I love playing music to audiences large and small… in bars, clubs, prisons, theaters, Churches or at corporate and charity events, festivals, country fairs and neighborhood street parties, birthday or wedding celebrations and even funerals. You name a type of venue… and I have probably played it.
The biggest audience (to date) was for an event at the LA Coliseum… and NO I didn’t draw the crowd on my own but YES it was an amazing and unforgettable experience to have 110,000 people sing along to my songs. But singing on stage in a stadium event is a little bit surreal… there is an unnatural separation between the performer and the audience. Everyone just seems so far away… and this is one of the reasons why I enjoy doing house concerts.
My house concerts do however have a theme… for whether I perform on my own or with other musicians and singers… it is the soul that I hope to feed.
Food For The Soul
“Do you know that your soul is composed of Harmony?” Leonardo da Vinci
When I listen to my own soul… I slow down… I stop worrying… and begin to rest… and then… my ‘soul’ tanks begin to fill with a peace like no other.
And, though I cannot fully explain how this came to be… I somehow learned to carry this peace … and let it flow through my music… to help feed the souls of others.
I would love to drop by your house and lead you and your friends on a journey… and through the telling of a story, the singing of a song or by building an atmosphere with music alone… turn your home into a cozy little concert hall… or… a wellness center… at least for one evening.
What is a House Concert?
Plain and simple… it is a concert in a house, usually in the living room but it could be in the garden, on the patio… best that its in the place where your friends and family like ‘to hang’.
Or it could be at your place of work, your favorite coffee shop or art gallery.
Audiences usually range from around 15 to 60 people, though I have performed for an audience of one in a lovely cozy sun room and to several hundred in a large garden setting.
The evening works best when accompanied by food and libations (sometimes provided by the host however pot luck can help create a more interactive gathering). Unless otherwise stated the concert is by invitation only e.g. friends and neighbors of the host and these folk pay a $10-$30 donation to the performer(s) (less any costs the host wants to recoup e.g. Food, Drink, Sound System etc). Now and then a very generous host will pay me (and or my band) to play a concert for their friends. Some people are like that.
Some house party hosts open their doors to all and sundry and this can be a great experience too… but this has its own risks and rewards.
FYI: My friend James opened up his very large warehouse apartment (4,000 square feet) and for several years we ran a kind of House Concert every Thursday night. At first we didn’t know but more than a handful of the people attending but we soon built up a community of over 300 regular concert goers, making a whole lot of new friends in the process.
My House is not that big… so how do you think we could do this?
Sometimes the small and intimate shows are the best… but you may also be surprised at how many people can fit into that living room, or basement or on that patio of yours.
You might need to re-arrange some furniture, move the coffee table to the spare bedroom and push the couches to the sides of the room. Then grab every chair in the house (dining, kitchen, ottomans, office chairs, etc) and start making rows. Your neighbors can be a great resource for chairs too (especially bar stools — which make a great back row) You were going to invite the neighbors anyway… right?
Sitting on the floor works for some so having a few large pillows handy is a good idea… and sometimes ‘standing room only’ can add to the atmosphere.
Just make sure there is a 4′ by 6′ area for one performer… and a bit more room for a duo and so on.
What kind of music will you perform?
I wear a few hats in the music genre department and will mix it up, depending on the audience and or the desires of the host. I share songs and stories about my own life journey… with a varied song mix of singer-songwriter, blues, gospel and Americana material.
I have written a bunch of songs that have been featured in TV shows… most of these are about real life, heartache, love and ‘we can make it if we try’ kind of songs. Its often these songs that connect best with a new audience however I will gladly play a few covers as well as any old favorites from my albums (though you may have to prompt me with the lyrics.)
If you want me at my best however, then you’ll allow me to weave a tapestry of music, songs and stories… that may begin with some tapping of the foot… followed by a sing-along or two… leading into a time of restfulness… a shared atmosphere of healing for our souls.
e.g. Here’s a the kind of song I might begin with…
And here’s a song I like to end with… to complete the journey…
Do you perform on your own or with others?
It all depends on the size of the space, how many people are attending … and the anticipated ‘door take’. I often perform on my own, and, as a singer songwriter I enjoy being able to mashup my stories and songs together at my own pace and these evenings are a little more intimate than when I ‘have to share the stage with others’.
Whenever possible I like to bring other performers with me and with each added singer or musician the repertoire will get a little funkier and more bluesy… and definitely louder. Last year, several ‘big’ house concerts allowed for the 6 piece band to perform… and often, when touring, I will hook up with local musicians and singers and this can be a lot of fun too.
What is the cost of a house concert?
For solo concerts in LA I generally ask for a minimum guarantee of $350 (Mon-Thurs) and $500 (Fr-Sun) and more for each additional musician/singer. Usually the host (you) manages the costs of the event and either a) collects money from attendees (prior to the event or as they arrive on the night) or b) you pass the offering hat or basket around at the end of the concert or c) we sell numbered tickets via a 3rd party website. With a ‘friends event’ the agreed donation amount usually works the best.
I generally find house concert guests to be very appreciative, generous and supportive of the performers… not just with the donations but also during the concert and, with the purchasing of CD’s and other merchandise.
For events outside LA there will be some travel and sound system costs and so I try to book multiple events in the same area… then all the costs are either shared between the hosts or amortized over a longer tour.
How would I plan a house concert?
It’s really just like throwing a party for a few friends… with live entertainment!
Once we agree on a date I can supply you with a simple web-brochure explaining who I am and what to expect on the evening, including a few video links of other performances. You can email this to your friends or use this to set up Facebook event page. If you want to keep the evening a simple fair, ask your friends to each bring a plate of food and whatever they want to drink.
Ideally you will want to invite people that might like my music. When describing myself to new friends, if they are over 40 I say “I’m James Taylor meets Eric Clapton or I’m a bit like Paul Simon having a jam with Pink Floyd”. If they are under 40 I’ll say “I’m your Jack Johnson meets John Mayer or Sufjan Stevens writing songs with Sigur Ros”.
What should I expect on the night?
I am very mindful that I will be performing at YOUR HOUSE, not mine. So it will be important that you ask any questions and or share any concerns you might have, well before the event.
I (we) will arrive a few hours before kick off to help prepare the room with you. Hopefully, when your friends enter the house, with the seating and stage areas already set up, they can relax, savor your famous pizza or a slice of brie on a cracker and enjoy a glass of their favorite libation while chatting with friends, old and new.
It is also important for me and or my band to mingle and get to know your friends a little. This helps us make a connection before we start to play our music. When the moment is right, you’ll dim the lights… maybe light a few candles and have everyone take their seats. You’ll ask them (nicely) to turn off their cell phones and to stop chatting, just like in a ‘real theater’… and then we will begin the concert.
Time-wise… We have played as little as 2 X 40 minute sets and as long one 4 hour set. It all depends on the moment and or the relationship we form with the audience.
Do we really need a sound system?
For a living room concert of 15 people or so, often a purely acoustic concert, just guitar and vocals works wonderfully. For a larger audience (or a noisy one) then yes we will need some audio enhancement. Usually, for an audience of up to 40 people, an additional expense of (no more than) $125 would suffice to rent a small powered speaker system. For larger events we might want to engage the services of a professional live production person; who brings his/her system and then becomes part of the story telling team for the evening. Prices usually start at around $175 on upwards.
Or… maybe you already have a ‘friend’ that can take care of all of this for you.
And… we love people to take photos and or videos and post them up on Social media.
OK… I’m in… how do I book a house concert?
Lets start with you sending me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and then we can chat about the particulars.
One way or another, I hope I get the chance to share some of my songs and stories with you and your friends sometime soon,