In past years we’ve hosted Jason Gray, Scott Riggan and most recently Ryan McAllister. They’ve spoiled us with great music; each of them is an authentic, engaging artist who’s just as fun to listen to telling stories as singing songs. If you’ve never been to one, a house concert feels like a social gathering and a concert all in one. That’s the charm of it. You hang out with friends in a casual comfortable setting and get to hear live music up close and personal.
For independent artists, especially (let’s face it, almost everyone is “indie” nowadays) it’s a great way to connect with new people in a small setting. The host is usually someone who already knows the artist’s music and it’s his/her enthusiasm and willingness to invite their friends that make the evening a success. When I host them, I try to shoot for somewhere between 30-40 people, which is about what we can comfortably seat. I suggest a donation of $10-$15 per person to support the artist, plus I encourage folks to buy CDs.
Ryan McAllister (and JJ Shiplett) were in town from Vancouver, Canada last weekend and we had one of the best house concerts yet. A “crowd” of over 40 people showed up, Ryan and JJ brought their killer rootsy-folk/rock and the audience loved it. It felt great to support Ryan and JJ –I know how hard it is to travel and make a living playing music.
I’m not going to get on a huge soapbox here but….ok, maybe just a small one for a second. Can you quantify how much a favorite song or album has meant to you at a particular time in your life? How deeply you’ve been moved by an artist’s music? I couldn’t. In today’s climate of file sharing and free downloads, musicians of all kinds are struggling to sustain a living through their art. It’s hard to continue making great albums–much less feed your family or pay your bills–on YouTube hits and .99 downloads. If we value art as a community, let’s support it. House concerts are one way we can let artists know our lives are made richer by the beauty they create.
Here’s a resource you might find useful–it’s a House Concert Tips! guide I’ve put together from some online articles and personal experience. So…host one! Or at the very least, attend one if you’re invited…there’s usually never a bad seat in the house.