House Concerts


What’s a house concert?

The first thing to know about house concerts with Michael is that there is no artist fee for hosts (more on that below)! But what is a house concert? Quite simply, it’s a concert at your home … it’s a unique, comfortable, and incredibly fun musical experience. It’s a sweet and simple idea that has taken root nationwide – from people who host one event a year, to others who host concerts with touring artists on a regular basis. It can happen in a living room, or in the backyard during summer months. Audiences can range from 20 to over 50 people, depending on available space. Hosts set a date, and get the word out by calling / e-mailing all their music-loving friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family!

Michael performs lightly amplified. There are usually two sets with a break in between, giving the performer time to visit with everyone. Michael does not charge house concert hosts an artist fee – there’s a suggested donation for guests, in the $20-$25 range, with most if not all of the proceeds going to the artist. And if it’s a potluck, the food is always amazing. These events are literally like attending concerts live in someone’s living room!

Michael LOVES playing house concerts. If you’re interested, please feel free to contact us at Timbreline Music. If you’d like to learn more about house concerts, here’s a very informative article in Wikipedia. Please also feel free to read the article below from the New York Times.

VERY informative house concert page!

The New York Times

Acoustic Music, Live From the Living Room

These days, the best seat in the house may really be in the house.

By Neil Strauss

DURHAM, N.C. — In more than 30 years of touring, the Texas singer Ray Wylie Hubbard had seen far more professional-looking spaces than the one he performed at on Wednesday evening. The stage lighting consisted of a single black desk lamp clamped to the top of a chipped window frame. And the backstage area was a small bedroom where guitars rested against the wall next to a vacuum cleaner.

This was clearly no ordinary club: it was the home of Chris Elliott and Carolyn Maynard. And for two hours that night 40 music fans, who had bought $15 tickets to the sold-out performance, sat in the couple’s living room and listened to the music. complete article

House concerts, as these events are known, have recently blossomed into a full-fledged national movement. From Seattle to Waco to Queens, more than 300 homeowners have become part-time concert hosts turning their living rooms into mild-mannered music spaces for a night, and scores of performers are discovering that they can make good livings simply by touring these private residences.

House concerts are becoming the most exciting and vital alternative-performance circuit around for acoustic musicians, with some shows selling out in just an hour or two. They attract an audience that professional concert promoters have given up on: fans in their 30’s and 40’s, many of whom shun the impersonal, smoky, uncomfortable late-night club environment and prefer the familial intimacy of a living room concert.

“Part of the reason for the boom of house concerts right now is people are so hungry for community but lacking in ways they can get together with other people in a friendly way that isn’t commercialized,” said Dave Nachmanoff, a singer-songwriter from Southern California. “That’s why when people go to their first house concert, they’re amazed that people can do something like this. I’ve done a lot of shows where by the end of the night I’ve known every person in the audience at least by their first name.”

The hosts of these concerts are ordinary people who like music and don’t mind handprints on the wallpaper. By day Mr. Elliott, 44, works for a computer company and Ms. Maynard, 43, is a schoolteacher. And Mr. Elliott and Ms. Maynard are not alone in Durham. Steve and Celeste Gardner hold a concert series in their home nearby. Because most homeowners already have jobs and are happy just to have these performers in their living rooms, they usually give them all the door money. In addition, the audience is generally more attentive, more enthusiastic, and more willing to buy CD’s after the show.

Though house concerts seem like a throwback to a time before the rise of the nightclub and concert hall in America, their rejuvenation is largely a result of technology. The Internet has made it possible for those who host house concerts to promote the shows at no cost, keep in contact with one another and contact possible performers.

“We have about 90 places around the country that hold house concerts listed on our Web site,” said Glen Duckett, a computer programmer who runs a house concert series called “Flowers in the Desert” in Brenham, Texas, an hour outside of Houston. We believe it’s very possible that there are three or four times that many going on around the nation,” said Mr. Duckett, who runs the Web site www.houseconcerts.com.

There may be even more house concerts than Mr. Duckett imagines, thanks to a new twist on the idea developed by Kimberli Ransom, a 30 year-old singer-songwriter. Instead of performing in the established circuit of living rooms, Ms. Ransom schedules her own tours by talking fans — and their friends and relatives — who have never organized a house concert into letting her play. Through this technique she has performed 150 house concerts in the last year and a half.

This word-of-mouth tour, as she calls it, germinated when she decided to release music on her own instead of through a record label. ‘I thought,’ she said, ‘How would it be possible to do this?’ And the answer was obvious: my fans. So I’m playing in the homes of my fans, and their friends. And 99 percent of the people who host me want to do it again. I now have a schedule that takes me through July.”

Besides being able to build a more loyal fan base than is possible through club shows, house concert musicians like Ms. Ransom also enjoy being pampered by their hosts, who often feed them home-cooked meals and put them up comfortably for the night. As a general rule, house concert presenters are much more grateful hosts than club owners.

“My wife and I just pinch ourselves that these people are in our living room sometimes,” said Tim Blixt, a park superintendent who presents concerts in his log cabin in Wayne, N.J., by musicians like Cliff Eberhardt, Cheryl Wheeler and Jimmy LaFave. “I’m convinced that the people we present in our living room are the most talented people making music today.”

In early America, the home was a cradle of music: there were soirees at antebellum plantations and dances at country cabins with local fiddlers. Before he found national fame as a blues musician, Muddy Waters became a local celebrity by turning his Mississippi Delta cabin into a raucous juke joint for music and moonshine. The modern house concert, however, emerged only a few years ago. Such shows had existed for decades, but only recently have there been enough of them, linked via the Internet, to constitute an actual circuit and scene. Small towns, rural areas and suburbs with no clubs for acoustic music now regularly bring in touring performers.

Most house performances follow the same format: the concerts are promoted through e-mail, phone calls, word of mouth, and sometimes flyers, all of which include the phone number but not the address of the home. Tickets range from $15 to $25, and shows usually begin between 7 and 8 p.m. Anywhere from 20 to 100 people might attend.

Occasionally the concert is preceded by a potluck dinner, a catered meal or, in the case of one series in an 18th-century farmhouse in Connecticut, carriage rides and stew. Living rooms are preferred to yards and porches because the acoustics are better. The concert begins with an introduction by the host, and then the performer plays two 45-minute sets, with a break for snacking, socializing and CD-selling. The only expenses for the host are optional ones — renting folding chairs, buying refreshments, copying fliers and so on.

Some houses are much nicer than others, and some hosts, like Jimmy Riddle, a 39-year-old psychiatrist in Columbia, S.C., take their concerts much more seriously than others.

The night after his house concert in Durham, Mr. Hubbard drove to Columbia to perform at Mr. Riddle’s beautiful turn-of-the-century home. As Mr. Riddle prepared for the show by removing his 18th-century vases from their pedestals and sitting in each of the 41 chairs he had arranged to make sure the legroom was ample and the sightlines were good, his mother, Nell, stood in the kitchen cooking sausages, making sandwiches and heating apple cider.

“These cups are too small,” she said, shaking her head. “That’s what happens when you send Jimmy out to do something.”

With family photographs still on display on the coffee table, Mr. Riddle began greeting his guests, collecting $20 from each person. One was Garry Cockerill, 42, a dry-cleaning supply salesman from Sumter, S.C. It was Mr. Cockerill’s first house concert. “I couldn’t believe my ears when he said it was going to be in his house,” Mr. Cockerill said. “I kept laughing, ‘You’re telling me that you’re going to have Ray Wylie Hubbard in your living room?’ “

But by the time he left the mesmerizing and often humorous two-hour show, Mr. Cockerill had been converted. “That was something else,” he said, clutching a newly bought, freshly autographed CD by Mr. Hubbard. “I’ll definitely be back for the next one.”

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