In the House: Local families opening homes for hosting traveling musicians

By: Daphne Becker

Packing up her bag in preparation for her upcoming ballet audition for the Nutcracker, graduate Jordan Thompson gets a request from the Milk Carton Kids (a band who performed a concert in her living room the night before) that she put on her pointe shoes for them to see. Right before she was about to leave, Kenneth Pattengale, guitarist of the Milk Carton Kids, gives her a strange look that brings her to a fit of laughter.

Since April of 2008, the Darice Mangin (mother of Jordan Thompson and junior NiCole Thompson) family of Cedar Falls has been hosting small concerts for the community inside their home. Since then other families have joined them to create what is now known as Cedar Valley House Concerts.

A year after moving into their new house in Cedar Falls, Mangin was contacted by an artist who was at the time recently dropped from his label. He was announcing that he was going to do a completely independent series of house concerts complete with instructions on how he wanted to laid out.

Mangin quickly responded that she wanted to be a part of the action, so she offered up her home and spread the word.

It was such a great experience that Mangin decided she didn’t want this to be the last house concert she had. Thus, Cedar Valley House Concerts was born.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 9.11.37 AMMangin is an avid music lover. “I’m kind of like a guy with sports, except I can tell you exactly where a music artist went to high school,” Mangin said talking about her love for music. “I think the only reason my husband is OK with this is because it keeps me from calling up my friends in Chicago and asking to spend the night so I could go to a concert.”

Before Mangin hosted concerts in her own home, she would frequently go to concerts around the Midwest. Now instead of spending money to go to them, they come to her.

Mangin worked to start contacting the agents of different artists she wanted to come play in her home, and after a while both the artists and the agents started appreciating this unique opportunity, and agents started sending artists that they believed would benefit from this type of event.

Also she has added new houses to the roster, with each house having a specific genre and vibe to go with the artist. “In my home, initially, it was just singer-songwriter, indie, a little bit of folk, Americana every now and again. Singers of rock bands who go acoustic when they are out by themselves.” Mangin said regarding the types of music she brings into her home.

Since developing it, there have been a number of artists she has hosted who’ve also had their music in popular television shows like Grey’s Anatomy and movies. Jamie Lono, a participant on season 2 of The Voice, is coming to perform for Cedar Valley House Concerts on April 2, and just last month, Tony Lucca, another participant on The Voice and a previous member of the Mickey Mouse Club, performed for Cedar Valley House Concerts.

Cedar Valley House Concerts is all about appreciating the music. The artists like to be interactive with the audience, tell them why they wrote a certain song, how their day is going and ask questions. It’s all about getting closer with the music.

But attendees planning on using this as a social hour should think again. Each event is focused on respecting the artist and people there to enjoy the music. No talking is allowed during a performance. “I once had to kick someone out for talking and not paying attention to the artist. He was an 86-year-old man there with his girlfriend and kept talking during the performance, so during a break I said he wasn’t paying attention and appreciating the music and should leave.” That was the last and only time Mangin has had to ask someone to leave.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that this is all ages. You can bring your family. All kids 11 and under are free,” Mangin said. She wants people to know that everyone is invited.

There is a required donation fee that goes 100 percent to the artist that is labeled on their website: [ ]. For some concerts (like the one on April 2) attendees have to RSVP ahead of time on Facebook. To RSVP for the concert featuring Jamie Lono and Andrew Tufano on April 2, look here: [ ], and be sure to keep an eye on the website for all the upcoming offerings Mangin and her family are bringing, as each event is a rare gift to the Cedar Valley providing a space where everyone can come and appreciate music.

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