House Concerts: Whalebone in your living room (put the kettle on...)
We were first introduced to the idea of House Concerts at the end of last year by some American friends of the band. As often seems to be the case, the good folks of the USA are way ahead of us and have been cheerfully putting on and attending House Concerts for years and having a lovely time in the process. But we’ll assume that, like us until very recently, you’re not completely sure what a House Concert is, how it works, or whether you could host one.
We found some great information online, as usual mostly written by helpful and friendly Americans. One of the most helpful and friendly on this topic is Fran Snyder of Concerts In Your Home, and if you have the time to read his guide it’s very well worth it: www.concertsinyourhome.com/CIYH_HouseConcertGuidex.pdf In the meantime, here’s a summary of what we’ve learned:
“So what is a House Concert?” A House Concert is a concert in a house.
“Erm…..” Any house will do, provided it has a room (or outdoor space if the weather is reliable)(ahem) which will fit 25 or more people seated, plus the performers. Whilst this might seem like a lot of people to squish into a typical living room, if you can take out some of the bigger furniture and put rows of dining chairs in instead (and we appreciate that most people don’t own 25 dining chairs, but you might be able to borrow some from the neighbours) it’s actually not that difficult.
“So who can come?” A House Concert is attended by people you invite, your family, friends and neighbours, not members of the public, so you needn’t be worried about ending up with a house full of strangers.
“Do I need to provide refreshments?” You don’t have to provide refreshments, though most people do in some form or other. Lots of hosts ask their audiences to bring and share. Really it’s entirely up to you – just make sure people know what the arrangements are before they come. We’d quite like a cup of tea, thanks (one with, two without)… .
“How does the money work?” Importantly, the audience don’t buy tickets for House Concerts. The hosts will specify a suggested donation, usually between £10-15 a head, which goes straight to the performers. This avoids getting into a tangle with licences and things. The hosts don’t make anything from hosting the concerts.
“What makes a House Concert special?” In general terms, a House Concert is obviously smaller and more intimate than a public concert, with the performers playing right under the noses of the audience, usually acoustically or with minimal balance amplification, chatting one to one, a much closer exchange between the performers and the audience. In Whalebone-specific terms, we will also give hosts the opportunity to choose the set list if they want to, to have us arrange and perform a version of their favourite song, and do a Q&A session with the audience.
“So how do I go about hosting one?” If you think you have a suitable space and 25 or more people who will attend, then the next step is to give us a call (on 01746 765268) or contact us through this website to talk about dates and logistics! One of the lovely things about House Concerts is that they don’t necessarily need to be organised months and months ahead of time, and can be fitted in around our existing public bookings. So don’t be shy – get in touch and let’s see if we can make something happen!