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ART BEAT: Home By Dark to engage audiences with intimate concert

A musical phenomenon appreciated by audiences in Roswell and Alpharetta for the past eight years will make its first appearance in Gwinnett on Sept. 13 at the Performing Arts Center at Gwinnett Center. Home By Dark is a collection of singers, songwriters and instrumentalists offering an evening of music, storytelling and positive communication.

The concert starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 to $50 and can be purchased through or In fact, if patrons and the curious don’t attend the performance in Gwinnett, chances are they won’t get to experience this group at all.

Home By Dark has been “at home” in the confines of Chukkar Farms in Alpharetta where the stage is positioned above a polo field, and at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. These venues are consistently sold out well in advance, so it was time to share this unique arts experience with neighboring Gwinnett.

The concert is a melding of “music, storytelling and one-of-a-kind ‘ha-ha’ moments.” Founder and leader James Casto, a very successful business man who decided to follow his musical dream, is joined by Nashville hit-makers Billy Montana and Nicole Witt. These performers will provide inside information about the hits they’ve written for Garth Brooks, George Strait, Sara Evans and many more.

Saxophonist legend Matt Blanchard and accordion/piano great Jim Hettinger are included in the mix.

“This show at Gwinnett Performing Arts Center will be our first time bringing that same atmosphere indoors,” HBD spokesperson Trip Henningson said. “I can’t wait to see how the show looks and feels in such a great venue. It’s a big step for our program as we move to a more regional and national audience.”

Success is no stranger to Casto who fell in love with the process of songwriting as a teen growing up in Atlanta. However, Casto became a very successful businessman, selling his enterprise to a multi-national company. When the tragedy of 9/11 occurred, he realized he needed to follow his true love music and in January 2002 ventured out into this engaging new world.

He quickly became a mainstay in Nashville, winning the Nashville Songwriters Association Songwriting Contest three times. Never intending to be a performer, Casto found that the best way to get his songs heard was to perform them himself. Now he performs his “addictive, percussive piano-pop tunes” in 200 shows per year.

The Home By Dark concert is performed in-the-round style.

“One of the reasons Home By Dark is so successful is that Casto really cares about everyone involved in his shows,” Herringson said. “When you’re with them, you’re family. Whether it’s your first time or your hundredth, you’re going to feel right at home. There is a special kind of intimacy.

“The concerts are an engaging conversation that is rich in spirit and communication that we so often lack in our very busy lives. It is a time you can set everything aside and enjoy the spontaneity, conversation and collaboration that only comes from a songwriter round like this.”

For more information about Home By Dark, visit

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at