Want to hear great music in an intimate setting? Consider your house. Acoustic music of any kind is wonderful in a home setting and all you need is an address list of like-minded friends, room for 20 or more and overnight housing for an artist who wouldn’t think of trashing your guest room. If you’ve given parties, you’ll rock or, um, folk at house concerts.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Find a space
Your living room, a finished basement, a large porch … all of these spaces are great. The artist may need a PA if it’s outside but many house concerts are done without equipment. That’s how I prefer mine.
You may need to rearrange the furniture and add a few chairs. Don’t have enough? Ask the audience to bring their own. Or borrow some from your church. Or throw some pillows around.
Insure that there’s parking or access to buses.
2. Find an artist
Solos or duos work best in a small space. Contact your favorite artist and see if they do house concerts. Ask if they have any dates open on their next tour. Don’t expect him or her to drive miles out of their way but if they’re already in the region, all the better for you.
Confirm things in writing – make sure you agree on a date, time and donation (door charge). Usually the artist gets the entire door. You shouldn’t have to pay anything out of your pocket.
Some artists prefer not to have kids in the audience while some cater to them. Some can’t tolerate pets while others love them. (My ideal housing always includes a purring feline. Hey, I’m the woman who wrote “When Cats Take Over the World.”)
3. Let your friends know
Blast your address book and your Facebook page. Talk with your neighbors. Take flyers to concerts, to church and to meetings. Post flyers at the local coffeehouse and bookstore. The artist can help you – most will put it on their tour schedule and in their fan mailings. On the average, folks need to hear about an event three times before it registers.
Take reservations. People are more likely to come if you get their money then too; it also gives you an idea of the turnout. Even if they swear on a case of imported dark chocolate at least 10 percent of them won’t show. Overbook — just pretend you’re the airlines, only nicer. And with better music.
Remind everyone the week of the show.
4. Do some simple set-up
Maybe you need to move the couch to the side of the room and set up a few rows of chairs. If you want refreshments, make room for that in the kitchen. If you need help with food and drinks, ask your audience to bring them or you can provide them and put out a jar for donations.
You’ll need a bowl or something for money. Ask for a minimum donation – my house concerts are usually $15 to 20. Some hosts just put a sign at the bowl, others like to sit at the door and collect the money.
Clear a stage area at one end of the room. Some lighting is nice.
The musician will need a place to sell CDs and put out a mailing list. A small table or counter space will usually do the trick.
Most performers can do two 45 minute sets but be sure to ask. An intermission is great. It gives people time to socialize, buy CDs and to eat some of those warm-from-the-oven brownies your neighbor baked.
Need some more convincing? Check out this great video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=try-z4-4h04
Remember that this is a house party, not a business. There have been legal issues in a few communities but for the most part, house concerts are thriving and think of it – you can brag to your mama that Jamie Anderson was in your living room. On second thought, only my mama would be impressed by that.