A weekly TV show broadcast LIVE from
Newton, Boston, USA and hosted by Lisa Brightman
“YOU ARE WATCHING INSPIRE AMERICA AND
WITH ME TONIGHT, HELPING TO INSPIRE AMERICA, IS PAUL CHI,
PRESIDENT OF HEALTHYCONCERTS.COM”
LISA OK we do have a
call, Inspire America, you’re on the air.
BRIAN I was
just wondering, Paul, I’m an aspiring musician and I’ve been
having trouble getting gigs.
PAUL Yeah, it’s a problem
with the established venues that they can’t meet the need; the
need is so great. Wherever you look there are people who write
songs and want somewhere to sing and play them and my personal
view is that every single person that writes music is vital to
the cultural vitality of the community and I really mean that.
I think that it has to start with providing opportunities in
your locality, in the neighbourhood and then to outreach
through networking. (check out www.houseconcerts.com)
LISA You write your own music, don’t you?
(Paul Chi had started the show with a Live
performance of his Happy New Year song)
sound is so beautiful and eloquent.
Tell me, where did you
learn how to play guitar?
PAUL I grew up in a musical
family that got together every weekend and sang folk songs,
many of them. They often only half remembered a song, forgot
the words and chords, gave up and moved on to the next song.
That’s how I learned to improvise on guitar and make up words
on the spot. My father played guitar, my uncle played the
banjo, my grandfather played the piano in Liverpool clubs and
I’ve another uncle who sang semi-professionally…
WANT TO EXPLAIN HOW, BY HONOURING THE INDIVIDUAL ITS ACTUALLY
STRENGTHENING THE COMMUNITY.
LISA Tell us about
Healthy Concerts and how you started that idea.
My experience of putting acoustic music on really started in
1988 in Manchester, England; right in the middle of a busy
city famous for it’s high tech music, disco dancing, club
scene and people taking drugs. That’s the context in which I
launched The New Troubadours acoustic night at Follies
wine-bar. A couple called Craig and Vivian Stafford inspired
me to take on the role… Sadly, Vivian died recently, of
cancer. Her love and encouragement helped to give me the
confidence to actually hold a space where people could meet
and perform their own music, without microphones.
Do you find that when people have too much to drink they get a
little ornery (belligerent)?
PAUL That’s right.
Attentiveness is diminished so that people are less able to
appreciate the music. I began to realise that there was an
audience for live music that we hadn’t reached, an audience
that was out there, maybe like most people tonight… watching
At that time I met the poet Li Yan, then an
artistic director based at the Chinese Arts Centre. He
understood me intuitively and we started something called
‘Soloist in the Womb’ to encourage a nurturing positive
attitude to the solo performer (check out
www.soloperformer.com) in an intimate atmosphere with soft
curvaceous furnishings, natural lighting and sound, herbal
teas… It startled a few people, made them think.
MOVES TO BRIGHTON. HE’S LOOKING FOR THE HEALTHY ALTERNATIVE.
WHERE CAN IT HAPPEN?
I was walking down the Freshield
Road one day when the idea dawned on me - why not have the
concerts in people’s houses?
I was overwhelmed by a
feeling of inspiration and filled with hope.
in April 1994
we had the first house concert (it was in Brunswick Square and
featured Pooka.) It was immediately apparent that it was a
great way to hear new music and particularly
singer-songwriters. Most musicians today are locked into the
computers and in the recording studios, working on making
albums, which is all very important, but I think the
performance aspects have been neglected. House Concerts offer
a solution to this problem.