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Advice re. House Concerts

mactheturk 23 Apr 00 - 10:12 AM
Rick Fielding 23 Apr 00 - 12:25 PM
GUEST,Les B 23 Apr 00 - 06:31 PM
Rick Fielding 24 Apr 00 - 01:23 AM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 24 Apr 00 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 24 Apr 00 - 09:21 AM
Rick Fielding 24 Apr 00 - 10:32 AM
KathWestra 24 Apr 00 - 10:55 AM
Rick Fielding 24 Apr 00 - 11:12 AM
GUEST,mactheturk 24 Apr 00 - 02:55 PM
Wesley S 24 Apr 00 - 03:27 PM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 24 Apr 00 - 03:38 PM
Wesley S 24 Apr 00 - 03:48 PM
Uncle_DaveO 24 Apr 00 - 05:01 PM
Judy Predmore 25 Apr 00 - 12:44 AM
folk1234 25 Apr 00 - 10:06 AM
Judy Predmore 25 Apr 00 - 11:58 PM
GUEST,Bobby Rogerson 26 Apr 00 - 04:49 AM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 26 Apr 00 - 07:22 AM
kendall 26 Apr 00 - 11:01 AM
DebC 26 Apr 00 - 11:12 AM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 26 Apr 00 - 05:54 PM
The Shambles 26 Apr 00 - 06:48 PM
Jim Dixon 26 Apr 00 - 07:28 PM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 26 Apr 00 - 09:37 PM
GUEST,Old Ned 26 Apr 00 - 09:47 PM
GUEST,Guest, leeneia 26 Apr 00 - 10:55 PM
Rick Fielding 26 Apr 00 - 11:29 PM
mactheturk 26 Apr 00 - 11:58 PM
Judy Predmore 27 Apr 00 - 02:52 AM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 27 Apr 00 - 08:00 AM
Mini Me 27 Apr 00 - 08:43 AM
mactheturk 27 Apr 00 - 08:54 AM
Rick Fielding 27 Apr 00 - 11:47 AM
GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 27 Apr 00 - 12:33 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 27 Apr 00 - 12:35 PM
GUEST,Fortunato 27 Apr 00 - 12:47 PM
Mini Me 27 Apr 00 - 12:49 PM
GUEST,Phil Cooper 27 Apr 00 - 08:03 PM
Alice 28 Apr 00 - 10:14 AM
KathWestra 28 Apr 00 - 11:17 AM
Wesley S 28 Apr 00 - 11:55 AM
Crowhugger 28 Apr 00 - 12:31 PM
KathWestra 28 Apr 00 - 12:39 PM
GUEST,Phil Cooper 28 Apr 00 - 01:21 PM
richardw 28 Apr 00 - 07:29 PM
Rick Fielding 29 Apr 00 - 01:22 AM
Rick Fielding 29 Apr 00 - 01:24 AM
richardw 29 Apr 00 - 11:52 AM
Frankham 29 Apr 00 - 01:11 PM
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Subject: Advice re. House Concerts
From: mactheturk
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 10:12 AM

I'm just trollin' for ideas here,considering my own house as a venue,small groups of guests (25 to 35), non-amplified acoustic tunes, bluegrass & celtic.

Trying to attract good musicians.

Is this a good idea? Anybody doing this? What mistakes might we avoid? What's most important to the performers?

Can you believe this? Hell, a hundred years ago a fiddler in the kitchen just meant it was Saturday night!


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 12:25 PM

Well Mac, a few years ago I got sick of dealing with managers, agents, and especially P.R. folks, and decided to "have fun with music" while still being able to earn my living at it. My procedure has been to contact a folk dj who was playing my stuff (would find them through the "folk DJ List". I'd ask if there was a "folk society" in the town, and then contact the folks and ask if they'd like me to send them an album or two...and possibly organize a house concert. I found I really enjoyed the New England scene (both the people, and the scenery) and now about 50% of my work is house concerts. No (real) publicity, no newspaper write-ups, no big deal...but I've never enjoyed playing music more.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: GUEST,Les B
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 06:31 PM

Rick (& others) - Can you describe a little more how a house concert works. I assume there's no need to use a P.A. and they are generally less smoky & noisy than bars, but what are the formalities - start times, number of sets, your expectations of how the audience should behave, general payment arrangements, etc. Does it differ from playing a "house party" ??


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 01:23 AM

Yah Les. I've played lots of house parties, and that generally means you entertain the folks WHILE they're partyin'.

There are lots of different ways of doing a house concert, but a simple approach might be this:

Will your living room or rec room seat at least 30 folks?

Do you have enough friends who like music that would be willing to pay 10 to 15 bucks to hear a good artist in a great environment? (Trust me we play MUCH better in a non-bar)

Are there enough folk fans in your area who would attend if they knew about it?

If this adds up to 30 plus, you're on your way.

Think of several artists you like.

Check their websites to see if they're going to be in your general area (no more than a hundred miles away) at any given time. Don't book someone if they're playing within 50 miles of you. Unfair to the other venue.

Contact one of them.

Ask if they'd like to do a house concert on one of their "off nights" (say Thursday, if they have a gig somewhere else on Friday)

Offer them 3-400 bucks (which by now you know you'll be able to cover)

Their normal fee may be 1000 bucks but if they aren't working Thursday, their making nuttin' so they'll be happy to play your concert.

Thirty bucks worth of tea, coffee, and snacks will be fine, and if you can put the artist up for the night that would be nice.

Let the assemblage know that the artist has recordings to sell between sets. (I usually do two sets)

You'll have fun (and be a "concert promoter) the folks will have fun and the artist will have made some money without getting "talked over" in a bar.

Hope that helps a bit.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 08:35 AM

Dont care for house concerts as a concept. They are inherently non public not open -discriminating and not free.

If you throw open the doors, do a pot luck, refrain from making a buck for just a moment then you are back to basics but....

I find that house concernts in generally are for the elect and discriminating and sanitized and money grabbing.

IMHO the house setting should be a means to greater openness, extended hours of playing, a greater range of acceptable lyric language and more inexpensive and better eating and drinking.

Some of the messages in the thread indicate also that musicians do not do their best in public. This is unfortunate. Why hold back?

The concept as laid out harkens back to the absolutist monarch on his high throne in his private court patronizing musicians.

If its your bag well then you are welcome. But I would not ever charge money to let people in to my house for anything! Nor would I keep them from smoking. Tis the art and obligation of hospitality. I will not even take up a collection for the food or beer!

Is no place sacred where we can hear and play the music of the folk given us by legacy to share freely? Do musicians have to be comercial in each of their waking hours? 24 seven? I think not.

We need houses where music is safe and free from the dirt of discrimination and greed.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 09:21 AM

Conrad, I think you may have missed the point here. Unless I have misunderstood,a house concert IS open to everybody who finds out about it and all are welcome. It IS a paying concert for the performer-- he gets the "gate". The owner of the house has done a NICE thing, he has provided a place for the musician to give a concert without having to rent a hall and make local arrangements.

I still haven't met Rick F. although I was looking forward to soing so a couple of weeks ago at Annap's Gathering. I bought my copy of "dreamer" from our own Dick and Susan last weekend at NEFFA and it's wonderful! I would go to see Rick (or a number of other people) in a large concert, in a small house concert (and expect to see a concert) or at a party and expect to share lots of songs. I agree with you that it would be inappropriate for somebody to charge admission to their house for a song swap. . . but I don't think this is what was meant here.

When Rick said he plays better in a non-bar-- been there myself, done that and no matter how hard you try, it's very hard to give your best when people have come to drink and not to lsiten. There IS an interaction between listeners and artist and one somehow plays better when people are listening intently. (Interestingly, nursing homes, which can be almost as noisy as bars, I find rewarding but draining) YMMV


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 10:32 AM

I think Conrad must be joking!

"Do musicians have to be comercial in each of their waking hours? 24 seven?"

I'm laughing so hard at that one, I can't even react.

("The concept as laid out harkens back to the absolutist monarch on his high throne in his private court patronizing musicians.")

I think working your ass off for 4 hours in a smokey bar filled with drunks shouting for "Dylan, Neil Young, and Rock and Roll" for 75 bucks, is a trifle inhibiting if you want to play "well".

I learned quite a few years ago that I couldn't "eat" my newspaper reviews, no matter how complimentary they were. I simply decided to try and find a few people who liked my music enough to sit quietly and LISTEN. Being down on "hype" and stuff, the house concert was a great alternative. I think some of my "hosts" over the past five years would be a trifle amused to be equated with Royalty.

One other thing that I didn't mention in my earlier post is that I have made some absolutely wonderful friends from the house concerts, from among the organizers and patrons.

Believe me none of my professional folkie friends are in it for the money. I could make a lot more as a security guard.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: KathWestra
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 10:55 AM

The Folklore Society of Greater Washington (DC) has been sponsoring house concerts for years. They remain one of the most popular venues to hear musicians in an intimate setting. Generally, one of our members who has space for 20-30 people volunteers their home for the event, and provides refreshments (sodas, chips & dip, brownies and such-like stuff). Admission is $7 for FSGW members and $10 for nonmembers. The performer gets the entire gate. The concerts are open to the public, well publicized to our 3000+ members, and announced by our local folk DJ.

These concerts enable FSGW to provide a venue for performers who are less well known and may not be able to draw a large enough crowd for a rented hall. They are a way to provide a venue for a performer on a weeknight between larger weekend gigs. And they are a great way to hear a performer's material in a setting that encourages questions, requests, and other performer-audience interaction.

I love 'em, and so do many of our members.

A few cautions, however:
1) If you are planning to have a concert at your house, and you have cats and/or dogs, PLEASE note this fact in any publicity. There are folks who are allergic. The same goes for smoking. (Sorry, Conrad, I don't agree with you. If you smoke in your house, and/or allow others to do so, this will exclude the many folks who are allergic to tobacco, suffer from asthma, etc. You need to warn them.

2) Work very hard to acknowledge and welcome folks you don't know who may be coming to a house concert for the first time. It's easy for "insiders" to go to a friend's house for a concert and talk only with each other. A host needs to be especially alert in this setting to make EVERYONE feel welcome.

3) Even though the setting is informal, please treat your performer with the same deference you would if the concert were in a public hall. Give him/her a private place to tune/rehearse. Ask if he/she needs help selling CDs or tapes. Provide a formal introduction. Make sure the performer has a glass of water, cup of coffee, or whatever he/she needs "on stage."

4) Treat your audience with the same deference. Make sure your house and bathroom(s) are clean. Provide adequate seating (including borrowing folding chairs from your friends if necessary). Answer questions. Introduce your guests to others they may not know. Make them want to come again!

With some planning and care, house concerts can be a wonderful way to share the music we all enjoy.

Kathy (who's organized a few in her day!)


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 11:12 AM

Hi Kath. I miss you.

Oops, I think I goofed. I just read Conrad's post in the "Alcoholism" thread. Brilliant and VERY funny. He IS joking and using irony very well.

Rick (slow on the uptake sometimes)


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: GUEST,mactheturk
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 02:55 PM

Great thoughts. Keep them coming. The idea was to not charge the guests while providing the performers with fair pay,good food & drink along with an audience that will look, listen and appreciate.

Many of the guests play guitar(poorly)and all love acoustic music. The fun would be in watching and listen- ing closely.

Home is where the heart is.

More thoughts please.


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Wesley S
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 03:27 PM

There is a group at www.houseconcerts.com that offers a book on how to have a house concert. But they want around $15.00 plus postage which seems pretty steep. Let us know if you do have a concert and how well it turns out. Best of luck.


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 03:38 PM

1. Cant we all just play music in houses without collecting money?

2. Many house concerts are not the institutional kind open to all noted above. They are for the most part exclusive and places performers are whisked off to following local concerts.

3. When I open my doors it is to everyone. If you dont like smoke bring gas mask. I would never close a place to no smokers so why close it to smokers. Yes you can warn people that the place is public that night. I have also been known to open windows and never had a problem

4. I am not joking when I say that I would like to see more musicians who are not always selling something or collecting money. I believe that musicans can be ordinary folk who happen to play. I know many who are. I also know a few fine musicians who like to sit back and get out of their professional role break bread with the ordinary folk and to hell with the money. We all really do need to work at leaving money behind.

Yes no one is really in it to get rich- therefore it should be easy not to worry about money every once and a while- that is for house concerts. I would never think of charging folks to share my home or front porch for anything!

The institutionalization of house concerts as just another money making venue is unfortunate.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Wesley S
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 03:48 PM

Conrad - One of the reasons I got into folk music was to get rich - I mean RICH - FILTHY STINKING RICH. Then I plan to retire to the south of France and listen to my Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand records. Now THATS good music. Boy Howdy !!


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 05:01 PM

Conrad, I think I understand your position, and empathize with most of it.

However, if a given talented performer is trying to make a living in his art, but can't expect to draw enough to hire a hall, what needs to happen? YOU don't want him to do a paid concert in your home; fine! If I decide I really want to hear this fellow (we'll say "fellow" for convenience's sake) and don't think he will be able to perform in my town without a private venue, would you "prohibit" me from offering my hospitality? If you don't like the concept of a house concert, don't come!

If I DO decide to hold the concert, __I__ will decide whether I allow smoking in MY home. If I don't want the present secondary fumes during the concert or (to me just as important) the clinging continuing stink of smoke which gets absorbed into carpets, upholstery, drapes, and so forth, I will take that into consideration in making the two decisions whether to have the concert at all or whether to placard against smoking. In either case, that's no-one else's concern. If a smoker REALLY wants to hear Joe Schlutz perform, he can do one of two things:
1) Forgo smoking for one evening and come to my house to the concert.
2) Sponsor his own (smoking) house concert with Joe Schlutz.

If I understand your position, Conrad, you seem to be saying there should be no professinal musicians. Or that if there are they may only perform in venues that you approve.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Judy Predmore
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 12:44 AM

Gee Conrad, if so many house concerts are such exclusive post-concert parties, how do you know about so many of them? And if they're so exclusive, how do you know they all charge money for these informal post-formal concerts? And by the way, what do you do for a living, & how often do you do it for free? Maybe you're a professional humourist, who enjoys writing humourous things here with us "ordinary folk"... Thanks for the free entertainment!


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: folk1234
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 10:06 AM

We seem to be mixing two venue types. There are scheduled house concerts wherein the performer(s) are paid - usually the gate. In some cases, a minimum is guaranteed. In my experience the host(s) rarely 'charges' for the use of the house. Nevertheless, guests may be encouraged to bring something to share or perhaps to informally pay for refreshments. In many cases local folk music clubs like the FSGW underwrite the house concerts.
Now there are also what was cited above as the private, exclusive, post concert house concerts. Like any activity in one's home, these are as private as the host wished them to be. In many cases the host has agreed to provide a place for the performer to stay overnight. In fact host and performer may be old friends. With the performer's permission, the host 'invites' people to join them for a little social get-together, mini-concert, and informal jam with the performer. This is a private party, i.e. exclusive, unless the host announces it over the PA system or posts flyers around the neighborhood. These are usually free, unless the host feels a need to charge for refreshments. A little tacky IMHO.
WRT smoking, in both cases it is entirely the host's and the performer's option.
WRT to paying the performer, IMNSHO there is only one answer, "Of course pay the performer". All of us in folk music reap a great deal of enjoyment from that small special breed of person who will traverse the country side, sleep in cars, vans, and other people's homes, and perform live-and-in-person at clubs, homes, churches, and schools. Granted, considering fees and tape sales, they can bring in "hundreds of dollars' each month! I've heard tell that some even make "thousands"!
We owe them so much more.


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Judy Predmore
Date: 25 Apr 00 - 11:58 PM

Well put, Folk1234. I guess what got me ranting, was that Conrad is putting all house concerts in the worst possible light, by getting the 2 kinds of events mixed up, perhaps from experience, but it must be a very limited experience.

I'm sure the vast majority of house concerts which charge a fee, are publicized, open to the general public, start at a standard concert time, include around 90 minutes of fairly formal performing time, & give 90 - 100% of the admission fee to the performer. And most of these house concerts are a very significant portion of the performers' annual income, & sometimes the entire income for a tour where the performer is not well known, or plays to a small but devoted following.

I'm sure the vast majority of post-concert concerts are as described above by Folk1234, & are free & informal. Most performers don't hawk their wares at more party-like events, but are sometimes asked by attendees who didn't make it to the sales table of the formal concert, to sell a few items. As to being egalitarian & "jamming with the ordinary folk", that depends on the personality & energy level of the performers, who come in as many varieties as members of any other profession.


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: GUEST,Bobby Rogerson
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 04:49 AM

I think I have missed only one house concert in our area in the last five years; and they average 5 or 6 a year. Not one disappointment with performance quality, either. The host/hostesses contact "devotees" by u8sing a phone list. Not a "closed elite"---any interested party can be added to the list. There is a charge which covers the artistes fee plus the costs involved for the sponsor---some cooking, cleaning, boarding and feeding of guest-artistes. One more thing---I wouldn't be inclined to attend one of Conrad's smoky hoedowns; I have an aversion to secondhand tar-and-nicotine---my partner has a real vicious allergy. "Smokers" are for the enjoyment of the smoking minority only, and in fact destroy the options of those who must stay clear of tobacco reek.


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 07:22 AM

I regulary open my home and perform for free as do many who attend. I open the place to everyone. I find however that since I do not offer money professional musicians stay away. They just are locked into the role of patronized artist. There are other roles they can take up and still remain professional.

My opinion is that most professional musicians in the folk scene are becoming more like juke boxes requiring coins than real people. Less like the folk each day.

Smoke has always been a part of folklife. Once you remove the alcohol and smoke what is next?

You can run your house concert as you wish. That is your choice but.... the more connected artists are with the people without money in between the more successful they will be in the long run. I see the poor child in the street who wants to sit at the feet of an artist and learn being locked out by the cost of admission always being in the way. Money can be made anywhere else- there needs to be a place where it is not a primary concern and IMHO house concerts are ideal locations for this freedom. After all the artist generally gets a place to stay and food.

I am not saying that artists need not ever be paid. I am saying that they should become less like coin operated music boxes and more like ordinary people- let us say....folk!

Open the doors and let them all in! Hospitality in its ancient sense should be investegated and practiced more fully more often.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: kendall
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 11:01 AM

I wouldn't go to a concert where smoking is allowed, even if Rick Fielding was performing. Nor would I go somewhere where people hadn't bathed in months, or were unable to control their gas...
The money thing..I've worked my ass off for 50 years collecting songs and stories, honing them polishing my presentation, and I see no reason to give it away. I didnt get where I am by giving it away. I started out 50 years ago with nothing, and, I still have most of it.


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: DebC
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 11:12 AM

Well said, Kendall!! I, too, make my living with music and even though I have no problem with singing for a worthy cause, I think that house concerts are a way for musicians to "..become less like coin operated music boxes and more like ordinary people" as Conrad puts it. I think that re-reading Rick Fielding's post from April 23 states all the positives of house concerts vs. the other alternatives,ie: smoky bars, noisy rooms and audiences who don't really care about the music.

Deb


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 05:54 PM

Ok then dont give it away Just be capitolist first and singing person second.

Look up generosity

I still feel for the children who cant come in and sit at your feet just because you all demand money- like that juke box in the corner.

A most inhumane form of folk music IMHO!

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: The Shambles
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 06:48 PM

I think there is a danger in the UK of our music JUST being seen as a means of enabling professional musicians to make a living (and not a great living, mind you). It is a lot more than that.

That certainly is way that some folk clubs are going. It would be a shame if that were to be the case. There are far more people wanting tp play (and those wanting to see them), than there are places to play.

The house concert idea is not really very common here, it might be the way forward and this thread is very helpful.


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 07:28 PM

I would consider hosting a house concert except that one problem worries me: If you advertise it to the public, how do you know someone won't come who will then rip you off? I recall reading a thread where somebody reported this happening: the hostess finding a stranger rummaging through her closet. On the other hand, if you don't advertise, how do you get the word out, and how do you make sure enough people will come to make it worthwhile?

It seems to me, to host a successful house concert, you'd have to be pretty well connected in the folk music field, i.e. know a lot of people in your community who are heavily into folk music. I probably know a dozen people like that (I mean, people whose names and phone numbers are in my address book), and I bet I couldn't count on half of them to show up. Oh, I know I could compile a list by calling friends, and then friends of friends, and then friends of friends of friends, but that sounds like an awful lot of work.


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 09:37 PM

come to think of it I would not invite those too professional to share! There are many people who want to have a place to play. Sharing music for me is an obligation which comes before money. Yes songs I think came before money - way before thank god! If not for the existance of song how could we deal with the problems inherent in money.

When I have musicians and the ocassional storyteller stop in I generally have the outside in goodweather we pick up the neighborhood kids who come in from the cold of commercial music and find themselves in a new world- which will change them forever- we have inexpensive treats- popcorn and juice and sodas....I have been known to find a quarter keg of beer and folks will generally bring their favorites.

Some folks map on our annual events such as our big celebration of November 5 with British song- Guy Fawkes day- ocasional ren music.... we generally have a sign in list and instruct folks to bring friends and covered dish.

For St. Patricks day celebrations and the balancing celebration of July 12 I geneally have my former students in. Their numbers grow every year.

Start small and it will grow. Just make everyone welcome. Open the doors and they will come in. We have not had any problems. Actually some folks help clean up so the place is cleaner than it was before.

you just have to take time off from the rush to find treasure. The music will thank you and those who could not pay will be drawn in. There are winners all around.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: GUEST,Old Ned
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 09:47 PM

Conrad might take his own advice and use the dictionary himself. I think he meant to object to "capitalism" -- not "capitolism", as he stated


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: GUEST,Guest, leeneia
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 10:55 PM

Here's a point no one has touched on. If you are doing a house concert under the auspices of a not-for-profit org or club, then you need to make a record of the amount of money made from admissions. You also need to make a list of expenses - what amounts were spent on what. Your club treasurer, who has to write a report every year showing what money came in and demonstrating that it was spent on legitimate club expenses, will thank you.


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 11:29 PM

The least heard sentence in the English language: Is that the professional folk-musician's Rolls in the garage?

Rick


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: mactheturk
Date: 26 Apr 00 - 11:58 PM

Good News !

Since originating this thread a few days ago we've made contact with Robin Williamson, guitarist,harper, singer, and master storyteller.

A tentative date of Monday June 12 has been discussed and we are awaiting his conformation.

With any luck, we'll turn them lights down low and listen to the music in the air.

Keep ya posted...


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Judy Predmore
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 02:52 AM

Conrad, you are quite the gadfly. It's hard to resist countering you..

I know of quite a few professional folk musicians who volunteer their time keeping their local folk organizations alive, and / or attend participatory musical events in their local area, sharing their music for free. I go to 2 festivals every year, entirely staffed by volunteers. Many of these "volunteers" are part time & some full time professional musicians. I have learned from many masters in these local, informal, free or low cost settings, & I am deeply appreciative, & I pass on what I've learned to even less experienced musicians. I am also fortunate enough to have the money to pay for concerts & lessons. I have no fear that traditional folk music will die out, because it got "too capitalistic".

Professional folk musicians often spend alot of time passing on their traditions & expertise for free, to their local communities, in informal settings. They don't need to travel accross country to perform for free, or give formal lessons or formal concerts in their local community for free, unless it's for a specific good cause, (far too many of which musicians are asked to support for free).

If a performer spends alot of time preparing for & / or traveling to perform or teach, they should be paid for that time.


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 08:00 AM

good to hear musicians dont have to travel anywhere really but sitting where they are already brought in by a venue played earlier why not spread the goodness.

yes there are artists who do lots of stuff for free one of our local festivals is entirely free..

but that is one exception in the larger landscape

I also note that in many of the festivals free and otherwise it is common practice for musicians to hide with each other behind fences and far away from the public. Perhaps so they will not play more than arranged but surely not so that they can communicate with the people. Many musicians play and then leave immediately.

For me the concept of the festival is to be centered on spreading the tradition one on one and networking and leveling experience.

I am of course glad for every moment a musician shares with the public. But this is not the attitude conveyed by the nature of the house concerts described here.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Mini Me
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 08:43 AM

Dear Mac, I've put on a number of house concerts ,here in Rochester , New York and would be happy to share a number of ideas and experiences. Too much to list. Call me at work if you like : 1-800-934-6267 ext. 3671

Mike Strobel

I'd also be interested in performing.


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: mactheturk
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 08:54 AM

Hello Mike,

Got your message. Will call you later today.

Thanks,

Mac


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 11:47 AM

Aye Chiuhuahua!

Conrad, it would appear that you've managed to interact on a regular basis with that tiny minority of greedy, selfish, money grubbin' folksingers, who give the rest of us a bad name. I guess in my 32 years of playing music for a living, I've just had blinkers on...'cause I rarely encounter them.

You said: "I also note that in many of the festivals free and otherwise it is common practice for musicians to hide with each other behind fences and far away from the public. Perhaps so they will not play more than arranged but surely not so that they can communicate with the people."

My experience has been that folk musicians interact with the audience members almost constantly! On rare occasions they may hide behind barriers to get away from the odd "fan!?" who is obsessive, and unpleasant.

Rick

Mactheturk! Congratulations. Enjoy.


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 12:33 PM

A strictly private, by-invitation-only party where no money is exchanged is a private performance, not subject to copyright laws.

Outside of that, it starts to get murky. Has anyone had the experience of planning a house concert and getting a visit, before or after, from an ASCAP or BMI enforcer ?

T.


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 12:35 PM

"A strictly private, by-invitation-only party where no money is exchanged is a private performance, not subject to copyright laws." -- me.

FYI that was private opinion, not legal advice. T.


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: GUEST,Fortunato
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 12:47 PM

Music should be free. Children at your feet. Oh, yes. And plumbing, and electricity and groceries and cars and roads and clothing should be free as well, no? All of you anti-capitalists take your music down to the Safeway (grocery store) and trade them for your bread and milk.

I am bored with these adolescent 'anarchist' arguments. How are you non-capitalists paying for your computers and internet time?

How dare you argue with Fieldings or any professional musician's earning of his bread and milk? Without professional musicians and the industry that supports them, you wouldn't have anything to sing at your 'free music parties'. What songs would these children know who sit at your feet, without professional musicians and the industry?

You sit in the soft lap of capitalism, sucking at it's tit, and decry the milk. Juvenile.


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Mini Me
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 12:49 PM

Dear Conrad, I have booked and worked with many professional folk singers over the years in a variety of settings : festivals,picnics,concerts and house concerts. It's my opinion that the majority of these individuals are very helpful , outgoing and down to earth. ( I have seen a small handful of the folk stars who act aloof or the festival security which prevent the audience from seeing or communicating with the artists at the larger festivals ). If you ever want to see the consumate performer/songwriter/teacher and folk musician , then , go see Rick Fielding , the person you have been communicating with in this thread. He is by far, one of the absolute greatest ambassadors of folk music today !!

Mike Strobel


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: GUEST,Phil Cooper
Date: 27 Apr 00 - 08:03 PM

My singing partner, Margaret Nelson, and I have played many house concerts in the 18 odd years we've been performing together. Many of the people who hosted us have turned into good friends. We've done better playing at house concerts financially than we have playing for some "name" clubs that have booked us midweek and then neglected to promote the show. We have sometimes encountered hosts who did not want to charge money to guests in their home. In those cases they have paid us out of their own pockets (above and beyond the call of duty). We've learned some good songs from guests who've stuck around and sung for us after the show. I can count on one hand, and still have fingers left over the number of bad housing experiences we've had in all this time. Thanks. Phil


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Alice
Date: 28 Apr 00 - 10:14 AM

Mac, thanks for starting this thread. I think the House Concert concept for performing folk music is an excellent one. To be able to play in a home where there can be children listening without the smoky bar or concert seat scene is a wonderful opportunity. There are many positive ideas I have gleaned from this discussion of the house concert experience, and I hope more people take up the idea.

Alice


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: KathWestra
Date: 28 Apr 00 - 11:17 AM

I think it's too bad that one person has turned this thread into a debate on whether performers should get paid for doing the work at which they make their living. (Yeah, Fortunato!)

House concerts CAN be good for both performers and audiences. I think this thread was started with a serious request for advice on HOW to do house concerts, not for diatribes on WHETHER they're legitimate. Perhaps Conrad should start a new thread on "Should Folksingers Be Paid?" Rick, rev up that Rolls!

As for me, I'd like to hear from more folks who have good ideas on the original request! -- Kathy (who's always interested in learning new stuff and hearing other people's ideas, even about things she knows how to do)


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Wesley S
Date: 28 Apr 00 - 11:55 AM

I wonder if house concerts are able to exist or thrive in an area where there are a lot of venues for acoustic music already. Lately we've had 3 new venues get started for acoustic music in our area and I wonder if someone would start a house series in an enviroment like that. Do house concerts get started so that there will be a smoke and alcohol free alternative? Why start a house series if there are already places to hear these types of performers? I haven't been to a house concert so I'm curious.


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Crowhugger
Date: 28 Apr 00 - 12:31 PM

Thank you KathWestra and Fortunato. And Rick.

This thread is making me wish my living room were larger with less stuff.

thread drift alert thread drift alert thread drif
Wesley S., I can't speak for the sudden outbreak of acoustic venues in your area. I do know from experience that restauranteurs get to reinvest some profit, not just eat the inventory, when they're near other restaurants. Have you noticed how fast-food chains cluster, ditto for fine dining? The area becomes known for choices in that 'genre' of food.

I dearly hope that the same phenomenon works in Perth where a few people are feeling snotty because there are now two open stages on Thursday night in a town of 6,000. The choice of night makes sense to me because a lot of the hosts and participants are young or have to get sitters etc. and not everyone lives the night life. Especially where people still farm, cut wood, tap maples etc. to live. It makes for a late night when you have to drive the sitter home at 2:30 a.m.

Gosh I'm feeling chatty again...

CH.


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: KathWestra
Date: 28 Apr 00 - 12:39 PM

We have many dozens of venues in the Washington, DC, area, of which house concerts are just one part. Amazingly, this community seems to be able to support them all.

In addition to the house concerts I mentioned earlier, which are sponsored by the Folklore Society of Greater Washington (FSGW), there are at least three other regular house concert series (two of them sponsored by individuals). The FSGW concerts are a bit more traditional-music focused, while the others tend to book more singer-songwriters.

We are very lucky here to have the FSGW newsletter, which goes every month to a folk-music-appreciating audience of 3000+ people who are members of he Folklore Society. The newsletter lists any folk event (not just FSGW-sponsored) whose promoters get the info. in by the copy deadline. This helps build audiences for everyone.
Kathy


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: GUEST,Phil Cooper
Date: 28 Apr 00 - 01:21 PM

As far as advice on setting up house concerts goes. I find if the host is enthusiastic about who they're bringing in, it helps attendance. If you are hosting, you have to twist arms,let people know they are in for a good time. Fox Valley Folklore Society presented Judy Cook a couple years ago. I handed out flyers at the song circle on a capella night and said if they liked the singing there, they would love to come and hear Judy. It worked out very well. Invite about 1/3 more people than you really want to come (some folks, say they'll come and don't show up, others that you've never met, will come) and you should have a good turnout.


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: richardw
Date: 28 Apr 00 - 07:29 PM

Okay, Conrad the peasant aside, it's time to jump in here. We have put on, hosted, produced, whatever, 50-some house concerts, 2 mini-festivals, four workshops. We have performed at dozens. We have hosted performers such as Rosalie Sorrels, David Essig, Tanglefoot, Bryan Bowers, Don Ross, Ken Hamm, Doug Cox, Gary Fjellgaard, Laurie Thain, 3 Sheets to the Wind, Flatland 6, Fred Eaglesmith and so on. The only one we went looking for was Bryan Bowers (I play autoharp)--the rest heard about us and called. We began with folks we knew or were friends and word got out. Some became friends. Ken Hamm, for instance, is producing our new CD (June release) of old-time goldrush music.

They were all given the same deal--dinner, a room, breakfast, 2/3 of the door and good treatment. We encouraged people to buy product, and often this doubled the door. We charged $12 including refreshments at the break (donations did not work). We consistently filled our "hall" with 40-50 people. If it was a poor door we gave it all to the performer. We always took whatever nights were open and left the weekend nights for the larger towns several hours away. We filled in those dead nights that would have been spent in a motel or on the road.

Over the years we have done this (about 6), we have managed to break even (except for the festivals). Originally we used our dining room but I spent a couple of grand and fixed up an out building (we are on a ranch) with heat, carpets, some stage lights, interesting decor, etc. We bought some old "director" type chairs that were comfortable and foldable. We expanded our venue and encouraged two other folks in nearby towns to join us, so we had a small circuit of 3 gigs. We all agreed to book whoever the others wanted, though usually we were the originator. We all offered the same, except Bill.We encouraged Bill to try and show a small profit if he was going to be able to keep giving concerts.

Bill printed tickets, Bill advertised (paid), Bill gave 10% to the owner of the hall, Bill bought dinner. Bill printed posters. Bill lost money and had to quit giving house concerts.

All performers accepted this deal and all went away happy. We only had one or two bombs--and still don't know why. We get good support from the local papers. We send a press release and a photo and two comps. We poster, we phone, we e-mail.

We have built an audience that trusts us--so even new performers draw a crowd. We built an audience and a community--and it was open to anyone.

Rules Conrad? Damn right. No smoking, no booze, no boo-boo-talk-alots. This was a listening audience that wanted to hear the performers, up close and intimate.

Free music? Free to whom? Performers had to pay to get here and live and we had minor expenses. You want free? Offer to work the door, do the cleaning, buy toilet paper, fill up the gas tank, bring the refreshments, cook dinner and breakfast for the performers, wash the bedding. Come and spend 4 hours on my tractor ploughing snow for parking in mid-winter. A few of our regular audience did help and still wanted to pay. They believed in supporting Canadian music.(read musicians who eat.)

Downsides? We have never had anything stolen, but we have someone in the house during the breaks and if someone leaves during the concert they are followed quietly.(We are in a rural area os we know most of the audience.) Usually it's a guy going to pee behind a tree. Guests bring in mud and dirt, so we have to clean the floors of the house and the "hall" each time. We heat the hall with wood, so there is little cost but some work.

Downsides? Who did not support the series? For the most part, (always exceptions) local performers did not support. Some called for bookings and we always said the same thing. Come and see what we are doing first.

Downsides? Paper work. SOCAN busted us. Wanted $$ per show. We don't need more paper work and we don't need a paper trail for Revenue Canada who in some cases have demanded bookkeeping on all house concerts. (There is no profit to tax but again, who wants the paerp work--that is our regular life.) We tried to keep it low key so as not to attract fire marshals, buiness license inspectors etc. Have you ever had a phone call or letter from SOCAN? Ours were always threatening, rude ---who needs it? They always left a sour taste. So we worked out a deal with SOCAN--we stopped giving concerts. The 3 venue circuit is now dead, after approximately 100+ shows that conservativily brought in $40,000 in cash to performers.

There is a difference in doing 1 or 2 concerts a year and one a month. You can afford to lose a few bucks on one or two--not on 40.

Profit? As Robert Theobold said: "Bad people get paid for doing bad things. Why should not good people get paid for doing good things."

We wrote a piece on house concerts for a music cataloque and it was on our website until the SOCAN fiasco. If you would like a copy leave a message and I can fax or e-mail it.

Oh, Conrad--how many house concerts have you hosted?

We believe in house concerts and so do many performers. Costs are low and audience enjoyment is high. We are trying to figure out how to start up again.

Richard Wright in the grasslands of BC


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 29 Apr 00 - 01:22 AM

Great post Richard.

Duckboots and I have thought of starting a series of house concerts Chez nous. There's not a lot of room.(we could fit 20+ in the music room) My friend Alan Rhody in Nashville gave me a good idea however. House Workshops. Now first of all, if I'm ever going to see folks like John Herald, Erik Darling, Artie Traum Frank Hamilton, or John Prince again, I'm gonna have to put in some effort. So the plan is to get a couple of other friends near Toronto..maybe Hamilton or Oshawa, in cahoots with me. If we can offer a wonderful (but not neccessarily commercial) performer, 3 gigs in a row, plus a nice vacation, we might be able to get them to come to Toronto. I'd pay 20 bucks in a heartbeat to see any of them.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 29 Apr 00 - 01:24 AM

Might even be able to get Mudcat's own Kendall here.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: richardw
Date: 29 Apr 00 - 11:52 AM

Rick;

I'd pay $20 to see most folks too, however, there seems to be a price point break in what people can, or will pay. We had a Juno award winner here (whose name I won't mention in this public forum as I do not have permission), who rarely performs solo, is well known to everyone in music in BC. So we thought let's get him top dollar. We sold tickets at $20. The first dozen or so were gone in hours, but we only had half a house.

Next time he came we charged our usual $12, and packed the place to the rafters.

One problem we have found with house concerts is that just because a performer plays house concerts does not mean they are on the skids. So when David Essig wanted to come and visit for the weekend and we put on a concert the reaciton was, "David Essig"? at Pioneer Ranch? no way." Couldn't believe it. We even pulled in one travelling salesman who heard about it and couldn't believe his good luck.

This is not so much a problem now but was at the beginning, so needs to be addressed in the promo material. We used the idea, passed on by a performer, that they were tired of playing "insdustrial strength" festivals. Wanted a intimate listening audience.

In reality of course, the other reason is that often the expenses are so low, (no sound system usualyy, no hall rental, no band,etc.) that they make as much as at some top gigs.

By the way, we have always been acoustic. On two or three ocassions we have added a simple mic just to balance voices or insturments.

Oh, and we take the approach that "a bum is a bum" --which means kids pay unless they sit on knees or are regulars.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Advice re. House Concerts
From: Frankham
Date: 29 Apr 00 - 01:11 PM

I've learned one thing about musicians. You want them to play well? Hire them. You want them to play even better? Pay them really well.

Exposing children to tobacco smoke and those who hate it is criminal in my opinion. This is not socialism. This is facism.

Runaway capitalism is when the agent gets more than the artist. It happens!

Sensitivity to an audience and their needs are the most important aspect of folk music. Without cigarette smoke and alcohol, it would probably be more of a popular form of expression and a better environment for children who will carry on this tradition.

If there are house concerts for smokers and drinkers, please let everyone know so I won't go to them.

Frank


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