"What Is A House Concert?
(And How Do I Host One For Lissa And Her Band?)"
"We recently hosted a house concert featuring Lissa and her band. It seemed at first like it might be a daunting task, wondering if we could network enough to fill the house. Well as it turned out we had standing room only and the night was probably the most memorable experience we have ever shared with our neighbors and friends. Sixty people filled our home all of varied ages. Not one person left without a smile and a comment about what a fun evening they had. More than one person commented that they felt a sense of old fashioned community and went home feeling happy!" --Marion Scalici
"As a house concert host, I really enjoy exposing people to beautiful music right here in my living room. In my opinion, there really is no more relaxing setting than your own home for listening to live music performances, and seeing that your friends and neighbors are enjoying it too is a real bonus." -- Mark Rush
People are always asking about house concerts- either because they want to attend one and they are not sure what to expect, or because they are considering hosting one themselves. Lissa and her band are always looking for new house concerts to play, so whether you have an established series, or are a first timer please let us know- we’d love to come and play at your house!
A house concert is a fun and informal way of getting to hear music that you really enjoy. It is a cross between a party with all your friends and relatives, and a concert with your favorite musicians. Generally speaking, here are the typical details for an average house concert-
between 40 and 60 people, depending on how many you think your living room will comfortably hold
usually a $10 donation, all proceeds typically go to the band
Most house concert hosts don't want to give their street address out over the internet, or in any advertising. Instead, they usually advertise the town and a phone number or e mail address that people can contact to make reservations. Then when a potential audience member contacts you about the concert, you can see who it is before giving out directions to your house. It might seem like an unnecessary or useless precaution, but it is how most house concerts are run. You don't have to take any ticket money in advance, but you certainly can if you want to. Taking money in advance really insures that all the people who made reservations actually show up. If the house concert is sold out ahead of time (enough people have called that you've reached the full capacity of your living room) its customary to take names down to put on a waiting list, in case of last minute cancellations.
as long as any normal concert- two 45 minute sets, with an intermission in the middle
if you don't have enough chairs for everyone, it is common to ask your audience members to bring their own folding/garden chairs/pillows to sit on and make themselves comfortable
house concerts are often totally acoustic, although sometimes the musicians might bring along or request a mic to help amplify the vocals a little
house concert hosts will often provide snacks for their guests during intermission. If that's too much work, it’s common to have potluck desserts, and have your friends all contribute something. Some house concerts will invite everyone over for a potluck dinner before the show. It is great to at least offer a simple dinner for the musicians before they play, whether it’s part of a pre-concert potluck or not.
the musicians typically want to sell their CDs during the intermission and after the show, usually they're around $15 each, and its best to set them up near the door, or near a central traffic area so everyone can see them and know they're for sale (setting them up near the desserts works well too!) :) If you have a friend who wants to sit with the CDs and help sell them, that's great, but not absolutely necessary.
Sometimes the host might advertise an open jam session for all other interested musicians, either before or after the concert. This can be a really fun way to get to know everyone, and a nice way to end the evening. Its best to check with the hired musicians ahead of time, if you're thinking of doing this, since in some cases the band might be totally exhausted after the show.
The musicians might be interested in doing a workshop/concert combination. Some sort of fiddle, guitar, bass, etc workshop during the day, before the concert. This can be a great way of making it more of an "event", a way of getting more people interested, and a nice way of meeting other instrumentalists in your community. You can often charge a discounted rate for those people that want to attend both the workshop and the concert.
Hopefully this has given you a better idea of what a house concert is, and how much fun it can be to host or attend one. Please e mail firstname.lastname@example.org with any further questions, or to schedule your own house concert!