Tuesday, 12 September 2017

House concerts - the new folk clubs


In recent years, we've played quite a few house concerts.  They're an absolute joy.

Where someone has a large living room or a separate room they can use, it has taken the place of folk clubs in America and is now becoming popular all across Europe.  For the performer it's fun because we don't need a sound system and we're much closer to the audience and can judge when we need to change direction more quickly.  
Here's a snap shot of 3 that we did on the same tour, the year before last, in Europe.
Beside the piano in Michel and Christine's kitchen in Orsay


The audience in Orsay


Tom amusing people with his "eggs" solo



This one was the first concert of our 2015 tour to Europe - a house concert in Orsay just outside Paris where about 40 guests arrived into Christine and Michel's house, each bringing a dish of food with them.   Wine was served and we played a 80 minute set and then joined the visitors for a buffet supper which went on well into the night.   And it was the night before my birthday, although I'd mentioned it to no-one but it still felt like a special night for me.   Orsay is a University town so there were lots of international academics there, particularly physicists and internet security researchers for some reason which was really interesting plus I got a chance to practice my French. And I even got our one French song dusted off. 

The next day, my actual birthday, we spent the day on the road driving to Munich - it took us 11.5 hours .. yawn ... but we were still fresh at the beginning of the trip and it was actually not the worst way to pass the day.   We split the driving and got to our friends house to be greeted by a birthday cake and a lovely dinner. 
Supper time in Kanne's house

The next house concert came half way through - we took a day up into Denmark when we were in the North of Germany.  Our host there, Kanne, is a performer herself and she and her husband Jørn have a wonderful concert room.
Kanne getting the audience going

Another pause for food in Denmark
It's our second time there and because it was midweek she decided to just have a small evening - So she put on a 3 course meal for 30 people plus us!!  Small indeed.   And I'd only suggested that we'd pop up to see her for a couple of hours to have a coffee :)  She is such a delightful woman and we had a brilliant night, meeting up with lots of people who had visited the festival here in Rostrevor as well.  
The audience in Luxembourg

The concert room in Luxembourg
From there we headed back down into Germany, through Kiel and around Berlin and then made our last visit of the European leg of the tour into a small village in Luxembourg called Ell, where our host Soren had laid on a 3 course dinner for 60 people!   I kid you not.   We had champagne, did a set, went and joined the visitors for a fish starter, went back to the concert room for the second set and sold out of CDs, then back downstairs for the main course and desserts and cheese.  Again, like the other two nights we met lots of really interesting people.  In Luxembourg, I'm sure I've mentioned this before, everyone speaks at least 3 languages, most speak 4 and several speak 5 - fluently!.  When I asked which language should I use they said either German or French, but we all understand English - it was quite confusing at the start.   Eventually it ended up a mishmash of GerFranglais
photo courtesy of Romain at our house concert in Ell Luxembourg








Of course, there are much smaller house concerts too - we were just very fortunate on that trip.   We've done several in a sitting room with 8 or 10 people and had just as much fun - some are very regular events for the host and are run like a concert hall, others are very cosy and intimate and are about having friends around and supporting live music.

Have you ever been to a house concert?  Or have you hosted one?   What do you think? 

4 comments:

  1. Hi Fil - they look amazing - each of them. No I haven't had one myself .. but have been to a garden concert - thankfully the weather was good. They sound delightful and just a great way of getting around doing what you both love doing ... I can quite see the attraction of playing in a house ... though the Danish lady's (Kanne) concert room - looks amazing - what a great way to spend some time ... cheers Hilary

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  2. I loved to know about this way of bringing live music to people around the world - I myself have never thought of that, but I guess this is a very nice idea to have in the future! Would love to host you and Tom for a beautiful concert, but wow, a 3 course-meal for 60 people, wow! The maximum I did was for 30 to 40 people, but more like soup, cakes, finger food and sandwiches, not such a supper - wow, I admire your friends for that and for organising so lovely concerts! When will you do that again? Any plans? It's exciting! Hope you have a nice week, dear Fil!
    DenisesPlanet.com

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  3. Oh what a fabulous peek at a really exciting tradition Fil. I've not been to a house concert, but the several people I know who have, really rave about them. I know touring, while I'm sure is in many respects quite wonderful, must be very exhausting as well. But I'm wondering if these smaller more intimate venues help recharge you - knowing you are truly amongst friends.

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  4. What wonderful venues! I can just imagine how wonderful the atmosphere would be in someone's home, surrounded by friends. xxx

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