On November 6th, I drove to Huntington for a show with no guaranteed pay and no real knowledge of what I was getting in to. I went in blind, trusting the positive things I had heard about the host, Joe Troubetaris, and his events from some of my friends in Huntington. Every show is a bit of a risk. The sound, the lights, the crew, the venue are all variables that you can’t really control. The risk is even greater for an out of town gig. Putting in a day of travel and burning gas money for a show can lead to some bad experiences. This time, I got lucky.
Porch Unplugged is a music series that was started in 2011 by Joe Troubetaris in Huntington, WV. On the surface, this is a house show where local and national artists come to Joe’s home, set up in his dining room, and play for an attentive audience. The real experience is so much more than that. Joe’s inspiration came from wanting to have a creative outlet where artists could mingle and perform for an audience that is truly engaged. Porch stands for “Passion On Real Community Harmony,” and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone more passionate than Joe. He actively directs the audience during Porch Unplugged shows, letting everyone know when the next act will start and reminding audience members to contribute to the donation bin and check out band merchandise to help the artists.
Upon arrival that Sunday evening in November, I was warmly greeted by Joe and a few of his friends. We set up my equipment and I was invited to an open kitchen full of good beer and good food. I struck up conversation with the other artists performing that evening while the crowd slowly grew. At 7, Joe welcomed everyone and invited them to get comfortable around the house. I sat on a stool and played my 30-minute set to a quiet house full of the nicest, most attentive people I have had the pleasure of playing for. I shared stories, told a bit about myself, and focused on the dynamics of my songs. Being a solo artist in a loud environment can be disheartening at times. Even if the audience is enjoying your show, you sometimes feel the urge to yell over top of the crowd, and you lose focus on performing. Porch Unplugged is the exact opposite. You could have heard a pin drop while I was playing. This setting created a new standard for my future shows.
After the show was over, the merch was sold, and the pictures were taken, I had a quiet moment with Joe, and told him I was hitting the road back home. Monday morning would be coming way too fast, and I wanted at least a bit of sleep to prepare myself for the return to the real world. He gave me a hug, thanked me for coming, and generally made me feel like a rock star. From the talented performers to the warm and receptive audience, Porch Unplugged is an event unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. This is so much more than a house show. Joe Troubetaris is a genuinely good person with a strong love for music, and he’s built a community that shares that love. I’m so happy to be a part of it. I can’t wait to go back.