Monday, April 16, 2007

Mark your calendars for a unique event

I blew it.

I missed an opportunity to write about a unique, treasured local institution that newcomers and longtimers alike should know about.

It’s called the Tosco Music Party. Three times a year, between 15 and 20 acoustic musical acts visit the stage of Central Piedmont Community College’s Halton Theater (1206 Elizabeth Avenue in Charlotte). They treat the audience to an eclectic blend of musical styles – anything from rock, soul and country to African-style drumming and a guy with an accordion singing "Edelweiss" from "The Sound of Music." Everybody plays just one or two songs, so if you don’t like one act, just wait and another will be up in minutes.

Tickets are cheap - $12 for adults – and cover only the expenses for the theater rental and program-printing. Performers play for free, with some driving in from Atlanta, New York or even further to share their passions with the audience. They make gentle sales pitches for their CDs, which are on sale during intermission and following the show. The all-ages audience gets a chance to hear music they may never have heard otherwise – and perhaps discover a new favorite to add to their iPods.

The tradition started in the 1980s in the living room of organizer John Tosco, and moved to successively larger venues before reaching the 1,000-seat Halton facility. With no advertising, the event has had no problems reaching sellout crowds through word of mouth.

Until this past Saturday. And there is where I blew it. I attended the event – my second time - after looking forward to it for months. And it was the first time in many years the event didn’t sell out – fewer than 700 tickets were sold, Tosco told the audience.

I like to think that if I had thought to put the event in one of my columns in the newspaper beforehand, a few more people would have ventured out to experience something new. And now, there won’t be another chance until Sept. 15, the date of the next music party.

But you can get a taste of what it’s like sooner. On the first Wednesday of every month, there’s a Tosco Music Party open mike night at the Evening Muse, 3227 North Davidson Street (in the NoDa neighborhood). And on May 12, many of the music party regulars will participate in a Beatles tribute night at Spirit Square. Find out more about the events at

And mark your calendars for September 15.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tosco is a genius when it comes to entertaining a versitile audience. He knows just which artists to bring in and how to arrange the mucic and famous sing-a-long's that makes everyone feel so good. He talks to the audience as though we're all sitting in his living room joining in on the jam session! There was a lot going on in the Queen City the weekend of the last music party - maybe that was the reason for the low turn-out. I've been before to many TMP's and they're awesome!

11:17 AM  

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