Venue Interview: Steve Ruemmele

I am pretty heavily involved in the local music scene and I came to hear of a buddy of mine playing at this venue in Indianapolis called the Kessler House. I had never heard of this venue and was immediately intrigued. So I did a little Google research and came to find this man, Mr. Steve Ruemmele. He and his wife host concerts. But the strange, yet unbelievably cool part of this is that they are in their living room. The Kessler House is indeed a house. Sit with me today as I introduce you to the man behind the idea that got me wanting to see more house concerts.

Where exactly is the Kessler House?

We live on Kessler Blvd, just North of 38th Street.

What was your inspiration to host concerts in your living room?

Back in 2002 I wanted to go see the Smithereens at the Rib Fest, but couldn’t make it. I went online to see if they were playing anywhere close and saw that their lead singer and songwriter, Pat Dinizio, were doing Living Room concerts. We thought that was interesting so I dropped him an email and got a call back in 15 minutes. Before I knew it, we had a House concert scheduled. It was really a great show and exciting for us because Pat spent the night, and we’ve become good friends since.

It was in the back of our minds to do it again, but with the kids in high school, it was difficult to pull off. Forward to 2008, the kids in college, we thought about hosing another when we saw Jim Bianco playing at Radio Radio here in town. We loved his music and he seemed perfect for a house concert, so we talked after the show and he agreed. He called when he was planning his tour and worked us in. That’s when I got the idea for a series and came up with the name Kessler House. This time we are more organized, I created a web site and sell tickets online through Google Checkout.

The big plus for us is not just have great music to share with friends, but the “Rock and Roll Bed and Breakfast” aspect. We love musicians and really enjoyed getting to know them personally.

What does your wife think about it?

It is something we agreed to do together. We both seek out new artists and approach people we both like. I do most of the interfacing with the public, but Janey really enjoys coordinating the food and drink for guests and the artist. She is a phenomenal cook and I think the artists enjoy a home-cooked meal out on the road. She served Ari and his band a large, home-made chicken pot pie. She’s amazing.

You have some local sponsors. Is that how you provide all the food and beverages?

It certainly helps. Kahn’s Fine Wines & Spirits give us a generous discount on beer and wine. (All readers, please visit and thank them for sponsoring the Kessler House Concert Series.) Party Time Rental discounts the chairs for us. (Ditto). Without their help, we couldn’t do this.

Was it easy getting sponsors to get involved with this awesome concept?

These two were great to work with. We have tried food sponsors with no luck.

How many can you fit for any given show?

At first it was 60, then 65. The Cracker show had 70. Lots of interest, but I don’t want it so crowded that intimate becomes uncomfortable.

What is the most anticipated show you have had?

Cracker. Sold out in 4 days

Give me a list of some of the acts you have had.

Jim Bianco. If you don’t know him, check him out, he’s great. Pat Dinizio came back in May of 2008. Ari Hest played in August, the back again for two nights last weekend. David Lowery and Johnny Hickman of Cracker played in February.

How long have you need doing this, by the way?

Besides the 2002 show, we started the series in 2008.

I noticed some dogs walking around. Do they have to pay for entrance?

Only if they bring their bitches.

Have you ever had any issues with strangers coming into your home?

Not at all.

Who cleans the bathroom after these shows?

Clean up is pretty easy, never even had wine split.

What inspires your selection process?

We go after bands we like. We want artists who have a national reputation so we don’t have to work so hard promoting the shows. A lot of our ticket buyers find us through the artist’s website.

Who gets to pick? You or your wife?

The criteria is we both have to like them. We’d like to get a woman artist next, if it works out.

How many shows do you do a year?

3 or 4 is the most we want to do.

Where can I learn more about the shows you have coming up?

We have nothing planned right now, working on a few things. I send to the mailing list with news. Go to to sign up and get info on upcoming and past shows.

What would your dream concert be?

Elvis Costello. For Janey, Ingrid Michaelson.

Do you go to shows outside of your living room?

We go to a lot of shows in and out of town. I get a little tired of people talking so much in clubs. I don’t understand why they pay to get in and then talk over the music. The musicians deserve better. I think that’s why they enjoy playing here, the audience REALLY listens.

Have you had very much media coverage for this concept?

It’s been pretty good, better than I ever would have thought. NUVO did a story on House concerts in general and featured us. There was a good article in the Star last weekend.

Any plans for expanding to a larger venue?

Not unless we buy a bigger house. I suppose we could move it into the yard if we can convince U2 to come over.

Perhaps a remodel on your house?

Hmm…don’t think I could sell that one to the boss.

Your house seems to have been built for acoustics. Do you ever use a PA?

We usually use a PA, but for the last show, Ari decided not to use it. He is wise, the acoustics are perfect. If the architect were still alive, I would thank him.

How long do you think you will continue to host shows like this?

As long as we can get the artists we want we’ll keep going. We won’t have shows just to have shows, they have to be special for us.

Anything else I need to know about the Kessler House?

We are fortunate we are able to do this and have the support of music fans and people like you who are fanning the flames of independent music. I wish we could get broadcast radio to support it, but we’ll do our best to keep it alive.