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The question posed on a forum was: “How can people find great music and new artists if they don’t go to bars or listen to Spotify?”

Wow, well, I couldn’t help but share what myself and a network of talented and heartfelt musicians around the world are doing to make sure that great music still exists in the world and doesn’t go unheard!

Every day, all across North America and Europe, and probably many other places around the globe, independent, original musical artists drive small cars for hundreds of miles to play for 20-40 people in living rooms, backyards, and church basements, often in smaller towns and rural communities where “big names” never stop. An audience gathers through word-of-mouth and guests might bring a potluck item. The artists set up small sound systems or sing and play acoustically, serenading music lovers on guitars, violins, pianos, mandolins, etc., telling stories about their musical inspirations and travels, and sharing songs that are relatable, bringing everyone together in moments of joy and laughter, or inspirations of hope and courage.

These artists aren't driving for hours a day and sleeping in strange beds every night for fortune or fame. Most hope to make enough to pay rent back at a small apartment somewhere very far away, fill the gas tank to get to the next show, and buy some groceries along the way. They don't expect to land a record deal or get sponsored by a makeup brand or fashion line. They would actually probably turn down such opportunities if they were offered to them. They aren't planning to audition for American Idol. Many have been sharing music their whole lives. Music found them and won’t let them go. Some have never had a career other than playing music. They go wherever there's a need and play for whoever wants to enjoy.

These artists do this because it's what musicians have been doing for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. Ever since the moment music was born, musicians have been traveling from town to town, fostering community, sharing experience, connecting. In good times and in troubling times, there isn't a better antidote or a way to lift the human spirit. It's not uncommon for neighbors to meet and shake hands for the very first time at such events. I vividly remember one event I played many years ago in Southern Italy where nuns in full habit sat across the aisle from a couple of heavily tattooed and pierced teenagers with purple hair! There’s really no better way to “love thy neighbor as thyself” then gathering all walks of life to enjoy some music together.

Anyone can support these grassroots efforts by attending listening events in your community, or better yet, hosting a house concert of your own. Sites such as and are premier and free places to get involved and help great music and the artists who make it continue to thrive.

Please email me at if you have a violin, viola, fiddle, music biz, or practice related question you’d like answered in the blog or on a podcast, have a story or insight to share, or if you’d like to inquire about violin, viola, or fiddle lessons with me, in-person or online via Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom.

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Laurel Thomsen

Violin, Viola, Vocals
Performance, Instruction, Recording

Based in Santa Cruz, California

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Photography by Michelle Magdalena
Skype: laurelthomsen

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