Superior Profile: Sounds of Simon House Concerts7 min read
For the last month, I’ve been attending our Cultural Arts and Public Spaces (CAPS) committee meetings. A big part of CAPS’ ambitious plans for next year are several “main events” that seek to attract everyone in town to the Superior Marketplace for mini-festivals of art, music, dance, and food trucks. I’m so excited for these events, and so impressed by the creativity of all the members of the CAPS committee!
However, I think it would also be great for our town to organize smaller events as well – events that can be done simply and inexpensively but still accomplish the goal of bringing our citizens together. I am currently reading Priya Parker’s The Art of Gathering (highly recommend it!), and it’s really inspiring me to think about the different types of events we could organize in Superior, for numerous purposes: to introduce new neighbors, to help neighbors in need, or to align and build consensus on specific Town issues.
Part of why I decided to start my “Sunday Sundaes” ice cream social series was because I wanted to experiment with ways to get people out of their homes and convening in some of our beautiful neighborhood parks. Each ice cream sundae party only cost me about $30 to put on, but drew approximately 50 people to meet neighbors and enjoy the sunshine (or sunset, in the case of the one I did at dusk).
I consider my Sunday Sundaes series a success, and am currently trying to figure out how I can replicate these events in fall / winter weather, when people may not want to to be hanging out in the cold. The guest I’ll be interviewing later in this post, Lee Simon, suggested that Superior could consider offering Town-sponsored clubs / meetups that allow people to convene based on interests. The clubs would be run independently, but promoted by the Town and open to all residents. Lee said he’d be interested in a cycling club with scheduled weekly rides from various places in Superior, but also noted it could be used for yoga in the park, scrapbooking, or really any interests our citizens have. I love this idea – it reminds me of what my friend Cathryn and I have created in launching our “cookblog” club earlier this year (a group of us get together to share a potluck dinner where we’ve all cooked recipes from the same food blog). And, it’s relatively low-cost and low-effort for the Town to facilitate putting residents in touch with each other for shared-interest clubs, but could help us strengthen our small town community feel even as we continue to grow.
Let me know if you have thoughts on this club idea, or have ideas for other events that I could take it upon myself to start hosting!
So with that idealistic intro, today, I’d like to profile two local residents who have done an incredible job creating events that bring together neighbors and also attract visitors from other towns. I’m hoping to make this part of a new series on my blog: profiling some of the people, businesses, and events that make Superior such an amazing place to live. And I’m excited to kick off by featuring an interview with Jen and Lee Simon, whose Sounds of Simon House Concerts series invites friends, neighbors, and strangers (who will soon become friends) into their Rock Creek home to see world-class musical talent performing right in the Simons’ living room.
I first attended Sounds of Simon in February, to hear the artist Ryan Montbleau. I had never heard of him before, but went with an open mind and absolutely loved his music. After the show, I got to chat with Ryan, and ended up taking a photo with him that I posted to Facebook (see photo at right). Well, upon seeing this pic, my sister-in-law in New York called me up – and told me that she and my brother are big Ryan Montbleau fans and were currently trying to find tickets to his sold-out show there! Meanwhile, I had paid $20 and got to watch him play from five feet away, then chat with him between sets. The Simons have created an incredible venue with amazing performers, and I think it is one of the coolest experiences in Superior.
The next Sounds of Simon concert is tomorrow night, featuring Pip the Pansy (who is the wife of their August performer, Sam Burchfield). Although I don’t know Pip the Pansy’s music yet, I’ve had this show on my calendar for weeks – if you don’t have plans yet, I’d encourage you to come check it out!
To give you some more insight into Sounds of Simon, here’s a brief Q&A with founder Lee Simon, who lives right here on Roggen Way.
What gave you the idea to start Sounds of Simon?
Shortly after moving back to Colorado in 2010, we were looking for something out of the ordinary to do on a Saturday evening. Instead of simply opting for dinner and a movie, we wound up at the Laughing Goat in Boulder for an album release show by a local musician. What we experienced was some combination of a concert and a conversation, where the artist was engaging with the audience and telling stories. We left the coffee shop that evening wondering if we could host something similar. Our first house concert was in December 2011, and from that point we never looked back.
What genres of music do you feature?
We generally stick to the rock, pop, soul, and blues genres, though we have had a couple of country and Americana artists over the years. Through our little music project, we have been able to connect with some amazing artists from across the country. We have hosted contestants from The Voice, X Factor, and America’s Got Talent. We have even hosted a Grammy nominee. Many of our artists have millions (literally) of monthly listeners and followers across a variety of streaming services.
What is your motivation behind hosting these house concerts – are they just for fun, or is there another purpose?
When we first started, our motivation was purely enjoyment and connection with our friends and community. By hosting these concerts in our living room, we wanted to find a way to connect the community. What better format, we figured, than bringing people together to enjoy good food, a few adult beverages, and top notch music in the most intimate of settings. From day one, we have never taken a dime – 100% of the revenue received goes to artists, to support their efforts to bring original and live music to the world. Over the years, as musicians passed through our living room stage and stayed with us before or after shows, we have had a unique opportunity to understand more about the rapid changes occurring in the music business. Our takeaway was that long term opportunities could be stunted by short term threats, and we were proud to offer our support for original music and the creative talents behind those tunes.
What are your favorite things about living in Superior?
The friendliness of the people is this town jumps to the top of the list. The location is unbeatable, with easy access to Boulder, Denver, and DIA as well as the foothills and Rocky Mountain National Park.
What ideas do you have for the Town to support live music and bring it to more venues in Superior?
As Louisville hosts their Friday Night Street Faire throughout the summer, there always seems to be a rather large crowd encircling the live music stage. We see many of our Superior neighbors at those shows. The town does a great job of incorporating music into events such as ChiliFest and the July 4th Pancake Breakfast, but there are additional opportunities to connect around music in our own community throughout the year. Whether it is the house concerts we host or other events that can be added, live music is a great way to connect a community.
Thanks so much for answering my questions, Lee! I’ll close by sharing a video that 9NEWS did profiling Sounds of Simon (which happened to be filmed at the Ryan Montbleau show), but will add that to really experience the amazing community of these concerts, you have to come check them out for yourself. Whether you’re able to attend tomorrow night or not for a few months, please say hello to me – I’m always right there in the front row!