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HOUSE CONCERT BOOKING

Here you'll find all you need to know about booking Rees solo or with the Conversations to play for you and your friends...

What's a house concert?

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 (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. Curious to learn more? 

  • Watch this short video some people use to promote these great events to their friends:  You’re Invited to a House Concert 

  • 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 Rees can be in your area playing solo or with his band The Conversations. 

  • How much does it cost? As little or as much as you are comfortable with. 

Where? 

  • 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 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. 

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, noshing, and pouring + sipping of wine! 

  • When there is a critical mass in attendance, or when Start Time rolls around, the concert commences.  The host usually gathers everyone, introduces the artist, and delivers the message that this is a focused listening experience, not a party with background music.

The Experience

  • 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. 

  • 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. 

Where? 

  • 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 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. 

The Concert

  • The music, especially with solo artists, is sometimes completely acoustic: unplugged and unamplified. (Personally, Rees always likes to have a microphone to make sure his words are heard over his guitar, but some singers don’t have an issue belting over instruments.) 

  • Depending on the space, once you start getting bigger than about 20 or 25 people, you should probably think about having a small PA system to help supplement the natural acoustics. This is especially true for duos or groups, as certain instruments (for example, the Dobro is a naturally very loud instrument) can easily overpower vocals or another guitar. 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!  Rees happens to be a guitar player who "digs in," so he always travels with a small PA system.

  • Rees usually plays two 45-60 minute sets with a short potty/cookie/refreshment break in the middle. But shorter or longer sets are easily accommodated as well -- for example, one continuous 60 or 90 minute set. Rees is happy to play whichever of his songs you’d like to hear most (provided he remembers how to play them… but, advance notice is appreciated!).

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 and links with your friends, talk up the event and the experience of Rees’ songs and stories, and urge folks to visit Rees’ website to check out the many songs he has recorded. 

  • We have plenty of promotional materials available here on this site (photos, quotes, and other stuff – but if putting a flyer together isn’t your thing, no problem. Say the word, and we’ll e-mail you something you can use) 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. 

 

  • Important: Please 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.

RSVPs

  • 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. Those seem to be pretty good systems.  

  • 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.

Finances

  • 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, via venmo/paypal, or a check in the mail. This helps when many people reserve a seat but don’t attend -- so the artist is paid even if plans are interrupted at the last minute.

  • 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 $50 per person, with $20-$30 being pretty typical. We tend to leave it up to the host (since you know the invitee list and the local market) to know what is an appropriate amount to ask of the concert attendees. 

  • 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 from the beginning (in invitations, etc.) that there’s an expectation that money will be involved in a more formal way than “passing the hat to help pay for gas.” Having the money basket at the door is a good idea, and it actually seems to make things less awkward. I’ve performed at several concerts where children or young adults were put in charge of collecting donations – this seems to ease the tension, and from what we’ve seen, they have fun doing it. 

  • We generally ask for 100% of the donations with a $200 guarantee for a solo show and a $500 guarantee for a trio show – especially if travel or risk of loss of income is involved. In any case, it’s a really good idea to discuss with us if you think the attendance will be fewer than 15 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.  Yes, we know hosting is a labor of love; we've been on the other end of this relationship (Rees and his wife host a bi-monthly house concert at their home in Massachusetts) and think it's well worth it!

Thanks!

Thank you for considering hosting a house concert. Whether you’re still interested (or not) 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. 

Booking Information

To book Rees solo or with The Conversations reach out via the Contact page

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