“Kris’ backyard has become one of the top acoustic music venues in Salt Lake City.” – musician Marv Hamilton
On Sunday afternoons at her Millcreek home, Kris Thorne hosts top music acts from Utah and beyond. Chairs are set up in her yard, a band arrives, people socialize, potluck dishes are shared, and a crowd settles under spreading shade trees for great times and great tunes.
Welcome to a musical house party, 21st Century style. House parties originated in Harlem during the 1920s. At that time they were called “rent parties” because people sold food to guests for rent money. Music virtuosos such as Willie “The Lion” Smith and Thomas “Fats” Waller entertained while challenging each other to piano duels.
Pounding piano chords have evolved into acoustic excellence. On this particular afternoon, “Better Off With the Blues” performed for more than 20 music lovers. “We love playing here because we don’t need a sound system. We’re not separate and the crowd is so appreciative. The wine also helps,” says guitarist Paul “Speakeasy” Rasmussen.
Kris was perhaps enjoying it most of all. She has been overseeing these concerts for three years. “A friend was hosting a house concert when she was called out of town and asked me to fill in,” Kris said. I told her, “Sure, why not?”
Liking the idea, and music in general, she started approaching musicians at concerts and asking if they wanted to play at her house. Nowadays, bands come to her. There are 48 concerts scheduled this year, with local musicians and groups from the Northwest, Texas and Pennsylvania. A $15 donation is requested and musicians receive all proceeds.
“Kris is a wonderful hostess—she has a real flair,” says Alan Meyer, who drives from Ogden to attend the concerts. For Lorie G., this is her third Casa Kris concert of the summer. “I like to support local artists and all the work they put in. I appreciate their passion.”
The potluck offerings are reasons to come early. Guests bring dishes such as grilled tomatoes with basil, carrot cake, chicken wings and salads. “Nobody has gone hungry yet,” Kris says.
Along with the cuisine comes the camaraderie. Many guests have attended for years. Dan Felsen has come for the past two years. “I feel welcome as if I am coming to a friend’s house. It’s a great event in my book,” he says.
The concerts will continue indoors during the winter months. In fact, Kris’ largest turnout of 48 people occurred indoors. The weather does not matter,” Kris says. “It’s a fun way to enjoy music and make new friends.” §
Information about Kris’ house concerts can be found on Facebook.