Ever thought about hosting a house concert?
Over the past couple of years, we’ve had the opportunity to play in lot of different venues: bars, restaurants, coffee houses, rib joints, churches, festival stages, farmers markets, community fundraisers, and a variety of self-identified “listening rooms” (see Sara’s recent blog discussion from our tour). Some of our favorite gigs, however, have been “house concerts.”
What is a house concert? A house concert is a musical event hosted in somebody’s living room, back yard, or, in some cases, a space like a community center that happens to be available. Typically, the host invites their network of friends and acquaintances, and asks for a donation to pay the musicians. Sometimes the host provides coffee, drinks and snacks. Most often it’s “BYOB.” Sometimes there is a potluck dinner, after which everyone settles in for some music.
We recently played a house concert up near Taylorsville, North Carolina, at a place called “Art in the Shop,” owned by Dick and Barbara Sinclair. (Sara talked about it in her blog entry from North Carolina.) We set up on the porch of Dick’s art studio, a rustic building filled with tools, materials, and miscellaneous artifacts that he uses to fabricate his sculptures. As the group arrived, they set out chairs and coolers around the yard and put their “dish to share” on long tables under a few tents set up for that purpose. After a delicious dinner, we played two sets for a lively gathering of about 40 people. In between sets, there was time to meet people, chat, and to sign a lot of CDs. It was one of those magical and memorable gigs that remind you why you go to all the trouble of lugging gear around the countryside.
We’ve found that house concerts never fail to be delightful evenings for everyone involved. As musicians, there’s nothing like having an appreciative and attentive audience of 20-40 people who are there to listen to what you have to present. There’s a really different feel to it when you have an audience of people who mostly know each other, and who are there to share the experience of your music. For the audience, the setting is intimate, friendly and relaxed, offering plenty of time for chatting with the musicians and each other, sharing food and drink, and, of course, enjoying the music. It’s part concert, part community gathering.
We hope to do more house concerts in the future. We have one scheduled for December 1, at a backyard place that goes by “GarageMahal” in San Antonio, FL (contact Rochelle@coffeetalkcafe.net for more information).
If you’re interested in hosting a house concert, there are a lot of resources on the internet. Some people do it as an occasional thing, whereas others have developed a regular concert series. We’ve made a page with some helpful hints (here).