“We host private concerts in our living room.” That’s a sentence that very few people would be lucky enough to say. But also what one group of students gets to say every month.
From the street, the little green house on North 23rd St. looks like any other Abilene residence, aside from its quirky color. Shaina Meitl and Kelly Seale, a junior and senior respectively, are ordinary students who open their door with a smile for guests. In the perfectly unassuming living room, their boyfriends Brooks Mendenhall and Conner Strickland can be found relaxing on the couches and playing with Ender, their dog. On an average day, this house is just a normal student abode. Come time for a concert, however, it’s a different story.
Brooks took it upon himself to email popular Austin musician Matt the Electrician and ask him to come out and perform at Abilene’s Monks Coffee. Matt responded instead by asking to do a house show. Since then, the four students have caught the attention of other artists by forming Greenhouse Presents and opening their home as a nonprofit concert venue. Thirty guests came out to see GP’s first official concert in August, featuring folk-singing duo Danny Schmidt & Carrie Elkin. Nathan Hamilton followed later in the month, and New Zealand’s award-winning Donna Dean made her appearance on Sept. 1. Dean’s bassist jokes that they play “the highest quality death metal in New Zealand.”
Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk will be entertaining another round of guests on Oct. 4, and Greenhouse is eager to encourage as many visitors as possible to RSVP. Attending is as simple as emailing email@example.com, asking for updates and RSVP’ing for the shows. The venue can also be found on Facebook. Either way, it’s important to RSVP, because, due to city laws, this is the only way to get GP’s address.
“It’s not awkward to come,” Kelly comments. The musicians who have graced Greenhouse Presents have had wonderful stage chemistry, positive energy and come from around the world (including France and New Zealand). While Greenhouse does not have an official cost attached to concerts, they encourage guests to pay “whatever the concert was worth for them, because whatever they donate is whatever the artist goes home with.” The suggested donation is $10-15.