FALCONER - It may not have been a traditional venue setting, but area residents gathered in a Falconer home on Friday evening for a live performance by an internationally acclaimed musician.
A small audience gathered in Doug and Annette Miller's living room to participate in a house show by Francis Dunnery. He entertained guests with more than just a live, unplugged acoustic performance. He also acted as a storyteller and comedian, creating a comfortable atmosphere in which attendees felt no need to consume alcohol until the entertainment had ended, a rule of his.
The event was held in a small living room, lined with family photos and atmospherically lit with candles, but no one was interested in the big screen television or surround sound system, rather all eyes and ears were focused on the tall, bald, pacing man with a voice just as commanding as his appearance.
A private house show featuring Francis Dunnery was held Friday night in Falconer. Pictured from left to right are: Doug Miller, Francis Dunnery and Annette Miller.
P-J photo by Dusten Rader
Each onlooker processed the performance individually by tapping a foot, swaying in their seat or closing their eyes to be absorbed by the vibrations Dunnery projected into the carpeted room with his guitar. Emotions were obvious in the fidgeting fingers and blank stares of those lost in internal exploration.
Nearly every joke that rolled off his tongue cracked laughter like lightning, and each song garnered a thunder of applause. Before finishing his set, Dunnery walked about the room fingerpicking his guitar and sending vibrations directly into the faces of every audience member he could reach. The audience held onto every last note until Dunnery left the room with six words, "Thank you, God bless and goodnight." But, the most impressive aspect of the performance, was that every face left with a bit more color in it.
According to Miller, his interest in Dunnery began when his son heard "Good Life" on NBC's "Scrubs." While researching Dunnery, Miller came upon the musician's official website, where he learned about the option to host a house performance.
"I think people really dug it, and it had a positive message - not religious, but uplifting," Miller said.
Dixie Siegel, of the Busti-Lakewood area, loves live music, and was quite satisfied with the experience Dunnery and Miller provided.
"I thought at first it was very poetic, but then I fell into it and wasn't noticing it so much," Siegel said. "I normally can't hear very well, but I could hear all the words, and he put a reference to what he was singing about - I enjoyed that a lot - plus being with everybody makes it that much more interesting."
Miller's sister, Debbie Miller-Gardener, loved the show, and thought Dunnery knows what he is saying, she said. In particular, she connected with the motivational aspects of Dunnery's performance, such as his talk about "The Middle Passage" of life.
"It was an emotional journey - it's kind of fun - this is really a neat experience," Miller-Gardener said.
The show, aptly named after Dunnery's "Tall Blonde Helicopter" album, featured tunes from it, as well as "Let's Go Do What Happens," "Fearless" and "The Gulley Flats Boys." For Dunnery's house shows there are six different options, each with a unique message. The purpose of the "Tall Blonde Helicopter" show, Dunnery said, is to leave the audience with something to ponder upon.
"It's part of my nature," Dunnery said. "It's fantastic that I've found a way to express myself because I've always been that guy, but I couldn't find a way to do it. I think it makes them think about their authentic self - who they really are as a opposed to the role they play. It's very painful to get through your life to wake up and realize you haven't found the Holy Grail. There is this old Greek word, the helios, which means the wounded vision, it's when you look back and you can't go back now to do what you need to do - you've passed the point and you can't do it. The middle passage is your last chance - your last ticket home."
According to his official bio, Dunnery is a multi-media artist who combines music, humor, astrology, video, literature, performance art and philosophy. He is currently studying at East Stroudsburg University to complete a doctorate. His more than 20-year solo career has given him the opportunity to work with musicians such as Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant, Carlos Santana, John Mellencamp, Squeeze's Chris Difford, The Stone Roses' Ian Brown, Lauryn Hill and Genesis' Steve Hackett. He has also served as a guest to a host of bands such as Yes, Asia, Hootie and the Blowfish and The Syn.
Dunnery has also recorded 10 albums of original music and released three DVDs. Most recently, he released "Frankenstein Monster," which is an electric guitar album he recorded as a tribute to his brother, Baz Dunnery, who passed away in 2012. He performs at more than 50 house shows every year.
For more information, visit www.francisdunnery.com or search for "Francis Dunnery" on Facebook.