House Concerts

Have you ever been to a house concert? Have you ever thought about hosting one? House concerts can be a lot of fun and provide some really unique entertainment for you and your friends. Many performers will book a performance in some distant city and make up their expenses by playing house concerts going and coming from that event.

Just about anyone’s home can be a perfect setting for a house concert. You need a living room, den, or back yard, that will hold 20, or more, people. And you would be amazed at how many people you can fit into the average living room. Some folks provide a meal for their guests, others just offer snacks and drinks. And others turn it into a potluck supper.

What you get is an up-close and personal evening with a performer, lots of songs and stories. Guests should be educated to understand that this is not a party where they will talk over music in the background. You should do everything that you can to encourage your guests to be quiet and listen.

While a house concert can be anything that you and the performer agree that it will be, there are a few guidelines to the average house concert that will help you get off to a good start.

FEES: The usual charge for a house concert is $10-$15 per person attending (host family excepted). The best idea is to station someone at the front door to greet your guests and collect their money right then. I have also worked house concerts where the host did not want to charge their guests and just guaranteed me a certain amount for each guest attending. Obviously, it is critical that you and the performer come to a clear agreement as to the exact details when you first book the event.

ACCOMMODATIONS: Most folks who host a house concert will also provide a room for the performer. Again, it is critical to work that out with the performer ahead of time and make sure that you are both in agreement.

THE SHOW: Most house concerts involve the performer doing two 45 minute sets with a break in between of 15 to 30 minutes. It is a good idea to invite guests to arrive about an hour before the concert starts so that they can visit and get refreshments. Following the last set, time should be allowed for guests to visit with the performer and for the performer to sell CD’s.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: The performer should arrive at your house early enough to get his sound system set up, if that is needed, and to help you arrange the concert area. He/she should arrive clean and sober, and remain so during the evening. Special issues should be discussed in advance…if you do not serve alcohol, make that clear to the performer and the guests. While blue humor or suggestive songs are rarely a good idea, if you are especially concerned about this you should be sure to let the performer know in advance.

COMMUNICATION IS THE KEY: The more that you can tell the performer about your guests and what you expect from the evening, the better things will go. The performer should also be open with you about what he/she expects. I’ve only had one bad house concert in all the years and it was hosted by a woman who ignored everything we had talked about and did something entirely different. The more that the two of you talk and actually listen to each other, the better the event will be.

Over the years, I have been fortunate to play for some very large audiences at regular concert events. However, none of them have been as much fun as most of the house concerts that I’ve played. A house concert gives me close contact with my audience and the chance for the evening to turn into an actual dialog in which we all have a fun time. I use the meet & greet before I start playing to visit and get a feel for the audience. It helps me to have a better idea of what songs and stories will entertain them best. It’s amazing how many longtime friends I have made as the result of house concerts.

So, go to some music festivals and listen to as many entertainers as you can. Following the show, don’t be afraid to approach the ones that you like and discuss the possibility of having them in your home for a house concert the next time they are in your area. Be flexible about the arrangements that you need to make, but be sure that both of you have a clear understanding about what each of you is going to do to make your house concert a success.

If you would like to visit with me about hosting a house concert, please contact me at jw.44@sbcglobal.net.

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