Hank and I will be at the Roeder Home in Bellingham Wednesday, March 10 at 7:30 for a 2-hour gig. Hosted by the Whatcom County Homemade Music Society. Address: 2600 Sunset Drive, Bellingham, WA and phone number for information: 360-734-7872. It will be great fun to see our northern-ish music buddies again — Bellingham has a thriving folk music community and many Bellingham musicians attended the New Year’s Retreat we’re still savoring.
Hosting House Concerts
Think of a house concert as a rare gift for everyone involved. The musicians have an audience without booking venues or dealing with agents, the host enjoys their choice of performers right in their own home, and invited guests experience a musical treat. This is all in the tradition of live music for small groups of appreciative listeners, a type of community music making that stretches back to the beginnings of human culture. Your house may glow with delight for days afterward.
Hosting a house concert can be as simple or complex as you wish. Performers like Hank and me–and of course we’re up for doing house concerts pretty much any time–don’t need much space in your living room (or on your deck or back yard if it’s nice weather). A space of about 5 feet deep by about 8 feet wide would suffice. Figure a little more if it’s outside and we need to set up our sound system but that doesn’t add much to what we need. If you are intending to host only one or two of these and you have people in mind for your invitation list, here are the basics:
- Schedule date/time with performers and estimate number of audience members you can accommodate.
- Include a “space limited” note in your invitation…get reservations by email or phone if you like.
- Arrange decent lighting for the performers, whether it creates a spotlight effect or not.
- Put signage on bathroom door open to your guests.
- Have beverages for the break–water at least. Snacks or finger foods are optional – maybe ask friends to bring some.
- Set up table for taking donations and selling performers’ CDs, etc. Position this close to the entry to encourage financial support for the performers. They’ve worked hard to learn all those words!
- Have a great time!
- PS…hosts usually get a free CD for their efforts. What a great way to build a music collection!
- Suggested donations are usually $10-15 for the performers. This is a private party so there is no admission fee, but folksingers have to eat, too!
- To be fair to the performers, it’s a good idea to be able to comfortably seat at least 15 people . The upper limit would depend on your space and whether a sound system is involved.
- Parking needs to be considered – keep your neighbors happy.
- Schedule the performance so that all is quiet again by 10-ish. Although the actual music will most likely not be heard beyond your house, the coming and going of appreciative listeners can be joyfully noisy.
If you are in the mood to hold multiple house concerts as a dedicated patron of live music, here are a couple of things to consider:
- You will run out of your personal friend list eventually and need to do some publicity. Friends we know in Seattle who host many house concerts post their concert information (minus their actual address) at Dusty Strings, Seattle’s premier folk music shop. If you’re not in Seattle, then find a similarly likely location for potential audience members. Include the performers’ contact information as well as your own and indicate the general location of your home.
- Ensure that people coming late do not need to tromp through the performance area.
- If possible, prepare the beverages and snacks someplace where the noise will not “leak” into the concert area.
- Develop great rapport with your neighbors.