Cost: Around $40
Time: A few hours planning and an hour pre-show prep
Materials: A house or apartment, snacks and booze, chair or blankets
This weekend I had the pleasure of listening to the Austin-based band “Some Say Leland” in my very own backyard. They’re a fantastic group, were a delight to host, and it was simply magical listening to them outside with friends. I’m a fan of live music, but I often am disenchanted by seeing bands in loud bars or overly formal concert venues.
We came to host “Some Say Leland” when our good friend Elam of Constant Clip Records and Cornelia House Concerts asked if we’d be willing to have them play at our place, as the Cornelia House backyard is a little small for a six-piece band to play. It was lovely.
First, I want to say that you should most definitely give this group a listen and buy their new CD, “Fifty Miles to the Main.” I’m the proud owner of a hand-printed limited edition copy and I urge you to join the club.
Second, I want to urge you to host your own house concert. It’s such a lovely way to listen to music, spend time with your friends, and give local musicians or bands passing though town a place to play and hang out without the stress of a formal concert.
Step 1: Find musicians. Chances are you have musician friends. Start there. See if they’re interested in playing a concert at your place and let them know you may be interested in hosting a concert for musicians they know that may be passing through town.
Step 2: Decide where the band will play. If it’s going to be inside, make sure you have enough space for them to play and for people to watch. If it’s outside, you may need to set up an amplification system. Be sure to let your neighbors know what’s going on and don’t start the concert too late out of respect for their bedtimes.
Step 3: Invite your friends- via email, facebook, whatever works for you. Try to get a decent sized crowd but don’t go crazy hanging posters or anything like that or you might have more people than you can handle. Be sure to ask your friends to bring a donation for the band. It can be helpful to suggest a donation amount that’s enough to please the band but cheap enough not to deter folks from coming. Also remind invitees if the band will have CDs/merch for sale. Invite them over about half an hour before the band’s supposed to start so they’re able to eat, drink, and be chatty before the music begins.
Step 4: Make sure you know what the band needs, if anything, that they won’t be bringing themselves. Thank about amps/mics/outlights/lights/etc (especially if they’ll be playing outdoors.
Step 5: A day or two before the event, stock up on some snacks and drinks (though it’s also helpful to tell your guests to B their own B).
Step 6: The day of the event, set up chairs/blankets, places for people to sit, but don’t arrange it in overly formal rows and aisles. Keep it casual. Make sure to set out a CLEARLY MARKED place for people to put their donations. Remind them to contribute throughout the show. Don’t be annoying about it, but don’t let folks forget either.
Step 7: Set out your snacks and an easy place for people to throw away their trash, get your band set up, and welcome your guests. Relax and enjoy the music.