If you are going to be doing house concerts, then at some point you are going to be doing house guesting. This is an important part of the dynamic. People throw house concerts for a variety of reasons, but tantamount of those reasons is the chance to get to hang with an artist they admire; to be with them when they aren’t on stage. That being said, you’ve got to be on top of your game if you expect to be invited back next year. Every place I have ever played, I can play again. So here’s some stuff to remember when you are house guesting, and this is even more true if you are staying in a friend’s home when you are on the road. I mean, especially when you aren’t giving a concert in their home. If you are just staying with someone for the fun of it, or to save hotel expense, which can kill a tour. I travel almost exclusively alone, so I don’t bring a lot of disruption into a home when I come. Here’s what I do:
Stay consolidated. This serves two purposes. You don’t lose or leave stuff behind because you’ve kept it all together and you demonstrate a consideration to your hosts for the gift of their home.
Having your stuff all over someone else’s house is like standing too close to someone in the elevator. You have invaded their space, so show a little respect. Make as little a ripple in their pond as you can.
If I can have closet space to hang up clothes, I do it, but if not, everything stays in the suitcase which I keep in some inobtrusive place. Keep your toiletries in a little bag that you take out of the bathroom when you leave the bathroom.
Always clean up after yourself. If they have a squeegee in the shower, wipe down the glass. Keep the toilet seat down. Use the fan. If you eat something clean up your mess as you go and do your dishes. Speaking of which, I always do the dishes if they cook. I also am a good cook, so if I cook a meal for them the day after the concert, I pick up the food, prepare the meal and clean up. My friends feel that may be a bit over the top, but when you are a guest, demonstrating a little reciprocity is a good idea. By the way, I don’t usually cook for folks who are having me for a house concert, just when I’m staying in someone’s home while on the road. If I am there for a show, then that is the focus of the time there until the show is over.
Interact with the hosts. They really want to get to know you better. I have friends who just go into their room, come out for the show and then go back into their room. Remember they are doing a house concert because they also want the interaction. Even when they are trying to be polite and considerate to you, they still would like to get to know you a little bit. I like to spend an hour or so before a show vocalizing and playing the guitar. If I do this I do a better show, so I explain that I’ll need that time, and then I schedule some part of the day or night for them. Usually after the show, when everyone has gone home, then we can relax, but whenever it is, just make sure that you have some time for them.
And for myself, on the break between the sets, I go out and meet as many people as I can…and I remember their names. Sometimes their names go away instantly, so I ask again. Then I make certain that I address them whenever I talk to them again. It makes people feel wonderful when you remember their names. They feel like you meet a million people and you can’t possibly remember their names, so when you do you make them feel special. I love doing that.
The Thank You. Finally, send them a letter, which is even better than an email but email will do, in the days following the gig. Let them know that you really appreciated what they did and when you make a new album, send them a copy. I try to send all the folks who have done house concerts for me the next CD. It’s a nice way to say thank you and to remind them of you and your work.
There are a lot of us out here doing this, and it is important that we present ourselves in the best light. For me, I am always on if I am in someone’s home. Always ready to be of service, bring some joy, some help, something that let’s the folks know that I am truly grateful to be there. It can’t hurt.