Hey it's Summer House Concert Season!
What Exactly is a House Concert?
People ask me this all the time so I thought I'd finally devote a page to explaining what has become my favorite type of concert. A house concert is exactly what it sounds like: a get-together of friends in your living room, deck, or garden, with live music, and often food, drinks, and conversation. Personally I usually prefer these evenings over public concerts because they are cozy, intimate, and allow me a chance to really get to know the audience while exposing my music to new ears - your group of friends! So here are the most Frequently Asked Questions people have sent me:
1. I don't have a big house. Can I still host a concert?
Yes! The cozier the better. You don't need a gigantic living room or one of those houses on the Fresh Prince of Bel-air :)
2. How many people are you expecting? I don't think I can get 50 people to come to my house.
I've done house shows with as few as 20 people, and as many as 60. The beauty of a house concert is that it is purposely more intimate and focuses on quality over quantity. Traditional venues rely solely on numbers, making public shows more about quantity than quality. That gets old...especially when you're on the road alot.
3. Can I book you at my neighborhood theater, coffeehouse, or gallery instead?
Yes in fact, I often book house concerts in conjunction with another event in the city. 1 public event + 1 private event equals 2 days well spent :)
4. Does it cost money to host a house concert?
Yes and no. There is no outright cost to host a concert, but as a traveling artists I request that hosts ask their guests to come expecting to give a suggested donation. Many house concert hosts have a basket by the door with a sign. They often "interrupt" the performance near the end of the evening, and intentionally invite guests to contribute into the hat that is then passed around the room.
A typical house concert has a required donation of $15-20 per person.
5. Can I book your band or duo for my house concert.
If you're interested in hosting a house concert, chances are you've been to at least 1 or 2 shows. Which means you've probably seen me play with a drummer and/or a bassist. I play house concerts solo because i want the vibe to be different - more intimate, acoustic, and unaffected by the filter of major amplification and auxiliary sounds. House concerts are a stripped down way for me to connect with my audience - something i can't do as well on a 5-ft high stage with subwoofers on either end. For that reason, I do house concerts solo with my instruments, no drums, and a very minimal (or no) sound system.
6. How do I plan this thing?
The beauty in house concerts is that they are low stress. Once we agree on a date, we can talk about a start time. Then you can setup a Facebook invite and/or shoot out emails to your network of friends to let them know about it. Encourage them to bring a dish and it becomes a potluck (awesome)! Whatever happens, don't stress! It's just like hanging out with your friends! You can clean your house if you want though :)
7. But I really don't want strangers in my house.
This is usually a homeowner's primary concern. They're interested in hosting something but don't want it to be listed as a public event. No problem. Simply keep the Facebook invite private or limit the Evite to your network. Usually I'll stick a generic "Private House Concert" listing on my calendar page for your specific date. Oftentimes a fan will ask if they can attend the show. I will ask you first if it is ok to pass your address on to this interested person. If you'd rather keep it a closed event, then no problem. It's your house :)
8. What exactly is the order of events for the evening?
The order is pretty laid back. It's usually great to give folks 1 hour to arrive, get comfortable, and chat it up before getting into music. Music can go for as little as 1 hour or as long as 2. Sometimes, depending on how long the music is planned to go, there is a break in the middle to allow people to stretch their legs, get more food, and talk.
9. What are your personal expectations, Joy?
I enjoy the storytelling aspect of live music. I think the most enjoyable and memorable house concerts occur when a house becomes a listening room. As a performer who has played in nearly every type of setting, my least enjoyable experiences involve playing in a noisy room where there is no connection to the audience and the music plays a backseat role. I usually call this ''wallpaper'' music. There is nothing wrong with music that exists merely to set a mood for an event, but if that is what you're looking for, I will not be a good fit for your event.
10. Do You Need a Place to Crash?
Awww thanks for asking! A spare room for a night certainly cuts down on expenses and is one less logistical piece of the puzzle to figure out while on tour. If you have an extra room, I would love to take that off your hands :) I typically do not bring this up with house concert hosts b/c I know everyone has different comfort levels with house guests. In any case, if you are comfortable with hosting hosting an overnight guest (raises hand), please let me know! I will most likely be very grateful!
11. Ok, I think I can do this!! What's next?
Great! Send an email to email@example.com. Ask me whatever additional questions you have or let me know if you are looking to book a specific date. Let's do it!