Home concerts and why they are awesome

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I’ve had the privilege of going to dozens of home concerts. They have become one of my favourite venues for live music. But truth be told, if it wasn’t for having to go cover one for the paper, I likely never would have gone.

For those who have never been before, it can be somewhat intimidating to just randomly show up at a stranger’s house to watch a performance … no matter how interested you might be. Trust me, you should go.

A home concert is where a regular homeowner invites a performer into their home and then invites an audience, for a fee, to help support the performer. Often the musicians are on a tour and have overnight stops along the way and it’s a great way to put a little cash in their pocket for the trip.

Because it’s such an informal location you can often count on a much more personal performance. Musicians often try out new songs, tell more personal stories and generally ‘play’ around a little more.

Or sometimes they have ‘I can hold the note longer than you’ sibling rivalry moments.

Here’s the four-one-one on home concerts and I hope it helps get you out to one soon. 

You won’t regret it.

1. Buy tickets in advance, if they’re available. Seriously, I think there’s going to be a post on this topic alone, soon. The hosts need some sort of idea of how many people to expect.They have to shuffle furniture and set out chairs etc. It’s a common courtesy thing. But if you have to make a last minute decision to go, still go … it’s also fine to pay at the door, the attendance is always appreciated.

2. They will have seating available, whether it’s chairs, couches, benches … what have you. They are prepping the house so that there are (hopefully) enough seats. And if you show up at just the right time of ‘not too early to be a nuisance and not too late to be an interruption’ you can lay claim to a seat on the couch, that’s totally okay. If you’re a little late and it’s full you might find yourself sitting on the stairs, but that’s okay too, it’s casual.

2. Parking. It’s a residential location, so it’s possible parking is going to be interesting. Be prepared to park down the street, don’t block the neighbours and better yet, walk if it’s within distance.

3. BYOB or not to BYOB? Honestly, everyone I’ve been to so far has been BYOB. The atmosphere has been the ‘bottle of wine’ crowd or ‘a couple of beers’ type thing. It’s not so much a bottle of R&R and a 2L Coke type vibe. I always operate under the assumption that I might leave my drinks at the car if it’s not welcome in the house. It’s their house – their rules. *I’ve recently noticed the regulars bring those neat little camping metal wine goblets with them, making it so that you don’t have to inconvenience the hosts with extra dirty dishes – brilliant.

4. Scared you’ll have to be sociable with strangers? You really don’t have to, I promise. Don’t come early, shake hands with the host, put your money in the jar on the table, find your seat and watch the show. It’s okay. There’s usually an intermission and it’s okay to step outside for some fresh air, or keep to yourself, honestly. On the flip side, if you’re fine with a crowd, there will be plenty of people to talk to and the crowd is always friendly.

It’s just like home, kick your shoes off at the door and enjoy the show.

5. Bring extra cash. During intermission there will probably be merchandise for sale by the artist. There’s no pressure to purchase but if you want a t-shirt or CD you’ll be looking at about $20 each. And as an added bonus the smaller crowd means you can have it signed.

They usually don’t kiss you unless you encourage them.

6. The host usually has snacks out. I have to be honest … I haven’t broken the ‘should I bring anything’ code yet. I usually ask, get told not to worry and then end up feeling bad because there’s a great spread there that I didn’t contribute to. So I think I’m bringing something next time – mostly because I love to make food for people, not because I’ve ever been made to feel obligated to bring anything.

7. Casual dress. All the ones I’ve been to have been casual dress. My only recommendation is don’t dress too warm. Because it’s just a regular house, when you fill it up with so many people it can get warm in there.

And that’s pretty much it … except:

8. Be prepared to enjoy the show.

And every now and then an impromptu family performance happens.

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