House Concerts: Food, Fun and Cash!
What is a House Concert?
This is a pretty simple concept. A person opens their home to a live concert performance and invites people to attend for a small donation. Food and beverages are included.
So where are the concerts located? This really depends on the owner of the property. I've been to house concerts in basements, living rooms, garages, porches and even barns. The space has to have a small stage and professional lighting and sound equipment (unless it's in an outdoor space like a porch). Usually the kitchen or family room is used to deploy the snacks and beverages. Snacks can be high-end things like canapes or humble standby chips and dip. Beverages include water, wine and pop.
The music selections at house concerts vary but most are in the folk, Americana, bluegrass, jazz, and country categories. Some bands feature vintage music from a specific period: 1940's for example. The band or solo performer will sing and play an instrument....there are no voice-overs or lip syncing at these gigs.
Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade play at House Concerts
Many people think you'll only see local talent at a house concert and that's clearly untrue. While I have seen local acts, many more come from out of state. The musicians usually have many years of experience and touring to hone their skills and some make their living traveling from one house concert to another. These acts love to play to small audiences in intimate settings where they can get feedback from the audience. Sometimes the musician will take a request. It's a very friendly and real experience that few feel going to a large stadium or venue. The performers are usually available for you to chat with after the concert and you can get a chance to see their instruments up close.
What to Expect
When arriving to the concert, please pay attention where you park which will be outlined with your purchase of a ticket (Be considerate as many of these people giving house concerts have neighbors!). Some homes have large pieces of property or fields to park in, while others may require you to park on the street. Bring along a friend or two to enjoy this unique experience! You will be greeted at the door by the ticket agent, usually a family member. If you have a ticket, present it. If not, pay the donation fee (usually less than $20). You'll be greeted by the host (the owner of the home) and offered drinks and snacks, which will be laid out for your selection. The home will be crowded, so expect to be among a lot of people in a small space. You will see people going toward a specific area for the concert, so once you have your food and drink, go to the area and pick a seat. You may be able to sit in a comfy couch or chair, a folding chair or your own lawn chair depending on the venue. Concerts usually start on time and there will be a warm-up act before the main event. Concerts last approximately 2 hours or more, with a small break. When the concert ends, you can meet the band/soloist, buy their music, enjoy more food and drink, and thank your host for a great evening!
Items of Interest
How Can I Have A House Concert?
Believe it or not, there are websites to help you start your own House Concert venue, with plenty of advice and features to get you started. Concerts in your Home, House Concerts, and Gaia Consort are just a few places to look to for information. You'll need to set it up as a nonprofit venture, with a 'suggested donation' instead of a flat ticket rate. Most house concerts only offer performances once a month during a specific period of the year. Make sure your neighbors understand your new business venture and think carefully about parking (finding spots for 50 or so people can be a challenge). You'll need to set up a stage of some kind with lighting and sound. And your promotion of your venue will fall on your shoulders, although the websites above can help you in driving traffic to your events. Find sponsors to provide the food and drinks and a host of volunteers to help you with your events! It can be a lot of fun if you work it right!