Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Hosting a House Concert

In my last post I wrote about the House Concert which Marian Call held at my home, and the fun and music. This one is more about the experience of hosting a house concert - it wasn't something I'd ever done before, and I wasn't too sure what to expect.

On her blog, Marian has information for would-be hosts, and I thought it might be worth while writing about how it worked out for me, as a host....

I had only ever been to one house concert before, (which I blogged about here) and that was hosted by the band themselves, so I wasn't too sure what to expect.

So, how was it?

Well, I said when I signed up for the Kickstarter, and Marian's mailing list, that I might be able to host a house concert, and also that I might be able to provide accommodation.

Marian e-mailed me about 6 weeks before the date of the show, to check whether I was able to host, and then once I said yes, we agreed the date and other arrangements and the concert went onto Marian's tour schedule.

I was also a little worried about whether the concert would be a success - I don't host a lot of parties. I tend to be more the small dinner party type.(In fact, my last actual party may well have been my house warming party, and I've I've lived in this house for 10 years now.)

And I panicked about whether the space would be too small, and whether the strangers coming to my home would turn out to be, well, strange.

In the event, I need not have worried.

So: Specifics: (based on the points made in Marian's 'house party 101)

'My house is too small'

My house *is* pretty small. But Marian knew that when she asked me if I was still happy to host. I made sure, in my invitation e-mail to interested parties, to make it clear that the house was small and that I didn't have masses of chairs - I suggested that people bring extra cushions to sit on, and some did, and eveyone knew what to expect.

'I've never done anything like this before'

I really haven't. I tend towards small numbers of people for meals, rather than larger parties. In the end I decided not to worry about this one.  - I was as clear as I could be about what people could expect, both in terms of the size of the house, and what refreshments I would be providing, and decided that since people would be coming to hear Marian and Scott,  there wasn't actually the pressure on me that there would have been if I were hosting a party just as a party. It was a very soothing thought!

I also considered that while *I* haven't done this before, Marian has, and has found that it is a format which works. I was willing to trust the expert:-)

I opted to provide drinks and nibbles - since I quite enjoy cooking, I baked a quiche, and made a couple of dips, and I bought in some other dips, and provided crudités and crisps (chips) for dipping, and enough wine, beer and cola for everyone to have a drink or two. I made it clear on the invite that I'd be providing drinks and snacks for the 'mingling' part of the evening, and that people were welcome to bring extra drinks or snacks of they wanted.

I ended the evening with more cola than when I started (which amuses me, as I don't drink cola) and with more crisps and some bonus chocolates. There was some of 'my' wine and beer left over, and I 'won' some, so over all, I was 'down' 1 quiche and about 2 and a half bottles of wine. Which is not a lot, even if you're aiming to entertain on a budget! And of course, I could have opted for a completely 'bring your own' approach,

'I don't know if I want strangers in my house'

I had opted not to publicise my address, but instead, to provide a contact e-mail address. Another fan (Thank you, Tamzin!) did a lot to publicise the event, and I ended up with 14 guests (so 15 people including myself) plus Marian, Patrick and Scott. I only actually knew one guest in advance, but the fact that everyone had to e-mail me in advance to get my address made me feel more comfortable, as it meant I had everyone's name and contact details, and could have said no if there had been any enquiry from anyone I didn't feel comfortable about.

I also felt that as Marian is a cool, smart, geeky person, there was a good chance that her fans would be similar, and therefore not so strange. And they were. People were complimentary about my books and decor, which was nice, and I enjoyed meeting new people who shared me interests.

I've also, personally, had good experiences in the past with meeting up with people I only know from the internet, and indeed staying in the homes of people I've only met on the internet, so it seemed only reasonable to suppose that the experience could be just as positive as host rather than guest. Which it was.

'It will take so much time'

Not really. I spent some time making sure that the house was tidy, and making up beds (as Marian and Co. were staying with me after the concert). I also spent some time preparing a meal for us to eat before the concert, and baking quiche/making dips, but no more than I'd have done for any other house guests. I was fortunate in that the gig was part of Marian's Kickstarter tour, so she was in the area because people locally had shown interest in her playing here. I used twitter and facebook to publicise the concert, and put up some posters.I also had the benefit of another local fan publicising the show. None of it was very time consuming.
The concert itself was one evening, so I spent time cleaning up and preparing, but saved time in that I didn't have to travel anywhere to get to the show!

'My place is a mess'

Well, yes, but you have to clean *anyway*, and mostly you don't get fun guests and awesome live music as a reward when you've done it.

'You can't come to my town, I'm out of the way'

I admit that I was a little surprised. Trowbridge, where I live, is not exactly on the beaten track, so I had not expected it to be on Marian's route. Of course, if you're from Alaska, I'm not sure that anywhere in the UK really counts as being 'out of the way' (once you're in the country). But I guess that this is an 'if you don't ask, you don't get' situation.

After the Show
Over all, I found that the whole experience was remarkably stress-free.

The concert itself was fantastic, the people who came were lovely, and having it in my own home was a special kind of 'access all areas'.

 I'd do it again in a heartbeat. So, if you're wavering, take courage, and take the plunge. You won't regret it!


MarieA said...

As a musician myself, I want to thank you for hosting a house concert and I hope you will continue. Musicians love house concerts because they are low stress and guarantee a receptive crowd.

On a "small world" note, I clicked through to your blog because you posted a comment on The Bloggess and I kind of know Marian Call. What a delightful choice for your first house concert! (Or for the 20th.) She is a great entertainer and accomplished songwriter.

I'm not much of a party giver either, so I understand your concern. Glad you carried on.

Best wishes.

Marjorie said...

Thank you for coming & reading :-)

I'm glad I did, too. A friend of mine had hosted a concert for Marian in Chicago, and I thought that if she could do it, so could I!