I hear the underground ….
At the height of the pandemic, HARK Valley was eerily quiet. But if, some night last summer or fall, when all the cafes and clubs and concert halls and other music venues in and around Phoenix were closed and nervously awaiting the fog of the pandemic to lift, you would have gone outside and put your head on the pavement -- you might have caught a few notes of a guitar strumming, or a singer’s quivering voice.
This group, led by Darice Mangin, was a lifeline for those who say and/or believe, “I can’t exist without live music!”
Full disclosure: I’m not one of them. Indeed, I rather guiltily swill at the all-you-can-experience trough of rehearsals, jams and no-audience concerts that exploded across the internet during the pandemic. The Black Pumas and Billie Ellish on NPR’s home version of Tiny Desk Concert Series?
And I’m half expecting to open a letter some day from Google, saying, “Hey! Thanks so much for viewing 75,321 hours of YouTube over the last year! As I’m sure you noted in the user’s agreement, we reserve a right to charge you for that. So please pay us $347,053.23 by the end of the month -- or say goodbye to the internet! Thanks again!”
Some of the live-music addicts are like, “Serves you right! Why would you ever want to watch live music if you’re not THERE?!”
Which brings us back to Desert Valley House Concerts -- the Facebook page “Cedar Valley House Concerts” is somewhat confusing, until you get the full story. Darice filled in HARK Valley:
“I’m originally from Scottsdale and lived in Iowa 22 years, where I started the series in 2008.”
Her house concert series kept the music live in HARK Valley, with Americana, indie/folk, southwest country shows from the likes of:
The Nations @jewelsnation and @johnnynation66
...and many others.
Did Darci feel the love from live-music starved fans?
“Absolutely. This brought fans and artists together safely in a monitored and socially distant way so that the music could continue. Albeit at a much smaller capacity. But it also made for an intimate listening space and true appreciation of the art. (ie not at a bar drinking and talking over the music).”
And she discovered some new local favorites, along the way: “Laura Hamlin, Paul Mastin, the Cole trains and more. I was thrilled Cherie and Steve were able to keep the music going at Roosters https://www.facebook.com/Roosters-Country-282413571964837/?ref=page_internal with their outdoor event space as well and that’s where I went to support local music.”
Ironically, or perhaps fittingly, when “the big players” have opened or are prepping for shows around town, DVHC is winding down, getting ready for summer hiatus.
The penultimate show of the year, July 2: “We have a very special secret show tonight with Heartless Bastards’ own Erika Wennerstrom. Door at 7:00 pm. Bring a chair. Artist donation at door. BYOB. *please wear a mask if you’re not vaxxed only until seated :)”
Closing show: “Brad Byrd Jul 08, 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM at a home in Apache Junction.”
Hang in there, house concert fans: “We will start back up in September. Always updated on our website,” Darcie promised.
DVHC is an extreme side gig for her, as she day jobs in finance and is also an artist and photographer.