The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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September 7, 2012

Homemade music: Joplin family starts series of house concerts

JOPLIN, Mo. — Once a month, the Dunns rearrange their living room.

Reed and Lee Ann Dunn and their three children move furniture to specific places. One couch goes against a sideboard. Another gets moved up against a wall. Tables are moved to other rooms, as well as a TV. Two finches, a parakeet and a conure have their cages relocated to a room downstairs.

In place of all the comfy furniture and bird domiciles, including a particularly sturdy, heavy couch, are about 40 metal folding chairs arranged in rows.

It’s part of a process that transforms the Dunn’s living room into a cozy concert hall for the Joplin House Concert Series.

“We’ve thought about getting access to a storefront downtown on a one-night basis,” Reed said. “But there’s just something about music being in the home.”

“Music already sounds good in this house,” said Lee Ann, who pointed out the hardwood floors and open living room that connects to an open dining room with double doors. “When someone is really singing, with their real voice, it resonates.”

Reed and Lee Ann have hosted a series of house concerts at their home in the 500 block of North Moffet Ave. Since March, the couple has featured several singer-songwriters in the folk and acoustic genres, including Mark Bilyeu (formerly of Big Smith), Still on the Hill and Rachael Billingsley.

Concerts are booked for the next two months, including Eine Blume on Sept. 14 and Chad Elliot on Oct. 18. The Dunns have also booked a show for Christmas, and are planning a Valentine’s Day event.

Falling in love

The Dunns met while going to college at the University of Arkansas in Fayettville. They moved to Joplin about six years ago from Philadelphia. They found the house on Moffet and loved it and the neighborhood for its urban feel.

They never bought it with house concerts in mind, however. In fact, they didn’t even stumble upon such a thing until going to a house concert in Tulsa a few years ago.

“We fell in love with the idea,” Reed said. “Our first instinct was to bellyache about how Joplin didn’t have any of these, but then we decided to do it.”

Reed said his wife is a consummate host, who could make strangers feel at home with one hand tied behind her back. And the family’s love of music made the concerts a perfect match.

Music is important to the family. Reed, pastor of Christ the King Presbyterian Church, plays banjo, guitar and drums, and was in a touring band during his college days.

Their daughters are also learning music. Jennalee, 8, is learning guitar and piano. Adeline, 7, plays mandolin. Tiki, 4, hasn’t decided on an instrument yet, but she plays a child-sized violin, and the Dunns know she’ll be singing.

The first concert featured Billingsley, a friend from Fayetteville who agreed to do the first one for free. About 14 people showed up. Since then, attendance has grown, Reed said.

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