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Concerts In The Studio

By Gary Wien


It all started about two years ago when Mark Costanzo read an article in the New York Times about house concerts. It not only peaked his interest, but he decided to call a group called The Kennedys and see if they'd be interested in playing a house concert in the photography studio behind Costanzo's house in Freehold, New Jersey.

The group, who had done house concerts in the past, said sure. And from that phone call an idea for "Concerts In The Studio" was born.

"I started to research who I'd like to see and just made some calls," explained Mark Costanzo. "The first show I had was Amy Rigby in April (2005) and the second show was The Kennedys in May. So, I said why not make a series of it once a month."

House concerts have become increasingly popular with musicians around the world. Some are veterans of the club scene that are getting a bit older and tired of playing smoky bars each night. Others have discovered house concerts to be an excellent source of income and a great way to sell cds. Few people have the great setup for the shows as Costanzo does; in fact, the setup is closer to a true listening room than to a living room.

Mark Costanzo is a professional photographer who spent a lot of time shooting pictures in the entertainment business in the early 80s. His photographs ran in publications from local newspapers to Rolling Stone. After a while, he made the move towards commercial photography. His studio was a garage converted to have higher ceilings and skylights for added light. In addition to being a beautiful set up for a crowd of 65, the setting features wonderful acoustics as well.

If the setting doesn't sway the artist, Costanzo's financial arrangement usually will. All of the money from ticket sales and cd sales go directly to the artist. In addition, the artists are given a guarantee before the deal is set. It's not surprising that most artists say yes to Mark. The most important thing is finding dates that work with an artist's touring schedule.

The first season of "Concerts In The Studio" included performances by Amy Rigby, The Kennedys, Darden Smith, Richard X. Heyman, Robert Hazard, Jim Babjak/Gripweeds, Mary-Sue Twohy, Phil Roy, Amy Correia, and Steve Forbert. The pattern runs from rock to folk to bluegrass and matches that of WXPN (Philadelphia) and WBJB (Lincroft), the NPR stations Costanzo prefers to listen to.

"The thing I didn't want was for it to be all folk musicians," explained Costanzo. "A lot of house concert series are just basically a solo performer and guitar. Sometimes that's great but it just wouldn't excite me to do it."
In addition to providing a musical series for eclectic tastes, "Concerts In The Studio" largely goes after artists that don't normally do house concerts. The result is a very unique and intimate performance that becomes a once in a lifetime experience for a music fan. Unfortunately, as Mark and his wife Elaine have discovered, even offering a great show doesn't mean it will definitely be sold out.

"Initially I thought all I'd have to do was invite a lot of people," said Costanzo. "I just assumed as soon as I put it on a performance website people would come. I mean, how hard is it to get 40 people to a concert? It made me empathize with these performers. It's got to be hard for them to manage."

The number of people attending the series rises with each show as the mailing list grows and word of mouth spreads. Future shows include Adrienne Young & Little Sadie (to kick off the 2nd year) on February 26th, Marshall Crenshaw on March 19th, Willie Nile on April 9th, and Graham Parker on May 21st.

"Concerts In The Studio" is located in Freehold and easily accessible from downtown Freehold (off-Broadway) and Route 18. Visit his website (www.concertsinthestudio) for contact information or to purchase tickets to an upcoming show. Seats are limited so reserve early.



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Event calendar
Saturday, Oct 19, 2019


MUSIC

MELVIN SEALS & JGB FEATURING JOHN KADLECIK @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

THE BILSBY BROTHERS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

Reock & Roll Revue | A Tribute to Chicago II @ The Millstone Performing Arts Center, Millstone - 7:30pm

Eaglemania @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Last Whispers @ Alexander Kasser Theater, Montclair - 8:00pm

RICK SPRINGFIELD & RICHARD MARX @ The Wellmont Theater, Montclair - 7:00pm

KIP MOORE: ROOM TO SPARE ACOUSTIC TOUR @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm

American Song -Disney and the Boys: Will and Anthony Nunziata sing the Sherman Brothers @ The Chase Room @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 6:00pm and 8:30pm

Soulshine: An Allman Brothers Experience @ Victoria Theater @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 8:00pm

TOTO @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Floyd Pink @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm

Annie Sing-Along! @ Kelsey Theatre at Mercer County Community College, West Windsor Township - 10:00am







THEATRE

East Lynne Theater Company presents POE BY CANDLELIGHT @ First Presbyterian Church (Cape May), Cape May - 8:00pm

Monster Princess Tales @ West Hudson Arts & Theatre Co, Kearny - 3:00pm

House on Haunted Hill (World Premiere) @ Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts, Maplewood - 4:00pm and 7:30pm

Chasing Rainbows: The Road To Oz @ Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn - 1:30pm and 8:00pm

Theater of Fear @ The Mill Race Theatrical Company, Mount Holly - 1:30pm and 7:30pm

Our Town @ Jay & Linda Grunin Center For The Arts At Ocean County College, Toms River - 8:00pm

The Late Christopher Bean continues at WCP @ Westfield Community Players, Westfield - 8:00pm


COMEDY

Get Happy! Hollywood Hits from Harold Arlen @ The Avenel Performing Arts Center, Avenel - 8:00pm

Comedian Kevin Downey Jr @ Brook Arts Center, Bound Brook - 8:00pm

THE JIM BREUER RESIDENCY @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Jo Koy @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 8:00pm


DANCE

Nimbus Dance: 15th Anniversary Crystal Gala 2019 @ Harborside Atrium, Jersey City - 7:00pm


FILM

A NIGHT WITH CROSSROADS THEATRE COMPANY FEATURING DENZEL WASHINGTON @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:30pm

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