I did a house concert last week (www.musicadelrio.org) and it came off without a hitch. Everything just worked perfectly. Not just from my end, but from the end of the concert producers as well.
After the show, the producer told me that he wanted me to give them a truthful critique of their house concert and what they could do to make it better, as they thought I would be brutally honest (it’s a gift, what can I say?). I don’t know whether he wanted me to publish the critique, but life is full of surprises.
So let me tell you what happened in the order that it happened. They emailed me and called me days in advance, so that we both knew when I was going to show up and what I needed.
They had a good sound system, easily understood and easy to set up ( and it was already set up). They had power strips, good mics, boom stands, good speakers and a good board. Because of the professional level of their equipment, my sound check took about ten minutes.
The only improvement I could think of there would be the addition of a monitor speaker facing the artist. We are accustomed to that and it makes it easier to work the mic and to play against any effects I use with my guitar on certain songs. I could still hear my voice and my instrument easily in a room that size, but mic technique is always better with a monitor.
They had prepared a light meal that we ate early enough to not impact my performance. The explosion of flatus and eructation during a performance just cuts into the presentation, not to mention the unpleasant distraction of fermenting digested food wafting over the innocent crowd.
To handle emergencies, they had several volunteers to help with anything that might come up.
They had a system for setting up the chairs in an ideal situation for both the audience and the performer and a system for taking them down and storing them as inobtrusively as possible.
They have an extensive mailing list which they do not abuse and which provides most artists with at least fifty people to entertain. How nice.
They had a vacant lot next door to provide parking for everyone in the audience and it was off road so that not one neighbor was inconvenienced by the house concert presented in their neighborhood.
They also had volunteers directing the attendees to parking spaces to diminish confusion amongst first timers.
They had a table set up as you enter with the mailing list, the donation box, a poster of the act (little me) and a greeter.
There was also a table in the concert room (the living room) that was provided just for the CD’s and other merchandise that the artist (the aforementioned me) had provided.
I think that having the CD’s prominently displayed at the entrance would be slightly better than having them around the corner, but this is a living room, so no one had to hike too far to find the goodies, plus hiking is good for them; helps them maintain their school girl figures.
Speaking of which they provided wine, food, desserts and even more food was brought by folks who attended the show, and the local winery provided real wine glasses, I believe. It’s never so much fun to drink booze out of plastic or paper cups…glass, that’s the ticket. I mean, it's always fun to drink wine, but glasses...hey.
So in the end my critique is directed at everyone else who does or would like to do house concerts. Fred and Sharon Munroe really know how to put a house concert on, and they said they learned from Russ and Julie Paris. (www.houseconcerts.us)
If you want to put on a completely successful show talk to these folks. Oh and I have one other complaint. They don’t have me their often enough. I’m thinking twice a year at least.