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Why not host a concert in your home?

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Ian Tamblyn performing a house concert with Anne Lindsay. Photo by Elizabeth Szekeres.

 

“What’s a house concert?”

“The singer performs in your house?”

“Do you have to pay them?”

These are just a few of the questions friends asked my wife and me when we told them we were planning to host a concert at our house.

Here’s how it happened and why I think you should give it a go.

Despite being middle-aged, I admit that I’m too easily inspired by new experiences, which causes me to suffer from excessive enthusiasm. I think the term used when I was a child was hyper. Therefore, it was no surprise that upon leaving the first house concert I’d ever attended (it may have even been during the intermission) I turned to my wife and, with eyes wide and a huge grin, proclaimed that we must host our own house concert. 

My wife and I had never hosted such an event, and we live in a 1,100 square foot bungalow. She hesitantly agreed. While I was excited, I admit that I too had my doubts. What was I thinking? What could possibly go wrong?

Regardless, planning went into high gear. Who would we ask to perform? Where would we present them? Would we sell advance tickets, charge admission, solicit donations or absorb the entire cost ourselves? Who would we invite?

Fortunately, we’d recently befriended three incredibly talented artists, and they graciously agreed to perform. We set them up in the largest space in our home, our renovated open concept basement. We sold advance tickets to family and friends and were at capacity months before the concert. With help from even the host of the house concert that originally inspired us, the show went off without a hitch. Family, friends, and their friends descended into our basement to discover a space that had been transformed into a live music venue, even for one glorious evening. It was simply amazing!

The intimacy of presenting artists in our home amplified everything that’s great about seeing a show at a smaller venue. The proximity to the artists effectively demolished the fourth wall (the space which separates a performer from an audience) and lent itself to a very attentive, thoroughly engaged and willfully participatory audience. The opportunity to meet the artists before and after the show, discuss their work and take home an autographed copy of their latest releases proved mutually beneficial to the artists and the audience, and not just for any financial reasons. It was also a huge treat for us! Our house concert was a unique and rewarding experience and created memories that I will always cherish.

Magic can happen at house concerts!

I admit that hosting your first house concert can be intimidating. My wife and I aren’t promoters, event planners or music industry moguls. We had no idea what we were doing, but we love live music and seeing people having a good time. The great thing about a house concert is that there are no strict parameters. You can make the event as simple or as complicated as you like. You can also make it as inexpensive or expensive as you like. Whether you promote and sell advance tickets for an international touring artist with a PA and lights or present anyone willing to strum an acoustic guitar and sing the favourite songs of an invite-only audience, you decide what works best for you, your home and your intended audience.

We continue to attend house concerts, and each show has been a unique and rewarding experience. The hosts have welcomed their audiences with open arms, and the artists have taken full advantage of the comfort of a home by presenting one-of-a-kind versions of their live performances that simply would not translate in a larger and less intimate venue.

Why not approach your favourite local artist, call up a few friends, reposition some of the living room furniture and make some magic? You might surprise yourself and discover that you actually enjoyed the experience. Just don’t forget to send me an invite!

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