The Soup & Sound House Concert Series is an artist-run series sponsored by Continuum Culture & Arts that presents innovative music and related events in a private home in Brooklyn, New York.
We present world-class musicians, well-known and obscure, in a variety of genres, and on occasion writers, dancers, and artists working with visual media. The opportunity to perform in a dignified yet casual setting, in a great sounding room, for passionate listeners, accompanied by excellent homemade soup and a potluck of other food and drink draws artists and audience members from near and far.
There are few suitable venues in New York City for much of what we present. Existing venues too often are exploitative and demean both artist and art. We care about the artists first and provide fertile ground where they set the agenda and thrive on their own terms. Soup & Sound is egalitarian, social, and artistic–part performance and part potluck.
The Soup & Sound House Concert series arose from a confluence of forces. For years the house had been a New York cross-roads and base for traveling musicians. Music constantly flowed through the floors and doors, in private sessions and rehearsals, mostly in the basement. A catalytic moment occurred in 2008 when three great improvisers (Michel Doneda from Toulouse, Leonel Kaplan from Buenos Aires, and Tatsuya Nakatani from Japan/Pennsylvania) happened to all be staying at the house at once for a long weekend. Kaplan was in New York to play at the first Festival of the New Trumpet (FONT), and Doneda/Nakatani mid-tour. A joyous, convivial atmosphere permeated the weekend, with food, drink, and conversation in abundance…it felt like an international music festival and we felt it was tragic that the wider New York music community wasn’t able to partake.
About a year later we knocked down walls to partially open up the main floor. With enough space to invite an audience we did the first one in November, 2009, nine months went by, we did a second, six months went by, and then the third. After that they started happening more often. For our first 5 years the space was spartan and to the point with peeling paint, water stains on the ceiling, a few holes in walls. But from the start the music and the vibe were unsurpassed and it was clear Soup & Sound was great thing. In 2014 the acquisition of a mint-condition Steinway L grand piano led us to knock down more walls, and while we were at it to paint, clean, remodel, and fix up everything.
The house concert may be the original music venue. Certainly in 21st century New York the format provides an alternative—superior in many ways—to a commercial venue based on alcohol sales, or bureaucratic arts institutions. It provides a dignified presentation of the artist and their work, a model for the integration of art and daily life, an intimate experience for a passionate audience, and a casual environment in which audience members and performers can interact as equals. It provides an ideal forum for cultural exchange because people from different places interact in a home environment sharing food, drink, and talk. It is grass-roots, direct, flexible, and it puts artistic control in the hands of artists.