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House Concerts, SONGWRITING WORKSHOPs & Private Party Info...
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Bob Livingston LOVES to play House Concerts. Everything to need to know about having your own is here...
Have you ever wanted to have a house concert or private party with your favorite musician/s right in your own home? And would you like Bob Livingston solo, duo, trio or with a band to play just for you and your guests? Read on...we can walk you through the booking process, help you set it up and give you pointers on the entire process -- it's easy as pie!
You might even be wondering, “What IS a house concert?”
Here's the quick low-down:
A House Concert is a concert hosted in a private space (a house, apartment or community room are all common venues) as opposed to being held in a normal public venue (like a bar or coffeehouse). Beyond that broad distinction, there are no hard rules for what constitutes a house concert. These events are fun, memorable and a growing national trend. American Airlines and CNN have both done stories about it.
Bob can play your House Concert solo, duo, trio or with a full band -- it all depends on how big you want to make it! Bob plays about 75% of the house concerts he does solo. He's a real pro at that and can cary the night by himself: Songs, stories & hot licks!
Depending on the available space (and comfort level of the host), house concerts vary quite a bit in size and scope, from a dozen people in a small living room, 30 people in a Yoga studio, 50 people in a basement, or 250 people in a large backyard. 40 - 60 people in a medium-to-large living room is about average. You do want to make sure there is adequate seating for your guests – whether that means gathering all the chairs from around your house, renting or buying folding chairs, or asking guests to bring lawn or folding chairs, cushions and blankets.
Sound reinforcement (PA)
Sometimes the show is completely acoustic: unplugged and un-amplified. Depending on the space, once you start getting larger than 25 or 30 people, you should probably think about having a small PA system to help supplement the natural acoustics. On the other hand, if the acoustics are good, Bob has played without a PA system - he can project! But an audience of 30 or more usually requires a PA. If you do not have a PA, Bob can provide one, but all of this needs to be discussed well in advance of the show. Also, some guests may have a hard time discerning lyrics in quieter songs without amplification. You’d be amazed how much sound can be absorbed in a comfy living room – or how an echo-y room can muddle the words!
As host, what do you do?
Often, house concerts are BYOB and involve a pot-luck dinner or hors d’oeuvres. There is usually 30-60 minutes between when doors open and when the music starts. This allows for quick catching up with friends, pouring + sipping of wine! You can also decide to have a "pot luck" and have the party start about an hour before showtime. When there is a critical mass in attendance, or when “start time” rolls around, the concert commences...
Bob usually plays two 45-minute sets with a short potty/cookie/pie & refreshment break in the middle. Shorter or longer sets are easily accommodated as well. He is happy to play whichever of his songs you’d like to hear most. Although Bob usually performs all original material, he sometimes plays some cover songs, usually in the second set and invites the audience to sing along.
Here’s what is wonderful and unique about house concerts: there’s no vast separation dividing the artist from the audience. Everyone is in the same room together – sharing, listening, connecting. There are certain songs that only work in this sort of setting, as well as a bunch of stories behind the songs artists are only comfortable sharing in this intimate sort of setting. Bob is a GREAT storyteller too!
In general, there’s something very real and tangible and human about the whole set-up that can be very moving and touching, inspiring and invigorating. And that goes for the performers as much as for any listener. Perhaps even more so.
Getting People to Show Up...
Enthusiastic word of mouth is by far the most effective way to get folks to come to a house concert you are hosting. Share CDs with your friends, talk up the event and the experience of her quirky humor, and urge folks to visit Bob’s website to read his bio, watch some video & check out the tunes. We have plenty of promotional materials available (photos, quotes, and other stuff – even an e-flyer you can download! – in the EPK section of the site) to help you put together an enticing invitation to send or e-mail to your friends and family and co-workers. If you’re excited about the house concert, spread that excitement among your friends. They’ll be intrigued...
It’s our job to win them over once they’re there — it’s your job to make them curious enough to give the house concert experience a try.
One note: it’s important to make sure, in the promotional process, that your guests understand that this will be a house concert, not a house party that has some music going on in the background. This is a listening experience and Bob will get the audience's attention, there is no doubt!
It’s usually a good idea to have an RSVP system in place to get some idea of how many folks to expect – especially if there’s a second tier of people you’d like to invite. Some folks use Facebook events, Paperless Post, Evite.com, or other invitation sites to keep track of their guest list. That seems to be a pretty good system.
Also, unless you’re uncomfortable with it, we will post the house concert date on our website schedule (we do not publish private street addresses unless given permission) and ask that people interested in attending contact the host via e-mail (or your preferred method of contact) for more specific details and to RSVP. This way, you maintain control over to whom you are opening your home and how many people you’re inviting in through your front door.
$$$ Money Money Money $$$
Typically, the host collects a suggested donation from the guests, either at the door (upon entry) or during the break. Many house concerts require payment in advance – either at a previous concert or via Paypal or a check in the mail. This helps when many people reserve a seat but don’t attend. The host and/or artist can’t be expected to fill those seats at the last moment – but they often would have been able to “sell the seats” if they weren’t already reserved. The suggested amount ranges from between $15 to $25 per person, with $15 or $20 being pretty typical. We tend to leave it up to the host (since you know the invitee list and the local market) to know much is an appropriate amount to ask of the concert attendees.
It is not required, but some hosts also pass a "tip jar" once or twice during the concert, usually at the break. If you are not comfortable with this aspect, please inform us before Bob arrives.
We will never begrudge any guests who are unable, or choose not to, contribute. We know that at times, it seems it will be awkward to be explicit about money with your guests, but we’ve found it’s best to just be as up-front and clear as possible from the start – everyone seems to receive it just fine. It is actually much less awkward when guests know what to expect from the start. For instance, state it from the beginning (in invitations, etc) that there’s an expectation money will be involved in a more formal way than “passing the hat to help pay for gas.” Having the money basket and email sign-up sheet at the door is a good idea, and it actually seems to make things less awkward.
We don’t always ask house concert hosts for a guaranteed minimum, but we sometimes do – depending on travel or risk involved. In any case, it’s a really good idea to discuss with us if you think the attendance will be fewer than 25 people, as that may help us to decide what other gigs we may or may not need to accept on that leg of a tour.
IF YOU RECEIVE A CONTRACT from Bob or Bob's agent, please don’t be intimidated! Many artists have one standard contract that goes to all venues and/or hosts, whether the show is at a festival or in a living room. Don’t be afraid to call or e-mail back, saying, “I’m happy to provide this part of the hospitality but not this other… or I don’t think I can provide these particular items on the technical rider…” etc. The contract is just a starting point for negotiation and to let a venue know what an artist’s normal expectations are. But we’re often flexible on many points!
Once again, it is not required, but many hosts provide a hotel room for the night after the concert. Bob will also accept "home hospitality" if you have a private room in your's or a neighbor's home.
** If you think your living room is too small, or you don't want a large houseful of people, you might consider this...
"Dinner and a Song"
On weeknights, if Bob is in the your neck of the woods, he can play for a small number of guests (10 - 15) that includes an informal dinner. No sound system required. We love to create music in an intimate environment for you and your friends, so please contact us if you are interested in learning more. We can compare calendars and decide when Bob Livingston can be in your area.
How much does it cost? As little or as much as you are comfortable. Usually your friends or your email list pays a cover charge of $15 - $20 and 100% goes to the artist.
Thank you for considering hosting a house concert with Bob Livingston. Whether you’re still interested or able to host one, we highly recommend that you keep your eyes open for house concerts of your favorite artists. Go attend some of them! We think you’ll enjoy the experience!