesday, and I’d got the picnic chairs and a Tesco order of lots of nibbles, snacks and drinks. Carol was arriving on the Thursday evening and I was picking her up at Edinburgh Bus Station at 7:30pm.
It had been such a long week: work was very busy as I was doing 2 jobs – covering for another manager who was off; stressing about getting everything ready in time; and the lack of responses about attendance or apologies for not being able to come.

By the time Thursday came and I was sitting looking at the clock, getting ready to leave and pick Carol up, I was done, I realised that this is something I should be enjoying, that worrying was pointless as I couldn’t change anything even if I wanted to, so I just needed to let any annoyance at friends, stress about whether I’d be a ‘good host’ etc go and just fucking enjoy what promised to be an awesome experience.

So that’s what I did – I fucking enjoyed it.

Friday, was an earlyish start, and I’d agreed to pick Jesse up at 4pm in Edinburgh town centre, so we had a few hours to kill, so we decided to go for a mini tour around the area – and luckily got to see the Bo’ness-Kinneil steam train running, went to Linlithgow Loch which is lovely, even in the cold and rain. The final stop was Blackness castle, which in the sun has lovely background of the Forth Bridge from the other end of the beach -not quite the same on a damp cold bank holiday – that’s the UK for you haha.
Bo’ness Steam Railway:

By lunchtime, I had 3 definites who were coming along – my Chinese mandarin teacher ??? (Daisy to non mandarin speakers), who is so lovely, and I was so happy she was coming, and Sean and Will, my best friends up here and the most supportive and caring friends anyone could want. So even though it was going to be very small gathering, the important people would be there, as would Carol, so that was the important part.

I still felt a bit sad, as any performer wants a large an audience as possible to showcase their music to, but I was sure that the friends who were coming would love Jesse’s music and hoped that would be enough (it was, of course it was – Jesse is a sweetheart).

Just past 3pm, Carol and I drove into town, and arrived at the hotel Jesse was staying. I know the place as I’d been there many times for meetings etc, so that was handy. I told the guy on the reception we were there for Jesse Macht – and he said (honest this is verbatim) “is that a thing or a person” !!!! I’m hoping he didn’t understand my accent or something, because…what??? Anyway I said, a person..he said feel free to go into the club bar and find him.

This was the moment… was I nervous? I wasn’t, it was odd, here I was meeting an artist who’s music I love, and I was just the same as if I was meeting anyone new – which isn’t to say I’m smooth or anything, but I tend to bs my way through it all with some semblance of confidence. I think Carol also felt calm at this point – but I’ll let her tell her story, as don’t want to put words in her mouth.

THE ARRIVAL

So there I was saying hi, and giving Jesse a hug in person. He was so genuine and friendly and in that moment I knew it would all be a great evening, relaxed, calm and worth it.

We drove back to my house – which was a bit of a faff given the ridiculous road layout in Edinburgh city centre which changes every time I drive there – I usually get the tram/bus if I’m in town. Anyway, apparently I drive fast (sorry Jesse, but I guess I could be a rally driver), but we spend the journey chatting, mostly about baseball and the Yankees, which is my love and obsession. It was so nice to be able to talk to someone face to face about baseball, none of my friends are remotely interested or understand the game, so it’s a treat to be able to let some of my inner obsession run free.

We had some time before he was due to start, so we decided to do a quick scoot around the Bo’ness area as I’d done with Carol earlier, so Jesse could get an idea of the area. Turns out he’d done his wikipedia homework and knew more about the history of Linlithgow Palace, and Mary Queen of Scots that I did – the local totally failed on her tourist guide certificate there!!
The Instagram pic of Jesse and the ducks and swans was his idea – but I like my quote about him thinking he’s a duck when he’s a swan.. (from the ugly ducking/beautiful swan fairy tale – it made sense to me somehow)
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We did the pictures at my local Blackness castle – which I know is more house like than the medieval castles, but it’s still 500 years old, so not doing too badly.
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After that we headed back home, and Jesse headed upstairs to freshen up and prepare – we could hear snatches of singing and strumming – that probably as close I’ll get to ‘backstage’.

While we waited for my Sean and Will to arrive, and also Jesse’s cousin Jerome who had just flown in from the US to visit with Jesse for the weekend, Jesse sat with us chatting to Daisy about proudly showing us his video of his niece doing a presentation in mandarin for her school project. I think that’s why people are so at ease with Jesse, he is so open and genuine that you can’t help but respond likewise.

Finally everyone was here, and this is it, we were starting the home concert…

(if you’ve read to here – you deserve a prize… if you skipped, I won’t tell anyone, honest)

THE CONCERT

So, there we were, sitting on picnic chairs and a bean bag in my living room, and Jesse Macht is standing there with his guitar, the atmosphere was just so relaxed but there was a air of excitement. Sean, Will and Daisy hadn’t heard his music before, so they were totally in the dark as to what to expect, whereas Carol and I thought we knew what to expect from stageit (turns out, we were really not quite ready for the RL experience!)

We start by Jesse asking me to share how I came to his music, so I try and remember when there was a time that I didn’t know who he was – it wasn’t that long ago, but it seems like years. Anyway, after my fumbling intro, he carries on about how he’s traveled round and is widening his life experiences and he’s aimless with purpose..and launches into the first song ‘Aimless’.
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At this point I realise that I was not prepared for this package of energy, heart, soul and talent 6 feet away in my living room. At the other side of a computer screen, you think you’re there with him, but after yesterday I realise that is only half the feeling.. watching his fingers race over the guitar and he’s catching our eyes and he is actually singing not only to us, but with us.

I actually felt my heart clench at how happy I was – I had taken that step, I had booked the home concert, and here I was and it was so much more than I ever dreamed.

I’m not going to describe each song – each was coupled with a back story and slice of Jesse’s soul – how many can say they’ve experience that with their favourite artists. I could see my friends being totally captivated with his music and the lyrics.

I didn’t write down the set list or take many pictures as I was just so in the moment. I’m old enough that recording everyone on twitter/instagram etc is not as normal as breathing, so I still leave it to my brain to capture the moment mostly, and forgot to press the buttons. However Jerome took a lot of video/pictures – so he may share some – on the orders of Jesse’s mom who wanted to see what was going on – such a supportive family, they are blessed to have that.
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Each song seemed to transport us to another level… we were all part of that moment, the people in that room were part of a unique moment in time that we shared just with each other. It’s hard to explain in words, it’s so visceral, you feel so much at once without being able to pinpoint one particular part.
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It seemed like hours and minutes at the same time, and it was ending. A round of applause and hugs and the music was over, and we were all on such a high.

THE ENDING

We then spent another hour chatting with each other; Jesse getting suggestions for a decent breakfast; me catching up on my friends house move; Carol and Daisy discussing the songs just played – expanding Jesse’s fan base to include 3 more..

I dropped Daisy off at the station, and then Jesse and Jerome headed off. It was so strange waving goodbye to this singer from California who I follow online, watch on stageit concert, to be waving goodbye from my front step.

Sean and Will then left enthusing about what a great time they’d had, and how much they enjoyed the evening and his music.

Carol and I were left sitting in the now empty living room just smiling…emotionally exhausted but so happy.

I dropped Carol off at the bus station this morning, and have spent this afternoon writing this up. I don’t think it’s very coherent, and definitely way too long, but I wanted to write it all down, if just so I have a record of this experience.

To sum it up, it was an experience like no other, it seems like it was a dream, but hell, if that’s a dream, dream on sister, dream on….

Jesse Macht is a gift, a genuinely talented, giving, friendly, brave, risk taking gift…and for that, I thank you Jesse.

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.”
Yoko Ono

Deb
April 4th 2015

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