How do you pick artists to play at Billsville?
First and foremost, we pick musicians that we love. We’re longtime hardcore music fans always listening to our favorites and excited to discover new and exciting artists. Generally, we book from a list of artists who WE want to see. We have limited dates available, so our first choice is always to try to bring in one of our favorites. While we’re happy to listen to unsolicited pitches (and love that you’re putting it out there) we’re unlikely to say yes unless we’re already a fan.
Before you send you stuff our way take a look at the folks who have played here over the years. They represent a spectrum of artists that reflects our general taste.
But you pitched us! Why should we bother to play a “house show?” We’re beyond that.
First off, don’t write off house shows out of hand. There’s a resurgence in the form and we’re often a MUCH BETTER BOOKING CHOICE than some mid-market bar where you won’t draw a crowd. We have a capacity of 70 (and we’re almost always full) and our policy of %100 of the money to the artists after minimal expenses make the economics very favorable. We provide food and lodging for a deal that can’t be beat.
In addition, check out the list of folks who have played here and ask yourself why they visited our corner of Vermont. We offer an intimate listening experience in an environment that’s hard to match. Billsville has a pro-sound system (32 channel digital mixer, JBL 1500 watt PA, Shure audio and instrument mics and Audix drum mics) that delivers an amazing sound. Artists like Joe Pug and Della Mae have played their ONLY house shows at our place and the list of folks who have walked through our door speaks for itself. You can put on a full on rock show or an intimate acoustic performance – we can do it all. We’ve modeled the vibe on Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble and Grace Potter agrees . .
When Rachael & Vilray reached the end of “Do Friends Fall in Love,” the duo lovingly locked eyes on the final, closely harmonized notes. As their dulcet tones evaporated into the ether, a hushed pause took over the room. Then, from an older gentleman in the back, came an audible whisper: “Holy fuck.”
Everyone in the room was thinking precisely those two words, even if they lacked the temerity or the degree of awe-induced absentmindedness to say them aloud. It was a perfect response to a stirring moment in an evening full of them — moments aided in no small part by the unusual setting. Indeed, the older gentleman’s foul mouth could have been a simple product of heightened relaxation, of feeling at home — Doug Hacker and Caroline Schneider’s Manchester Center home, to be precise.
Rachael is Rachael Price, the vocal dynamo of jazzy Americana band Lake Street Dive. Her musical partner — who goes professionally by the mononym Vilray — is a well-respected Brooklyn-based guitarist and composer. For a month or so before this night, the duo had toured up and down the Northeast. Owing to the intimate nature of their music — mostly original guitar and voice compositions patterned on Tin Pan Alley-style songwriting and early pop vocal jazz — they’d played exclusively small clubs, such as Burlington’s Light Club Lamp Shop. Every one of those shows sold out.
But it’s unlikely any of them matched the warmth and, well, intimacy of this one, held on a frigid January night in the Hacker family’s 800-square-foot open living room as part of their long-running Billsville House Concerts series.