Newmarket artist brings concerts home

The Era Banner, Newmarket

January 27, 2010 10:19 PM

By Amanda Persico

Sure, scoring floor seats to see your favourite singer is exciting, but what if it was your living room floor?

Newmarket resident John Lemme, 53, started performing house concerts about three years ago.

"A house concert is exactly that, a concert in someone's home," Mr. Lemme said. "People come from the table and into the living room with coffee and desserts and enjoy an intimate concert."

House concerts are very popular in Eastern Canada, where a musician is invited to play and guests are asked to pay an admission fee.

"House concerts have been going on for years," Mr. Lemme said. "It's a full concert with an intermission, but only in front a small group of people, friends and neighbours and friends and neighbours of friends and neighbours."

Mr. Lemme started his musical career playing in chalets at Horseshoe Valley in his early 20s. His three daughters, who studied music, grew up singing by a campfire.

"I have no formal training, so, when I have a technical question, I go to my daughters because they understand the theory," he said. "It started as a part-time thing. Now, it's a part of my life. I love it."

Many people in York Region haven't heard of house concerts, said Mr. Lemme, who, for the past three years has played during the annual Music in the Park series at Fairy Lake and the annual Tim Hortons New Year's Eve celebration at the Magna Centre.

"House concerts are for people who love live music, but don't want to go to the bars," Mr. Lemme said. "They love the music, but don't have a venue to enjoy it in."

Mr. Lemme's performances includes many audience participation songs, where everyone knows the song or at least the chorus of works by Cat Stevens, Paul Simon, Buddy Holly, Kenny Rogers, Janis Joplin and James Taylor.

"I walk in and don't know anyone. But I walk out knowing everyone because the audience gets involved in what I do," he said. "I love to see how the music affects people and how people respond. Being part of that is quite moving."

Mr. Lemme works with the concert host to customize or create a preferred playlist.

Last year, he took the home concert feeling on the road to a bigger venue with Musical Desserts.

Musical Desserts is a house concert at the Temperance Hall at the Sharon Temple in East Gwillimbury.Coffee and desserts are served during the performance, at which everyone gathers around linen-draped tables. Mr. Lemme also helped co-ordinate a Musical Desserts series for Whitchurch-Stouffville, which will launch in the spring.

"We wanted to reproduce the living room feel, less the fireplace," Mr. Lemme said. "It started with a couple friends attending, then grew to a full house. People just light up when they hear the songs."

The Musical Desserts series is starting again in the spring.

Mr. Lemme is working on a CD to be released before the Music in the Park and Musical Desserts series.

For more information or to schedule a house concert, visit

For more information and the upcoming spring schedule for the Musical Desserts series, visitยจ