You are in a bar. Right up front, because a musician you really like is about to start playing. Ever since you first heard this guy on public radio, he’s been on your A List. Last summer, you were overjoyed to find him on a music festival schedule, and travelled several hundred miles to hear him play the small mainstage. He was fantastic in person, and you were floating when you left, having purchased three of his CDs.
Tonight, you paid the $10.00 cover charge and got there early. A table near the modest stage looked perfect. You settled in. Ordered a beer and some food. You’ve brought a couple of music-loving friends along and promised them a perfect night…after all, you’ve been raving about this artist for months.
Ah – here he comes – guitar in hand. He smiles at the audience and says “Hello – thanks for having me…this evening I’m going to share some songs from my new CD.” There is faint applause. You and your friends are clapping and folks at the next table look over and smile – they share your anticipation.
Then, the music starts and something goes terribly wrong. No one has dropped a tray of drinks in your lap; no fire alarm is ringing, no cops at the back looking for a certain person…. No, this is a “wrong” that only a few people notice. This is a noisy, noisy bar. Aside from you, your friends and the table next to you, no one is remotely interested in the guy who’s on stage. They are meeting up after work, for a few laughs, a few drinks, and to celebrate someone’s birthday. Or they picked this club because it is right around the corner from the conference hotel and the seminars are over for the day. Whatever the reason, all of these people have a different agenda, and they proceed to drink, clink and guffaw their way through the evening.
You enjoy some of the evening, but generally you’re bummed out because your friends did not get to hear this musician’s best lines, best chord progressions, best stories. At the end of the second set, you get up to purchase the CD you want your friends to have – because they really deserve to hear this work – and while you are having it autographed, the musician looks at you – knowing you are a big fan – and says “Have you ever thought of having a house concert? I could play one next time I tour this area.”
Wow. This guy will actually play in your living room. You tell him you can seat 30 if you squeeze in some folding chairs and cushions. He says “that sounds great.” You will now have a chance to hear music like it was meant to be heard. Back when musicians played for friends, for family, in intimate rooms, trying out songs – coaxing a few folks to sing along. Stopping for a bite to eat, and then playing and singing some more.
This worked for musicians during McCarthyism. They sang their songs in living rooms when no one would book them in halls. Secret shows, word spreading underground.
But house concerts aren’t a secret anymore. There are thousands of them going on around North America and Europe, with several websites leading the way. You should have one soon! Find out how, online, by checking sites devoted to house concerts . Several organizations in Canada and the US have sites you will enjoy. You can also search on twitter, MySpace (music) and Facebook.