Walking in the door there is a strong smell of home-cooked food. While others in the neighborhood might be settling down for the night, the air here is buzzing with anticipation as people settle down in the living room, preparing for the evening’s entertainment. Then, as the guitarist begins to strum his chords, a hush settles over the small crowd.
It is this feeling of community that draws locals to Jacquelyn and Giles McCrary’s Overton Woods house every few months. Friends and followers of the Concerts in the Woods, Fort Worth Facebook page receive invitations to these concerts several times a year, but the schedule varies depending on each artist’s availability. In 2014, the McCrarys hosted three concerts – by 2015 there were seven.
“There have been times when people in the audience hoot and holler because they really love the music,” Jacquelyn McCrary said. “There are times when people sing along because they happen to know [the song].”
The McCrarys hosted their 17th concert Oct. 21 at 8 p.m., when British singer-songwriter Georgina Gallaghan performed as part of her United States tour.
Jacqueline McCrary said the idea for hosting a concert series came after she and her husband went on a Cayamo music theme cruise. They enjoyed the cruise so much they followed the Cayamo Facebook page, where she said she found many independent musicians. The McCrarys then decided to invite some of their favorite musicians to perform at their house.
After that, she said word of Concerts in the Woods’ laid-back and encouraging atmosphere began to spread among musicians.
Since starting the concert series in 2014, Jacqueline McCrary said most artists she hosts now reach out to her through their agents. Other times Jacqueline McCrary gives business cards to performers she meets at music festivals and concerts around town.
What makes the task challenging, she said, is when she has to turn a band down.
“A lot of times I get trios and four- or five-piece bands and I just can’t squish them in here,” she said, adding that her living room fits about 40 people.
Fairmont resident Billy Joe Gabriel has attended Concerts in the Woods since their first show and said the intimacy of the venue makes the concerts special.
“To have a world class musician playing for 40 people is just phenomenal,” he said. “Then to be able to talk to them some more at the intermission and after the show is something else also.”
Gabriel said all of the performers the McCrary’s have hosted were enjoyable, adding that good music knows no genre.
“It’s just like heaven to go to their concerts,” he said. “You don’t have to get drunk to enjoy music there.”
McCrary described herself and her husband as “patrons of the arts” doing whatever they can to help independent musicians. McCrary said she always encourages guests to bring $15 to contribute to the musicians’ travel expenses, and that they often invite the artists to sleep at the house to save money.
“A lot of times they take advantage of that because they don’t have enough money,” McCrary said. “And we provide a meal right before the concert when they show up.”
Our next house concert will feature a performance by Callaghan (aka Georgina Callaghan), on Oct. 21st, 2017 at… https://t.co/P4oI7Ul3rE
— Jacquelyn McCrary (@Jaci101) September 10, 2017
Don Clark is a Keller resident who has regularly driven to Fort Worth for these concerts since 2015. Clark said he always brings a donation for the performers.
“I think [the concert series] contributes to the music scene in Fort Worth, which is incredible anyway,” he said. “It gives the artists another outlet and a chance to make a little money with very little stress on the artist.”
Clark said he’d encourage anyone to attend Concerts in the Woods, describing the atmosphere as beautiful and friendly.
“Even if you’re not really especially a music fan you should go because you might become one,” he said.
Those interested in attending Concerts in the Woods can visit the Facebook page for more information.