Goemon5: The Celtic Ninja
live songwriter music
Hosting a House Concert

House concerts are awesome. They celebrate the wonderful art of independent acoustic music, and give you a chance to show off your own living environment to cool peeps that love music as much as you do.

Most musicians travel because they love bringing their art to the audience. House concerts can go a long way for touring artists to pay for travel expenses, arrange for shelter and nutrition.

What's needed for a House Concert?

Above all you'll require some friends that enjoy live music, a large indoor space (or roofed outdoor space, if you want to invite me to your garden party), and seats. Some people have grand living rooms, and plenty of chairs, cushions and overly comfortable carpets, which may be enough to host twenty to sixty folks. I play a decent list of upbeat tunes for the dancing folks, but you should be able to seat peeps nonetheless.

Sound Equipment.

My personal favourite way is to shred it unplugged, and smaller venues will vibe with those intimate acoustics. If your stage room is very spacious, you will need a power amplifier, since I don't travel with that kind of equipment. In any case the space must be arranged so your guests can enjoy the concert as you would any show, with full attention and few distractions.

Social Stuff.

Please mind the difference between 'house concert' and 'house party'. I am a charming toss-up between singer and songwriter, playing a Celtic-inspired mixture of traditional sadness and upbeat joy. Other artists lean to different sides of the spectrum, and clearing this up is one of your most vital jobs as a host. House concerts often turn into parties when the show is finished, but the actual concert is attended with the same intention that would be had when going to a theatre. An actual house concerts allows the audience to bath in the poetry and acoustic magic of the performers. For this to happen you will need to set the tone accordingly.

Many lads and lassies have a tendency to drink and socialise during a performance. That's what happens in pubs, and it's OK as long as the musical defilers are spatially separated from the music-lovers.

Before and After.

As a musical host it is upon you to set aside a space for guests to store their snacks/treats/drinks. Ideally, set up some plates, bowls, mugs or whatever else guests may store their foods in. Munching chips during a show is cool; rustling plastic bags is not.

You will also want to organize a merch table and a space for artists and guests to meet. Most artists have CDs and other merchandise for sale or available against donation. Please let your guests know that artists will be selling their CD's at your show, as many first timers often won't know to bring a few extra bucks for this and be disappointed.


Structure of the Evening.

How you structure the evening is up to you. Mostly, hosts will open their doors an hour before the show, around 6 or 7 P.M. That gives your guests time to mix and mingle, and find their most favourite seat.
A typical performance consists of two sets, with about 45 minutes each. The intermission provides time for artists and audience to converse, stuff up on food supplies, relax their weary bodies, and socialize with all the friends they have not yet met.

Business.

Payment is a matter of negotiation between the host and the artist, and in keeping with the spirit of house concerts, takes the form of a simple verbal agreement. The artist and host can either agree upon a set fee for the act, or agree to 'donations' from guests. This works the same way as people bringing drinks or a plate of food to contribute to the evening, and they should be made aware of this as part of the invitation.

In general, house concerts work best when audience numbers are within the range of 30-60 people and each guest contributes in the order of $15-$25.


Now you know as much about hosting a house concert as I do. If you have the space and the friends, go ahead and hit up your most favourite artists with your request for hosting their music in your private space.

I am indebted to the wonderful David Ross McDonald and Ian Sherwood, who inspired and shaped this one-pager of house-concert reference.


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