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Creating Fertile Ground for a Friend: Host a House Concert
Imagine inviting twenty or thirty of your best friends into your home for an intimate concert with your favorite musician or storyteller. Can you hear the unfiltered ecstasy emitting from the performer because people have come to truly listen? Can you see the selfless joy on the faces of the audience as they are lost in the moment, knowing that like all live performances, this is the only moment in all eternity where these people, these songs and stories, and this rapture will exists!
My wife and I host a house concert or two most every year and hear are a few things we have learned along the way:
First, I must say hosting a house concert is the epitome of Maslow’s concept of selfless selfishness. It is a selfless act to create a venue where some young up and coming musician or storyteller can get a taste of being in the spotlight, be forced to put together a full set of stories and songs, and yet be in an encouraging setting where people are rooting for them, hoping they get it right and overlooking the little glitches that always arise, (that’s live entertainment!) It is also a big favor to a veteran performer to give them space to try out a new set or to give them a paying gig on what could be an off night. Sometimes when your favorite performer is in the area they are looking for an extra gig between tour dates and will offer you a deal. And need I say how selfish it is to be able to host your friends and share an unforgettable night that could cost very little?
Yes, this can be very affordable and yet very profitable for the performer. The standard etiquette is that the host offers the performer a guaranteed amount, often half of their usual fee, $300 - $500. And then when you invite people make it clear that you will pass the hat to help pay the performer. Sometimes there is a recommended donation of $10 -$15 per person, but leaving it open can open the door to generosity and a very good night for the performer. Depending on how generous I am feeling, I might give them all of the donation and my guarantee, but the norm is to give them all of the donations and then make up the difference if there is a shortfall on donations. If you have deep pockets or the concert itself is a present, then you can pay the performers’ usual fee and not pass the hat. I have done this for holiday concerts and one special birthday.
One of the most memorable birthday parties I threw for my wife I secretly invited about 35 of her best friends and her favorite band. She and I got up early to go canoeing, then had a few drinks with a late lunch so I knew she would be tired. I sent her to take a nap while the band set up and guest arrived. She awoke in that late afternoon fog and saw the mandolin player in the kitchen before it dawned on her that her friends were in the backyard, salmon was grilling, beers were chilling, and it was without a doubt the best birthday of her life!
Most holidays we invite folks over for an evening of winter tales and tunes. I do tell a few stories, but I pass the hat to pay the musicians who are also invited, adding to their holiday cheer.
Who needs an excuse to get your friends together for a delightful evening? Truly any evening: a cold winter night around the fireplace, a celebration of the turning of the seasons, a warm summer night in the backyard are all you really need. These are also the kind of parties where you should feel encouraged to invite more than your friends, open the invitation to co-workers, the neighbor you wanted to get to know better, folks you met at the last concert you went to, and if you are really brave, let the performer invite a few of their local fans to make sure they can fill the hat. Always ask for an RSVP because you might be surprised at how many of your friends will fill your house or garden full to overflowing. Have a cut off in mind and be willing to start a wait list, or simply say sorry, maybe next time.
It is also best to do these concerts unplugged so the noise is not a nuisance to the neighbors. Invite the neighbors so they are too busy having fun to complain!
Call a storyteller or musician to find a night that works and a fee that is fare. Send out invitations and get ready to open the door to a new habit that also rekindles the way entertainment was supposed to be enjoyed, in your living room or back yard!
For more information about Hosting House Concerts visit these web pages:

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