Last Friday night SONA (Songwriters of N. America) hosted a house concert (starring yours truly) in my backyard. It was a “FunRaiser” for travel, lobbying or whatever it takes to get in the room with congresspeople who are in the position to look out for our best interests of SONGWRITERS!
We took the temperature of our local members and their friends to see who’d be interested in such an event. To our delight we received a healthy response so we moved forward.
Typically I’ll perform in other peoples’ spaces. Friends. Friends of friends or in living-rooms of groups of aspiring artists who are hungry for knowledge, history, humor, story telling and of course music. ( Wanna book me? )
There are several upsides to a music-filled gathering at a private residence. Thankfully, the forum is a viable means for a singer-songwriter to earn a wage in an economy where conventional income streams have dried up. Clubs will have us paying to play (a most demeaning aspect of the current new normal business model), but if a host rounds up 40 peeps who’ll cough up a mere $25 a piece, a performer can clear $1000 for 1 acoustic set (and a little mutually enjoyable schmoozing.) Not too shabby or too much to ask for an evening of up-close and personal coffee-house entertainment.
It’s up to the host, by the way, to curate (and vet) their crowd...and be careful not to reach out to anyone who might sue them if after a couple of glasses of chardonnay they accidentally stroll into the pool.😳A new group in every venue means a fresh audience for every show so the artist doesn’t have to keep asking the same friends to come to every gig. Sigh.
Being Friday night’s show was a fund raiser SONA wanted to make the evening as cost efficient as possible. We provided the Costco popcorn but asked everyone to BYOB and BYO chair (no party rental costs incurred). Invitees happily showed up on time with a bottle and a chair. We did however decide last minute to serve up a few cheese platters because I mean, how do you go to Costco and not buy cheese?
Moving on…consider the economic benefit for the guest:
The cost of an average night out on the town adds up, right?
Valet — $30 (Hey…this is LA)
An über — $30 (at least) round trip on the weekends
Club cover charge — $15
Throw down for drinks — $50
Buying a few for a friend — $50
You’re talking $150 minimum.
Compare that to $25 for a unique personal event, everything included. Plus my neighborhood has plenty of FREE street parking. So there’s that too!
It’s a win win win. Performer. Guest. Host. In retrospect (and judging from how engaged everyone looks in the pic below), we probably could have charged a little…more. 😉
There’s really not a lot of set up involved for an acoustic set. Stage front was a mixer, 2 speakers and a cordless mic (thanks to my hubby I was able to pace back and forth — Chris Rock style — and not worry about tripping over a quarter-inch guitar cable.)
Other advantages: No clean up inside of the house. Host can be sleeping by midnight (if host chooses to be…that would be me!)
Gratefully, by evening’s end, SONA raised enough coin (does anyone say that anymore?) to fly a group of us (coach) to DC the next time another royalty threatening issue arrises (and it will) (it always does).
Hey, don’t get me wrong. We all love our local Hotel Cafe and our Bitter End. But maybe the part of our souls that gets caught up in a multi-tasking day to day grind longs for a more intimate under the stars experience now and then with some fresh air, twinkling lights and the company of a community (old and new) coming together through…music.
Nice also…to give ourselves a break from screens which we really don’t do in a club. No talk of politics. No craning to see the stage. No paying to FUCKING PARK OUR GOD DAMN CAR. Geez. (Everywhere I go in this town they’re painting paradise and putting up parking lots. Or VALETS!
Just to be clear, not every venue will be outside on a perfect summer evening with a view of the Griffith Park Observatory or the Hollywood sign. Some are cozy indoor spaces where we can nestle around a fire. Or a bare ground floor city dwelling that may compete with the sound of sirens and fire trucks. But any way you cut it a house concert is a welcome reprieve from the daily noise and haste inside our heads. A personal xxxxxx
I encourage music lovers to give this forum a try. Whether host, performer or guest you won’t be disappointed. There are established companies (like Sofar Sounds) which organize concerts on a global scale. It’s just that, it’s not hard to DIY, and if you do you’re helping the musician keep the profits.
Thank you to everyone who showed up for SONA and contributed to our mission. We hope it was as memorable an evening for you as it was for us.
#thankfully it didn’t rain!
This is the view from my bedroom window where I sequestered myself pre-show. (If you follow me you know I have some vocal issues so I’ve learned to shut it down until showtime. Do you know how hard it was to see all these good people in my backyard and not be able to join them? Now I know how my cats feel. (keep scrolling)