2018 has been an incredible year for The House of Songs. We’ve grown in a number of ways, and we’re especially proud of the work we’ve done this year as we celebrated our ninth anniversary. We became an official nonprofit in June, we hosted more than 40 artists in our residency program where 20 of them attended major music festivals and we grew our core team in Austin and Bentonville! If you’ve missed any of the action, you’re in luck - we’ve compiled our biggest moments from the year and highlighted them all here!
In January, we hosted Egyptian artist Ramy Essam in Bentonville, where he performed at Crystal Bridges, and participated in a panel with Gerald Torres at the Faulkner Center. While in Bentonville, he filmed a new music video for his song Balaha, which currently has over 4.5 million views on Youtube!
For our third year of pre-festival camps, we hosted 13 artists in Austin and Bentonville before traveling to Kansas City for Folk Alliance International 2018. Our artists collaborated to create over 30 new original songs and braved the cold weather to share their new music in some incredible performances. Learn more about our FAI campers below!
Linnéa Bäcklund (SWE)
Tim Easton (TN)
Little Brave (TX)
Jaimee Harris (TX)
Chris Fullerton (TX)
Meredith Kimbrough (ARK)
Ali Holder (TX)
Dylan Menzie (CAN)
Danielle Lewis (WAL)
Danni Nicholls (UK)
Tom West (AUS)
Ida Wenøe (DEN)
Eric Witthans (ARK)
In March, The House of Songs founder Troy Campbell participate in a SXSW panel called Cities Without Borders. Speaking on global partnerships between cities, Troy sat with officials from the European Union, the City of Austin and the World Affairs Council of Austin to discuss development, cultural relations and international cooperation.
While they began their involvement with us in March, Finnish artists Viitasen Piia and Siru Airistola stayed with us in Austin andperformed around the area. In collaboration with Crystal Bridges, we also presented a special concert from legendary Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid at The Meteor in Bentonville.
In May, Mexican-American Lesly Reynaga stayed at our Bentonville location for an artist residency. One of Austin’s rising local stars, Lesly got a chance to experience a different set of hills than the Austin ones she was used to, and found herself connecting deeply to the surrounding area.
We dug into summer with a busy June! Earlier in the month we welcomed First Nations band Digging Roots into town for a concert with Crystal Bridges. In Austin, international artists Ayleen O’Hanlon and Marco Oey explored the Live Music Capital of the World. We hosted more than thirty of our closest friends and House alumni to play A Songwriters Tribute to John Prine as a benefit for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. Thanks to Threadgill’s World Headquarters for giving us an amazing concert venue to honor a legendary American songwriter!
July saw the House begin a partnership with Crystal Bridges and its Forest Concert Series, where House artists opened at outdoor concerts in Bentonville. After her stint in Texas, Ayleen O’Hanlon also visited the House in Bentonville, where she opened for two of the Forest Concert shows. In addition to Ayleen, the House of Songs Ozarks hosted Austin native Jane Ellen Bryant for a residency.
The heat of summer in Austin and Bentonville couldn’t keep us from a productive month! Kalu James of Kalu and the Electric Joint completed a residency in the Ozarks, and we were pleased to host Lesly Reynaga again, who loved her Northwest Arkansas experience so much she returned to record her newest album at Haxton Road Studios with legendary Stax Records former president and producer Al Bell. Mr. Bell visited the House with Lesly and Kalu, and helped coordinate an incredible show where the two artists joined forces at Meteor Guitar Gallery.
In Austin, we officially launched our newest program, ATX P2P. Based on the co-writing model that we’ve used with our international artists for the past nine years, this peer-to-peer system is designed to build and strengthen connections within the Austin music community through pairing artists from all genres of Austin’s world renowned community of musicians
Our Texas location hosted Asher Perkins and Jake Hertzog from The University of Arkansas, and we kicked off our pre-festival camp for AmericanaFest at our house in the Ozarks. The participants wrote 20 songs over three days of co-writing, recorded those songs at Haxton Road Studios, performed two public shows in NWA, and played three packed showcases in Nashville at the festival.At the end of the month, the Austin house was once again home to Northwest Arkansas musicians, with Sarah Loethen and Ashtyn Barbaree making their mark in Austin. See more about our AmericanaFest camp participants below!
Cameron Johnson (ARK)
Bonnie Montgomery (TX)
Bonnie Whitmore (TX)
Ryan Cook (CAN)
Robbie Cavanagh (UK)
Demi Marriner (UK)
Tom West (AUS)
After a busy September, we focused our efforts inward and continued to grow our team and develop infrastructure to aid the success of our programs. We assisted in hosting the last of the Forest Concert series, where artists Michel Bruyere and Cris Derksen accompanied Native American dancer Angela Gladue. Near the end of the month, Finnish artist Esa Pottenen also completed a residency in Austin.
Falling leaves and dropping temperatures as fall hit Austin and Northwest Arkansas weren’t mirrored by The House of Songs, with a major uptick in our activities. We hosted five artists in residency between both Houses, and partnered with The Momentary in Northwest Arkansas to present a special showcase at the historic Applegate House in Bentonville. Staying in Fayetteville were Australian singer Leah Flanagan and Austin natives Ali Holder and Curtis McMurtry. Back in Texas, the Austin House played host to Dana Louise and Noah Richmond.
After Thanksgiving, we hosted a bittersweet farewell to one of our favorite local venues and an Austin institution. More than 20 of our alumni and local partners joined together to play A Songwriter’s Farewell to Threadgill’s World Headquarters, which shuttered the doors of its East Riverside location on December 1st. You can read more and see our own Graham Weber in coverage from KVUE.
In addition to our tribute concert, we also started a series of monthly showcases in both Bentonville and Fayetteville, at Bike Rack Brewery and Stage 18, respectively. These shows have proved to be an amazing way to connect some of our favorite local talents with broadened audiences. You can learn more about the concerts at our Facebook page.
Toward the end of the month, we also helped House of Songs alumnus Ashtyn Barbaree and her band travel abroad to Germany, Denmark and Sweden where they were invited to participate in
For the last month of the year, we hosted Jamie Lou Connolly and Garrett Brolund of Jamie Lou and the Hullabaloo in our Austin house, and continued to schedule co-writing sessions through our ATX P2P program.
As we head into 2019, we want to recognize our board and team members. As part of becoming a nonprofit, we established a board that includes industry leaders to help guide our mission - this year, Gail Papermaster, Colin Kendrick and Ed Nicholson joined our board, and Ramsay Ball remains a member as well. Our operations team has grown as well, adding University of Arkansas graduate Jake Kyte as public relations manager, THOS alumnus and NWA native Jamie Lou Connolly as an artist coordinator in the Ozarks and Ami Thakkar as Director of Growth.
To start out the new year, we’ve created a newsletter to keep our audiences informed, and unveiled a brand new website to showcase all the projects we’re working on here at The House of Songs. You can sign up to stay in touch with us, and learn more about what we do and where we're headed in 2019! If you have any questions about our programming, goals or how you can get involved, reach out to us through our contact form to learn more.