If you’ve ever hung out in a room with a bunch of musicians, you can always count on an acoustic guitar to join the party at some point. There’s something about the energy in a room full of singers and songwriters that compels them to do exactly what they do best — play music. These unscripted jam sessions are about as real and raw as it gets in music, but unfortunately, unless you happen to be friends with a slew of artists, you’re probably never going to experience a real jam session.
Well, now you can.
Platinum-selling recording artist Ryan Cabrera has given fans a rare opportunity to see their favorite performers in the most intimate setting there is — an artist’s home. Along with some of his closest industry friends, Cabrera started broadcasting acoustic sessions to worldwide audiences for the appropriately titled series: “Live from Ryan’s Living Room.” To top it off — it’s all for charity.
I spoke with Ryan, fresh off his latest tour, about the unique broadcast and what he has in the works for 2013.
Tell me about this concert series.
Yeah, “Live from Ryan’s Living Room.” It’s basically just friends who I think are awesome, and we all get together — it’s usually five or six friends [performing] — and then we stream a show live on the Internet, but you have to watch it live.
People that watch the show tip a little bit. It can be whatever they want, and that money goes to charity every month. Everybody that plays is amazing. I mean, if you love music this is definitely something that’s truly special, and it’s going on in my living room. It turns into a jam at the end; we play for hours and hours. The [streaming] concert is only two hours long, but for us, this is what we do.
The idea came because this is something that we were doing in my living room anyways. You know, we sit around the piano, we jam and sing, and it kinda turned into a little concert series. Whatever happens, happens, ya know? I mean, last time three of the artists ended up playing together and playing something they’ve never played. It’s just a fun vibe.
And we integrate different kinds of artists. I have a friend playing who’s a classically trained pianist, I have a comedian buddy of mine playing, and a couple different kinds of artists — it’s been awesome.
Is there a specific charity the money goes to each show or does it change every month?
We try to spread the love. Every once in a while we’ll have a repeat offender and some of them like to get involved with it, like Habitat for Humanity, which is great, so we’ll go back to that every once in a while. But it’s also depending on whose playing. I’ll ask them if they have a charity they love working with, and we’ll use that. For this one we’re working with the 3 Hearts Foundation, which is a charity to help single mothers. This is a charity that Travis from We the Kings chose because it’s one of his favorite charities.
Who do you have coming in for the show on the 30th?
For this one we have Thomas Ian Nicholas, who is going to play. This classical pianist Chloe Flowers is going to perform. Mark Ballas from Dancing With the Stars is going to perform. Travis from We the Kings will perform. A comedian named Erik Myers. My buddy Hunter Parrish from the show Weeds is going to sing — he’s amazing.
How many people do you actually bring to your house for these shows?
There’s usually like 50-100 people who just come and hang and watch music.
How many of these have you done so far?
I think this is probably our tenth one.
Have you thought about taking the concept to a real venue or is the fact that it’s from your actual living room what makes it special?
There have been a lot of venues who have approached me about it, but the thing that makes it real is it is real. It’s not some concert that I’m trying to put on. The whole concept came about because my friends and me, when we get together at night, we play music. I mean, we put it on and a buddy will be like “Hey, grab a guitar, sing us a song.”
We sit around and we actually do this, and that’s what I think makes it special and unique. It’s not something people can do everywhere, like a pick a venue and just do it. What makes it special is that it is our living room — it’s a real thing. It’s not just people getting together to put on an event. It’s getting friends together.
People meet each other here, too, and artists link because of this thing here. Plus it’s for charity, so not only are we getting to play music and do what we would be doing anyways, but we get to raise money every month.
Outside of the charity concert, what is going on with you musically?
For me, I’m just trying to finish this new album. I’ve been working on the new album for a long time, and it’s almost done. We’re finally ready and happy with it, and I literally only have two songs left to sing and then the record’s done. Then it’s time to get on the road and get to work and start promoting and letting people know that we have a new record out because it’s been so long. I think this is by far the best record and the best songs that I’ve ever written. I’m excited for people to actually hear it and be like “Whoa. I didn’t expect that.”
Any idea on a release date for the new record?
We haven’t put a specific date on it — we want it to be right. That’s the only thing that I really care about, so when it’s done, it’s done. I’ve taken five years to make it, and I don’t want to rush it out. But we’re hoping for the end of this year, maybe early next year. I’m going to be working nonstop working on and promoting it until then.