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Guitar Painting, Lena Karpinsky

Musical Lairs House Concerts

Musical Lairs Celebrates 25 Years in 2022!

After the last two years, it's time to reflect, celebrate, and enjoy live music again. We do so, while mourning many losses to our musical community. First among them, and one of the area's first losses to COVID-19, was our beloved "Godfather of Philadelphia Folk Music," Gene Shay, co-founder of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, who helped launch the careers of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and so many more.

Recently we lost Musical Lairs' co-founder, Ray Naylor, to long standing heart problems. Ray was a friend, confidant, and mentor to just about everyone in the Philadelphia folk music scene. His generosity of time and attention to helping young artists will never be forgotten. Even closer to home, we lost Barbara Schwartz to a decades-long blood cancer that emerged from its hibernation a couple years ago. For nine years, Barbara never missed a Musical Lairs show, and held court in the dining room, arranging all the food contributions.

There are certainly others we have lost over this extended hiatus, and we remember them all fondly as we move forward to hopefully healthier times. With that in mind, please review our current COVID protocols at the end of this page.

What is a House Concert, Anyway?

Simply put - it's live acoustic music in a private living room with an audience of friends, both new and old, and great food that everyone brings to share. The host provides beverages. The music is outstanding - these are very talented musicians. Most tour professionally, usually nationally, some even internationally.

They write their own music. They have CDs. They have great stories to tell. Lee Bowers books the talent and the venue, including her own home. She does this for FUN, for the joy of hearing live music in an intimate atmosphere, and to support independent artists. Every cent of your donation goes to the artist(s).

How we got started

Back in the last century, 1997, to be exact, perennially traveling troubadour, Annie Wenz, was passing through Philadelphia. A friend of Annie's in Massachusetts knew Barb Ginsberg in Devon from a folk music list serve, called Barb, and suggested she put together a house concert for Annie. Barb had never heard of a house concert, but it sounded like fun, so she called a few neighbors and friends from work and the series was born. Barb held another sporadic concert or two, when local folkie Ray Naylor contacted her and offerred to help. They decided on three rules for selecting artists: Firstly they must both really like their music. Secondly, the artists must have good rapport with the audience. Finally, they must be "really nice people" - someone we'd want to invite into our homes. They decided on the name "Musical Lairs" and began to offer more house concerts on a semi regular basis.

As the crowds got larger, a bigger venue was required, so Lee Bowers' home in Villanova was often used. The series prospered and grew until 2000, when Barb announced that she and her husband, Alan, were moving to Petaluma, CA. Ray decided not to continue the series and at the eleventh hour, Lee decided to take it on. Since then, the crowds have grown to as large as 100 at times, and even bigger living rooms have been found. There are now four people on the Main Line who regularly open their homes to host Musical Lairs concerts, and there are nine or ten concerts every year, usually the third Saturday of the month, except December, July, and August.

To be on the Musical Lairs mailing list (which we don't share with anyone), just contact Lee Bowers or call her at 610-520-0442.

Booking Policy

We prefer NOT to receive inquiries from artists regarding booking. We book only those artists we have seen perform in person. If we would like to have you perform in our concert series, we will initiate contact.

COVID-19 Protocols

Until further notice we will observe the following safety protocols:

  • There will be no communal food. The dining room will be closed. Bottled water will be provided. Attendees are welcome to bring snacks for themselves, but not for sharing.
  • EVERY attendee must show proof of full vaccination (i.e. two weeks post final vaccine). NO EXCEPTIONS.
  • Masks will be worn AT ALL TIMES except when actively eating or drinking. People failing to do this will be asked to leave.

Fans and air purifiers will be in use throughout the evening and weather permitting, outside air will circulate. People will be encouraged to stay in family or group pods and the sun porch will be used to provide more space.

ALL OF THIS IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. At the time of this writing (11/2021), booster shots are now available, children are getting vaccinated, and the numbers on the Main Line continue to trend in a hopeful direction. Should that trend change, shows will be postponed or cancelled. Thank you for your cooperation during this difficult time.

© Copyright 2021 Musical Lairs House Concert Series
Guitar painting provided by Lena Karpinsky