The voice of love and reason is back in the house
On Second Thought
Friday, July 7, 2006
The first house concert I ever attended was four days after 9/11. I was stuck in Houston while air traffic was grounded, unable to return to New Mexico.
We all have our memories of that day and its aftermath. We all had our jumble of emotions – fear, sadness, anger, a feeling of vulnerability or helplessness – especially those of us who were separated from home and our loved ones.
So I was in Houston, which is not too far from Clear Lake, which is where, on the Saturday following the collapse of the Twin Towers, Albert & Gage happened to play a house concert.
I’d heard of Christine Albert. She’s a singer/songwriter who’d lived in Santa Fe and made it to Austin. I’d not heard of Chris Gage. He’s from South Dakota. In Texas you don’t hear about musicians from South Dakota until they reach the Austin city limits.
They set up in the back of small living room, with maybe 15 chairs clustered before them. There was no stage or riser. A stairway wound overhead. Whether they used a microphone or a PA system I don’t recall. They certainly didn’t need any.
In the dining room there was free food and drink, furnished by the guests. A backyard pool area was open to those who wanted to hang outside, and during a couple of set breaks the musicians and people who came to see them mingled out there.
This is what a house concert is, music among friends, whether they know each other or not. No egos, no barriers, no real set list.
No star status, no attitudes, no light show, no security force.
It’s the return of intimacy between audience and performer, the likes of which, in this day of hype and canned-for-TV-star-making, is pretty hard to find.
Albert & Gage play a house concert in our area tonight at Tularosa Dry Goods, 308 Granado in Tularosa. They are a powerful force of intertwining voices, with a range of songs from American blues to alternative country to Parisian café balladry, and musicianship that sparkles on not only acoustic guitar but almost any instrument bearing keys or strings.
But they are more than that. On that evening of Sept. 15, 2001, I needed more than music. I needed a dose of humanity. The actions of madmen and fanatics and murderers could not be allowed to poison the human condition or define our very reason for being.
Hundreds of miles from home, I needed a sense of home and family. I craved to belong, to share in the unraveling of emotions. I had to reaffirm love’s guiding hand over our existence, to know that goodness, not evil, is the universal intelligence that places us in some kind of unseen order and lines us up for eternity.
Albert & Gage were soulmates then, as lovers and as a musical duo. And they were the ones, in that little living room, to express the sorrow and hope of the human condition, something beyond ourselves and our measly political world and into a deeper reflection of live.
It wasn’t planned. It just happens that way. Music from the heart often spills into uncharted, unpredictable territory.
Albert & Gage got married a while back, and their voices are still one. I’ve seen them numerous times since that night, indoors, outdoors, at little bars and house concerts. And always they always take me back to the night when I chased the voice of love and reason to find out whether it had survived.
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