Singer-songwriter BRENDAN JAMES gives new meaning to the acoustic concert — in the living room of a stylish University Park couple
by CHRISTINA GEYER photographs by MEI-CHUN JAU
A bit of advice: When an invitation arrives in your mailbox with Heather Wiese-Alexander and Scott Alexander’s return address neatly stamped on the back, tear it open — then R.S.V.P. “yes” as soon as possible. For Heather and Scott — the couple and owners of stationery company Bell’Invito and home decor boutique Nest — have mastered the art of a nouveau kind of house party that, should you be invited, is a shame to miss. Enter the at-home concert. I have attended three such events over the last couple of years, each one starring the singer-songwriter, Brendan James. (His crisp vocals are a perfect mix of David Gray, James Morrison and a hint of Amos Lee. My kind of music.) A friend of the couple, James and his bandmates began staying with Heather and Scott any time they were in Dallas on a stop for a tour. To help give the emerging artist a bit of exposure, Heather and Scott had an idea: Stage the living room with a drum set, a keyboard and a microphone; invite a few dozen of their closest friends; serve a seemingly never-ending supply of Shiner Bock and wine; and just as the tipsy buzzes kick in, let James entertain the guests with a live, acoustic performance.
This particular time, Heather and Scott took their hosting duties to a new level, while James was in town opening for Andy Grammer at the House of Blues Dallas in June. A Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe food truck parked in the couple’s backyard driveway served variations of gourmet grilled cheeses . A Paciugo Gelato & Caffe cart offered Italian-style ice cream nearby. And the living room furniture had been fully rearranged, with Ghost Chairs and cocktail tables lined up in rows, concert style, behind a large, front-row sofa. Then there was, of course, the music: James and a single drummer performed a full set of songs, most from his new album Simplify. There were emotional moments. (James shared the story of his first big break: Getting a personal invitation to spend the weekend writing songs with fellow musician and megastar Carly Simon at her Martha’s Vineyard compound. Yes, James got to spend the night in the room of Simon’s ex-husband, James Taylor.) And those passionate types of moments that occur when an intimate group shares the same experience of feeling music deep in their souls. (During the final song, the entire living-room audience clapped, head-bobbed and chair-danced in unison.) Then a charming moment: Post-concert, Scott Alexander took the microphone to wish his wife a happy 17th wedding anniversary. A most romantic encore, indeed.