House Concerts
Friday, June 1, 2012 at 05:08PM
Kevin Stonerock

"Coming to a Home Near You!" a house concert


(I stole this from my own website...I know...if you are going to steal you should only do it from the best, but I was desperate...)

House concerts are an increasingly popular venue for performers like myself. Hearkening back to the era when music was presented in people's parlors, they are intimate and satisfying encounters between performer (me) and audience (you and 20 or 30 of your closest friends), and a great alternative to the usual way people go out to hear music. They are really pretty easy to produce and host.

HOW DOES THIS ALL WORK? Glad you asked!

A House Concert is a great way to hear good live music. It's just what
it sounds like...a concert in someone's house (not a party with background music). 

Here's how it works:

Many traveling musicians, including myself, are looking for fill-in dates (often on week-
nights) around their venue appearances. Depending upon my schedule, I am not averse to traveling just for the purpose of putting on a house concert even if I don't have another date in the area. Someone with an interest in live music, and a room or deck that will hold 20 -50 people comfortably, books the performer and invites their friends in for a show. Here are the essentials (beyond which there's plenty of room for creative variation):

SPACE -- You'd be amazed how many people can fit in a modest sized
living room in relative comfort (you might also be amazed at how many people can fit in the back seat of a 55 Chevy, but that is another story). As stated above, it's a concert - NOT a party with music - so people won't need room to move around and socialize except before 
and after the show and during the break in the middle (if you and the artist
decide to have a break...and THIS artist will!). Depending on the number of folks attending you can simply rearrange your existing seating or bring in folding chairs, etc. 
Some folks have the audience bring their own folding chairs (but it's probably better to set up your own so that you can control the layout). One more thing on space ... parking. In many neighborhoods you can fit a lot more people in your living room than you can cars in your driveway. 

LAYOUT -- There needs to be a "stage" area for the performer. This can 
be as simple as a rug, or something more elaborate. The main thing is that 
the audience should be able to see and hear the performer without distrac- don't set things up where the "fashionably late", or guests needing the rest-
room, will have to pass back and forth between the performer and the 
audience or behind the performer. The performer (hopefully me) will also need to get to and from the "stage" without climbing over folks. Although I am fairly agile, it gets more complicated when carrying a guitar. 

SOUND -- Depending on the size of the audience, many house concerts are
done without sound equipment. I carry a small, but very good, sound system with me. Whether or not to use a sound system is a decision best left to the performer. Nearly always, I will prefer to use my system, as much for balance and ambience as anything else. 

LIGHTING -- This need not be elaborate - but it is critical. The goal is that 
the audience be able to see the performer (again, hopefully yours truly) clearly without shining bright lights directly in the performers face, or in my case, blinding the audience from the reflection off my receding hairline. Dim the house lights. Dim the background 
lights. You know that Dylan album with the blue backlights illuminating his Afro? Not a flattering look on me. It's best not to black out the room entirely though. We don't want somebody tripping over one of your heirlooms. One or two inexpensive clip-on lights mounted near and ABOVE the performer - and you're all set . You may have adequate lighting in place already (track lighting can be adapted very easily if it's already in the right place). I can also provide some simple "par 38" light cans which will provide ambience and are more than adequate. (I always wondered why they are called "par" lights. I have come to the conclusion that it must be from the par boiling you get from standing under them too long.)

MONEY -- I love what I do, but I also have to make a living at it. 
Typically house concert guests pay $15 to $20 each. If you have 30 guests 
that's $450 to $600. Of course, this is all negotiable. 
Typically all proceeds go to the performer (and then to the IRS). I don't know anyone who
presents house concerts and expects to make money on the deal. It has to 
be for the love of the music. Sort this out with the performer in advance to 
avoid misunderstandings. If you are concerned about being socially responsible, if you hire me, I can assure you that all of the proceeds will go to help a needy person who lives in East Central Indiana. 

REFRESHMENTS -- Most sponsors provide light refreshments; some en-
courage guests to bring something to share as well 
and some make it a full-fledged "pot luck" before or after the show. Cheapskates like me let them fend for themselves. 

AUDIENCE -- The audience will be drawn mainly from your network of friend's
and acquaintances. The important thing is that you take reservations 
and ask those who express interest to commit to attending since seating is limited
and the performer needs a decent turnout to make it worthwhile.

If you're in the right place and can make your house and your
friends available on a date that suits the performer's schedule, (again, hopefully moi), we can have a great time centered around some original acoustic music and plenty of groaners and one-liners from me. I take performing very seriously and will bend over backwards (a little ways, at least) to give your guests an enjoyable and memorable concert experience. 

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